The newspaper Granma with Raul Castro’s speech to the National Assembly
By Dagoberto Valdés
The speech of Cuba’s President of the Council of State has been a rosary of bad news for Cuban men and women: “The year 2010 will be difficult and we will continue with the financial restrictions derived from the crisis.”
“They have reduced the retentions of payment by more than a third.” Nothing more, at the end of a year in which they froze the accounts of foreign companies.
For the other two thirds of those guys there is also bad news: they will honor the commitments to the last cent, but, “in accordance with the abilities of the economy.” The same one that is collapsing in productivity, efficiency and liquidity.
The solution of replacing imports with national production are only “medium term”; this commonly means between three and five years or more. Another: the introduction of new taxes, “a tool to which we will have to become accustomed in a short time.” Medium term for that one, a little time for this one.
“Difficulties and manifestations of favortism in the distribution of lands in usufruct, are also recognized. They have only been able to distribute 54% of these idle available lands. The proposal to “reorient the excessive workforce in budgeted and managerial sectors,” is precisely the clearance of these idle lands full of the marabu weed.
“The low level of existing production” and the “issue of employment” will be the priorities of the coming year. This in accompanied by, “in the majority of cases the results have been far from the expectations we hoped for, in the first place because of subjective factors, among them disorganization and the passive resistance of middle management to change their mentality, which we know is more difficult.” Will it be possible to change this in the coming year or will this be medium or long term?
It appears that significant dates to spend with your family and rest will again be eradicated from the holiday calendar in sectors such as construction, making reference to the sugar harvest: “The pernicious practice of massive time off for the builders on significant dates such as the end of the year, Mother’s Day, July 26th and the carnivals was maintained…” Do they remember when they abolished Christmas in 1969 for the sugar harvest?
Something good and bad
“To those deputies who had the honesty to express doubts about the velocity and depth of the changes that we have to introduce into the functioning of the economy in order to strengthen our socialist society…” The president and general expressed textually, “In this sense, I limit myself, for now, to expressing that, in the actualization (sic) of the Cuban economic model… there can be no space for improvisation and hastiness.”
Making it clear that we cannot know everything, that the actualization of the same Cuban model is only an attempt, and with regards to that, what they have tried to do many times in 50 years won’t even be rapid.
With regards to the question of race and gender, he said, “…personally I consider the insufficient advance in this area in 50 years of Revolution to be shameful.”
It is fair to say that, whatever happened in the past, something good is coming: once relations with the United States improve. However from no source did we hear or read that there was the same intention to improve relationship between different people without the Cuban people itself.
How is it that we can be disposed to normalize relations with historic adversaries and not admit the same dialog with fellow citizens who think and act differently?
Nothing, or almost nothing, in this end-of-year speech feeds hope. Or perhaps that is all it feeds?
(All the citations were taken from the official version of the speech published in the newspaper Granma, on Monday, December 21, 2009, pp 2, 3 and 4)
Translator: Lourdes Gonzalez