Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES — The paths of Cuba and the fate of the Cuban revolution are issues of serious concern outside the island. No one had to tell me, nor did I have to read it, I saw it with my own eyes during my recent visit to Brazil in the month of January.
It is known that entrepreneurs from many countries are expectant of the economic reforms that the Cuban government has been implementing in recent years. The business opportunities offered by a partially unexplored territory are extremely attractive.
What’s needed is a little more relaxation of norms, some safeguards for their money and some legislation that should be forthcoming, so that the foreign private sector “touches down with more force.”
But usually those types of investors are not too concerned about the rights of workers on the island, the civil and political liberties of the citizens, the existence of democratic participation and environmental controls, nor the predictable social inequalities, provided their profits are guaranteed.
It is also possible to recognize another group of Brazilians who uncritically totally identify with the institutional processes that evolved and are being developed in the island. Their unwavering support is displayed even in times of layoffs, golf courses, and state budget cuts.
In order to embellish their own ideologies with their middle class communist dreams and their anti-capitalist posture, these people “keep alive an idyllic image of revolution and justify any contradiction with arguments of the last century, with the US blockade as their faithful shield.
There is, however, another group that seems to be the minority, but in my opinion is much more ethical, serious, and decent. I’m talking about a part of the anti-capitalist left that has managed to balance its support for the gains made in Cuba after 1959 with a critical view towards the often contradictory policies and actions of the Cuban government.
Socialists of various political bents understand the depth of the changes in the Cuban social and political system of the last century, and also recognize the adverse effect of interventionist United States’ policies. However they don’t accept the undemocratic, authoritarian and recently pro-capitalist policies implemented by the Cuban government.
Anti-capitalist youth in Brazil know and study the history of the Cuban revolution. They need to in order to develop their own struggles against social injustices they suffer with the profound economic inequalities in a country that is almost a continent, where in June 2013 more than 10 million people took to the streets.
Many came up to me and asked things like: “How is the struggle of trade unions on the island?” “Have women advanced more in obtaining their rights?” “Tell us about the Cuban educational system.” “Is the Cuban student movement active at the universities?” “What position did the government of Raul Castro take on our popular struggles last June?” “Is it true that health care is free?”
There were hundreds of questions, from people truly wanting to learn from the Cuban revolution from its mistakes and successes, and convinced of the need to stop any attempt at capitalist restoration on the island.
Just the kind of solidarity that Cuba needs, genuinely critical and caring.
In my coming posts I will elaborate on my recent experience on South American soil. For now, this introduction is to send a hug to the Brazilian socialist revolutionaries with my thanks for all the love given, and for a shared faith in the triumph of the humble.