Recalling Tiananmen in Cuba

Daisy Valera

Most of Cuba's newer buses are from China. Photo: Caridad

Praises of Chinese socialism have appeared with greater frequency in the Cuban press over the last few years.

The city buses that cruise the capital, the merchandise sold in hard-currency stores and the modern cars driven by military officers and state leaders are virtually all produced in China.

The media reports to us ordinary Cubans about the relations that are being established between the government of our country and that of the Asian giant.

These small details were enough to allow predictions on how the Cuban media would cover the actions that were commemorated around the world on June 4.

Twenty-two years have passed since the events of Tiananmen Square yet we can still note an embarrassing silence here on the island.

The Communist Party of Cuba (though I would prefer to be mistaken) seconded the position of the Chinese Communist Party (PCCh) in treating what happened in that plaza as an “inappropriate” issue.

Because of this, millions of Cubans went along with that assessment without knowing the true position of the government and party in China, which has become an economic partner with Cuba.

On June 4, 1989, that now world-famous square was the witness of a massacre where even today it’s impossible to conclude the true toll of the dead and wounded.

The Chinese government gave the order to dissolve a demonstration of an estimated hundred thousand protesters, the majority students and workers.

The method used for putting an end to the protest: armed soldiers and tanks.

At Tiananmen Square the demonstrators requested the removal of corrupt rulers, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free association, the end of the layoffs in factories and inflation, among other demands.

The method used for protesting was the hunger strike.

The only response given was a hail of bullets.

The demonstrators were branded as counter-revolutionaries, criminals or agent provocateurs of the Western capitalist governments.

On several occasions those who were protesting sang the words of The International, recognized as the hymn of communism.

From this fact one could conclude that they were not aiming to renounce socialism.

But that wasn’t enough, as orders were given to squeeze the triggers.

Remembering the events in Tiananmen is a duty of all those on the left who are fighting against bureaucratic and totalitarian regimes around the world – those structures of individuals who attempt to smother people’s participation and leadership by perpetuating themselves in power at whatever the cost.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.


7 thoughts on “Recalling Tiananmen in Cuba

  • June 19, 2011 at 1:43 am
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    Hope this is not going to happen on 23rd & 12th Streets on July 1st 2011 in Cuba at 4 pm, when #TwittHab users of all ideological signs will meet face to face out of Facebook from the very first time… You are invited, of course!

  • June 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm
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    Thank you, pebble, for your comments. In the US we get virtually no information, except what is dished up by the monopoly capitalist media. Your comments help give us perspective.

  • June 8, 2011 at 10:29 am
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    How do you interprete that event? What kind of lessons for Cuba? I admit that I don’t know very much about Cuba, that’s why I found this site and Daisy’s comments, stories interesting.
    The Tiananmen event occured several years after that beginning of China’s reform. At that time, China had two tier currency, one RMB for regular chinese, another called foreign exchange certificate, similar to CUC, the got rid of food ration book a few years before that. All business were state owned with no money, poorly equipped. The Chinese were very poor, much poorer than today’s Cubans. My boss was making 70 RMB (15 dollars) a month, which is about the same as a university professor, and maybe more than a doctor…people’s mobility was highly limited, you could not move to other cities, to live or work. (found similarity with Cuba?).
    The reform began in the rural areas, especially around the cities, peasants could plant whatever they saw fit. So they became rich very quickly. Everyday in the newspaper you read about farmer so and so made ten thousands RMB a year. But for the city residents things were not as good. Only those who owned a little shop, food cart, or something were making money. (And they tend to be less educated, etc) There was inflation, and large state own enterprises were laying off people. With very little prospect of making money after graduation, the students and professors, government clerks were angry. So they took to the street. There was no anti riot police at that time in China, and all they got was the army. And army were not trained to deal with demonstrations.
    So there was Tiananmen event. The demostrators were crushed, but the reform carried on. I bet the same people who were on the street then (now in their 40’s 50s) would be making at least approx 1,500 US a month, owning one or two cars, living in apartment worth half million dollars. If they knew then, would they still go on demonstrate in Tiananmen Square? Most of them would not.

    Daisy, If you want to know Chinese style of ” the removal of corrupt rulers, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free association”, you should read about the history of China’s Cultural Revolution, that’s “freedom” on steroids. Remove rulers? They killed the country’s president, removed 95% of government officials, the demonstrators took power in all levels of government…Freedom of expression and free association? Anyone can post anything on the street, buildings, walls, and joined thousands factions of red guards, etc… and what you got in the end? Millions died. One group of red guards killed the other groups for two or three years.
    Would Tiananmen turn into another Cultural revolution? Most likely.

  • June 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm
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    Daisy, some of the those who sang Internationale at the Square that night have fled to the US and become senior managers of some of the biggest hedge funds, richest capitalists in the world. Others stayed in the US, living off money from Taiwan government or the US “NGO”s, so, Internationale anyone?
    Maybe they should be happy now, because, 20 years later, China has become more capitalistic, and they are still against the government?

  • June 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm
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    Daisy, it’s good to see someone here that hasn’t forget that huge murdered in China. I was wondering if cuban bureaucracy will do the same if young people in havana decided to fight for the same rights that those youngs claimed and died for.

  • June 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm
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    The Tiananmen Square massacre was a tragic, disheartening event for everyone.

    Your homage, Daisy, to “all those on the left who are fighting against bureaucratic and totalitarian regimes around the world” hits home here in the US. Our struggle here is to replace the old authoritarian, statist concept of post-capitalism with a modern democratic, cooperative concept.

    We believe that world socialism is right at hand for the grasping. The erroneous ideology of state monopolism disgraces the name of socialism so thoroughly however that the masses reject it.

    What is needed is for the Left to regroup around a correct vision of socialist economy. This correct vision will transform the consciousness of the masses and socialist transformation will be on the agenda.

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