The 8th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, to be held 16 – 19 April 2021, will focus on core issues of the political, economic and social life of the country, as well as the role of the Party and steps taken to improve its work. This article first appeared in Granma, the daily paper of the Communist Party of Cuba.
As the call made last December states, the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), to be held from April 16 through April 19, will review core issues of the political, economic and social life of the country. The meeting is of the utmost importance to the country’s destiny, to continuity of the revolutionary process and the irreversibility of socialism.
For several months now, opinions expressed at different levels of Party leadership and by representatives of organizations and institutions have been collected in a document, which will be discussed by delegates taking part in the commission assessing the fulfillment of the Seventh Congress Resolution regarding objectives approved by the First Conference on the Party’s functioning, ideological activity and relationship with the people. The document identifies strategies to improve the work of the organization in current and future circumstances, as well.
Its content is based on the accountability process conducted by Party cells in 2020 and on consultations with provincial leadership bodies of the Party, as well as the National Committee of the Young Communists League (UJC), local organizations, and Party committees of the Ministry of the Interior and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, while taking into consideration the impossibility of holding a broader consultation given the current situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The battle against the pandemic has strengthened the ties of the country’s leadership with the population, which has recognized the dedication, responsibility and capacity of their leaders in facing complex situations.
The new coronavirus has put the strength and resistance of the Cuban people to test. Cuba’s containment of the pandemic has provided the clearest example of how socialism is the only system in which solidarity and humanism are practiced daily, especially when it comes to saving lives.
Over the last few years, the Party has focused on working to complete the principal missions presented by the First Secretary in the previous Congress: the development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace, unity and ideological strength.
This work has been conducted in an especially difficult context, marked by the tightening of the U.S. commercial and financial blockade, increased political-ideological subversion and a worldwide economic crisis aggravated by epidemiological situation.
In order to fulfill the agreements and resolutions of the Sixth and Seventh Congresses and the First National Conference, the Party has implemented necessary changes in its work system, including the elimination of the Instructor in charge of direct attention to cells within the municipal committee structure and the granting of greater flexibility in the organization and setting of priorities at this level, by giving full responsibility to municipal bureaus and first secretaries.
Today, provincial and municipal committees are stronger and their members have greater presence in political processes and tasks of vital importance. The system of attention to cells and locals has been improved, along with and the manner in which leaders relate to these, giving them a greater role and more responsibilities, which in turn increases the prestige and authority of these bodies, something the Party will continue to emphasize during upcoming debates and projections.
This has also contributed to significant growth in the number of members and Party cells in the last few years, thus reverting the decrease in membership, a topic of debate during the previous Congress.
Also noteworthy are the political processes conducted at this level to address problems arising in work places and society, based on the strengthening of Party members’ combativeness and exemplary work. Within cells and locals, discussion of diverse matters has been encouraged, and most importantly, solutions to difficulties within their range of action have been identified.
It is important to point out that a third of the new members came from the Young Communists League, a higher number than in previous years. The youth organization has also seen a steady increase in the number of its members among students and young workers, with special priority given farmers, workers and other sectors decisive to the economy, whose contribution to the Party’s growth will be essential in the future.
More rapid responses needed
In the evaluation of this period, ongoing problems which have affected results were identified. The Congress will address why local committees do not always take action immediately, on their own initiative, when issues arise which require a rapid response, usually as a result of lack of support and advisement. Congress delegates will investigate the causes of the inexistence of systematic and differentiated attention to some centers of strategic importance.
They will discuss the need for increased rigor and higher expectations in assessments of the individual performance of cadres, and address reinforcing the importance of meetings of Party executive bureaus with general secretaries as an opportunity to exchange opinions and learn.
This period has been marked by the Party’s attention to the economy. Exports, import substitution, food production, productive chains, investments, monetary restructuring, among others, have been the focus of analysis and work at different levels of the Party’s structure.
Although there some progress on this issue has been made, formalism has prevailed. The causes of problems and those responsible are not analyzed; Party members and workers are not involved in the search for solutions. Thus, the Congress will examine the situation in Party cells that do not discuss or act with the required strength and energy to address the failure to meet production goals and other deficiencies in their work places.
Delegates will focus on inadequate analyses of economic and production issues, which often fail to address weaknesses of a subjective nature and do not demand accountability from those responsible for different tasks, as is appropriate.
Another topic on the agenda will be how to increase the efficiency of political-ideological work with non-state workers, which must include encouraging their contribution and engagement in the country’s socioeconomic life and promote the full development of their abilities and potential, in accordance with their interests and those of the nation.
Continuing to promote and demanding respect for the law and ethical behavior is a crucial matter, including the struggle against corruption and illegal activities as well as existing prejudices regarding this sector.
The Congress will outline projections to strengthen the Party’s permanent link with non-state workers, promote debate, interaction and appropriate responses to concerns, stressing the need for the comprehensive preparation of those who are responsible for Party, youth, and union work.
During the next period, the Party must continue consolidating its role as the leading force within Cuban society, as is established in the Constitution of the Republic, using its own methods and channels to contribute to the improvement of state and government leadership bodies.
Building ideological strength in the trenches
Given its significance and impact in current and coming times, the Eighth Congress will also focus its debates on ideological issues.
Taking into consideration individual and collective interests regarding ongoing economic transformations, the Party will continue to encourage citizen participation in affairs that are vital to the country’s present and future, which is indispensable to the preservation and strengthening of unity.
Over the last few years, the population’s opinions have been monitored systematically, as key to making decisions and evaluation of their impact, thus gaining greater feedback from citizens. This has allowed for the evaluation and modification of proposals.
Likewise, confronting prejudice and discrimination based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs has been prioritized, analyzing the causes and taking action, but there are vestiges and stigmas yet to be eliminated, which we must address.
Also to be reviewed during the congress is work done in research, knowledge and dissemination of history, the ideas of our national hero José Martí and the legacy of the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, and their articulation within the teaching of the Revolution’s ideology in these times.
One of the focal points of the Congress will undoubtedly be the strengthening of cultural institutions, artists and intellectuals’ organizations and the dialogue with creators. Their contribution is essential to the development of the country and its spiritual life, at a time when attempts are being made to use culture as a spearhead to attack the nation and our socialist system.
Convinced that the greatest war we now face is on the plane of the ideas, the Party has included in its regular work monitoring and confronting political and ideological subversion, which has made internet and social media its principal field of operations. The Congress will focus on how to develop greater effectiveness in all environments, on all platforms, using all available means to wage the communicational battle with greater creativity and intelligence.
In this effort, the development of an effective information policy and adequate social communications will continue to play a fundamental role, along with the work of the mass media and professionals in the creation of contents on all its platforms.
Communication remains one of the central pillars of the government and a strategic resource in advancing and defending our socialist system in a time where great challenges exist in the process of informatization of Cuban society, which, despite progress made over the last few years, much untapped potential has yet to be developed.
Moreover, delegates will thoroughly the ways to increase the frequency and rigor demanded
The battle to raise consciousness, to confront corruption, crime, social indiscipline and illegalities also demands more systematic rigorous attention – another issue delegates will address. The key to eliminating these ills lies in the ethical and responsible behavior of all and, especially, in the uncompromising conduct of every Party member and revolutionary in the face of any behavior that weakens or harms the Revolution.
This requires consolidating attention to youth, with a creative approach, greater dynamism and taking into consideration individual characteristics and interests. Consequently, Congress debates will focus on the permanent relation, at all levels, between the Party and youth and the organization which represents them.
The training of UJC leaders, the internal functioning of the organization and attention to locals must be prioritized to strengthen the ideological and formative work of the organization with their members and other youth, including members of other youth organizations such as the FEEM and FEU (Federations of secondary school and university students respectively), which the Party must support and to which increasingly more opportunities for participation must be provided.
In constant interaction with the people
The Party will continue using the methods and manner of acting in its relation with grassroots organizations, attuned to the current context and the related adaptation of its missions.
A key imperative is adding dynamism to the attention provided by the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC) to the trade union movement, and that of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) to farmers, cooperative members and those working land in usufruct, given the importance of both sectors in the economy and the social and political life of the country.
In the community, the Party has prioritized permanent attention to Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and the Federation of Cuban Women. Both organizations must continue to perfect their work methods and adapting their missions to the current times and the interests of their members, as they have done in the COVID-19 battle and the struggle against crime and illegal activities.
Among outstanding activities conducted during this stage, were the holding of public hearings, debates in the neighborhoods, the creation of task forces and first response teams, as a way to involve community members and attract youth. Nonetheless, the needed efficacy was not achieved, particularly in preventative actions and social work.
Likewise, despite the positive results of the National Assembly’s program of comprehensive attention to the improvement of People’s Power bodies, the Party will also direct its work toward improving the functioning of People’s Power bodies, to ensure that they assume their responsibilities, supporting and demanding more efficacy in the work of their agencies and cadres.
The Congress will address these and other challenges with a sense of the historical moment. It will be a special occasion to reaffirm that the Party’s role as the country’s leading force lies in its moral authority, in its influence within the masses and in the people’s confidence in it. It will be an opportunity to debate ideas and to continue building an independent, socialist homeland, now and in the future.
Granma, Official Voice of the Communist Party of Cuba