Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — I was really shocked when I read the news that the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) here in Cuba was excluded, along with the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), from taking part in the Civil Society Forum that will be held in Lima, Peru, as part of the VII Summit of the Americas, in April.
It isn’t hard to imagine the reasons behind these exclusions: orders that come from above, from the north, via the Organization of American States (OAS), which is coincidentally based in Washington.
However, why are Cuban farmers being excluded from a forum of civil society? Obviously, it’s quite dangerous for them to have this sector from our country, which has 380,000 members who enjoy a highly satisfying role in our socialist system, to present their experiences and achievements.
For example, they could explain to the rest of farmers in the Americas how the Cuban Revolution transformed them into the owners of the land they cultivate, because the vast majority of farmers before 1959 were renters. That’s to say, they had to pay an annual fee to the owner of these lands, who normally lived in the city and had nothing to do with agriculture. Many farmers were subleasers, that is to say, they had to pay rent to a leaseholder in order to work on a piece of land. There were other figures such as the tenant farmer and squatter, who were exploited even more.
This entire web of exploitation disappeared when the Revolution triumphed in 1959, just like the murders of rural leaders who fought for a more dignified life for rural men and women did, which is something that still happens in many Latin American countries where a solution hasn’t been found. Eviction also disappeared, which used to be carried out by the Rural Guard when a landowner was bothered by farmers, normally agricultural workers who just about scraped out a living on the property.
Maybe the event’s organizers didn’t want the rest of Latin America to know that Cuban farmers have electricity, as the electrification project which will provide electricity to 100% of remote homes in the countryside is about to be completed, and photovoltaic solar panels are being put up anywhere the national electricity system can’t reach, which will ensure electricity 24 hours per day.
Maybe they want to hide from the rest of Latin America the fact that Cuban farmers are guaranteed the sale of their produce for satisfactory prices, without having to travel to markets to sell their own produce. In short, they don’t want people to know that Cuban farmers are revolutionaries, who support the socialist government on the island and are happy, which isn’t commonplace in our region.
On the other hand, the exclusion of the greatest organization in our society, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) is the biggest oxymoron at this event, as it’s supposed to be a forum about civil society, and the CDR are the most representative organization of this, as it brings together approximately 8 million Cubans.
However, the attendance of figures who call themselves members of civil society have been announced, but these are just mercenaries on the payroll of a foreign power who wants to do away the Revolution, this foreign power that causes our people so much suffering and hardship with an economic, commercial and financial blockade that has endured for nearly 60 years.
However, in spite of both of these organizations being excluded, the rest of our civil society taking part will communicate what they wanted to silence with these exclusions, especially the fact that Cuban farmers are an important group in our civil society.