A democratic, participative process

Jun 4, 2017 by

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A democratic, participative process

A few facts on the consultation process which led to the Party Central Committee’s approval of the principle documents guiding the updating of Cuba’s economic and social model

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Photo : PCC

“Nor will the agreements reached during this historic Congress be filed away; on the contrary, we must assure their implementation with order, discipline, and high expectations, with a vision of the future and much intentionality. Contributing to this is the approval here of the decision to have Central Committee plenums verify progress in updating the economic model and the economic plan, at least twice a year, and as many times as necessary.”

This is what Raúl said upon closing the 7th Party Congress, April 19, last year, and this is what has happened. Just a few days ago, May 19, members of the Central Committee meeting in the third plenum of their term, approved the three documents guiding the updating of our socio-economic model: the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development; the foundations for the Social and Economic Development Plan through 2030: Vision of the Nation, Axes, and Strategic Sectors; as well as new modifications to the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution.

Reaching this point comes as the result of an arduous effort that began even before the April 2016 Congress, characterized by a broad process of popular consultation in which more than 1.6 million Cubans participated, among them rank and file members of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and the Young Communists League (UJC); representatives of mass organizations; as well as broad sectors of society.

Let us briefly review the democratic, participative route these documents followed, to appreciate the dimensions of the effort undertaken by the Party and the Revolution with the people. Work on these documents began practically as soon as the 6th Party Congress concluded. They were debated in two Central Committee plenums (December of 2015 and January of 2016), during which 900 opinions were contributed, leading to new versions which were submitted to the 1,000 delegates elected to the 7th Congress and 3,500 invited guests, in meetings held in all provinces, with all deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power as well. By the beginning of March, 2016, these meetings had generated more than 8,880 comments and proposals.

One revealing fact about the discussion sheds light on the seriousness with which the documents were treated. Before April, 2016, eight versions had already been drafted of the Conceptualization, a topic which for the first time was to be considered at a Party Congress. The same occurred with the National Development Plan through 2030, a complicated subject which could not be fully addressed before the 7th Congress. Thus the decision was made to consider the “foundations” for this plan, that is the Vision of the Nation, Axes, and Strategic Sectors, which Raúl described as “a formidable tool to continue working on until its conclusion, which we hope to reach in 2017.” This foundational document that was presented and discussed required the efforts of academics and specialists from government bodies, as well as that of the Implementation and Development Permanent Commission, working on the Policy Guidelines.

It should be recalled that these were not the only documents considered during the pre-Congress discussion of March 2016 and the 7th Congress. Additionally debated and put to a vote were a summary of the economy’s performance during the five-year period 2011-2015, as well as a report on progress made in the implementation of the Party and the Revolution’s Economic and Social Policy Guidelines; along with an updating of the Guidelines for the period 2016-2021, and a report on the Party’s efforts to meet objectives approved by the First Party Conference and directives of the Central Committee Secretariat. These four documents are closely linked and reflect a dynamic vision which is in no way static or complete.

On April 19, 2016, when delegates left the Convention Center, the 7th Party Congress had not ended. This was rather the very instant it was truly beginning, revitalized and stronger, within the Party’s most important auditorium: the halls of the people. Delegates had voted to have the Conceptualization and the foundations for the Development Plan through 2030 debated by the ranks and broad sectors of the population, between June 20 and September 20 of the year.

During this exercise of true democracy, 47,470 meetings were held. Of these, 91% (43,525) took place at the local level, with the participation of more than 1.6 million people. Some 718,229 comments were made and 208,161 proposals presented, of which 203,015 were received. The Center for Opinion and Socio-political Studies (CESPO), along with the Implementation and Development Permanent Commission, were responsible for processing the results of the consultation. They decided not to transmit 5,146 proposals which referred to composition and style issues without addressing content, or which had nothing to do with topics included in the documents, as well as some that dealt with very specific questions relevant to a particular entity.

A significant number of proposals were combined given their similarity, to produce a total of 48,320, organized in categories as modifications, additions, eliminations, or doubts. Some 36,426 modifications were identified, representing 75% of the total; 8,623 (18%) were considered doubts; while 451 eliminations (1%) and 2,820 additions (6%) were proposed. The Conceptualization of Cuba’s Socio-economic Model elicited the greatest number of proposals, with a total of 34,991, while 13,329 regarding the National Development Plan through 2030 were made.

The Party Political Bureau created a committee to supervise the implementation of agreements reached at the 7th Congress, which evaluated the results of the consultation and drafted new versions of the documents, which were submitted to a group of academics, who along with other experts expressed their opinions and generated more than 1,000 additional proposals to be considered. It was on this basis that the documents were again rewritten and the updating of the Policy Guidelines added.

As the Central Committee plenum held this past May 19 indicated, it is now the National Assembly of People’s Power which will consider for approval the Conceptualization and Guidelines documents. Deputies will also receive information about the process of developing the foundations for the National Development Plan through 2030. President Raúl Castro was absolutely right when he said, during the 3rd Plenum, that these texts were “the most studied, discussed, and re-discussed in the history of the Revolution.”

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