Come and discuss the significance of the new development in U.S. policy toward Cuba, the freeing of the remaining Cuba Five political prisoners, and the next steps to fully bring an end to the criminal U.S. embargo of Cuba
SEIU Local 1199 Latin America & Caribbean Democracy Committee and The World Organization for the Right of the People to Health Care
First Secretary, Cuban Mission to the United Nations
Hoy martes 29 de Octubre se llevó a cabo el 68vo periodo de secciones de la asamblea general de las Naciones Unidas. Tuve el privilegio de ser invitado por la delegación cubana ante la ONU para presenciar una parte de dichas secciones donde se discutía el tema 40 de la agenda: Necesidad de poner fin al bloqueo, comercial financiero impuesto por los Estados Unidos Yanquis contra Cuba.
Numerosas delegaciones de diferentes países presentaron ponencias favoreciendo el fin del bloqueo, destacándose en dicha demanda los países hermanos de Latino América y del área del caribe, muy en particular Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua y Ecuador. También depusieron Egipcio, Indonesia, Irán e India y un bloque de países africanos. Quienes destacaron lo cruel, inhumano y criminal de tal agresión contra el pueblo cubano. Todos recalcaron sobre los principios de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, entre otros, los principios de igualdad soberana de los Estados y por ende de Cuba, en la no intervención y no injerencia en asuntos internos y la libertad de comercio y navegación, que lleva a cabo los Estados Unidos Yanquis contra Cuba.
Una excelente exposición del caso fue la del embajador de Bolivia, quien entre otras cosas manifestó: “Estados Unidos impone un bloqueo que intenta socavar el derecho del cubano a su libre autodeterminación, y los esfuerzos de su gobierno para luchar contra la pobreza y la desigualdad”.
También acuso al presidente Obama de ser un presidente soberbio, pues considera a su país algo “Excepcionar”, y por lo tanto un ente prepotente con derecho a intervenir donde se les antoje.
Lo único excepcional de los yanquis e Israel son sus mezquinas pretensiones de gobernar al mundo. No respetan el derecho internacional y además, actúan con la más flagrante impunidad. Hoy recibieron una contundente derrota en el lugar que ellos controlaron por mucho tiempo, LAS NACIONES UNIDAS.
Podría aun dar mucho más de las cosas que sucedieron allí hoy 29 de octubre. Hoy Estados Unidos Yanquis y su único aliado Israel, se han quedado solos en esa criminal postura contra Cuba.
Las ONU hablo, tiene la palabra el señor Obama. Cumpla con su promesa, y sin más prolongaciones levante el bloqueo a nuestra querida Cuba. Así lo exigen las naciones del mundo, así lo quieren los cubanos y así lo pide el pueblo de los Estados Unidos.
188 a favor de que se levante el bloqueo
3 abstenciones, Islas Marshall, Micronesia y Palao.
2 a favor que se mantenga el bloqueo, USA e Israel
Franklin, Casa de las Américas
Viva Cuba revolucionaria!
Legal Travel To Cuba
February 16, 2013
For Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, the hardest part is getting here.
Since 1966, they’ve essentially been granted automatic refugee status upon arrival. The Cuban Adjustment Act was enacted then to address the legal status of 300,000 Cubans who’d fled Fidel Castro’s socialist revolution.
Almost half a century later, the Cubans who come to America rarely claim to be victims of political persecution. They want a better economic future, or to join family members already here, or both — just like most of the people who want to immigrate from anywhere else.
Unlike most immigrants, though, Cubans don’t have to wait years for a visa, or sneak across the border illegally. Once they’re here, they’re fast-tracked to legal residency, with a clear path to citizenship.
It’s a sore subject as Congress considers what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants to whom the system has not been so generous.
Those immigrants — more than half of them from Mexico — live and work under the government’s radar, often for low wages, constantly in fear of being deported.
To come here legally, most Mexican laborers would have to wait decades for a visa. But Cubans who present themselves at our southern border — a common point of entry, thanks to the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot” policy — are allowed in once they show an ID.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify it to my colleagues,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio is one of eight senators working on a bipartisan immigration reform bill. “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to avoid, as part of any comprehensive approach to immigration, a conversation about the Cuban Adjustment Act,” he said.
The special considerations are especially hard to defend now that Cubans can travel freely between the U.S. and their homeland, thanks to loosened restrictions at both ends.
In 2009, President Barack Obama lifted most of the limits that kept Cuban-Americans from traveling to the island to visit family. Last year, more than 400,000 of them did so, some dozens of times.
In January, the Cuban government began allowing citizens to leave without an exit permit. Passports are now granted more liberally, and those who leave can stay away up to two years without losing their residency. Most Cubans are able to come and go at will.
Together, the changes are likely to invite a new influx of Cubans to the U.S., where they are eligible for legal residency, while encouraging them to return frequently to visit family — and spend money — in Cuba.
We have no problem with allowing Cuban-Americans to travel back and forth to Cuba. Congress ought to kill the travel ban entirely, so that all Americans can visit the island. Tourists from other countries have been flocking to “terrorist” Cuba for years.
Mixing it up with the outside world is an important exercise for Cubans as they ponder a future without the aging Castro brothers.
But it’s hard to argue that Cubans who can come and go as they please are in need of special considerations normally reserved for victims of political repression. One does not flee communism only to return repeatedly with a suitcase full of money and merchandise for the family.
Nor does it make sense to allow entry to the U.S. based not on a claim of persecution, but on whether the person dodged the Coast Guard boats long enough to tag American soil.
To be fair, those immigrants aren’t lying about their circumstances. They’re not required to demonstrate that they’re political refugees. They come because they can. But it isn’t fair. Cubans who want to come here for economic reasons should play by the same rules as economic immigrants from other countries.
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
“Karen Lee Wald”
This is what I received, asking us to sign a petition on a White House website, asking the White House “to open an honest dialog with the Cuban government to secure the release of American Operative Alan Gross” I thought it was a put-on. The message read:
The White House has put this petition on its website. It asks the US government to open a dialogue with Cuba for the release of Alan Gross. Your signature is needed. http://1.usa. gov/TyOtlG
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Open an honest dialog with the Cuba government to secure the release of American operative Alan Gross
Include potential prisoner exchanges, admissions of wrong doing, drop of the embargo as incentives to bring this man home. His employer owes it to him.
When I first received an email urging me to go to the White House site to sign a petition of this nature, I thought it was a spoof or a virus or something — that it couldn’t be serious. So I asked around, and received this explanation:
It’s part of an initiative by the WH to “listen to the people”. So anyone can go there and post a petition. I think in this case it was LAWG/WOLA/ETC. Then if 25,000 sign it within an allotted amount of time, it gets bumped up to a higher level and at some point the most popular petitions get accepted and read by whoever at White House is in charge of this program. Supposedly it is a way for people to organize and be heard by the administration and for the admin to know what is important to large groups of people. Which means we need to get the largest number of people possible to sign this petition, and soon.
Here’s an explanation about how to do it:
Here is how the White House Petition works. You have to open an account with them first:
1- Click on the link that goes to the petition.
2- There is a blue square that reads “Create an account”. Click on it.
3- Fill in the blanks on the form: e-mail address, name, last name and zip code (optional).
4- Read and type the gibberish they put below [“Captcha” –used on many sites to make sure you are a real person and not a spamming machine. That’s the hard part for me because I often don’t see them in my browser. I’m not sure what you can do if you have the same problem. klw]
5- Click again on the blue square at the bottom “Create an account”.
Take a quick break and go to your e-mail inbox. You are going to have a message from them to confirm that you are in fact a real person.
6- After the first paragraph there comes a long link. Click on it and you have already set up the account with them.
7- After that you have to go back to the original petition:
8- Click on the blue square which says “Sign in” and then fill in the blanks and you are all set. You’ll be immediately notified that your name was registered.
I know this sounds like a lot of hassle, but believe me, people who really want to see improved relations between the two countries believe this could be a very effective tool to get the Administration’ s attention, so it’s worth doing. If you can’t do it right now, don’t delete it — put it in some folder you will go back to when you have the time (I have one like that called “Activities” ) and do it. But don’t wait too long.
Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today: Ballad of a Never-Ending Policy
By Ike Nahem
Part II: Triumph and Reaction
The Triumph of the Cuban Revolution
On January 1, 1959 Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, swept into power and established a provisional revolutionary government across the length of the island, overthrowing the exceedingly venal, military regime of Fulgencio Batista. The revolutionaries (including such remarkable figures as Juan Almeida, Raul Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara, Armando Hart, Celia Sanchez, and, Haydee Santamaria) marched into Havana culminating a three-year campaign that combined rural guerrilla war with a vast urban revolutionary underground. The revolutionary struggle was led by a highly disciplined, politically centralized combat organization, the July 26th Movement. Drawing behind it the support and sympathy of the vast majority of the Cuban population, and with a dedicated, self-sacrificing young cadre of men and women at its core, the Cuban revolutionaries wore down, demoralized, and defeated the neocolonial Cuban army, which vastly outnumbered them – at least on paper – in troops, military equipment, and firepower, courtesy of the United States government.
The military dictator Batista, backed by Washington almost to the bitter end, fled to the Dominican Republic while many of the personnel in his vast machinery of repression and pillage escaped to Miami with their loot. It was an astonishing turn of events that captured the imagination of the world. (The great US film, The Godfather Part II, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, portrays the fall of Batista and the triumph of the July 26th Movement with an uncanny verisimilitude via the prism of Batista’s alliance with US Mafia families.)
Upon arriving in Havana and consolidating revolutionary power, the provisional government quickly moved to dissolve what remained, after the revolutionary war, of the police, army, and courts of the neocolonial Cuban state. With enthusiastic mass participation, armed bodies of workers, peasants, and youth were established. These became the nucleus of a new National Revolutionary Police Force, and, alongside the veteran guerrilla commanders and troops, the new Revolutionary Armed Forces. Tribunals were established in response to mass demands for justice for the killers, torturers, and thugs of the Batista dictatorship (over 20,000 Cubans were murdered by Batista’s cops, goons, and death squads during the revolutionary struggle), and also to counter the unchecked, spontaneous retributions carried out in the streets. The tribunals prepared the foundations of a new judicial system.
(In my 2007 essay “Our Che” http://www.zcommunications.org/our-che-by-ike-nahem, I wrote, “Che [Guevara] was assigned the task of establishing a just and fair, but also transparent and certain, [system] to bring the process under revolutionary control, ensuring due process, defense lawyers, and fair proceedings. This was done in an exemplary way. Popular, public tribunals were organized. Volumes of public testimony were given, with horrific testimony of the most vile tortures and bestial murder recorded and made public. Some 200 of the worst torturers and murderers of the US-backed Batista tyranny were shot by firing squads. No one has ever offered a shred of evidence that anyone innocent was executed. Whatever one’s opinion of the death sentences that were implemented, backed by the great majority of the population, no one can say, or has ever shown, that the guilt of those executed was not established beyond the shadow of a doubt. Batista’s cops and thugs were, after all, known to all. In their glory days, prior to the revolutionary victory, those brought to justice strutted their power and brutality over what they thought would be forever helpless victims; they never dreamed they would face their victims and their victim’s families in a legal proceeding.
“This process of bringing to justice the worst criminals of the hated Batista regime led to an orgy of hypocrisy and phony moral outrage in the big-business press and among Democratic and Republican politicians in the United States. The highly orchestrated propaganda campaign was the pretext for turning public opinion, which had been very sympathetic to Fidel Castro and the rebel cause, against the Cuban Revolution as radical social reforms began to be implemented which affected US business interests and US economic and financial domination of the island…Washington and the big-business media’s crocodile tears for Batista’s torturers and murderers stands in sharp contrast to their approval or silence towards the mountains of corpses piled up by US-backed military regimes and death squads in Latin America and the Caribbean before and especially after the Cuban Revolution from Trujillo and Somoza to Pinochet and the Argentine generals.”)
All of these developments planted the seeds of a new state, with a distinct working class character. The new personnel staffing governmental and state bodies registered the social ascendancy of the formerly oppressed classes: the working people of the city and countryside, as well as Afro-Cubans, women, and youth. Gone was the old social order where the cops, army, courts, and prisons of the old, neocolonial Cuban state manifested the class rule of landlords, capitalists, gangsters, racists, and the super-exploiters of women.
Despite warnings, pressures, and threats from Washington, the Cuban revolutionaries began to implement economic and social measures that came up against, and impacted adversely on, the economic domination of US monopoly capital on the island. These measures included rent and utility cost reductions and the closing and expropriation of Havana’s vast organized-crime enterprises from casinos to brothels.
But front and center was the radical land reform and distribution that both greatly expanded small, private holdings for family farming, and liberated the large, seasonally employed, and particularly oppressed agricultural workforce that was permanently in debt to Cuba’s latifundia. (The Rebel Army had implemented rudimentary land reforms and social policies such as organizing schools and clinics in the territories liberated during the armed struggle.) The “Law on Agrarian Reform” broke the social domination and political power of Cuba’s landlord class and included vast US holdings. The law stipulated that sugar plantations could not be under foreign ownership.
The agrarian reform was at the center of the social and economic transformations heralded by the Revolution. Deliberations to codify in law, and implement in practice, a comprehensive agrarian reform began within the central July 26th Movement leadership almost immediately after the military victory and the establishment of the provisional government. The most profound direction and input came from contributions and collaboration between Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The agrarian reform was seen as the necessary foundation and catalyst for Cuba’s industrial development.
Che Guevara gave a major speech less than a month after the January 1, 1959 seizure of power in Havana indicating the centrality of land reform to the program of the revolutionary government:
“[S]ince the revolution’s triumph, [the peasants] have earned the right to freedom. They can use that freedom to…move forward, backed by law, to a true and broad agrarian reform.
“We have begun to put the Rebel Army’s social aims into effect; we have an armed democracy. When we plan out the agrarian reform and observe the new revolutionary laws to complement it and make it viable and immediate, we are aiming at social justice. This means the redistribution of land and also the creation of a vast internal market and crop diversification, two cardinal objectives of the revolutionary government that are inseparable and that cannot be postponed since they involve the people’s interest.
“All economic activities are connected. We must increase the country’s industrialization, without overlooking the many problems accompanying such a process. But a policy of encouraging industry demands certain tariff measures to protect nascent industry, as well as an internal market capable of absorbing the new commodities. We cannot increase this market except by giving the great peasant masses broader access to it. Although the guajiros have no purchasing power, they do have necessities to meet, things they cannot purchase today.
“We are well aware that the ends we are committed to demand an enormous responsibility on our part, and we know that these are not the only goals. We must expect a reaction against us by those who control over 75 percent of our commercial trade and our market.”
(For the full speech click on http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43b/103.html)
To implement the Agrarian Reform Law, that is, the lever for the entire economic and social transformation of Cuba, the National Institute of Agrarian Reform was organized, with Fidel Castro as its President. Che Guevara was appointed head of the Department of Industrialization, with the central political and administrative responsibility within INRA, on October 8, 1959.
Che organized and trained an INRA militia of 100,000 which seized control of expropriated land, supervised distribution, and helped set up farm cooperatives. Nearly 500,000 acres of confiscated land was owned by US corporations. INRA, under Guevara’s direction, financed highway construction, built housing for peasants and farming cooperatives, and other industrial projects, including resorts for tourists.
Complementing these economic measures were a series of implemented radical policies and laws that fundamentally altered and transformed social relations on the island to the benefit of the oppressed and exploited overwhelming majority. These included the abolition of racist Jim Crow-style segregation and discrimination policies; huge blows against the oppression of women including the right to abortion, the establishment of day-care facilities, equality in pay, greater access to education and professional training, and the eradication of organized prostitution with job training for ex-prostitutes (It is estimated that one out of three women in Havana were super-exploited in the gangster-run “sex industry.”); a massive, successful campaign to wipe out illiteracy; and, particularly annoying to foreign and domestic big-business owners, progressive labor laws that greatly expanded labor union membership and facilitated struggles for higher wages and better working conditions.
These measures were not yet explicitly socialist; banking, manufacturing, and large-scale wholesale and retail distribution remained in private hands. However, the anti-capitalist tendency was clear and the encroachments on the prerogatives of domestic and foreign capital were intolerable to the ruling classes. Moreover, the evaporation of the old neo-colonial state and its repressive apparatus left a vacuum in political and social relations, into which stepped the highly radicalized, organized, and mobilized Cuban working people and youth led by the team around Fidel Castro. This was a leadership team of exceptional political and personal audacity and courage, who knew where they wanted to go and were not afraid of the dangers and consequences.
Washington Fights Back
The implementation of the land reform and the other measures described above set off alarms in Washington and could never be tolerated by the US ruling class. The US government as a whole was, above all, anxious that the victorious Cuban example would resonate in a Latin American soil fertile for revolutionary struggle and change.
Within months, and with an intensity that mounted exponentially, Washington, in the last two years of the Dwight Eisenhower Administration, set in motion bipartisan plans and programs to discredit, undermine, subvert, and destroy the Cuban Revolution. These included cutting off US markets for sugar and other Cuban products and refusing to refine Cuban oil, the first steps towards the generalized, sweeping economic sanctions that remain in force today.
Attempts at economic strangulation were complemented by more directly violent methods. Widespread terrorist violence and economic sabotage was directed by the CIA of the Eisenhower and (elected in 1960) John Kennedy Administrations, with their legions of recruited counter-revolutionary Cuban exiles. Facing the US assault head on, the Cuban workers and peasants government sought and received military and economic assistance from the Soviet Union, Soviet-allied governments in Eastern Europe, and China. The Soviet government agreed, crucially, to buy Cuban sugar and refine Cuban oil.
Washington’s assault culminated in the April 1961 mercenary invasion defeated at the Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron to the Cubans). The Cuban revolutionaries did not retreat under the withering violent assault, but instead directed and led a mobilized and armed citizenry in a conscious socialist revolution that was openly declared after Washington’s Bay of Pigs debacle. Capitalist property relations were overturned and private property in the means of production, finance, and large-scale wholesale distribution were abolished. By 1962, Cuba had become what Marxists call a “workers state.” That is, the old ruling landowning and capitalist classes were expropriated. Major industries and banking became nationalized state property, where conscious economic planning began to gain predominance over “market forces.” Concurrently, a state monopoly over foreign trade was established. Decisively, this process would never have been possible without the prior dissolution of the old neocolonial state and its repressive apparatus, that is, its army, police, and judiciary.
Private enterprises directly tied to the officials and cronies of the Batista dictatorship, most of whom had fled Cuba, were expropriated without compensation. Others, including foreign capitalists, were compensated, in negotiations with them and their governments. The US capitalist monopolies, on the same page as the US government, rejected, with contempt, negotiations and compensation, fully expecting that “Castro” and Cuban sovereignty could not survive long facing Washington’s full-throated hostility.
None of this could have been driven through without the political class-consciousness and mass participation of the Cuban working class and its allies, who had to learn how to operate and manage the industry and finance that was now “public.” This radicalization and transformation developed under both the blows of the intensifying Washington-driven counter-revolutionary drive and the collective organization and consolidation of the revolutionary vanguard. This latter factor was inevitably accompanied by a class-political polarization and differentiation inside the July 26th Movement, as a more right-wing layer formed and organized in opposition to the radical measures outlined above.
The most prominent figure in this layer was the former Camaguey province guerrilla comandante Huber Matos. (Matos was in late-1959 convicted of treason and sedition for establishing links with counter-revolutionary armed groups connected to the CIA, sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, released in 1979, and lives in Miami today.) In actual fact the divisions and splits within the July 26th Movement, the forces that went over to the US-led counter-revolution, were relatively small in numbers and political significance, due to the great popularity and political authority of the Castro leadership. Nevertheless, the voices of those “democrats’ and “freedom fighters” who left the July 26th Movement were highly amplified with Washington’s giant megaphone at their disposal.
Not Aiming for a Third World “Welfare State”
What occurred in Cuba from 1959 to the beginning of 1962 was a dynamic process that went far beyond the most progressive and radical reforms and constitutional restructuring of existing state structures and juridical forms by progressive, populist, anti-imperialist, or left-wing governments in other national political upheavals. There have been many examples, up to the present day, of such governments coming into power in Latin America (and other so-called Third World countries) through coups, mass struggles, or elections taking place under the institutions of the existing capitalist state which remain essentially in place and intact. In Cuba, on the contrary, the revolutionary government, which came to power in an armed struggle, pulverized the old state structures, starting with its repressive machinery of police, army, prisons, and courts, establishing entirely new institutions in social composition and political content.
Cuba’s socialist revolution did not aim for a better “welfare state” under a capitalist “mixed economy,” with benefits for the working people dependent on the vicissitudes of world capitalist markets dominated by the richest imperialist powers (Washington, London, Paris) under conditions of unequal exchange (that is, cheap prices for “Third World” export commodities and raw materials, high prices for “First World” finished products, machinery and technology). The Revolution fought rather to elevate the oppressed classes to political power and social predominance in the new state and forge entirely new social relations and new human beings. (Of course, the policies and practice of the Cuban Revolution in “social welfare” categories of medical-care access, education, pensions, maternity benefits, and so on are unsurpassed in any capitalist Third World country and even in many rich, advanced capitalist powers, who are all, in any case, working today to gut such conquests of past working-class struggles. But in Cuba such measures are not seen as “welfare,” but as the inherent rights and prerogatives of the working class.)
Internationalists in Power
Cuban revolutionary theory and practice was animated by a strong anti-bureaucratism articulated in the speeches and writings of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, that was bound together by a profound internationalist spirit of solidarity. This entire perspective and outlook was a return to – and spurred the revival of in a new generation of revolutionary-minded youth – a creative, and human-being centered, Marxism after decades of stultification and dogma in theory, as well as horrible crimes and betrayals in its name in practice, by the government led by Joseph Stalin and his acolytes in the Soviet Union and the so-called “socialist camp.” (See especially Socialism and Man in Cuba by Che Guevara, Pathfinder Press edition and Fidel Castro’s 1962 speech on sectarianism and bureaucracy http://www.walterlippmann.com/fc-03-26-1962.html)
The consolidation of the Cuban Revolution as a workers state meant that for the first time since the opening years of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, revolutionary internationalists were in the leadership of a workers state. They not only held domestic power but, in their foreign policy, had the political perspective of extending the Revolution and using the political authority and material resources of the workers state – within the limits of the possible – to collaborate with and aid fellow revolutionists. In the case of the Cuban revolutionaries this primarily meant in the arena of Latin America, which was in a state of permanent political turmoil and intensifying class struggle under conditions of massive poverty, social inequality, and foreign, mainly US, economic and political domination. Since the 1898 Spanish-American War, which marked the origins of the modern American Empire, Washington engaged in frequent overt and covert violent invasions, interventions, and subversion across the Americas, over the subsequent decades (for a comprehensive list of US interventions in the Americas since 1898 click below http://www.zompist.com/latam.html).
(US interventionist policy has continued into the 21st Century, albeit with more political limitations and counter-pressures …and less success. The US-backed April 11, 2002 military coup against Hugo Chavez’s anti-imperialist government in Venezuela was reversed and defeated following massive demonstrations in support of Chavez. In September 2008 ultraright forces in Bolivia, backed covertly by Washington, attempts to split the country on regional lines and bring down the government of President Evo Morales. The big-business and large landowning-led forces were centered in oil and gas producing regions and furiously opposed Morales’s progressive policies of nationalizing Bolivian vast mineral, oil, and gas resources, promoting the interests of Bolivia’s indigenous Indian majority, and his close alliances with Cuba and Venezuela. This all failed ignominiously.)
On February 4, 1962, Fidel Castro read the “Second Declaration of Havana” to a crowd of one million in Havana’s Revolution Square. The manifesto, drawn up by the Cuban leadership, was essentially a call for revolutionary struggle against US imperialism and the dependent capitalist-oligarchic order extant across the Americas. World politics had seen nothing like this language, backed up with action, since the Bolshevik team around V.I. Lenin and the Communist International they founded, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the end of the inter-imperialist bloodletting of World War I:
“What is Cuba’s history but that of Latin America? What is the history of Latin America but the history of Asia, Africa, and Oceania? And what is the history of all these peoples but the history of the cruelest exploitation of the world by imperialism?
At the end of the last century and the beginning of the present, a handful of economically developed nations had divided the world among themselves subjecting two thirds of humanity to their economic and political domination Humanity was forced to work for the dominating classes of the group of nations which had a developed capitalist economy.
The historic circumstances which permitted certain European countries and the United States of North America to attain a high industrial development level put them in a position which enabled them to subject and exploit the rest of the world. What motives lay behind this expansion of the industrial powers? Were they moral, “civilizing” reasons, as they claimed? No. Their motives were economic…
Wherever roads are closed to the peoples, where repression of workers and peasants is fierce, where the domination of Yankee monopolies is strongest, the first and most important lesson is to understand that it is neither just nor correct to divert the peoples with the vain and fanciful illusion that the dominant classes can be uprooted by legal means which do not and will not exist. The ruling classes are entrenched in all positions of state power. They monopolize the teaching field. They dominate all means of mass communication. They have infinite financial resources. Theirs is a power which the monopolies and the ruling few will defend by blood and fire with the strength of their police and their armies.
The duty of every revolutionary is to make revolution. (From The Second Declaration of Havana, Pathfinder Press edition)
The Cuban revolutionaries also supported revolutionary armed struggle in Algeria against French colonialism and in the Congo against the pro-imperialist neocolonial regime there that had come to power after the assassination of the Congolese freedom fighter and first President of an independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba.
These incredible events on a small Spanish-speaking Caribbean island shook up world politics. Not only did Cuba establish relations of economic and military alliance with the Soviet Union and the “Warsaw Pact” governments and states, but, much more significantly, revolutionary Cuba in the 1960s became the political and organizing center across the Americas for revolutionary struggle against US domination and the rule of the oligarchies – two things that were hand in glove.
This was an obvious challenge to US policymakers. If Havana became the Mecca for revolutionaries across Latin America, Miami became the counter-Mecca for those tied to the existing oligarchic order that was becoming unglued, a process accelerated by the presence and impact and of the Cuban Revolution. In the early years after the triumph of the Revolution, the CIA set up in Miami the largest base operation in its history. Daily operations were spun and run into Cuba involving plans for sabotage, terrorism, assassination, and so on. Organized, trained, funded, and directed from Washington, the operatives – by and large – were Cuban exiles. Thousands of Cuban citizens lost their lives as result of such actions over the years.
Many millions of dollars, and no doubt hundreds of personnel hired, were spent on so-called “psychological-warfare operations” (psy-ops) to spread “disinformation” and “misinformation” – that is, LIES – in the form of gossip, innuendo, and rumors made up out of whole cloth, on the theory that if you throw enough bullshit against a wall, some is bound to stick.
The modus operandi in the CIA’s factories of falsification were the spreading of conspiracy theories fabricated to cause confusion and, hopefully, cause divisions and splits in the revolutionary leadership. Among the most notorious lies spread far and wide:
Revolutionary hero Camilo Cienfuegos didn’t really die in a plane crash after a mission to counter anti-revolutionary activity centered around Huber Matos in Camaguey, but was actually killed by Fidel Castro. Che Guevara did not really go out of public view to organize anti-imperialist struggles in Africa and Latin America, but was actually imprisoned and even killed by Fidel Castro. (When that Big Lie was no longer operative, the new mendacity was that Fidel refused to “rescue” Che in Bolivia and “allowed” him to die, still peddled to this day.)
(Former CIA operatives like the ubiquitous Brian Latell, a top figure for decades on the CIA’s “Cuba desk,” has recently resurfaced to peddle the lie that Fidel Castro knew beforehand that President John Kennedy was going to be assassinated. As they say, old habits are hard to break and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In the end, however, the ability to find a platform to spew lies and half-truths, is, for the Latells of the world, a small consolation prize that hardly makes up for the fact that their life’s work of destroying the Cuban Revolution, despite all their ingenious, inventive, creative lying has been a shameful, spectacular bust.)
The role of the defeated Cuban businessmen, landowners, branch managers of US corporations, and gangsters was strictly to help “Uncle Sam” and do what they were told. It is laughable to think that these defeated bumblers would be calling the shots politically or in any other way. But that is not to say that, like most clients and lackeys, the defeated remnants of the old Cuban ruling class did not chafe at their dependent position and the limits placed on their freedom of action. In fact they were very resentful and sought to leverage their position and knowledge to maneuver within the framework of internal, tactical Washington divisions, to take relatively independent initiatives. For example, over the years, CIA-trained operatives like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles have “independently” carried out terrorist activities that were not under the concrete direction of the CIA and the US government, such as the blowing up of Cuban Flight 455 in October 1976 that departed from Barbados, killing all 73 people onboard. Bosch died in 2011 having been allowed to live unencumbered in the US since 1990 by decisions of the George Bush, Senior (the director of the CIA during Bosch’s most “productive” terrorist period) White House. Posada Carriles remains a free man in Miami today. And the US State Department has the temerity to put Cuba on a list of “nations supporting terrorism!”
The policy of overturning and destroying the “Castro revolution” was a unanimous one across the board in Washington, uniting Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. This was true despite the tactical divergences which naturally emerged. These differences actually led to recriminations among top US politicians and policymakers – and their media and academic clones – which became quite vicious at times, especially in the period after the CIA-trained mercenary army was crushed at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. “Who Lost Cuba?” cried the US right wing. President Kennedy was blamed for the Bay of Pigs humiliation because he held back as the debacle unfolded from unleashing direct US bombing of the island. (Legions of conspiracy theorists, on the basis of these recriminations, concocted a plausible factoid asserting that “rouge” elements of the CIA using “embittered” Cuban exiles were behind Kennedy’s November 1963 assassination. This is backed up by the false assertion that Kennedy was seeking a “rapprochement” with the Cuban government, and, with even flimsier evidence, that he was planning to abort US intervention in Vietnam. Not a few novels and films, some even brilliantly done, have come out of these fantastic conspiracies. See James Ellroy’s American Tabloid, Don DeLillo’s Libra, and Oliver Stone’s film JFK.)
Kennedy chose – no doubt wisely and prudently given the overall situation at hand – to cut US losses rather than double down on what was a real-time Washington political and military disaster. In making the choice to retreat and concede the defeat of the mercenary forces, Kennedy understood fully that the Cuban people had become armed to the teeth and were full of revolutionary enthusiasm and fighting will. The political consequences of dropping bombs on Cuban territory, after the defeat of an operation the US government had been claiming publicly it had nothing to do with, would certainly have been politically and militarily catastrophic for Washington. Who knows how many tens of thousands of US troops would have been necessary to gain control of the island? What would have been the reaction in Latin American and world capitals to any sustained bombing of Cuban territory and cities? In the Soviet Union and China? Indeed, what would have been the reaction inside the United States, where a significant degree of sympathy with Cuba existed and where the mass Civil Rights Movement that was exploding across the South and North had many Black leaders and activists attracted to revolutionary Cuba and its sweeping anti-racist policies?
From the Bay of Pigs to the Missile Crisis
In any case, the Kennedy Administration chose to bow to a difficult reality, lick its wounds, emphasize that the origins of the scheme were with the previous Eisenhower Administration, and prepare for another round. It quickly established, under the direct leadership of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the infamous Operation Mongoose program of stepped-up anti-Castro propaganda and “psychological warfare,” economic sabotage, assassinations (literally hundreds of plots were hatched to murder Fidel Castro, which included collaborating with US Mafia families) and terrorism. All in preparation, and to lay the foundation for, the next round of a direct US invasion, without, this time, the “leading” wedge of the Cuban exile mercenaries.
It was these plans, and this dynamic, barely hidden and, in any case, fully known by the Cuban and Soviet governments, that led to the so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis” of October 1962.
Earlier that year Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev talked a reluctant Fidel Castro into allowing the installation of nuclear-tipped Soviet missiles on Cuban territory. Castro has said publicly that Khrushchev’s appeal was two-fold: first, as a defense against the US invasion of Cuba everyone knew was coming, and second, as an act of “socialist solidarity” with the Soviet Union, since US missiles were in Turkey, an equivalent distance from Soviet territory. Castro felt that he was not in a position to refuse, especially given the indispensable role of Soviet economic and military aid at that point in Cuba’s defense from Washington’s multi-front assault.
Nevertheless Castro strongly objected to the secret installation of the missiles. He felt this would inevitably be exposed – as of course it was – and would likely give Washington the moral high ground. Better to be upfront and declare the policy openly on the grounds of defense of Cuba and create political pressure for a mutual drawdown of missile deployments near each power’s land mass. But Castro’s advice and warnings were rejected, if not ignored altogether by the Soviet leadership. When US spy planes revealed the missile sites, and with more missiles en route on Soviet ships, Kennedy effectively took the political offensive.
Kennedy organized a naval quarantine of Cuba and threatened to confront Soviet naval vessels approaching Cuban waters. This sequence of events nearly led to direct US-Soviet military engagement and an invasion of Cuba by the United States, not to speak of devastating nuclear exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union and untold millions of deaths. The crisis was resolved when the Soviet leadership removed the nuclear weapons from Cuba and turned their ships back. In return, the Kennedy Administration agreed, in a secret protocol, to remove the US nuclear missiles from Turkey. The deal supposedly included an informal (that is, not written down and signed in a formal document) pledge that the United States would not directly invade Cuba.
US government documents declassified since the “Missile Crisis” reveal that Washington policymakers fully understood that a US invasion of Cuba would have met truly massive, popular resistance – the entire population was armed to the teeth and in a state of full territorial mobilization. The secret documents projected that the first days and weeks of an invasion would lead to 10,000 or more US casualties (in nearly ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, US combat deaths are under 7,000). It was this reality – as much as any supposed “statesman-like cool” – that restrained President Kennedy from ordering an invasion and negotiating, without the participation of the Cuban government, a mutually agreeable settlement with an equally anxious, and politically and diplomatically outmaneuvered, Soviet government which had overplayed its hand.
Relative US Failure
Washington failed in its intense efforts in this period to overturn the revolutionary Cuban government, destroy the Cuban workers state, and restore capitalist property relations and the neocolonial order on the island. That failure continues to this day and is often cited by Establishment dissenters as a reason to dump what is called an “ineffective” anti-Cuba policy. They fantasize that “engagement,” normalization, and the subsequent “exposure” to “American ideas” will actually undermine and do more to eventually defeat the Cuban Revolution than the US embargo, travel restrictions, and threats. This argument is usually accompanied by the assertion that “Castro” and the Cuban government actually want and need US hostility as an “excuse” to avoid “democracy,” “human rights,” blah-blah-blah, so as to divert and manipulate mass discontent. (Of course this is all complete and utter nonsense. The dominant consensus among US policymakers, and in this they are completely correct, is that any unilateral dropping of US sanctions without a Cuban surrender and capitulation would not only be a historic political victory for Cuba and humiliation for Washington. It would also be a tremendous boost to Cuba’s economic development and prosperity to have the legal ability to buy, sell, and trade in the US market. It would also create the conditions for rapid internal political relaxation and the further institutionalization of democratic rights and civil liberties. All of which would strengthen Cuban socialism and make it all the more attractive and resonant across the Americas and internationally.)
But Washington’s failure to defeat the Cuban Revolution is not the end, but more like the beginning of the question. The failure is relative and must be qualified, aside from the obvious price Cuba has paid, in blood and economic development, from US sanctions and hostility. That is, it must also be said that the US government and its allies in the Latin American oligarchies have been successful, for many decades, in the larger question of preventing the extension of the Cuban socialist revolution in the Americas. That “success” of course set up the nightmare decades in Latin America of brutal and murderous military-oligarchy rule.
The Nightmare Decades
In 1964 in Brazil, the progressive government of Joao Goulart, which favored friendly relations with Cuba, was overthrown and replaced with a military dictatorship backed by the US which last nearly 20 years; in September 1963 the Kennedy Administration’s CIA overthrew the elected left-wing government of Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic, establishing a military junta. After a Constitucionalista uprising led by Colonel Francisco Caamano seized and held the capital of Santo Domingo, the Lyndon Johnson Administration ordered a US invasion in April 1965 which smashed the revolutionary process on the island in the name of preventing a “second Cuba”; in 1967 the revolutionary guerrillas led by Ernesto Che Guevara were defeated in Bolivia. Subsequent guerrilla movements inspired by the Cuban Revolution were also everywhere defeated; in June 1973 a military coup replaced a civilian dictatorship in Uruguay aimed at crushing the revolutionary Tupamaros movement and militant trade union and student organizations. Military dictatorship lasted twelve years until 1985 in Uruguay; in September 1973 the elected left-wing government of Salvador Allende in Chile was overthrown in a US-backed coup consolidating a murderous military regime that lasted 17 years; in 1976 the weak, elected Peronist government in Argentina was overthrown in a US-backed coup, ushering in vicious repression killing some 30,000, until the military regime collapsed after the Malvinas Islands war fiasco in 1982-83.
(For a number of years all of these military regimes established in the 1970s worked together, and, directly and indirectly, with US government intelligence agencies, in an international program of kidnapping, murder, and assassination called “Operation Condor.” (See The Condor Years by John Dinges, The New Press, 2004)
Washington succeeded in preventing the extension of the Cuban Revolution, and by the late-1970s Latin America was dominated by US-backed brutal military regimes upholding the naked rule of the oligarchies. But this rule was fragile and already beginning to unravel. A political earthquake shook Central America with the triumph of the Nicaraguan Revolution in July 1979 and the intertwined rise in revolutionary armed struggles in neighboring El Salvador and Guatemala. A new reality and template for Washington’s policies in the Americas, and its confrontation with the Cuban Revolution, was set. (Part III of this essay will take up Washington’s Central America bloodbath, the demise of the Nicaraguan Revolution, the rise and fall of the “Neoliberal” decade in Latin America, and the Cuban Revolution’s remarkable resistance and survival.)
Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today: Ballad of a Never-Ending Policy – Part Two by Ike Nahem
Ike Nahem is a longtime anti-war, labor, and socialist activist. He is the coordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York (email@example.com) and a founder of the New York-New Jersey July 26 Coalition (www.july26coalition.org). Nahem is an Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. These are his personal political opinions. Comments and criticisms can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Por: Arthur González, PUBLICADO EN LA PAGINA AUCA EN CAYO HUESO
El Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos hizo público el aumento del financiamiento de veinte millones u/s para sus programas subversivos a través de las nuevas tecnologías de la informática y comunicaciones, con el trasnochado sueño de derrocar la Revolución , bajo el eufemismo de “promover la democracia en Cuba”. Según declaraciones de Mark López, vice administrador asistente para Latinoamérica y el Caribe de la Agencia Internacional para el Desarrollo (USAID), que todo el mundo sabe es una organización pantalla de la CIA , “En espíritu, y en dinero, hay un repunte” en los gastos de tecnología para aumentar el flujo de información hacia Cuba”.
Se asegura que la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton ha impulsado una campaña para apoyar la libertad de Internet a nivel global, con el fin de acelerar “el cambio político, social y económico” y derrotar los esfuerzos del gobierno cubano por controlar la información. La administración del presidente Barack Obama “ayudará a la gente en un ambiente opresivo para la Internet a evadir los filtros, a estar un paso más allá de los censores, de los hackers, y de los matones que los golpean o los encarcelan por lo que dicen en línea”, declaró la Sra. Clinton este año.
El dinero será administrado por tres entidades del Departamento de Estado: la Oficina de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (LAC) de la USAID ; la Oficina de la Democracia , los Derechos Humanos y el Trabajo (DRL); y Asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental (WHA). El mayor bloque individual de dinero es el de $ 4 millones u/s que LAC gastará en un programa de “democracia digital” para estimular el uso de “tecnología innovadora y aumentar el flujo de información libre de censura a la isla, desde ella y dentro de ella.
Para evitar otro incidente como el de Alan Gross, el programa evitará equipos sofisticados como teléfonos satelitales y en su lugar usará solamente artículos disponibles en la isla, tales como computadoras, DVDs, unidades USB y teléfonos celulares, dijo un empleado del Congreso enterado del caso. Seis de los otros nueve programas para Cuba, incluidos en la carta, mencionan también la tecnología. López dijo que “es difícil cuantificar el aumento de un año al otro en fondos para tecnología debido a que los programas se extienden a varios años”.
Por supuesto que estos planes confirman las permanentes denuncias de Cuba sobre las acciones de la diplobloguera Yoani Sánchez Cordero, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, el llamado Estado de SATS, engendro dirigido por Antonio González Rodiles, que son personajillos al servicio de los norteamericanos y que de auténticos no tienen ni el nombre; los dirigen los diplomáticos norteamericanos y otros aliados europeos para que cumplan las misiones fabricadas en los EE.UU. Sobre estos señores muchos cubanos denunciamos recientemente la fabricación del llamado Festival de Click, que persigue lo mismo que plantea la carta del Sr. López, el que no puede ocultar las verdaderas intensiones de estos blogueros lacayos de la oficina.
¿Cómo reaccionaría el Departamento de Estado si Cuba organizara algo similar para los Ocupantes de Wall Street o a los Indignados europeos? ¿Aceptarían plácidamente esa injerencia en sus asuntos internos?, por supuesto que lo verían como una declaración de guerra y tomarían fuertes medidas incluidas las militares.
En mi consideración, lo mejor que han podido hacer los yanquis es divulgar este nuevo presupuesto para su Guerra Sucia contra Cuba, porque sin proponérselo nos dan la razón y dejan sin hoja de parra a Yoani y su tropa, demostrándose una vez más como trabajan los Servicios Especiales Norteamericanos cuando pretenden derrocar un gobierno que no se pliega a sus mandatos.
No importa cuánto dinero distribuyan, mientras más mejor, pues al final todo se queda dentro de la Isla , lo mismo que los medios técnicos que envían. NO aprenden las lecciones de 53 años. Así les pasó con las bandas de alzados que organizaron en las montañas del Escambray en los años 60, y con las redes de la CIA creadas dentro de las ciudades, todas fueron desbaratadas y los medios y dinero fueron a parar al Estado cubano.
Después en los 80 sucedió lo mismo con otras organizaciones contrarrevolucionarias y los 30 supuestos agentes de la CIA , sirvieron para una denuncia pública por la TV cubana, que desprestigió a esa Agencia de Inteligencia y puso en la palestra a cientos de oficiales, siendo el descalabro más grande de un Servicio de Inteligencia en el Mundo, sin precedentes históricos. Lo mismo ocurrió en los 90 con algunos elementos supuestamente contrarrevolucionarios que respondían a la seguridad cubana y más recientemente el 2011 otra media docena de agentes cubanos que se burlaron de la CIA , USAID y FUPAD.
Por tanto, es evidente que no aprenden la lección o quizás no les importe porque al fin y al cabo el presupuesto millonario incrementa los bolsillos de muchos de sus funcionarios.
Planes subversivos contra Cuba
Washington and the Cuban Revolution Today: Ballad of a Never-Ending Policy
By Ike Nahem
You can also download a copy of the article here
Part I: The Myth of the Miami Lobby
The Obama Administration, consistent with the approach of the Bush Administration, has made a political decision to subordinate foreign policy and national interest-based decisions to domestic politics with respect to its Cuba policy. There is a bipartisan group of members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate – who represent Florida, a state where there are many swing votes that deliver the electoral votes for any president. These individuals not only deliver votes, but they deliver campaign finance, and generally make a lot of noise, and that combination has persuaded the White House that reelection is more of a priority than taking the heavy lifting to set the United States on the path of -normalization with Cuba for now.
Julia Sweig, director for Latin American Studies, US Council on Foreign Relations
The essential continuity of US anti-Cuba policy under the Barack Obama Administration has been a source of mystery and confusion to many who oppose US sanctions. Within the US academic, think-tank, and media meritocracies – who often go in and out of government office – many are frustrated, even embarrassed, by Washington’s continued pariah status over Cuba in Latin America and internationally as registered in annual lopsided, humiliating votes against the US policy in the United Nations.
So why does Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba – the longest unchanged foreign policy in US history, entering its sixth decade – persist? Why is Cuba such an outsize question in US politics? Why does Washington continue a policy that is utterly isolated in world and regional forums, holding up US diplomats and policymakers to derision and contempt? (The stated reasons given – the supposed lack of “democracy” and “human rights” in Cuba – reek with such misinformation, half-truths, obvious hypocrisy and arbitrary selectivity that they cannot be taken seriously and must be dismissed out of hand. I will comprehensively take up the question of democratic rights, human rights, civil liberties and the Cuban Revolution in Part III of this essay.)
The most common explanation for these questions is expressed in the quotation by Julia Sweig that opens this essay. (Sweig is a scholar with the super-Establishment Council on Foreign Relations and is their Director for Latin America Studies. She is the author of the excellent book Inside the Cuban Revolution and is a very informed observer and analyst of Cuban history and politics. She is unquestionably a strong opponent of US sanctions against Cuba and in favor of normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.) Sweig and other dissenters within Establishment circles, as well as many elected officials purportedly opposed to US policy, point to or at the Cuban-American population and elected officials who form in Washington a so-called, and supposedly so-powerful, “Miami Lobby.” Some even go so far as to say US policy and “national interest” is being held “hostage” by this “Lobby.” Such nonsense crosses over into virtual conspiracy theories.
This argument and explanation turns political reality on its head. It has never been true and, in today’s world, it has never been less credible. It is a myth and an illusion that the Cuban-American community and Cuban-American office-holding politicians are the driving, determining force behind US policies toward Cuba. US foreign policy in general, and Cuba policy in particular, is driven by the interests of the US ruling capitalist class of bosses, bankers, and bondholders. It is primarily mediated through its two political parties and state institutions and secondarily through its big-business media, think tanks, and academic minions. Cuban-American bourgeois politicians are part of that mix, prominent, but far from decisive.
Washington has never, and does not now, need the aging representatives of the ex-ruling powers of Cuba, or their descendants, to explain to them why they should oppose the Cuban Revolution and the domestic and international policies of the revolutionary socialist Cuban government. The actual political affect of the “Miami Lobby” myth (which through endless repetition has become almost a mantra) is to take the political focus off the US government and place it on the Cuban-American community and a handful of Cuban-American elected officials. It puts the cart before the horse, the caboose at the head of the train
Such politicians of Cuban origin in the US Congress as Republican Florida representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio can be useful as a cover or a foil for a US policy that is so unpopular. Cuban-Americans can be blamed and chided by those opposed to the policy and praised and defended by those in favor of the policy. But they do not make the policy.
The myth of the “Miami Lobby” cuts across building a broad protest movement and the kind of effective action that can actually force a change in the policy. By homogenizing (or worse, demonizing) the contradictory and increasingly polarized Cuban-American community, the myth of the “Miami Lobby” has become an obstacle to winning over more Cuban-Americans to oppose US sanctions.
The fact is that for over five decades now there has been a bipartisan policy and a common goal of defeating and eradicating the Cuban Revolution. None of this has ever been, or is it now, primarily motivated by the interests of the Cuban-American exile community in Miami. The origins and continuity of Washington’s hostility to the Cuban Revolution is homegrown. It flows out of the politics, policies and example of the Cuban Revolution – both inside Cuba and in its resonance across the Americas and internationally in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and even inside the advanced capitalist powers.
The Impact of the Cuban Revolution on US Politics
Cuba appears and is presented as a minor question in US politics and foreign policy. This is all the more so since the end of the so-called “Cold War” and its decades-long conflict and clash between Washington and Moscow. In those days Washington’s lurid propaganda painted Cuba’s revolutionary government as a “client” and “puppet” of the former Soviet Union. While this was always consciously insulting and factually absurd, the alliance of Cuba with the Soviet bloc was used to fabricate a Cuban “threat” to the US and the American people. (October 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of the traumatic “Cuban Missile Crisis, which was used to convince many working people in the United States on the “threat” from Cuba.)
Independent of the Soviet Union, the “Cuba Question,” that is the political dynamics and impact of the Cuban Revolution, has always had major weight and importance in US politics and foreign policy, especially in the Americas. This remains the case today even though Cuba is a small island of less than 12 million people and the United States is a globe-straddling economic, financial, political, and military superpower, albeit in relative decline today on all these fronts.
The end of the “Cold War” and the political disappearance of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies over 20 years ago has not seen any easing up of US anti-Cuba policy. On the contrary, it has essentially deepened. The consensus of the US ruling class and central policymakers remains that Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba must remain and continue in today’s post-Cold War. That world reality has developed into a new era, if not historical epoch, defined by the worst generalized economic and financial crisis of the world capitalist system since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
In public US politicians mock, deride, and denigrate Cuba, it is clear that both ruling parties in Washington continue to see Cuba as a formidable political force with significant moral and political authority, especially in the Americas, but worldwide. There is virtual unanimity in both parties that the revolutionary Cuban government needs to be confronted and defeated, not reconciled with on the basis of respect for Cuban sovereignty. From Washington’s point of view, the Cuban government promotes anti-imperialist (or, as they falsely put it, “anti-American”) revolutionary action, has not renounced the program of international socialist revolution, and, short of that, supports any policies and struggles that defend the interests of workers, peasants, and youth. Such a perspective clearly impacts negatively on the economic interests of US capital and Washington’s political and “strategic” prerogatives in defense of those interests.
Tactical Divisions Over Cuba Policy
It is common on the “US Left” to become politically disoriented and disarmed (and safely in the hands of “lesser evil” liberals and Democrats) by the intense and even brutal forms expressed over what are in actual substance relatively minor tactical differences over policy between the two imperialist parties and within the ruling class in the United States. Cuba is a classic case in point.
Every year in the United Nations there is a lopsided (in 2011 it was 186 for and 2 against with 3 abstentions) anti-Washington vote on the “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States against Cuba” that gets bare mention in the US corporate media. Across the Americas, Washington’s anti-Cuba policies are routinely ridiculed and opposed in every Hemispheric and regional forum, including “Summits” of the Organization of American States, traditionally a servile tool of US policy and Hemispheric domination. Cuba’s strong defense of its sovereignty, its revolutionary ideas, and its practice of international solidarity with oppressed and exploited humanity, has given the socialist island important political and moral authority and weight in world politics – way out of proportion to its size, numbers, economic strength, or military firepower. This is a cause of great irritation and consternation for the US rulers and their acolytes of the “Miami Lobby.” But it is a great testament to the power of ideas in the world. In truth there is no greater power on earth than when progressive and revolutionary ideas inspire and grip millions and become a material political force.
How to achieve the common goal of overturning the Cuban government in real political time naturally leads to furious tactical differences within the US government and within and between the Democratic and Republican parties who share and exercise power in the US capitalist state. This is inevitable given how isolated and unpopular the US anti-Cuba policy is in the Americas, in the world, and even inside the United States. Maneuvers, shifts, and concessions occur from one year to the next, and from one White House to the next, all reacting to the pressure of events. It’s all aimed at positioning Washington off the defensive in order to more effectively disorient, undermine, and overwhelm the Cuban Revolution.
Obama vs. Bush
President Obama has made some shifts and even partial retreats from the anti-Cuba rules enforced by George W. Bush. These are objectively positive. It’s good that some Cuban musicians, artists and scholars have been allowed into the US at the invitation of universities and cultural institutions. It’s good that Cuban-Americans are allowed to travel to their country of origin without the previous insulting bureaucratic restrictions. It’s better than before that rules for licenses allowing limited travel to Cuba by other US citizens have been relatively loosened.
These moves by the Obama Administration are in no way a shift away from the basic US policy of “regime change,” that is, destroying the Cuban Revolution. They basically move US rules back to the norms under the Clinton Administration and the first period of the George W. Bush Administration, before they were tightened up with the triumphalist hubris that followed the US invasion of Iraq. At that time Bush selected Otto Reich as his Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, along with other important figures among the counter-revolutionary exile groupings such as Roger Noriega, a former top staffer for ultraright, notoriously racist North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. Such were the personnel directing the Hemispheric policies of Bush’s Administration.
But this did not work out well for US policy and position in Latin America, particularly after Washington’s (and Reich’s) fingerprints were found all over the failed April 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela against the popular, elected government of Hugo Chavez. Bush was forced to remove both Reich and then later his successor Noriega and retreat from the hyper-arrogant rhetoric and posturing toward Latin America that became politically costly to Washington.
What Obama has done is shift away from the more bellicose language and Bush-style bombast around Cuba by making minimal adjustments in policy around travel and visa rules to try and undo the political damage of the Bush years. Nevertheless, Obama has been quite strikingly unsuccessful in winning any support for the US anti-Cuba position in the Americas, which remains completely isolated, excepting the right-wing Stephen Harper government in Ottawa. Canada still continues to be the largest source of tourism to Cuba and carries out considerable commercial exchange with the island.)
Under Obama, the Treasury and Justice Departments have stepped up harassments and prosecutions of US or foreign businesses deemed to “violate” US “rules” and sanctions against commercial and financial exchange and collaboration with Cuba. Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon recently stated, in an interview with French academic and journalist Salim Lamrani, “…[T]he Obama administration has been considerably more consistent in the imposition of fines and sanctions against foreign companies who violate the framework of sanctions against Cuba, that engage in business transactions with us…A number of banks have been fined several millions of dollars, more than 100 million in one case, for conducting dollar-based business transactions and for having opened dollars accounts with Cuban companies.” On June 12, 2012 it was announced by the US Department of Justice that the Dutch Bank ING agreed to a $619 million fine for violating the US “Trading with the Enemy Act,” by moving US currency from trades with Cuba (and also Iran) through US financial networks. According to the online Guardian Express Newspaper, “The fine is considered to be the largest ever in the history of the US financial system.” Since the Obama Administration took office in 2009 major European banks Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Lloyds have reached similar settlements with the US government over financial dealings with Cuba.
The Obama Administration continues to support and promote State Department and CIA overt and covert programs that aim at subverting and undermining the Cuban government, and which landed State Department agent Alan Gross in a Cuban prison. (The idea that Gross’s conviction and incarceration is the impediment to improved US-Cuban relations which Obama wants to pursue is a very bad joke. Washington’s actions in dispatching agents like Gross – just one instance of a large-scale policy of unremitting economic and political war against Cuba funded to the tune of many dozens of millions of dollars in openly budgeted allocations, not counting resources used for covert programs – represents the real impediment to improved and normalized relations.) Obama’s State Department continues to keep Cuba on its list of “nations supporting terrorism,” a huge lie and vile slander. Obama continues to ignore Cuban diplomatic initiatives for bilateral cooperation around issues such as drug trafficking and hurricane response coordination. Obama continues to resist the unanimous opinion of Latin American and Caribbean member states of the Organization of American States to end the exclusion of Cuba. Obama continues to dismiss and resist any attempts to negotiate mechanisms, including any “exchanges,” that would release the Cuban Five, four of whom are in their 14th year of incarceration, while one, Rene Gonzalez, was released after serving his full term, but is not being allowed to return home to Cuba. Another clear sign of the essential continuity in Obama’s anti-Cuba policy from the Bush Administration – and really all previous White Houses since Eisenhower – is in Obama’s appointment of Ricardo Zuniga as “Director for Western Hemispheric Affairs” for the White House National Security Council. Zuniga was formerly a key player in the US Interests Section in Havana under Bush, organizing the extreme provocations against Cuba led by Interests Section Chief James Cason.
Looking at the balance sheet of Obama’s policies toward Cuba compared to that of George W. Bush, recalls the classic line of Groucho Marx: “I’ve worked myself up to nothing from a state of extreme poverty.”
Waves and Patterns of Cuban Emigration to the US
There have always been Cuban workers who emigrated to, lived, and worked in the United States. However, the origin and formation of a mass Cuban-American “community” began with the large-scale emigration after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Like all genuine social revolutions, the Cuban Revolution was marked by deep-going and irreversible class struggle and polarization. In the first period after the Cuban Revolution some 5% of the then Cuban population of 6 million made its way to Florida and the US where it was received with open arms and special privileges as “refugees from communism,” obviating regular immigration requirements.
The first wave of exiles were overwhelmingly from the Cuban ruling classes, their supporters, hangers on, and enforcers in the military and police apparatuses, as well as the extensive organized–crime networks – narcotics marketers, brothel owners and pimps, casino magnates, and so on – that flourished in the Batista era. As the Cuban Revolution began to implement radical economic and social policies that benefited peasants, agricultural and industrial workers, and the impoverished majority in general, large layers of the relatively small Cuban middle and professional classes followed the largest landowners, capitalists, army officers, cops, and gangsters into exile. While a small minority, it was nevertheless hundreds of thousands of people. (One example of this pattern was in the over 50% of the 6,000 doctors in Cuba who left the country after the Revolution. These doctors overwhelmingly served the Cuban upper and middle classes. The average Cuban rarely, if ever, saw a doctor their entire life. Life expectancy was in the low 50s. Infant mortality was over 60 per 1000, among the world’s highest. Today Cuba graduates 10,000 new doctors every year; life expectancy is approaching 80 and infant mortality is 4.5 per 1000, among the world’s lowest.)
Additionally it should be noted that these first waves of emigrant-exiles were overwhelmingly Caucasian; among the most far-reaching policies of the revolutionary Cuban government was the smashing of Jim Crow-style segregation laws and policies on the island. Cuban’s of African origin were among the strongest and most enthusiastic supporters and protagonists of the Revolution, which was echoed in the wide support for the Cuban Revolution among African-Americans in the United States.
Of course there was no mechanical one-to one political correspondence in the class polarization that accompanied the Cuban Revolution. Not every middle-class Cuban opposed the Revolution and split to Miami; a good number were in support or ambivalent but patriotic. (For an excellent portrayal of this early period of the Revolution from the vantage point of an alienated middle-class Cuban, see the masterful, world-acclaimed Cuban film Memories of Underdevelopment, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea.) And there were a small number of workers, peasants, and Afro-Cubans who actively supported the counter-revolution. Nevertheless, it is an indisputable fact that the large majority of the Cuban population at the time, and overwhelmingly so among working people, peasants, youth, and Black Cubans, embraced the Revolution as their own work and actively defended it.
Many thousands of Cuban exiles were recruited by the US military and intelligence apparatus for covert action against Cuba. Business and financial opportunities were established for the Cuban ex-bourgeoisie in south Florida by their US government and business benefactors. The US Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966, which allowed for quick permanent residency and expedited citizenship for declared opponents of the Revolution. Over $1.3 billion, nearly $10 billion in current dollar value, was allocated for direct financial assistance to exiles.
The Mariel Boatlift
Over several months in 1980, a series of provocations against Cuba by the James “Jimmy” Carter Administration, working with the conservative Peruvian military government, led to gatherings of up to 10,000 Cubans at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana wanting to leave the country. (Millions of Cubans mobilized at this time in support of the Revolution.) The death of a Cuban police guard at the Peruvian Embassy led the Cuban government to declare a policy of allowing all Cubans who wanted to leave the island to bypass existing legal processes. Cuban- Americans were invited to come pick up their relatives at the Mariel Harbor. Some 125,000 additional Cubans arrived in the US during the so-called Mariel Boatlift. (Today the Brazilian government and companies are working with Cuba in a major industrial project to make Mariel a state-of-the-world port for freight and trade which, when completed and operational, will be a major boost for the Cuban economy.)
This wave of exiles was of a much different social and class composition than the first waves. They were more on the margins of Cuban society, unassimilated into the working class, indifferent or hostile to the revolutionary process in Cuba. Many had histories of petty criminal activity in areas with no operating space or “market” in Cuba such as gambling, loan sharking, commercial sex, and narcotics trafficking. Most simply wanted to leave Cuba and go to the United States to join relatives or friends and pursue perceived business opportunities. They thought that the United States would be a far more fertile arena and market for their social and business – and criminal – proclivities. US propaganda accused the Cuban government at the time of emptying its prisons and even mental hospitals and shoving “the dregs of Cuban society” onto boats bound for the US. Cuban authorities vehemently denied this and demanded proof of such deeds, which was never delivered, although the slander lived on. (For Fidel Castro’s passionate explanation of the entire affair and response to US slanders see, An Encounter With Fidel: An Interview With Gianni Mina, Ocean Press, pages 61-67.)
The “Special Period” Wave
In the 1990s, under the severe economic conditions of what was called in Cuba the “Special Period,” following the collapse of the governments of the Soviet Union and Eastern European “socialist camp,” thousands more Cubans left the island lured by the Cuban Adjustment Act and the refusal of the US to implement agreements for legal, organized immigration. The relative improvement of the Cuban economy in recent years and the ending of travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans under President Obama, combined with the onset of economic depression and crisis in the US and Europe, has reduced the volume and political volatility of Cuban emigration to the United States.
There are higher proportions of Irish and Israeli emigrants to the United States than Cubans, and this without either the expedited privileges of the Cuban Adjustment Act or the accompanying demonization and propaganda attacking those countries from the US government and big-business media. Given the economic catastrophes currently gripping Greece, Spain, Portugal, and other “Eurozone” economies millions of working people have been displaced and forced to consider emigration. It would be interesting to look at immigration statistics in those countries compared to Cuba today. Many from Spain and Portugal are today even emigrating to Latin America.
In any case what stands out is that the large majority of Cuban working people continue to stand their ground in Cuba and to fight for their revolution despite the Cuban Adjustment Act, despite unremitting US threats, sanctions, and a sense of siege, and despite often grinding economic conditions. Today these Cubans are debating and fighting to improve and change what has to be changed
The case of Elian Gonzalez in the 1990s was a political turning point that highlighted the developing and roiling contradictions within the Cuban-American community. It set in motion politically centrifugal tendencies.
Public opinion in the US at the time overwhelmingly favored the right of Elian’s father to return to Cuba with his son. The right-wing counter-revolutionary circus in Miami acted out by Elian’s distant relatives, manipulated by right-wing Cuban American organizations, was viewed as distasteful and inhumane. Washington tried every lure and trick to keep Elian in this country and – in what would have been a real propaganda coup – to entice his father to “defect.” But eventually they had to face the reality that this was not going to happen and that Cuban, Latin American, and US public opinion was becoming indignant. Father and son were finally let go. The issue had riveted US politics for many months and was a real blow to the authority and political standing of the counter-revolutionary exile organizations and personalities.
The Cuban-American Community Today
Over 1.5 million people whose family origins are in Cuba are now citizens of the United States. Cuba’s current population is nearly 12 million people. Cuban-Americans are 4-5% of the Spanish-speaking US Latino population of over 40 million people. (Accurate figures are hard to specify given the large layers of undocumented working people who have migrated to enter a vast, illegal “black market” in labor to work in the fields, factories, and cities of the United States when such jobs were relatively plentiful.) These Spanish-speaking (or English, French, or Creole-speaking from the Caribbean, or Portuguese-speaking from Brazil) immigrants seeking to labor in the US came from every country and nationality, but only those of Cuban origin, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, get a very fast track to US citizenship and a legal existence to work and live.
Over three-fourths of Cuban-Americans live in Florida, 1.2 million people according to the 2010 US census. The next four states sees a large numbers drop to a little over 80,000 in New Jersey and a little less than 80,000 in New York, some 75,000 in California and 35,000 in Texas. Florida is the fourth most populous US state with 18.8 million people; Cuban-Americans are less than 10% of that total. Cuban-Americans are 30% of Florida’s Latino population. African-Americans are around 16% of Florida’s population, figures that in most counts include Black immigrants from the Caribbean. The Haitian population of south Florida is between 100-200,000 including many undocumented workers. Cubans make up 32 percent of eligible Latino voters, Puerto Ricans 28 percent, and Mexicans 9 percent.
It is absurd to extrapolate out of the size of the Cuban-American electorate an assertion that this “bloc” is decisive in “delivering” Florida’s electoral votes to a future President who must therefore “pander” to “extreme anti-Castro” positions. By manipulating statistics this could be said about any group, grouping, religious denomination or sect. In a close race between Republicans and Democrats, don’t the 3% of Florida’s Jews become “decisive?” What about the 725,000 Puerto Ricans? Why aren’t the Presidential campaigns pandering to the “pro-Aristide” views of Florida’s large Haitian population who by a large majority support the former Haitian President who was ushered out of country by the US military after a coup? (The anti-Aristide campaign was directly led by the above-mentioned Roger Noriega.) The absurdity is further underscored by the fact that Florida’s Jews, Puerto Ricans, Haitians and the 70% non-Cuban Latinos are more preponderantly Democratic in their voting tendencies (if they bother, like a near-majority of eligible voters in general, to vote at all given the dismal choices), and opposed to US sanctions against Cuba than Cuban-Americans are supposedly preponderantly Republican and obsessively, knee-jerkedly, “anti-Castro.”
The truth is that, once given the legal right to do so, Cuban-Americans are defying the threats and admonitions of the Ros-Lehtinens, the Diaz-Balarts, the Menendezes, and the Rubios, that is, the Congressional faces of the “Miami Lobby,” and flocking to Cuba and reconnecting with their homeland and families. Flights are packed and leave every day from Miami and weekly in a growing number of cities. They also rush to buy tickets and fill concert halls to see popular Cuban musicians like Los Van Van, who happen to identify with the Cuban Revolution. (On April 27, 2012 a fire was set at the company Airline Charters, one of the companies that arranges legal flights to Cuba.)
The fact is that the political domination of the old Batistaite ruling oligarchy and Cuban ex-bourgeoisie that became ensconced in south Florida and some enclaves in northern New Jersey is sputtering to the end of its era of sway. That ex-bourgeoisie was set up and established comfortably in business and with a cozy niche in US bourgeois politics over the broader Cuban-American community, and enjoyed a degree of immunity from US law by the US government
Very important, if not decisive, in this dynamic is the broader development and growth of the Latino population in the US that is not of Cuban origin and with a very different history and relationship to the “Cuba Question.” Over decades there has been a growth and accumulated political weight in US society and politics of this broader Latino community, with a mass component of undocumented workers who were a needed source of cheap labor and high profits for US capitalists. This broader Latino community comprises peoples of many national origins: Mexicans, Central Americans, Haitians (also concentrated in Miami as well as New York City) none of whom share the views toward Cuba, Fidel Castro, and the Cuban Revolution of the surviving first waves of immigrant-exiles from the 1960s.
The fact is that among many Latinos living and working in the United States there exists a significant degree of pride and respect, if not solidarity and affection, toward Cuba for standing up to the Yanquis with dignity, even among those far from agreeing with Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Marxist views.
In fact, it can be said that the children and grandchildren of the first waves of Cuban émigrés, who, in general, are hardly partisans of the Cuban Revolution, are nevertheless more objective and curious about Cuba, and more generally in favor of normalized relations and an end to US sanctions. This generation of Cuban-Americans has undoubtedly been shaped as much by their experiences as Latinos in the US and by their interaction in the workplace with other Latino workers and other workers, Black and Caucasian, than by their status as second or third generation exiles from Cuba and the Cuban Revolution with all that political baggage.
The ex-bourgeoisie of Cuba, although many have prospered in business and bourgeois politics from their connections and status, is in no way integrated into the US ruling class. The bulk of Cuban-Americans today are wage workers, professionals, and small business owners. Their political views are shaped and developed primarily by the broad issues of class politics in the United States and much less, and certainly not decisively, by the imperatives of “anti-Castro” exile politics. This is all the more true as so many Cuban-Americans visit the island and become familiar with the economic and political discussions and debates dominating Cuban society today.
The ultra-right grip of the ex-Cuban bourgeoisie, and the violent terrorists trained by the CIA, on Cuban-American political viewpoints regarding US-Cuba relations is unraveling. Ever-growing numbers, at or near majority levels, of Cuban-Americans favor normal relations with the island and an end to economic and travel sanctions. It is precisely the growing pressure from Cuban-Americans that led the Obama Administration to lift the travel restrictions on that (and only that) section of the US population.
It is of great political significance that Washington finds it more difficult to credibly hide behind the Cuban American community to justify or rationalize its anti-Cuba policy. The “Miami Lobby” has always been the directed not the directors, the puppets not the puppeteers. Hopefully the purveyors of the false “Miami Lobby” line will catch up with political reality.
June 15, 2012
Ike Nahem is a longtime anti-war, labor, and socialist activist living in New York City. He is the coordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York (email@example.com) and a founder of the New York-New Jersey July 26 Coalition (www.july26coalition.org). Nahem is an Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. These are his personal political opinions.