Cuban Leaders Criticize Both Bureaucracy and Private Sector

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 3:28 AM

S. subversion. The comments illustrated the conundrum faced by a Cuban government simultaneously trying to modernize and support control in a new era of detente with Washington.

Some of Cuba'south most powerful executive criticized the creaking inefficiency of its state-controlled economy on Monday but tarred its vibrant private sector as a potential source of U. S. subversion.

The comments illustrated the conundrum faced by a Cuban government simultaneously trying to modernize and support control in a new era of detente with Washington.

The Cuban Communist Party ended the third day of its twice-a-decade congress with a vote for the 114-member Central Committee, which in turn selects the powerful 15-member Political Bureau. The bureau'south first and second secretaries are the country'south top officials.

Monday'south vote, love the rest of the congress, was open only to 1.000 delegates, two hundred eighty hand-selected guests and state journalists, whose reports revealed virtually number concrete details of the policies that'll guide the government for the following five years.

The Seventh Party Congress has been criticized for its extreme secrecy by ordinary Cubans and even members of the Communist Party itself. State media said the results of the voting would be revealed Tuesday.

Cuban President and First Party Secretary Raul Castro opened the meeting Saturday with a somber evaluation of the state of reforms he introduced after taking over from his ailing brother Fidel in two thousand-eighth. Raul Castro accused "an obsolete mentality" and "attitude of inertia" for the state'south failure to implement reforms meant to increase productivity.

First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, long seen as Castro'south successor, repeated that criticism of the bureaucracy in a speech Monday announcing the congress' formal acceptance of Castro'south evaluation. He said obsolete ways of thinking led both to inertia in enacting reforms and "a lack of confidence in the future."

"Along with other deficiencies, there'south a lack of readiness, high standards and control, and tiny foresight or initiative from sectors and bureaucrats in charge of making these goals a reality," Diaz-Canel said in an excerpt of a speech broadcast on state television.

However, lengthy state media reports on the four-day congress focused less on proposals for reform than on debates about political orthodoxy focusing on the necessity to defend Cuba'south socialist system from the threat of global capitalism and U. S. influence in particular.

A mo after President Barack Obama'south visit to Havana, the first by a U. S. president in nearly ninety years, Cuban leaders have begun to consistently portray his ride as an attempt to entice ordinary Cubans into abandoning the country'south socialist values in favor of a desire for free markets and multiparty democracy.

On Saturday, Castro said "the enemy" was targeting youthful people, intellectuals, the destitute and the 500.000 members of Cuba'south new private sector as assailable to persuasion.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez went further, calling Obama'south visit "an attack on the foundation of our history, our culture and our symbols."

"Obama came here to dazzle the non-state sector, as if he wasn't the representative of large corporations but the defender of hot dog vendors, of tiny businesses in the United States, which he isn't," Rodriguez said.

Rene Gonzalez, a former intelligence agent held in the United States in a case resolved by the declaration of detente with Washington, made an different call for the consideration of political reform in Cuba.

Saying the party had focused excessively on the economy for ten years, he said, "Let the party call for a wide public discussion that goes beyond concepts of economic development."

"Let'south come at the eighth party congress for the first time in human history with a consensus on that human aspiration that some call democracy, and that'south possible through socialism," Gonzalez said.

State media didn't indicate whether his proposal was included in any of the formal documents keep up for a vote during the congress.

Aged fifty-five and fifty-eight, respectively, Diaz-Canel and Rodriguez are members of the generation expected to move into the highest ranks of power in Cuba as early as Tuesday when the congress' vote is announced.

Castro said Saturday that he was proposing an age limit of sixty for election to the Central Committee and seventy for lower-ranking but necessary posts in the party.

Castro is eighty-four and his second secretary, hardliner Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, is 85.

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Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter. com/mweissenstein

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