The events that occurred in Cuba on Sunday, 11 July 2021, are by now familiar to everyone around the world and need not be repeated. An almost unprecedented wave of protests broke out in many cities across the country involving three distinct sets of demands: demands related to the terrible economic crisis and health emergency that have taken the country in their grip; demands for freedom of expression, assembly, association etc.; demands to bring down what some of the demonstrators called the “dictatorship”. This last demand was complemented by the slogan “patria y vida” (homeland and life), which was designed as an alternative to the famous slogan of the Cuban revolution “patria o muerte” (homeland or death).
To support all of these demands unreservedly or, alternatively, to reject them outright and condemn them as counter-revolutionary will not do.
Don’t make the gusanos happy by attacking the people! Listen to the grievances of and reunite with the people!
It is entirely inappropriate for the Cuban government to characterise the entire event as the work of “mercenaries” and of the “Cuban-American mafia” (the gusanos, i.e. the worms, of Miami as revolutionary Cuba has always called them). This is precisely what the president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel did. This conduct is especially wrong on the very first day of the unrest without seriously investigating its roots. If the Cuban government was able to immediately identify these “mercenaries”, why did it not take pre-emptive action against those criminal traitors before?
Moreover, and more importantly, the different sets of demands cannot be conflated as if they were a single program. It is clear as daylight that Cuba is going through its deepest economic crisis since the “Special Period” in the 1990s in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the workers’ states in Eastern Europe. So, when certain strata of the people demand bread and medicine and electricity, the government has to lend them an ear and not confuse them with the so-called “mercenaries”. Creating that confusion is the best method of delivering the people to the hands of those “mercenaries”. The same is true of the demand for “freedom”. If the people cannot express themselves freely, they cannot overcome their grievances. Hence, to call out another section of the people to the streets immediately without first listening to those who voice their grievances, as Diaz-Canel did, is like provoking civil war from the first moment of the voicing of discord.
Don’t overlook the duty of socialists to defend a workers’ state!
It is even more inappropriate for socialists of other countries to immediately position themselves on the side of the “people”. This year is the 30th anniversary of the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, the gigantic federation of peoples established by Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks as the child of the 1917 October revolution, the most authentic working-class revolution thus far in modern history. The collapse of the Soviet Union was a world-historic phenomenon. It changed the whole physiognomy and anatomy of world politics and created a profound crisis for the socialist movement. If socialists refuse to reflect on the outcome of the errors they committed on that occasion and repeat them this will be unpardonable.
“The people” is not a political actor. It is a social being and, moreover, a very diffuse one. How the actions of a section of “the people” will have an impact on the political and socio-economic structures in place depends primarily on who leads the people. On the first day of a social explosion in a distant country, it will not do to take a one-sided and complete position of support to that movement when the events are taking place in a workers’ state, albeit bureaucratically deformed or degenerated.
On Monday night cable television brought on the air “representatives of the Cuban democracy movement”. These were spokespeople for the counter-revolutionary camp of diaspora Cubans. This propaganda will grow by the day. Joseph Biden has already stepped in to defend the Cuban people in their exercise of their “fundamental and universal rights”. One does not hear this very often from him about Columbia, where close to one hundred people have been killed by the brutal ESMAD police as well as paramilitary forces since the end of April simply because they were doing precisely that, i.e. exercising their “fundamental and universal rights”! If Biden wants to help the Cuban people, let him eliminate the six-decade long embargo on Cuba. Otherwise, he will simply expose himself to be another Michael Pence, vice-president to that fascist in disguise, Donald Trump, who also intervened: “America stands with the oppressed Cuban people assembling for their birthright of #Libertad” he tweeted. “America stands for a free and democratic Cuba!”We know what the “free and democratic Cuba” of the US ruling class will look like. Just turn to its neighbour of the Carribean, Haiti and you will see!
If the danger of capitalist restoration is disregarded, the socialist movement will have failed in its primary duty to defend the last bastion of 20th century socialism that is really worth defending.
Do not side with those who attack the “dictatorship”!
The “representatives of the Cuban democracy movement” demand the downfall of the “dictatorship”. What they mean is not political democracy taking over. They wish to bring down the dictatorship… of the proletariat! For those who refuse to understand that under Fidel and Che, Cuba was not a workers’ state that abolished the rule of capital within its domain, we have nothing to say! From those who think that those days are gone and capitalist restoration has already triumphed, i.e. that the process of restoration has been completed, we want proof.
It is precisely that capitalist restoration whose beginnings have been laid within the last decade but has not been completed yet that we need to fight. You cannot do that if you do not have the overriding will to defend the workers’ state.
Defend the Cuban workers’ state!
Help end the six-decade strangling of the Cuban economy! Work to lift the US embargo!
For workers’ democracy in the framework of a workers’ state in Cuba!
Free immediately those arrested for demonstrating for their grievances and rights!
Lend an ear to the people! Organise open cabildos all around the country!
Stop the market measures and privatisation of the economy that is leading to sharp inequalities and lack of food and medicine!
Fight bureaucratic privilege, fight increasing market inequality!
Against capitalist restoration and for workers’ democracy in Cuba!
(Revolutionary Workers’ Party)