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Institutionalization

In an attempt to increase economic efficiency and in line with Soviet objectives, the PCC was expanded and strengthened in the 1970s. The aim was greater party conformity to the needs of a socialist society, with principal emphasis on a higher level of ideological training and the acquisition of specialized knowledge by party members.

During the early period, the party remained small, disorganized, and relegated to a secondary position vis-a-vis the military. It lacked a clear and defined role. Internal leadership and coordination remained poor, and meetings were few and of questionable value. Evidently, Castro saw little need for a well developed party structure, which would have reduced or at least rivaled his style of personalista (personalism) leadership. Conflict between old-guard communists and Fidelistas also created tension and prevented the development of a strong organization. Competition from the military or the bureaucracy took the best talents away from the party. These cadres saw better opportunities for advancement in those other sectors than in a party riddled with factionalism and not warmly supported by the lider maximo (maximum leader).

From 1971 on, revolutionary organizations were revitalized and an institutionalization of the country started. The peak of such deep reorganization would be the First Congress of the Communist Party after a detailed analysis of all the documents by the people. On 24 February 1976, a new Constitution was passed by a direct and secret ballot with the vote of 95.7% of the population over 16 years of age. The various levels of the People's Power were created through the election of a delegate of constituency who would be the representative of the neighbors to the local or municipal government.

The decade of the 1970s was one of expansion and consolidation for the party. During the first half of the decade, membership expanded from some 55,000 in 1969 to 202,807 at the time of the First Party Congress in 1975. During the second half, the rapid rate of expansion slowed down somewhat. By the time of the Second Party Congress in 1980, there were fewer than 400,000 members and candidates. At the Third Party Congress (1986), Castro disclosed that full members and candidates numbered 482,000.

The First Party Congress was a watershed in legitimizing the position of the party as the guiding and controlling force in society. It reassured the Soviet Union of Cuba's loyalty and friendship, extolling the Soviets' continuous military and economic aid to the Cuban Revolution, and rehabilitated oldguard communists, some of whom had been mistrusted and persecuted by the Castroites. The Congress also expanded the party's Central Committee from ninety-one to 112 members, increased the Political Bureau from eight to thirteen members, and maintained the Secretariat at eleven members, with Fidel Castro and Raul Castro as first and second secretaries, respectively.

In his report to the Congress in 1975, Fidel Castro attempted to reconcile the adoption of Soviet-style institutions on the island with a renewed emphasis on nationalism and on the historical roots of the Cuban Revolution. He emphasized that Cuban socialism was the culmination of a struggle against Spanish colonialism and United States neocolonial involvement in Cuban affairs. With total disregard for Marti's ideas, Castro linked the Cuban independence leader with Lenin in order to justify Cuba's move into the communist camp. The Congress adopted a Five-Year Plan, calling for closer economic integration with the Soviet Union and an economic system modeled on other socialist states. The approval of the party's platform stressing "Marxist-Leninist principles and the leading role of the party" was further evidence of the impact of Soviet style orthodoxy on the island.

Of paramount importance was the adoption of Cuba's first socialist constitution, which was approved by a 97.7 percent majority in a popular referendum in early 1976. Modeled on other communist constitutions, the Cuban document recognizes the party as "the highest leading force in state and society" and defines the function of mass organizations, such as the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (Comite de Defensa de la Revoluci6n-CDR) and the Federation of Cuban Women (Federacion de Mujeres Cubanas - FMC). It divided the island into fourteen new provinces instead of the six old ones.




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Page last modified: 02-04-2013 16:20:55 ZULU