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What will happen at the VII Congress of the CCP?

What will happen at the VII Congress of the CCP?
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 7 Abr 2016 – 11:10 pm.

Although there were rumors about a possible postponement, the Seventh
Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), the western world’s only
single-party state, is to be held as scheduled, from 16 to 18 April …
and it will be a fiasco.

I say this because each PCC congress, rather than making things better,
only makes them worse. None of these party gatherings thus far have done
anything to improve the lives of the people. Rather, they have only
served to bolster the personal power of the Castros, increase
prohibitions of all kinds, place party members on a shorter leash,
further restrict citizens’ rights, and aggravate the socioeconomic crisis.

The delegates at the congress do not even debate, propose or change
anything. Their task is to rubber stamp what has already been decided by
the Party’s ruling elite. As amazing as it may seem, there has never
been any discussion at a PCC event of the real causes of the structural
crisis that is eroding the very foundations of the nation.

And this one promises to be no exception. Everything has already been
all lined up and predetermined by the and his team. And their
plans are embodied in rigid documents, akin to papal encyclicals, which
will be approved with cosmetic modifications, but no substantial changes.

The documents in question are six: the assessment of the during
the period from 2011 to 2015; an analysis of compliance with the
Guidelines of the Sixth Congress; their updating for 2016-2021; the
conceptualization of the socialist (i.e. neo-Castroist) economic and
social development model; the socio-economic development program until
2030; and an evaluation of the objectives outlined at the 2012 National
Party Conference.

This Congress will be the most problematic to date, as the regime’s
political and military leadership finds itself on shaky ground, tense
and distracted by multiple factors, above all the visit by
Barack Obama.

The four keys

Therefore, no matter what the official documents state, there will be
four keys to the Seventh Congress:

1) Appointing a new second secretary of the CCP and presenting an
“orderly succession” plan to replace the gerontocracy of the Sierra Maestra.

2) How to handle in a “revolutionary” way the diplomatic detente with
Washington and dampen the energizing effect of Obama’s visit on the
population, including PCC members.

3) Dealing with a devastating socio-economic crisis that reveals the
futility of an economic model that “does not even work for us,” as Fidel
Castro admitted.

4) To outline the substitute for Cuba’s (neo-Castroist) authoritarian
state capitalism model, with a view to the future.

The succession plan includes relieving some longstanding leaders, now
octogenarians. Rumor has it that the regime’s second in command, José
Ramón Machado Ventura, who is turning 86, will not be ratified as second
secretary of the PCC.

If he is not, the appointment of the new second secretary will be
strategically vital. The next Congress, if there is one, would be in
2021, and if Raúl Castro falls ill or dies before that date (he would be
90), he will be replaced by the second secretary, who will then become
Cuba’s dictator. And, if Raúl Castro steps down in 2018 (at age 87) not
only as head of the Government, but also of the PCC, his second in
command will take over the helm of the country.

Hence the secrecy about who might be named. It is known that General
Álvaro López Miera, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, “only” 72 years
old, is a well-positioned candidate. However, there is no evidence that
Raúl Castro – age 85 in June – is going to give up his position.

Some ageing members of the Political Bureau may be relieved of their
duties. General Abelardo Colomó resigned from his State position, but
not as a member of the Political Bureau. And other generals will be
promoted into the upper echelons of the PCC.

Obama’s shadow

Ironically, the most active delegate at the sessions of the VII Congress
will be an American, Barack Obama, whose shadow will be hovering over
the heads of the more than 1,000 attendees.

The air of hope transmitted by his televised speech is still floating in
the air, having isolated the regime’s most hardline wing, and triggered
an insulting and reckless “reflection” by , who again
exhibited his total disconnection from reality, his estrangement from
his own people, and his history-making arrogance.

The Party’s leadership is bound to scold members at the Congress,
calling upon them, and all Cubans, to “understand” that the
rapprochement between Cuba and the US must be seen as the “victory of
the Revolution” over Washington, but also as a danger because it masks a
new tactic by the “empire” to undermine that Revolution.

Authoritarian State capitalism

Regarding the situation in the country, changes will be announced, but
not to open things up in any way, but rather to outline the bases for a
political-economic model based on a kind of militarized State
capitalism, with fascist, post-Soviet and Chinese features, but without
the slogan “getting rich is glorious” which managed to spur ’s
private sector to generate 70% of the country’s GDP.

In other words, we should not expect any substantial moves towards
in the economic sphere, and far less in the political and social
arenas. It will be reiterated that the self-employed should be organized
into cooperatives, obviously because individually they could become
capitalists, and compete with the country’s military masters.

Under this plan the Cuban military will continue to wield enormous
economic power (hence its fascist undertones.) When this class
monopolizes trade with the United States and the rest of the world, they
will have more money to refine their machinery of political repression.
And there will be a Russian tone to it all, as those generals and
colonels will form a kind of mafia with whom everyone will have to
negotiate: potential US businesspeople, the self-employed, farmers and
cooperatives.

A possible miscalculation

Now, those six documents were drawn up in a bureaucratic bubble, and
before Obama’s visit. If the Congress does not wake up and make some
actual changes, it will be making a miscalculation. The stifling
national crisis will only continue to get worse, fanning the flames of
social discontent.

Cubans today are demanding more than before. Young people, above all,
are losing their fear of expressing themselves, emboldened by the US
president’s visit. And the courageous struggle of Cuba’s political
opposition, despite brutal repression, goes on.

The regime must also have to deal with the likely collapse of chavismo,
the movement once headed up by the late Hugo Chávez in ;
Washington growing weary of Cuba’s stagnation, which could hamper the
lifting of the ; and the collapse of leftist populism in Latin
America.

The American invasion finally did arrive. But not with any rifles and
guns, but dollars, and smiling faces of people interested in trade and
investing capital. Calls to the barricades are not going to work any
longer. As much as the dictatorship might insist on returning to
Jurassic-era, Fidel-like rhetoric, it will get them nowhere.

This is no time for that. Thus, the Castros and their cadre would do
well to take advantage of the VII Congress to actually do something.

Source: What will happen at the VII Congress of the CCP? | Diario de
Cuba – www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1460067011_21524.html

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