Regaining What Was Lost in Cuba

Elio Delgado Legon*

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 30 — The battle of big capital to regain what was lost with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution began from the very first day of January 1959.

This involved not only losses in the economic terrain, but also political ones. The leftist government — with positive results and with tremendous popular support in a Latin America country — was setting a “bad example” for the other peoples of the subcontinent, as it was feared that they too might try to imitate Cuba by exerting their independence.

The US government actively supported the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista until the very last minute. Its army trained the troops and supplied the weapons and aircraft that killed tens of thousands of Cubans.

That is a fairly well-known fact, so I’m not revealing any secrets. Similarly, it’s also known that the US supported the dictatorial governments of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and later the authoritarian regimes in almost all the countries of Latin America.

Perhaps we’ll never be able to know the exact the number of people killed, disappeared and/or tortured under those dictatorships across our continent, just as the United States, the OAS, or the Human Rights Commission has never shown concern about the violation of the most fundamental human right, which is that to live.

Today smear campaigns are organized, accusing Cuba of violating human rights. Notwithstanding, never in its more than 50 years of existence has the revolutionary government in this country carried out a political assassination or disappearance or the torture of anyone.

There have been detainees described as political prisoners, but they were not “prisoners of conscience” as some have claimed. They are people who were arrested, tried and sentenced with all the necessary legal guarantees. Being convicted criminal offenders, they were sentenced just like in any other country in the world.

In Cuba, no one has ever been convicted for thinking differently or for speaking ill of the revolutionary government. Anyone who says that is deliberately lying.

With the triumph of the revolution, it was necessary to put on trial and condemn numbers of soldiers and police officials that served the Batista dictatorship by perpetrating atrocities, torture, rape and other crimes, some who received a death sentence.

Photo: Caridad

This generated an extravagant campaign of lies in which it was stated that the revolution was plunging the country into a bloodbath, when in fact the only bloodbath that Cubans suffered was during the seven years of the Batista dictatorship.

The truth is that few of the murderers and torturers who could have been prosecuted actually were, since most of them fled to the United States when Batista was overthrown. Although their extradition was requested under agreements between the two countries, none of them were ever returned to Cuba.

The campaigns of lies against Cuba continued to proliferate at that time among almost all the news agencies. It reached the point that Cuban workers in the print media were forced to insert false information in the newspapers where they worked. However, some took the initiative of adding a postscript to put on record their views on the news in question.

One of the issues that has been used to accuse Cuba of violating human rights has been that of the political system organized in the country that excludes the forming of political parties, despite it receiving the approval of 98 percent of the electorate though direct and secret voting.

Actually political parties in Cuba were so discredited that with the triumph of the Revolution they died out simply because nobody wanted them anymore.

In the pre-revolutionary stage, several parties existed. But only the ones that represented the domestic and foreign oligarchies could really govern. These were the Liberal, Authentico and the Conservador parties. Nonetheless these three organizations were like one sole party since they responded to the same ideology.

There was also the Socialist Party, following a Marxist ideology; but most of the time it had to work underground since it was constantly banned. Its newspaper, Noticias de Hoy, was shut down, looted and its presses destroyed, particularly during the dictatorial regimes of Gerardo Machado and Fulgencio Batista.

During the last stage of the “authentico” governments there emerged the Partido del Pueblo Cubano (Ortodoxo), which with its left ideas and its slogan, Vergüenza contra Dinero (Honor versus Money), attracted the attention of the masses. Its victory was all but assured for the upcoming June 1952 elections, but Batista’s coup on March 10 of that year frustrated the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people.

During the Batista dictatorship, other parties were created to try to give a semblance of legality to that regime; elections were even held, though no one viewed them as legitimate. But with the triumph of the revolution, those party leaders who supported Batista, just as those who played their parts in elections, they all left the country.

The Cuban people, disappointed with that experience, stopped thinking about political parties, bending over backwards to support the revolutionary process.

(*) I am a Cuban who has lived for 75 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

6 thoughts on “Regaining What Was Lost in Cuba

  • All I can see in the American “democratic” system these days, is total obstruction & dysfunction. Multi-party Europe has kicked the can as far down the road as they possibly can, in order to force the other guys to make the hard decisions. Italy’s Prime minister has resigned & both Italy & Greece have cobbled together multi- party boards to try & steer the countries onto a sustainable path. All partisan politics does is divide peoples who should be united. They sit around all day & vie for power, rather than solving problems, especially in an election year. I agree that governments need academic oversight, & that means developing strong, independent autonomous branches within a healthy beurocracy. Clear mission statements & strategies must be articulated, implemented, & followed up on. There is no need for multi-party competition or scruitiny beyond the unachievement of policy goals.

  • I have been mulling over your theory of 2 ‘ruling’ Parties’, now that the Cuban Government has essentially defeated Capitalism…

    But, it hasn’t in reality. It is not an exaggeration to say that Cuba has been under attack, and fighting a war, since Fidel overthrew Batista. The Capitalistic bastards have no more vanished and given up, than they did during the 75 years of ‘Socialism’ in the USSR, or the 60 years of ‘Socialism’ in North Korea. Any Country which tries to maintain its sovereignty and independence from the US Empire remains under attack, for the duration. This was also true for Tito’s Yugoslavia.

    China and North Vietnam, both of which are nominally Socialist, in actuality have adopted Capitalism as their economic systems while continuing one Party rule, and differing degrees of State Control. China in particular makes the rest of the Capitalists look like pikers!

    The few examples of Multi-Party Socialism [Russia briefly prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, and Republican Spain prior to the Civil War, and during it, for that matter], are depressing examples of typical Left-
    Wing bickering. This has prevented successful Left-Wing Governments in more than one country.

    Germany in the 1920s, Britain, France, and the US during and after the 1st Great Depression, and Post WW2 Eastern Europe, Italy, and Greece, are all examples of how easy it is to destroy a Multi-Party Socialist movement.

    For whatever reason, when the Left-Wing divides itself among the various offerings of Socialist thought, they are incapable of organizing kittens around a bowl of milk!

    In a perfect Universe, it should be possible. However, when a Country is under attack from every direction and with ever more dangerous weaponry, it makes no sense; unless the goal is to destroy the Revolution.

    I also disagree with your statement concerning the impossibility of a Single-Party State correcting errors on original thought and practice. Especially, when discussing the Castro Governments, this is overly pessimistic.

    The brothers were both educated by the Jesuits, who are the ultimate deconstructionists when it comes to what is, or is not, allowed. Unless you’d like to throw in the writers of the Torah who re-interpreted the Laws [all 623?] handed down by God himself in Leviticus?

    Certainly the Communist Party of Cuba is capable of reinterpreting the economic role of Government while defending Cuba from the 800 pound Gorilla 90 miles to the North.

  • I think you may not have read my comments above, Okasis. The argument for at least two legal, socialist transformationary political parties was given. But let me give it again and enlarge it.

    The socialist program naturally divides itself into two major sections, tactical and strategic. The tactical is all those things a vanguard party is doing, or is trying to do, in the period under capitalist state power. It makes possible the assumption of state power by the vanguard party at some point in the future. The tactics might include trade union building, tenant union building, struggle for near-term reforms and social advances, et cetera. The vanguard party cannot reject this tactical program, or it will be isolated from the masses and the assumption of state power will not be prepared.

    It is worth noting that Lenin, Bukharin and other Bolsheviks were working on a formal “transitional program” before Lenin’s death in 1924, and that Bukharin finished this program in time to be submitted to the Comintern Congress of 1928, under his signature and that of Stalin.

    It is important to know that the transitional program was part of the tactical section, not the strategic. Its purpose was to mobilize the masses during the tiny period of revolutionary ferment, leading to a direct attack upon the capitalist state apparatus. The transitional program therefore has nothing to do with the running of socialism after the conquest of state power by the vanguard, but only with the smashing of the old state power during a few days or weeks period.

    The strategic program is that major section that the party intends to implement when state power is in its hands. In Cuba, there has been over a half-century of implementation of a traditional Marxian economic and social program, the most important part of which is state ownership of all, or almost all productive forces, from the barber shops and restaurants to the sugar fields and nickel mines.

    History has now shown us that a single vanguard party in power, if the strategic program it implements has flaws, or is fundamentally flawed, is unable to analyze its programmatic results effectively. In all cases, as in Cuba, there is no possibility for democratic, internal party debate, for the negative attributes of bureaucratic dynamics take hold and increase over time.

    What is needed in Cuba is a Constitutional Amendment that allows at least one loyal, socialist vanguard party to exist and engage in democratic discussion and debate as to how the strategic program might be refined or perfected. Such a second party, at present, is impossible, given that one-party rule of the PCC is enshrined in the Cuban Constitution, as is Marxism-Leninism as the official state ideology.

  • I was reading a Socialist Web Site that had a discussion of Trotsky’s Continuousl Revolution Theory, which included a consideration of a multi-Party system as opposed to the Single Party System such as Cuba’s.

    I am paraphrasing, not quoting, and I may miss some important points, but basically, the argument for the single party system was this: Because the presumed successful end of Socialism will be the withering away of the Government, the Revolution is a continuing process until that goal is achieved. If the people in a country have agreed to form a Socialist Government and, assuming that decision was fully informed, only one Party can fulfill the needs of that Government. Opposing Parties would have one goal only, and that would be to frustrate the successful achievement of the goal of the Revolution.

    Rationally, if the citizens have the same goal, they will be able to agree on how best to reach that goal thru discussions and consensus. Without that agreement, the Government and the Revolution will fail.

    OTOH, in what we call a ‘Representative Democracy’, the public is presented with 2 or more parties, but frequently the dominant parties are only reflections of each other, and their candidates more often than not are Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum figurines who dance to the same orchestra, and present no real alternatives to the Citizenry. A 3rd, or 4th Party is denied access to the ballot and often to the media, effectively preventing any real choice, which is what many voters claim they want.

    In most Industrial Nations, Capitalism is called an Economic System and assumed to be inevitable. Yet, no one ‘chose’ it. It was installed by the people with money and a vested interest is promoting their own well-being. Whether it was good for the Working Class, or provided an equitable division of the spoils were questions that were never asked – or answered.

    In a country like Cuba and now, Venezuela, Socialism is enshrined in the Constitution, and is the twin Economic and Political System. Given that system why should there be more that one Party. A 2nd Party, or 3rd, or 4th would only be needed if the Government decided in a moment of insanity to invite the Capitalists to enter the Political System. This would effectively destroy it with the overwhelming corruption of big money and pay-offs. If you need examples of this, any of the Western Democracies will serve.

  • Thank you Elio for a very good view of the revolution’s history.
    As an outsider who supports the Cuban Revolution I can also sense a generational change in revolutionary attitudes among the younger people who never lived under Batista, never took part in the fighting who don’t know what life was like back then and who, having lived through only the difficult years of the bloquero and the corruption of the early revolutionary ethic since then , are in danger of throwing the baby out with the dirty bathwater.

    It always seemed to me that Fidel, through many ways, devoted his life to implanting revolutionary thought in the minds of all Cubans so that when he was gone, when the leaders of the revolution pass as they are now doing, the Cuban people would be able to carry the revolution on to that bright future that all we communists envision.

    I hope he did as good a job as i think he did.

    With the ongoing collapse of capitalism, with billions in the world under capitalism barely surviving and tens of millions dying on less than $1-2 dollars a day, “Socialismo o muerte” has become far more full of meaning ito the capitalist world than a Cuban revolutionary slogan.

    I would hope the Cuban people are wise enough to see this when most people in the U.S cannot.

  • Thank you, Elio, for speaking the truth through the democratic forum of Havana Times. I hope and trust that you will continue to write articles and make comments in HT, and provide some balance for several writers who tend to be over-critical of the status quo.

    In the US we have the ruling Democratic and Republican parties. They take turns at the helm of the brutal old regime. They are wings of the same vulture, and put on quite a charade before the people. A multiplicity of parties therefore does not necessarily mean the existence of real democracy.

    I think the question with which Cubans are wrestling is whether and how a loyal, pro-socialist oppositional party might organize and function within the political process of Cuba. You have spoken the truth as to how things were in the past. May I suggest, and even plead with you, Elio, to “go to the mountain” on the question of how such a “second” ruling party might organize legally and vie for governmental leadership in your country.

    Socialist government means implementation of a socialist strategic program of transformation. But how can such a program be developed and refined if one party retains the reins of power decade after decade?

    A workable socialist program can only be sought, tried and refined by having at least two parties vying for the reins of government. Perpetual one-party rule both retards and discredits socialist construction, and this is proved by actual experimentation in various countries.

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