Dissident Cuban Communism -- New Website
Jose G. Perez
jgperez at SPAMfreepcmail.com
Sat Oct 16 17:26:13 MDT 1999
The "dissident Cuban communism" referred to in the post is a group that
identified itself as Trotskyist.
When I was in the US Socialist Workers Party, I took an interest in the
subject, and what I recount is partly based on what Joe Hansen, Ed Shaw and
I believe Harry Ring related to me in conversation, partly on documentation
that is preserved in the SWP's archives, or rather, was in the SWP's
archives in the early 1980s.
In this, it is important to point out that there is a discontinuity in
Cuban Trotskyism between the 1930s and the 1960s. The Cuban Trotskyist group
that existed in the 1930s was mortally wounded (like several other
revolutionary organizations) by the defeat of the revolution in Cuba in
1934-35, and only a small nucleus survived, finally falling apart in the
Following the 1959 victory, some of those cadres and others formed a new
group. It was a very small grouping that published a newspaper and was
affiliated with the Posadista current. This current was characterized, among
other things, by the most extreme ultra-revolutionary agitational propanda,
often couched in quasi-military terms, for the immediate defeat of
imperialism, the expulsion of imperialist military bases and so on.
It is this hyper-sectarian, hyper-ultraleft grouplet, even by the
standards of world Trotskyism, that was active in Cuba in the 1960s. They
were jailed several times, with their critics accusing them, for example, of
acting essentially as provocateurs by agitating for an attack on the
Guantanamo naval base, and the group's supporters insisting that their calls
for the expulsion of the imperialist base in Guantanamo should not have been
taken so literally, that when such an attack should be mounted was, of
course, a tactical question.
Also, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, this group adopted the
public, political position that the USSR should launch a military attack on
the United States first, since war was inevitable.
When U.S. SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes gave his speech on the XXth
anniversary of the Cuban revolution, he referred in general terms to this
group's positions and activities as having been insanely ultraleft. He was
challenged by some other Trotskyists, among them Adolfo Gilly, a prominent
Latin American leftist intellectual, who said, if memory serves, that Barnes
was adapting to Castroism and Stalinism, and that by saying the Posadistas
were crazy, Barnes was re-enforcing what Gilly described as Stalinist
slanders, like that the Posadistas had called on the USSR to launch an
attack on the U.S. at the height of the missile crisis. Gilly noted he'd
been in Cuba for several years in the early 60s, working with this group,
and Barnes was just wrong in claiming they were insanely ultraleft. He said
an article he'd written in the 60s, published in Monthly Review, called
Inside the Cuban Revolution generally reflected the views of these comrades
and they had not been crazy.
I was assigned in the SWP leadership the task of replying to Gilly. When
we first discussed the reply, Jack thought it'd have to be based mostly on
indirect sources, i.e., what the Posadista current in Latin America was
saying generally at that time. He also wanted me to stress that he had not
said, and didn't think it was true, that the Cuban Posadistas had called for
the Soviets to launch a nuclear war during the missile crisis.
However, as it turned out, the SWP had preserved in its archives thanks
to Joe and Reba Hansen, a collection of the publications of the Cuban
Posadista group. I do not now recall all that was in it; just being aghast
at how ultraleft it was and, finally, my total shock to discover the
Posadista publication from October 1962 with a headline saying something
like, "Let the Soviet Army strike the first blow." Eventually I wrote all
this up, and it was published, as best as I remember, in some sort of
The Posadista group functioned for about five years immediately
following the revolution. Some of their members were intermittently arrested
and some issues of their publications suppressed. At the same time, the
Cubans maintained contact and collaboration with a range of other groups
that described themselves as Trotskyists, and publicized the defense case of
Preuvian Trotkyist Hugo Blanco, who was imprisoned for leading a peasant
guerrilla in Peru in the early 1960s. At some point in the mid-60s, the
Cuban government ordered the Posadistas to cease and desist all organized
functioning or face long prison terms, and it is my understanding that at
that point the group disbanded.
The web site this post referred to has material generated in connection
with a doctoral these on Cuban Trotskyism, but does not contain the theses
itself, which is due to be published in a journal. It should be interesting
to see what the author has come up with,
From: Paul Flewers <paul.flewers at virgin.net>
To: marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Date: Saturday, October 16, 1999 6:44 AM
Subject: Dissident Cuban Communism -- New Website
>List members will be interested to know that a website on dissident
>Cuban communism has been set up by Gary Tennant, who has just completed
>a PhD study on the subject. It is <http://atlas.cs.york.ac.uk/~gat100>.
>Gary's PhD will form the basis of the next issue of Revolutionary
>History, which should be ready by the end of this year.
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