NewsWorldOPINION | Cuba and the mysterious tentacles of...

OPINION | Cuba and the mysterious tentacles of its bureaucracy

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Editor’s Note: Jorge Dávila Miguel has a degree in Journalism since 1973 and has maintained a continuous career in his profession to date. He has postgraduate degrees in Social Information Sciences and Social Media, as well as postgraduate studies in International Relations, Political Economy and Latin American History. Dávila Miguel is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald on the McClatchy network, and a political analyst and columnist for CNN en Español. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at cnne.com/opinion (CNN Spanish) — The Cuban government has defeated many enemies throughout its 62 years of existence, but one continues to accompany it, calm and increasingly robust. Problematic. On January 2, 1965, Fidel Castro publicly denounced him, calling him an evil “petit bourgeois”, although he made it clear that he was as dangerous as Yankee imperialism. It was “bureaucratism” and he defined it as “the world made in the image and likeness of a petty bourgeois from an office”. And he urged, 57 years ago, to eradicate it.
Castro had already touched on the issue critically and publicly, in a speech in front of bank employees in 1961. “Che” Guevara also referred to the problem in his article Against bureaucratism, published in 1963. Both Castro and Guevara recognized that the process revolutionary on the island had contributed not only to maintain but to feed that “scourge of the past.” What they never imagined is that until today it would be invincible, nor did they calculate how far it would evolve. This “scourge” was considered a problem in all the congresses of the Communist Party of Cuba: 1975, 1980, 1986, 1991, 1997, 2011, 2016 and 2021. Initially, the great partisan-government concern and its promise of struggle kept circumscribed to the administrative bureaucratic order: inefficient procedures, lack of coordination, unnecessary paperwork and superfluous elements that hindered the production of goods. But, as Heraclitus and Juan Felaifel said [i]: “The only permanent thing is change”, and in Cuba the rules of the game have changed. In the 2016 congress, Raúl Castro introduced a crucial and damaging element of socialist bureaucratism on the list: corruption. He had noticed how “people without commitment and ethics are promoted […] creating the breeding ground for corruption…”. It was no longer the simple paperwork and office obstacles exposed in the satirical film The Death of a Bureaucrat, from 1966, where Cuban cinema closed ranks in the fight against evil, which has cost the country’s economy so many millions (in addition to the lost through government mismanagement), but through increasingly widespread corruption, theft, foreign commissions, trade diversion, etc. How is it possible that the Cuban Government has not been able to defeat the arch-denounced bureaucracy in 57 years? Where is he hiding? Cuban journalists and analysts have addressed the issue of evil bureaucratism: Darío Machado, in Rebelión[ii]; Mario Valdés Navia, in Topics, to name just two. Both define his nefarious influence. Machado says: “The democratic nature of socialism in Cuba imposes a permanent fight against bureaucratism, a phenomenon inversely proportional to democracy”, so the problem is hard. But Valdés Navia goes further: “Cuban socialism will have to break the triad bureaucracy-bureaucratism-bureaucrats, or it will be destroyed by it” and, further on, he proposes nothing more and nothing less than a “profound cultural revolution”. He suggests that this triad is part of the Government-State, although he does not say so clearly. And much less Machado. But in what enclosure could that evil have taken refuge for so long? It is evident: between the dense curtains of power. The fact is that the Cuban socialist bureaucracy and its daughter, the merco-bureaucracy, are very intelligent and may never be defeated, because they are found, like the tasty fat of Jabugo ham, interspersed within the muscle of the pork. Within the administrative structures, distributors and producers of the Cuban State. The merco-bureaucrats –structured in vertical chains, from high positions to the average distributor, and often favored by family ties– are interested in seeing nothing change in Cuba’s productive panorama. Opposing and putting obstacles to the economic reforms of the Government. They are protagonists of the so-called “internal blockade”. They support, for their own convenience and not for any principle, the immobility of “continuity”. It is a very difficult situation for the Cuban Government, because within itself is one of its dangerous enemies. Not the largest, but the most protected. There are other more important ones: Washington and its embargo, low national production, inflation, the fatal state of the Cuban health system, the growing social inequality. Three and a half years ago, President Miguel Díaz-Canel warned the population: “There is bureaucracy next to us, in front of us, behind us and, sometimes, when you start looking, you realize that the resources, there was the will, there were the possibilities and things are not done because someone blocked them”. Mr. President, you were right to place the harmful bureaucracy “next to us”, the problem is how your Government will be able to end it, and how harmful self-mutilation would end up being.
[i] Juan Felaifel Canahan, infiltrated by the Cuban intelligence services in the CIA from 1963 to 1966, when he returned to Cuba and testified about CIA activities in the International Tribunal
[ii] https://rebelion.org/the-decisive-fight-against-bureaucratism/

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