HAVANA TIMES — The policy towards Cuba maintained by recent US administrations has had two fundamental dimensions: on the one hand, it has retained and intensified the blockade regulations that directly affect the Cuban government (denying it access to international financing, credit, trade and other mechanisms) and, on the other, has relaxed restrictions that have a greater impact on the population, such as the sending of remittances, the sale of food products and travel by Cuban-Americans to the island.
The strategic aims of this two-faceted policy are preventing the development of a socialist society in this hemisphere by demonstrating its economic unviability and discrediting it in the eyes of other nations of the continent.
This is done while simultaneously giving the Cuban people a sugarcoated “humanitarian image” to compensate for the long-standing, criminal economic blockade imposed on the country. This policy caters to the interests of voters in the Cuban émigré community and of the many Cuban immigrants that continue to flood the United States.
The Cuban government has constantly divulged a distorted image of this strategy and has insisted on the United States’ supposed interest in “creating the conditions needed to justify a direct military action in Cuba, with a view to destroying the revolutionary process.”
For years, this revolutionary process has been stagnating as a kind of decadent, State monopoly capitalist system, which concentrated property even more radically than traditional capitalism, but in the hands of a bureaucratic elite called the “State”, and never established any relations of production beyond the ambit of wage exploitation.
What could have been and never was a socialist system, the dreamed-of society of the people, by the people and for the people, became a neo-Stalinist, bureaucratic, authoritarian and counterrevolutionary mess that imperialist powers and the Cuban leadership agree to continue to call “socialism.”
The propaganda about an imminent invasion by the USA has been used, and continues to be used, to justify the repression of any form of thinking or activism that strays from the Party line, be these at the center, right or left on the political spectrum.
They accuse such activism of advancing imperialist interests, to export a “revolutionary” image of Cuba that awakens feelings of solidarity in other nations and to legitimate the country’s military and security caste, responsible for sustaining the bureaucratic elite of the government-Party-State and its corrupt and corrupting economic model.
This sophism is contradictory and fails to capture the true intentions of US administrations, for such a direct military intervention would not demonstrate the unviability of “Cuban socialism”, which would, in that case, be “interrupted” or “defeated” by imperialist aggression, not collapse under its own weight.
Such contradictory claims are, however, in keeping with the apocalyptic dreams of some Cuban leaders, who have shown they would rather see the “Cuban revolution” destroyed by imperialism than have to acknowledge their “socialist” system failed (a failure they continue to chalk up to the US blockade).
Ultimately, if anything is to blame for the stagnation of Cuba’s revolutionary process and its degeneration into a crude form of State monopoly capitalism, if anything has been hindering the advance of socialism, the democratization of society, the empowerment of the people and workers, the development of free forms of labor associations, cooperatives and free individual labor, if anything has thwarted economic development and the improvement of the living conditions of the Cuban people, it is the Cuban government-Party-State, which has been in power for over fifty years and continues to insist on maintaining its “State socialist” system, an illogical model that has failed everywhere.
In its reticence to undertake the true democratization of its political system and the socialization of Cuba’s economy, to move towards true socialism, in its current efforts to tart up its failed and decadent “State socialism” with the “reform process”, the Cuban leadership is making an invaluable contribution to the political strategy of its declared enemy. I am not saying this is their intention. I am saying this is what they’re achieving.
This complicity ceases to strike one as strange when one recalls the anti-socialist tendency shared by imperialism and the neo-Stalinist State-command system imposed on Cuba.
So that there can be no question as to Cuba’s willingness to serve the imperialist cause, the pompous “reform process” has impelled the limited restoration of private capitalism. In addition to broader trade with the “enemy” and foreign investment, the government is now hoping to “feed off” this new sector via the Mariel port project, sweat shops, private marinas, residential areas for millionaires and golf courses, the “coal and water” needed to keep its broken-down State machine going (something which appears impossible without the lifting of the blockade).
To top things off and in order to encourage much-coveted foreign investment, Cuba’s draft labor bill, soon to be approved by the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC) and Parliament, will ensure that Cuban workers remain the least protected workers in the world when it comes to the excesses of the exploiters of salaried labor.
This is a “revolutionary” strategy worthy of inclusion in a new, revolting and cynical Platt Doctrine. Let us imagine, for a moment, that these projects come to fruition. Imagine a million American tourists, businesspeople and delinquents, many of them sitting comfortably in their yachts or Cadillacs, touring the island, buying mansions, companies, hotels, restaurants, sugar refineries, playing golf, drinking whisky at every corner of Havana, generating prostitution, drug trafficking, gambling and all manner of corrupt practices. What would that be, if not the virtual or real annexation of the country by the United States? Is that what the Cuban revolution has been fighting for?
When all is said and done, the reform process will have served to confirm the maxim that “the shortest path to capitalism is socialism,” as expressed by champion of neo-liberalism Carlos Alberto Montaner, who does not conceal his enthusiasm over the privatizations undertaken as part of this process (See his recent article “Myths and Pipedreams”).
Ultimately, the United States has not had to work hard to develop a “Cuba” strategy. The Cuban government-Party-State has taken upon itself to do its work for it and demonstrate how unviable this form of “socialism” is.
Its absurd, dogmatic, State-centered, counterproductive, anti-democratic, repressive, anti-popular, in brief, anti-socialist policies have decapitated and destroyed Cuba’s economy and led to the degeneration of social values, the stagnation of growth and the exodus of scientific, cultural, sporting and other talents.
Of course, the United States has helped the Cuban government in its work with its “threats”, pressures, the blockade and the Cuban Adjustment Act. All the while, it has tried to show the Cuban people its “good intentions” and its determination to help them “achieve democracy”, to do away with the “socialist government” that has plunged the island into the mess it faces today – the same old shameless, imperialist garbage.
The United States government should actually thank its Cuban counterpart, because, thanks to its policies, many people on the island don’t even want to hear about socialism anymore.
What’s more, the people and governments of Latin America have long ago decided not to undertake experiments such as the Cuban one and those who speak of socialism are careful to distance themselves from the model essayed in Cuba. I will leave my comments on the results of Cuba’s support for extremist and violent movements around the continent for a future post.
In the Empire, not everyone is willing to lift the blockade just yet, not while the Castros are still in power or before a clear process of democratization is undertaken, because the political costs of such a move would be too high today.
Others seem willing to support the limited transition towards capitalism that the reform process entails, even if it means the authoritarian government will remain in power, out of simple commercial pragmatism or as a means of expressing gratitude for the liberalization process.
The Cuban people, who remain “the unwanted guest” in this hotchpotch of a political process that began over half a century ago, are ultimately the ones who have had to endure the arbitrary policies of these two warring camps, and, at one point, will have to draw their own conclusions and freely choose their own path.
Pedro Campos: [email protected]