At 57 years of age, the head of the Ideological Department of the Communist Party, Rogelio Polanco, feels part of what he calls “a process of gradual and orderly transfer of the main positions and responsibilities of political leadership of the Revolution from the historical generation to a new one.” generation”, and from that place he is willing to fight one of the most important battles for the regime: that of ideas.
The official has spoken very long and stretched in an interview for the sleepless pupil in which he makes reference, and this is how the newspaper titles it, to the need for transformations to be profound, but the detailed explanations make it clear that what changes, in any case, is the form, not the substance. “All our commitment from an ideological point of view is aimed at reinforcing (…) the foundations of our ideology, based on the thought of José Martí, of Fidel Castro and, of course, on Marxism and Leninism,” he explains.
The interview, of more than 7,000 words, leaves little space for the news. Among the few announcements that Polanco leaves is the extreme intervention of the new Institute for Social Communication, the new institution created in 2021 to replace the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) and of which nothing is known yet. “We are proposing that at all levels and institutions the structures that are in charge of communication have to be hierarchical at the highest management level, because communication is a strategic resource”, he explains.
“We are proposing that at all levels and institutions the structures that are in charge of communication have to be hierarchical at the highest level of management, because communication is a strategic resource”
Polanco also addresses the transformation that awaits the island’s media, and that, from his words, it can be deduced no more (nor less) than the arrival of advertising in the Cuban media, although the official omits the word and prefers talk about the experience of giving “a greater capacity to reflect the reality of Cuba and also that these media are allowed to have income for their sustainability, which guarantees the creation of better technological capacities to face this new digital ecosystem”.
He also mentions the changes in the selection of journalism students and the importance that they are “better prepared from a professional point of view and also in values”, a question that is not really new either, since the ideological adherence has always prevailed in this university career and their work reality on the Island.
However, Polanco introduces this alleged battery of measures to deal with what he calls “hybrid warfare”, a concept that has already been exploited by the ruling party for months and that he develops to exhaustion in the interview. In his opinion, the US is using the entire network to discredit its “enemies” while exporting culture and capitalism as the only model to follow. In addition, it has the necessary technology, since the companies that manage the algorithm (in a clear allusion to Google or Facebook) are on its side.
On the other hand, the malaise generated by the terrible situation of the world economy in general and Cuba in particular – part of which is induced, he argues, by the blocking and its effects – is used to generate chaos and confront the people with the Government. His recipe for combating all of this is as follows: “seize those weapons from our enemy. Learn to master them and use them for our own purposes. We have to master the use of those tools.”
The objective, he assures, is to strengthen political preparation at all levels so that “the people increasingly understand and accompany the leadership of the Revolution in the process of developing our nation, of socialist construction, and of confronting subversive actions.” .
Polanco treads on delicate ground when he talks about emigration. The official acknowledges that the number of young people who have left complicates the economic and demographic situation of the country, but affirms that Cubans are migrants like those of any country in the world, who return when they improve economically, even if reality denies it.
“Today thousands of Cubans live outside Cuba, maintain a normal link with their homeland and return systematically. Many even actively participate in solidarity actions with their country of origin. We are going to what analysts of social science and demography call a migration of circularity,” he argues after an extensive dissertation on exiles since the 1960s, alluding to the Cuban Adjustment Act, the visas agreed upon and not delivered by the Donald Trump Administration.
“Today thousands of Cubans live outside of Cuba, maintain a normal link with their homeland and return systematically. Many even actively participate in solidarity actions with their country of origin”
In any case, and aware that Cubans are leaving – more than 300,000 to the US alone in 2022 – he calls for the “personal and professional fulfillment” of young people to be encouraged “without denying, of course, that anyone who wishes to emigrate You can do it because it is your right”. As he explains, the Cuban government has created working groups that can “in the short term present some projections of these policies in the field of employment, self-improvement, housing and other facilities especially aimed at youth,” but the data economic, employment and lack of infrastructure threaten to make any plan useless, no matter how good it may be.
A similar case occurs with some of the other Cuban achievements that Polanco mentions. The official speaks of “continuing to strengthen fundamental social conquests” and accurately cites everything that is now in a situation of shipwreck, from education, in the midst of an exodus of teachers and students who, if they stay, must resort to a refresher private; to health, in the middle of a crisis of lack of toilets, means and drugs; and even sports, right in the middle of the failure of the baseball Caribbean Series. To reach the zenith, the official praises the “high level of democratic participation and high popular control” that exists on the Island.
Polanco faces the final stretch of the interview talking about networking to reach a youth that is increasingly seduced by new formats than by books and calls for “generating content to infinity and in a creative way” to compete in the message. “We have to manage to appropriate that format,” he sums up, before ending by making a plea in defense of the emotional, as well as the intellectual. “Che used to say that a revolutionary is motivated by great feelings of love. It is love in all its expression, so we remain in love.”
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