Forty-nine years ago, on April 16, 1961, a few hours after a CIA-planned air attack on several Cuban airfields took place as a prelude to the Bay of Pigs invasion, Fidel Castro declared the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution in a mass rally.
I’ve always been intrigued by the way this course toward socialism was decided.
Only three years prior, we were a capitalist colony when a popular revolution occurred that was nationalist and anti-imperialist – but non-socialist. We were not socialist because the US media was able to implant a horrendous image communism in our minds, but also because our way of life and work had little to do with socialism.
I’ve often wondered whether there was any type of mass discussion before deciding on the path we would take, or if it was one of the ideas of our great leader and his adjuncts. I don’t know how these questions were dealt with back in ‘61, but from what I’ve experienced personally, I can easily believe that such radical changes in the life of an entire nation truly unfolded from the mind of a social architect with enough power to direct the destiny of a whole people.
Revolution seemed an extremely interesting process; entailing all power to the people. If it had really worked out like this —even if we had ended up being worse off economically today, which I doubt— the balance would have remained positive. We would have been itching closer to becoming the first modern nation that achieved a genuinely popular government.
However, the charisma of one man, the political immaturity of our people and US aggression conspired against the victory of true socialism.
I believe the Cuban experience has its merits —which can be confirmed when we look at the lives of our neighbors in the region, even those of the richest— but I’m convinced that being satisfied with the crumbs of tranquility that emanate from extreme paternalism is an unworthy goal.
Note: As bad as this system might be, nothing justifies the economic blockade of Cuba or the interference by the United States in its internal matters.