Cuban "retreat"

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at
Wed May 8 21:05:58 MDT 1996

 >> In my view "Socialism in one - small - country" is reduced to
 the rhetoric of the regime. If I am right, that class antagonism in Cuba in a
relatively short time (few years) will be more like in Equador than in your
picture of classless Cuba, then I have two basic questions:
 Which side do you think the Castros and the Cuban state would
 be on? Which side would you be on? <<Jorn Andersen

 Jon Flanders:

  First of all, Cuba is not "classless," although there is no ruling
capitalist class. The NEP type policies obviously will create incipient
pro-capitalist layers of the population. That is a constant concern to the
revolutionary government. I think they took some steps recently to curb some

  Yes, there is a danger of the return to a situation like Ecuador. My point
is that the Cubans, unlike the Russians in 1917 and the Nicaraguans in 1986,
have had 30 years of relatively peaceful development of a workers state and a
working class that accomplished some remarkable things. A worker in Russia in
1921 could only dream of the things socialism might do. The Cuban workers
today look back on many steps forward and victories.

  Strictly from a material standpoint, the years of Soviet support appear like
a golden age, compared to the harsh measures taken now. Capitalist measures
appear in their true guise, as undemocratic and unfair blemishes on the
society, that have appeared out of the necessity to earn hard currency.

  After a few years of a steadily declining economy, Cuba has turned the
corner and has registered some growth from the bottom of the trough.The Miami
Herald reported last year that Cuba registered 0.7 percent economic
 growth and a 72 percent drop in the budget deficit.

  In a speech given to the World Conference in Solidarity with Cuba, November
25, 1994, Fidel Castro made the following points about the economic situation
in Cuba.
 You won't see people sleeping in doorways covered with
 newspapers, regardless of our present poverty. There is not
 a single human being abandoned or without social security,
 regardless of our present great poverty. The vices we see
 every day in capitalist societies do not exist in our
 country. This is an achievement of the revolution.
     There is not one child without a school or a teacher,
 there is not one single citizen who does not receive medical
 care, starting before birth. Here we start medical care for
 our citizens when they are still in their mothers' wombs,
 right from the first weeks after conception.
     We are the country in the world with the most doctors
 per capita, regardless of the special period, and I'm not
 only referring to the Third World, but to the whole world!
 More than the Scandinavians, more than the Canadians and all
 those who are at the top rankings in public health. By
 reducing infant mortality from 60 to 10 per 1,000 live
 births and with other pediatric programs, the revolution has
 saved the lives of more than 300,000 children.
     We have the most teachers per capita in the world,
 regardless of the hardships we suffer; we have the most art
 teachers per capita in the world; we are the country with
 the most physical education and sports teachers per capita.
     That is the country that is being blockaded, that is
 the country that they are trying to bring to its knees
 through hunger and disease.
     Some demand that, in order for them to lift the
 blockade, we must surrender, we must renounce our political
 principles, we must renounce socialism and our democratic
     Furthermore, quite a confusing document was issued at
 the Rio conference, despite the noble efforts against it by
 countries like Brazil, Mexico, and others. It was supported
 by some countries that were very, very hand-in-glove with
 the United States, I don't want to mention any names. It is
 a document with a certain degree of confusion that leaves
 room for erroneous interpretations, and some interpret it as
 supporting the U.S. position of conditioning the blockade's
 suspension on Cuba making political changes.
     Political changes? Is there a country that has made
 more political changes than we have? What is a revolution,
 if it's not the most profound and extraordinary of political
 changes? We made this revolution over 35 years ago, and
 during those 35 years we have been carrying out political
 changes, not in search of a formal, alienating democracy
 that divides peoples and splits them up, but rather a
 democracy that really unites peoples and gives viability to
 what is most important and essential, which is public
 participation in fundamental issues. Furthermore, we
 recently made modifications to the Constitution, based on
 the principle that the people nominate and the people elect.
     I'm not criticizing anybody, but nearly all over the
 world, including Africa, they are introducing Wester
 political systems, together with neoliberalism and
 neocolonialism and all those other things. People who have
 never heard of Voltaire, Danton, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, nor
 the philosophers of U.S. independence  - and remember that
 [Simon] Bolivar in our own hemisphere was very much against
 the mechanical copying of the European and U.S. systems,
 which have brought catastrophe, division, subordination, and
 neocolonialism to our countries. We can see societies
 splitting into thousands of pieces, societies that should be
 united in their efforts to develop have ended up not only
 with a multiparty system but with hundreds and even
 thousands of parties.
     We have worked, we've developed our own system, which
 we did not copy from anyone. We established the principle
 that those who nominate in the first instance are the
 residents. One may or may not agree, but it is as
 respectable as the Greek democracy that people talk so much
 about; and without slaves or serfs. Because Greek democracy
 consisted of just a few that would meet in the plaza, and
 they had to be few, because in those days they did not have
 microphones, and they would get together to have an election
 right there. Neither the slaves nor the serfs participated;
 nor do they today.

 Whose side would Fidel Castro and the Cuban Goverment be on? They are on the
side of the workers. That is why the US maintains such an implacable attitude
towards Cuba. It will take a real counter-revolution to establish a
pro-capitalist government.

 A lot depends on what happens in the rest of the world, in places like
Mexico, which we being touted not too long ago as the pattern to emulate.
 If capitalism triumphs everywhere, as its apologists hope, then all the
wisdom and class consciousness of the Cuban workers will be for naught. But in
my opinion it is far too early to say that now. As Louis P is fond of saying,
stay tuned.

 Jon F

 PS, check with Jim Miller about the location of the Militants electronic

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 08-May-1996

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