For an exercise in thought to transform the country

The Council of Ministreos analyzed strategies for the country’s recovery. Photo/Estudios Revolucion.

HAVANA, Cuba.- The President of the Republic, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, summoned the members of the Council of Ministers to “a thorough exercise in innovative thinking, which will lead us to a real strategy of confrontation with the global crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In leading the meeting of the highest body of the Cuban Government, led by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, the President noted that the objective must be “to achieve the productive transformation the country needs at the moment, that guarantees processes with more efficiency, productivity, usefulness and income, that satisfies domestic demands, that will gives us export possibilities and that also promotes well-being, development and prosperity.”

These issues, Diaz-Canel highlighted, are in correspondence with the agreements of the Communist Party congresses.

The Cuban President considered that economic results will support “the conquests of the Revolution and the work of social justice it has developed.” The issue is not only to defend and maintain them, but to perfect them.

About the current strategy for the country’s recovery and the confrontation of the global crisis generated by the pandemic, which will be presented for approval soon, the Head of State said that “it has to lead to a steadier, safer and faster implementation of all which is envisaged in the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model and in the Guidelines.”

To achieve this, the President added, it is necessary to remove obstacles and concrete issues already raised in policies not fully implemented, “changing a group of ways of operating, acting and directing, especially economy.”

Diaz-Canel commented that “if we have to put all thought into something and bring it to a different conception than what we have been doing, it is to food production.” The economic actors involved should do so unhindered, to rely less and less on imports.

Among other issues, the Head of State spoke of perfecting institutions and processes. “We have institutions,” he said, “that cannot continue to function as before, that have to be updated, modernized and facilitated management, because they are part of chains and cannot hinder.”

“The thought exercise I’m summoning,” Diaz-Canel clarified, “is no more of the same. We have to question it and review everything,” he reiterated. Only from that rigorous questioning is going to come what we have been doing well, what it must be maintained and what it needs to be improved.

In all the proposals made, the Cuban President specified, we cannot forget the measures implemented in the country over the last year; nor the concepts of savings, development of renewable energy sources, the process of computerization of society, remote work, and the ongoing fight against corruption and illegality.

Particularly on the design of the recovery stage, Diaz-Canel pointed out that it must include three fundamental objectives: how to return to new normal; how to avoid a re-growth or face it if it happens; and how to reduce risks and vulnerabilities as a result of the new coronavirus.

In the step towards this post-Covid-19 phase, the President listed issues such as the gradual and asymmetrical increase in activities; enabling production processes and services in the shortest possible time; maintaining physical estrangement, even in the new normal; differentiated measures with vulnerable sectors of the Cuban population; and decisions that will have to be made during the summer, to avoid an uptick in the disease.

Diaz-Canel also emphasized the importance of following research leading to the Cuban COVID-19 vaccine.

Agenda Details

As always happens in the sessions of the Council of Ministers – where the Second Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura; the President of the National Assembly of People´s Power, Esteban Lazo Hernandez; and Vice-President of the Republic Salvador Valdes Mesa also participate –, the agenda included several aspects of the economic and social life of the nation.

In this sense, Deputy Prime Minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez referred to the behavior of the national economy in April, also impacted by the effects of the pandemic.

In this difficult context for the whole world, the country’s exports and imports declined, with the consequent economic impact.

Among other topics, Gil Fernandez reported on the approval of two new joint ventures: the first for the construction of a bioelectric plant in Jobabo, Las Tunas province; and the second for mining on the Isle of Youth.

“This shows the country continues to make progress in the midst of this situation, in the promotion and development of foreign investment, which is also an important part of the strategy we are preparing for recovery.”

Gil Fernandez referred to the housing construction plan, through which 13,958 houses had been built until last April, representing 34% of what is planned for the whole year. The official emphasized the priority of this program and that, in the adjustment to the Economics Plan, its compliance was not renounced.

In addressing the food program, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out the importance of increasing domestic rice production, especially in this difficult context of the international market. On the other hand, the delivery of beans to the family basket has been supported and the egg production plan for the month was met, although far from meeting the demands of the population.

On energy carriers Gil Fernandez explained that electricity consumption in the month was above schedule, so savings measures had to be taken away and the situation improved in May.

In that scenario, the official said, the energy block of Ciro Redondo Bioelectric Plant was concluded, which began generation as part of the start-up process and delivered 8,929.8 Mwah to the National Electro-energy System. “This is a very important investment for the country and is part of the momentum given to renewable energy sources.”

Gil Fernandez finally considered that “the most important thing is that we are working on the country’s preparation for recovery and the economic and social strategy to deal with the global crisis caused by COVID-19. That is now the main task.”

At another time of the meeting, Public Health Minister Jose Angel Portal Miranda presented an update on the epidemiological situation of the country and the actions to achieve its sustainability, in the midst of the battle to Covid-19.

“For more than two months,” the Minister recalled, “we have been facing localized transmission of the new coronavirus. At the moment, we have a more favorable behavior, which must be maintained in this way if we comply with the measures taken,” he added.

“We cannot allow other complications to arise now with dengue, Chikungunya or Zika, so it is necessary to work hard and take the necessary measures.”

The country’s epidemiological stability, Dr. Portal said, will depend on the systematic work and compliance with what corresponds to the quality and discipline required

Acute diarrheal diseases in Cuba have been stable in the last luster. At the end of April, medical care for this reason decreased by 27.7%, compared to the same period in 2019. Cholera cases have not been confirmed since 2017, when there were only three. “The endemic channel of acute diarrheal diseases remains a success zone,Public Health Minister added.

On the other hand, the country remains without a proven dengue transmission and, regarding 2019, the incidence rate is reduced by 40%. To date, there are also no reports of other arboviral diseases in the national territory.

However, the focus of Aedes Aegypti mosquito, a transmitting agent for these diseases, has high indicators in the provinces of Holguin, Sancti Spiritus, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba, and Las Tunas.

Reservoirs to store water remain the places where the greatest amount of focus is concentrated, “hence the role of the population is key to eliminating the vector breeding sites,” Dr. Portal Miranda said.

To prevent the transmission of one disease with another, a set of actions will be adopted, which begin in June with the completion of 22-day focal work cycles in all municipalities.

Among other decisions, Dr. Portal stated that the best-performing vector control operators in all areas of health will be selected to intervene in the universe of greatest risk; and support by the Youth Labor Army battalions in several provinces will be restored.

An adulticide treatment of mosquito will be carried out, both in homes and their environment, in the presence of focus or cases. Active research will be maintained in homes, workplaces and schools for early detection of asymptomatic. At the same time, capacities for the admission of 100% of patients with non-specific febrile syndrome will be created.

The Public Health Minister reported that in the midst of the economic battle the country faces, “the resources for the campaign have been secured,” with savings as an essential source of all measures to achieve the country´s stability.

On this issue, Machado Ventura warned about the high cost for the country to maintain this campaign. Hence the importance of ensuring that work is carried out with quality, without bungling, so as not to waste time or resources.

The Second Secretary of the Party’s Central Committee considered that the fight of the new coronavirus and Aedes Aegypti should be carried out in unison, taking advantage of the awareness the population has gained in the pandemic confrontation.

At this meeting, Cienaga de Zapata Watershed Territorial Management Plan was also approved, which will contribute to the rational and sustainable use of its natural resources and the improvement of living conditions there.

The President of the Institute of Physical Planning, Samuel Rodiles Planas, said the basin remains a Protected Area of Managed Resources and its economy will be based mainly on rice production and nature tourism.

To develop the Territorial Planning Model, a time horizon was established until 2030, a period in which the main transformations will take place in tourism activity, habitat and technical infrastructures.

On the matter, Deputy Prime Minister Ines Maria Chapman Waugh stated that “this Plan of Planning, like the rest of the approved ones, is a tool to maintain order, discipline and hygiene of cities, and of course taking care of natural resources in each place.”

Later in the meeting, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz presented a report on the results of foreign investment in 2019, a period in which time the regulatory framework for this activity was updated for the third time, giving greater flexibility for the adoption of negotiating directives.

The Minister explained that at the end of the year there were 287 active businesses, 44 of them located in Mariel Special Zone of Development. So far in 2020, a dozen more have been approved.

Malmierca referred to the launch of the Single Window for Foreign Investment, to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and delays in granting permits. When making an assessment of what was done during 2019, the Minister said that “despite objective and subjective difficulties that have limited a leap in attracting foreign investment, it is necessary to work on its promotion with concrete measures embedded in the strategy of confrontation to the economic crisis scenario imposed by COVID-19.”

A Necessary Alert

Speaking in the conclusions of the Council of Ministers, a meeting where the highest authorities of the provinces and the Island of Youth Special Municipality attended via videoconference, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz alerted the Defense Councils to the need, in the face of the epidemic, “to avoid overconfidence, which is our worst enemy at the moment, so an attitude of triumphalism cannot reign.”

“Now more than ever,” Marrero emphasized, “research have to be deep, we have to comply with the established protocols and locate all the contacts of the cases that appear.”

Marrero Cruz indicated “to review again in detail the situation of vulnerable people, that there is not a single nursing home, a single home of children without family protection, a single institution dedicated to wanderers, that is not visited, that does not plan an action plan, maintenance work or a solution for overcrowding.”

The Prime Minister also commented on the impact of confrontation with corruption and illegality among the population, in which popular participation has made a significant contribution. A substantial increase in the people’s complaints has been perceived, he said.

“When you have the people as an ally in this battle, chances of success are multiplied. We have to correspond to that trust with our acting and let it be known that when they denounce, we act accordingly, we apply justice and put things in their place.”

This battle came to stay, Marrero Cruz said, and we have to turn it into a matter of everyday life; to study on a case-by-case basis, to see what causes and conditions generated them; and shutting down doors to crime.

“These facts will continue to be published in the media,” Marrero said, “it will reach out to the state institutions linked to these actions and the cases will be followed after the established processes have been completed, in order to correspond to that trust the people have placed on us.”


Taken from the Presidency of the Republic site