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In what could be described as the best example of the agility of the official media, the newspaper Granma published a summary of what was agreed to at the Seventh Plenary Session of the Party’s Central Committee two days after it ended. But I am not complaining, there is more fabric to cut through on those pages than in all the MINCIN (Ministry of Internal Trade) stores.

The paper called attention to the compliments received on the work relating to the country’s defense, where it is asserted that the accomplishments in this area, “Exceeded expectations and in addition allowed precise specification of the work projections for the coming years.” The success here is attributed to having taken adequate measures and having correctly controlled their execution. These results—it claims—have been obtained “from the strategic vision set by the Commander in Chief, The War of the Entire People, which has amply demonstrated its worth during its almost three decades of existence.” Immediately afterward it states that, “we have not achieved the same strength of defense in the equally crucial economic front.”

The truth is that the above mentioned “accomplishments in defense” have not had the opportunity to test themselves against the reality of an invasion, as has occurred on the economic front, where the enemy that must be defeated is the insatiable needs of almost twelve million people for food, energy, transport, clothing, housing and household effects.

Without detailing them, it was announced that they had already decided “the measures it is necessary to adopt immediately to address the impact in our country of the economic crisis that today affects all of humanity.” One assumes that said measures, “difficult and unpleasant, but which simply cannot be postponed,” would be under consideration (that is, approved) in the next session of the National Assembly and that Granma may make them public a few days later. Among them, perhaps the most significant would those aimed at “finding new formulas to release productive potential” because the only productive potential that can be released is that that has been handcuffed by the socialist mode of production that, to use Marxist terminology, has been its straight jacket.

To me, personally, the most pressing question was the theme of the Sixth Communist Party Congress. The whole world already knew they could not fulfill the promise made on February 24, 2008 to hold the congress at the end of 2009. Now they tell us that the celebration of the event is dependent on a huge process, a crucial stage of prior preparation, in which they anticipate the participation of the full membership and the entire population. It’s possible they are planning to reissue the debates of 1991 from before the Fourth Party Congress, but they will need to offer very clear guarantees that those who disclose their critical opinions on this occasion won’t be punished later. The published text refers to the perniciousness of the false unanimity and the need to “stimulate debate and healthy disagreement.” Already the inclusion of the adjective “healthy” raises my hackles. As long as our leaders don’t understand that they must decriminalize all forms of dissent, and as long as they don’t show it by decreeing an amnesty for all those in prison who have disagreed, we will lose opportunities to learn what the solutions might be.

There are people who are betting that the Sixth Congress won’t be held. I wouldn’t go that far. What I don’t see on any horizon is the seventh.