A crucial issue in the discussions of the National Assembly of People's Power’s Eighth Legislature's Seventh Period of Ordinary Sessions was the collective discussion of the 274 Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, as proposed by the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), along with the speeches by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and President Raúl Castro at the close of the event in April.
In each of the ten permanent commissions of the National Assembly, the agenda included opportunities to offer opinions and explanations, and argue for additions or changes to this key document, including specifying approaches and concepts, in order to present proposals to be considered.
A diversity of opinions and widespread support perhaps best summarize the discussions held in Havana’s Convention Center July 4-8, made possible by the extensive consultation process conducted across the country, as a prelude to the Party Congress, in which they participated as delegates or guests.
The rich debates across the country enabled deputies to timely channel their proposals and comments on the Guidelines, and gain vast background knowledge and clarity on the most pressing priorities in each territory.
The need to avoid delays in drafting the legal norms to accompany the process of policy implementation, improve internal accounting in state enterprises and continue training those heading new forms of economic management, were some of the points raised by deputies.
The need to disseminate scientific results, stimulate high-tech enterprises, ensure worker protection in the non-state sector following recurrent cases of exploitation, and promote a culture of human values to build socialism, were also expressed.
Granma International conversed with several deputies on these issues:
Lázara Borrayo Tolón, delegate for constituency no.87 of the Cubanacán People’s Council in the Cuban capital, noted, “In my work commission relating to delivery of services there was total and unanimous support for the Guidelines and the speeches made by Fidel and Raúl Castro at the closing session of the 7th PCC Congress.
"We detailed the control and monitoring of the implementation process of these documents given their importance to our population. We are witness to how the Party visualizes and directs the desire to build a sovereign nation looking toward the future.
"For this session of the National Assembly of People's Power we also had the opportunity to study the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Development and the strategic projection until 2030, two of the documents that complement the Guidelines.
"Together they project the future path of the nation, set forth our desires and where we want to go, with the responsibility to continue as the guide of Latin America. We have built an example for the world in the struggle for independence and human emancipation."
Rafael López Acosta, deputy for the municipality of Playa stated, “This discussion process is the highest stage. Since the very end of the 7th Party Congress, discussions have been held in different spaces with all the population. I must point out that the core issues in the construction of socialism have always been discussed with the people. Today we are furthering this debate to approve and enrich these documents. They reaffirm the continuity and improvement of our economy.
"Raúl Castro insisted that different approaches be considered during the discussions, and actions are proposed which take into account the geographical, political and historical characteristics we have experienced. We can not afford to squander, because we lack sufficient natural resources and yet we must seize on the vast human capital that we have, to move forward regarding all our problems.
"In my commission dedicated to Construction, Industry and Energy, we talked about property management; this is a new element in Cuban society. We should recall that after 1959 private property was almost entirely abolished; there remained just some minor activities.
"Following the 6th Party Congress held in 2010, the state encouraged an increase in new forms to manage state property, in micro-enterprises, private ventures, agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives.
"Today small and medium (private) enterprises are promoted as a career option and a source of employment. They provide services required in society, I’m talking about restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, transportation, electrical appliance repairs, renting rooms, etc. This type of non-state management boosts the economy and generates income for families and the community.
"We proposed precise legislation for the control and monitoring of such activities to prevent the concentration and accumulation of monetary wealth."
Public prosecutor for the municipality of Holguín in the province of the same name, Elda Barreiro Faraldo, noted that this is the fourth time she has discussed the documents emanating from the 7th Party Congress.
"I think this has provided deputies with vital knowledge, as we must keep the people informed about the next steps for socio-economic development. We must explain that these documents are subject to discussion for their enrichment, and to collectively devise the future society we want.
"Deputies also have the option of modifying and adding to these documents. We have the opportunity to correct, adjust approaches, add objectives and clarify definitions. This is the foundation to embark on sustainable economic development.
"My committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has clearly debated the topic of property and the accumulation of wealth. In Cuba we have fought hard for equality and social justice, as such these aspects could be the cause of certain regression in the social gains for which so much blood was shed in the struggle for national sovereignty."
Journalist Milagros Rodríguez Peña, director of the La voz del Azúcar radio station, in the municipality of Urbano Noris in Holguín province, added, "I believe the whole consultation process within student and labor collectives, local Party units, trade union branches, provides us with a right that has been consolidated by the Revolution.
"It is the way to make our democracy more participatory and strengthen the unity of the Cuban people.
"I view it as diversity, seeking solutions to common and domestic problems, to the same extent that social science is theorized and developed. Linking science with the everyday leads to much more development.
"We hope to contribute, with our own efforts, to the construction of what we really want as a nation, preserving our identity, roots and traditions, with the conviction of a very pluralistic, single Party.
"In my commission on Children, Youth and Women’s Equality, we offered several contributions to enrich the Guidelines, relating to upholding the human values attained after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
"A major concern is how to conceive of a participatory social being in the process of building socialism, who acts according to his/her convictions, sentiments and values. I have heard several statements focused on saving our national culture above any material or financial income."