Raúl Castro’s retirement and reforms mark Cuban Communist Party congress – 15/04/2021 – Worldwide

The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) will hold from this Friday (16) a congress that promises to be historic: the event should mark the retirement of the old guard of the legend, including that of the current first secretary – charge maximum of the institution—, Raúl Castro, 89.

Thus, for the first time since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the island will not have a member of the Castro family at the top – Raúl took office in 2011, replacing his older brother, Fidel (1926-2016) .

It is not yet clear who will take charge of the party at the end of the four-day congress, but the frontrunner for the post is Miguel Díaz-Canel, 60, who currently heads the regime as president.

In the complex Cuban political system, two structures coexist: that of the state and that of the party. In 2018, Raúl gave Díaz-Canel official command of the country, but kept the direction of the acronym in his hands.

Thus, this transition is now expected to end, with Díaz-Canel finally accumulating the two most important positions – that of president of the country and that of first secretary of the party -, while Raúl says he wants to spend more than time with his family. .

Besides the exchange at the summit, the meeting also has two other items on the agenda: the implementation of economic reforms and the creation of measures to broaden the base of the acronym’s membership. “Even though Díaz-Canel insists on the motto that he is continuity, the dire situation in the country is increasingly pushing him to reopen the economy faster than the current party leadership wants,” said the analyst Peter to Folha. Kornbluh, researcher at the US National Security Archive.

In 2020, Cuba saw its GDP shrink by 11 percentage points, and food shortages, which existed before the coronavirus pandemic, can be seen in the long lines in the markets. Covid has also affected tourism, the island’s main source of income. “The legitimacy of Díaz-Canel is at stake and will be defined by its ability to recover from this crisis,” says Kornbluh. “The party may not want to announce changes to the days of Congress, but popular pressure is increasing, and a gesture that the government intends to make progress through openness is needed.”

Since 2008, when Raúl began to replace Fidel, some reforms have been carried out, which has allowed a limited number of sectors to open up to private initiative, in addition to the distribution of subsidies to increase production for the ‘export. Currently, around 600,000 Cubans work in the private sector, which corresponds to 13% of the economically active population of the country.

“The most strategic economic changes have already been defined at previous congresses, but there is a long way to go [as decisões] in practice, and it is possible that this is the subject of this meeting, under the pressure of the crisis situation, ”says political scientist Arturo López-Levy.

In December, the regime unified its two currencies and increased wages, pensions and pensions. But the measure caused a devaluation of 2000% of the weight. Inflation also skyrocketed to 160%, while tariffs such as energy rose 500%.

At the same time, youth groups calling for diet changes have gained attention in recent months. They are not numerous, even to avoid provoking reactions from the dictatorship, and are generally formed by artists, singers and poets. The most important of these is the San Isidro movement, whose flag is freedom of expression – recently some of its members were detained for a few days. One of its strategies is to hold its meetings each time in a different city, to confuse the authorities.

In the city of Santiago, a group will go on a hunger strike during the four-day CCP congress.

Another group, Patria y Vida, posted a video that went viral. On Twitter, they told step by step the arrests of their members and the treatment they suffered in prison. The expansion of Internet access on the island has made it possible to coordinate these actions and the messages of activists to travel the world.

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