On 31 July, Fidel Castro – First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, President of Cuba and respected leader of the Cuban revolution for half a century – temporarily distributed his many state responsibilities among several leading Cuban comrades, including his brother and long-time comrade Raúl. This followed his withdrawal from public life due to an acute intestinal crisis requiring urgent medical attention.
Since that time, in spite of the most earnest prayers of the likes of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Fidel’s health appears to have improved considerably. On 14 August, he was seen on television sitting up and joking with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, and on 6 September, he released a statement saying that the worst was over, although a prolonged recovery period was expected (“don't expect me to be walking around in my fatigues any time soon”).
We wish Comrade Fidel a speedy recovery – he is unquestionably a great asset to the worldwide struggle for socialism.
Washington hawks cannot contain their excitement
Within a few days of Castro’s announcement that he was temporarily handing over his responsibilities, the relentlessly idiotic US president, George W Bush, was kind enough to “[pledge] Washington's support for Cubans who sought to ‘build a transitional government in Cuba committed to democracy’". (Cited in ‘Bush calls for democracy in Cuba’, BBC News Online, 4 August 2006)
Poor old George has still not caught on to the unfortunate irony of a notorious vote-rigging, gerrymandering election thief such as himself lecturing others on ‘democracy’. However, as is so often the case with the leaders of imperialist countries, substitute the word ‘capital’ for the word ‘democracy’ and you gain a much clearer insight into his (and his big business bosses’) thinking.
Condoleezza Rice, in a radio broadcast transmitted to Cuba, addressed Cubans in the following terms: "The United States respects your aspirations as sovereign citizens and we will stand with you to secure your rights – to speak as you choose, to think as you please, to worship as you wish, and to choose your leaders freely and fairly in democratic elections." (Cited in ‘Rice broadcast dismissed by Cuba’, BBC News Online, 5 August 2006)
Speaking on NBC, Rice elaborated as follows: “This is a transition period for the Cuban people. We are going to stand with them for the proposition that there should not simply be the end of one dictatorship and the imposition of another dictatorship … What the United States has been giving is a message to the Cuban people that change is clearly underway.”
Indeed, over the past two years, the US government – presumably with an eye to Fidel’s long wished-for departure from this earth – has been concocting plans for ‘hastening the transition to democratic rule’.
The criminal and immoral trade embargo has been stepped up, and a new body, the Commission for Assistance to Free Cuba, has been given the responsibility of devising a detailed plan for “securing the rights of the Cuban people”, ie, securing their right to be mercilessly ground down and exploited by US multinationals; securing their right to be violently repressed by some or other modern-day Batista; securing their freedom from literacy and culture, and from top-notch education and healthcare systems. Such are the rights and freedoms that are dear to the imperialist ruling class.
The report prepared by the commission specifically recommends the establishment of free trade agreements with the US, agrarian reform, urban reform and a complete reorganisation of the economy and the health and education systems. Essentially: goodbye socialism, hello neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism.
In July, an $80m spend was approved for the purpose of building opposition forces in Cuba and preparing aid for any ‘transitional government’. (See ‘Pushing for a Cuba beyond communism’, BBC News Online, 4 August 2006)
Cubans will not give up socialism
It is clear that the US is extremely keen to see ‘regime change’ in Cuba. However, it is equally clear that the US is caught in a quagmire in the Middle East into which it is throwing endless money and resources in a desperate attempt to get its grubby mitts on Iraq’s oil and establish a ‘lasting peace’, or, more accurately, a set of state powers entirely sympathetic to the needs of Uncle Sam. That being the case, the US is ill-equipped to launch the type of offensive against Cuba that it would like.
Still, Cubans know better than to be complacent. Raúl has confirmed that Cuban security has been stepped up in the light of the threat of US intervention. "Every step has been taken to prevent any attempt at aggression," he said in the interview published on 30 August in Granma, the Cuban state daily newspaper. "We could not rule out the danger that someone in the US government would become crazy, or even crazier … I decided to substantially raise our combative capacity and readiness via the implementation of the projected measures, including the mobilisation of several tens of thousands of reservists and militia members.”
There is no doubt that Raúl is in a strong position to lead his country against any possible intervention. As Richard Gott remarked: “As minister of defence, Raúl created and looked after the interests of the Cuban armed forces for 50 years. He is known by every conscripted Cuban who has served in the armed forces, and that means most of the nation.
“The Cuban army is the linchpin of the country, the most solid state institution and the one that enjoys the greatest popularity. It is also a powerful economic enterprise, operating many of the country's largest industries, commercial undertakings and banks. So Raúl is no stranger to the intricacies of government and state.” (‘Following Fidel’, Guardian Blogs)
Outside of armed intervention, the only option for the US is to find a viable counterrevolutionary movement within Cuba, but there is no such movement. The vast majority of the Cuban people stand behind the gains of the revolution, for which they fought so hard. Despite the collapse of the USSR and the eastern European people’s democracies, despite the illegal US embargo, despite the lack of natural resources, Cuba boasts the best standard of living for the average citizen of any country in Latin America and the Caribbean. The people have jobs, homes and (organic) food. They have some of the best health care in the world and have an average life expectancy of 76 years. They are literate and well-educated and enjoy a high level of culture. They enjoy far more profound participation in government of the country than is experienced by British workers. There are no shanty towns. And all this is built on the labours of the Cuban people alone, without the superprofits – extracted from the blood and sweat of the masses of the oppressed countries – that pay for lives of the ruling and middle classes in the imperialist heartlands.
The Cuban population does not have to look very far to see what kind of fate befalls a third-world country that submits to the diktat of the IMF and the World Bank, and it’s a vision that is hardly likely to appeal.
If it’s international solidarity you want, don’t ask the Trots
Anyone in the least acquainted with the theory and practice of Trotskyism will not be surprised that the pages of Socialist Worker, Weekly Worker, Workers’ Liberty and other such rags have not contained messages of support for Fidel and solidarity with the Cuban revolution over the last few weeks.
The near-universal Trotskyist position on Cuba is that it is a ‘Stalinist dictatorship’, where the working class is oppressed by a ruling clique around Fidel Castro. They dare not say it in public, but, as far as the Trotskyite fraternity is concerned, the only hope for Cuba is a counterrevolution – back to square one – followed by the development of a ‘pure’ working-class movement (with no links to those pesky peasants) based on the principles of multi-party parliamentary (ie, bourgeois) democracy and ‘permanent revolution’.
The Socialist Worker of 25 May 2002 states that: “In Castro's Cuba, even though there are welfare services and literacy programmes, there are still no free elections or freedom of expression … None of these regimes are genuinely socialist. Indeed their rulers have tried to eliminate those who stood for genuine workers' control and democracy … That's why Socialist Worker has always sided with workers and the oppressed when they rose up and challenged the state capitalist regimes.” In July this year, the Communist Party of Cuba was accused by the Socialist Worker of having “tragically betrayed revolutionary prospects for workers’ power”.
The current article is not the place for a lengthy exposé of the stupidity of Trotskyism in relation to the theory and tactics of revolution (for that, we would recommend Harpal Brar’s book, Trotskyism or Leninism); however, we would ask the reader to consider when Trotskyists have ever supported a socialist state. They have not, and they cannot, for to do so would be to accept the redundancy of the hopelessly discredited theory of ‘permanent revolution’. So instead they content themselves with doing the dirty work of the bourgeoisie, spreading despondency in the working-class movement.
The reader must not be deceived by the Trotskyist counterrevolutionary characterisation of Cuba, which gains credibility by echoing (albeit in more ‘revolutionary’-sounding phrases) sentiments expressed in the capitalist press. Denouncing the victories of the working class, be it in Cuba, the USSR, China, Vietnam, Korea, eastern Europe – in fact, anywhere that socialism has successfully been established – is one of the central themes and preoccupations of Trotskyism, from 1917 until the present day.
If one is looking for a concise, pithy, but accurate characterisation of modern-day Cuba, it is hard to do better than that given recently by Mumia Abu-Jamal, revolutionary black activist on death row in the US: “Cuba represents the power of resistance and survival against tremendous odds. It also represents the power of the small over the mighty. It is, in the words of Assata Shakur, a palenque (in slavery days in Brazil) – a place of freedom amidst capitalist tyranny.” (Interview with Rafael Rodriguez-Cruz, 26 May 2006, cited in Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, issue 192)
Once again, we send our warm fraternal greetings to Fidel Castro, and hope that he regains his full health in the very near future. Further, we would like to express our complete solidarity with the Cuban people as they defend the gains of the revolution from the imperialist vultures who dream of taking them away.