Wednesday, January 06, 2016

New Paper Posted: "The Cuban Communist Party at the Cusp of Change: Preservationism or Evolution of Cuban Marxism-Leninism in the Shadow of Globalization

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

The status quo that had been the Caribbean region--centering on the adversarial relationship between Cuba and the United States, and the socialist axis tied to the regional coordination of Cuba and Venezuela--has been upended in the past year.   These external changes are matched by the challenges to the internal governance of Cuba--from the role fo the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) to the evolution of a ruling ideology grounded stubbornly on a central planning ideal and a de facto arrogation of authority within the office of the First Secretary of the Central Community. 

This paper, "The Cuban Communist Party at the Cusp of Change," considers the institutional and ideological constraints that may impede the PCC as it seeks to reform itself and the governance architecture of Cuba. Those changes are both necessary and inevitable as Cuba seeks to re-engage in global economic frameworks and provide a sounder base for economic development. These challenges and opportunities will produce an opportunity for change during the meeting of the 7th PCC Congress, currently scheduled to take place in April of 2016. 

The abstract follows; comments and reactions gratefully received.

Working Papers
Coalition for Peace & Ethics
No. 1/1 (January 2016)

The Cuban Communist Party at the Cusp of Change
Larry Catá Backer
Later version to be included in Reforming Communism: Cuba in a Comparative Perspective (Scott Morgenstern and Jorge Pérez López, eds. Forthcoming))

Abstract: The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) stands at the center of economic, political and social change in Cuba. An extraordinarily conservative institution, doctrinally, the PCC has had to begin to move beyond the certainties of what appeared to be climax ideology after 2011. That process will accelerate as Cuba seeks to embed itself into global economic, social and political systems. This chapter briefly considers the issues facing the PCC as it seeks to emerge as an autonomous institutional force, free of the control of its creators and the personal power of those revolutionary leaders who conflation of party and personality deeply affected the character and development of the PCC through its first half century. Section II examines the history of the PCC in the context of its current challenges. Section III then considers the application of ideology to political construction of the Party-State apparatus. The heart of the chapter, Section IV, then considers the current state of PCC approaches to the challenges that face the Party-State apparatus if it is to retain its legitimacy and viability in the current stage of development into which Cuba will be thrust in the next decade. It focuses on some of the potential changes that may figure in the years to come. The context are the potentially profound changes to Cuba’s institutional structures and approaches to economic regulation t be considered in the 7th PCC Congress. The chapter suggests that the movement toward reform since the 6th PCC Congress suggests that Cuban elites may be willing to undertake the same approach to reform and opening up as their Eastern European and Soviet predecessors—a reluctance to move away from central planning as the core of economic policy and a willingness to engage in political reform that do not disturb the effective control of the PCC, but which also carry a substantial risk of revolutionary potential.

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