[Marxism] Re: Nicaragua FSLN, Cuba and "Kremlin betrayal"

DLVinvest at cs.com DLVinvest at cs.com
Fri Jun 18 20:38:02 MDT 2004

In a message dated 6/17/04 11:22:49 AM Mountain Daylight Time, lnp3 at panix.com 
> As far as the FSLN is concerned, it was beaten into the ground by a 
> combination of 
> Reaganism and Kremlin betrayal, so I wouldn't blame them too much.

By "Reaganism" I assume you mean the formula of economic strangulation on 
trade and aid to foment internal dissent, support for internal political 
opposition as a pretense of democracy, crude anti-communism for domestic consumption 
in US to justify intervention both naked and clothed, pressure on neighbors to 
allow safe-havens for terrorist forays to assault the fragile infrastructure, 
minimization of US casualties (especially publicity thereto) and imposition of 
information black-out on the real casualties and costs, and continuous 
threats of direct military invasion as last resort. This is what became known 
euphemistically in response to the "Vietnam syndrome" as the doctrine of 
"low-intensity warfare" that is the consensus of both ruling-class parties, as was 
implemented and refined from Grenada to Panama to Kosovo to Haiti under Reagan, Bush 
1, Clinton, and Bush 2. Hence, to call it "Reaganism" is to identify this 
continuity of policy with one dead guy. 

As for "Kremlin betrayal" I assume you mean the series of decisions by the 
USSR from 1968 (after Che) to limit support for Cuban surrogacy as patron to the 
continental struggles, and after 1973 (Chile) to reduce its support to those 
revolutionary factions critical of Soviet revisionism after that debacle; but 
to assist Cuba's government and informal aid to those left groups that would 
unite under Cuban tutelage, such as the FSLN and FMLN in Salvador. In 
Nicaragua, the East German and Bulgarian governments also provided secuirty assistance 
but all such efforts were dwarfed by US support for the contras -- and 
development aid and technical assistance from the social-democratic regimes in 
Sweden, Spain, and France were substantial. Cuba's practcal help in sending teachers 
and medical personnel was always more significant politically and 
economically than the relatively small contribution it was able to make to Nicaragua's 
defense against imperial attack or the Salvadoran insurgency. 

The solidarity movements in the US and elsewhere generally followed the Cuban 
line of support without public criticsm of revolutionaries who were under the 
gun in Central America, but anti-intervention campagns and propaganda were 
compatible with the idea of letting local forces work out their differences. 
Nevertheless the interests of the Cuban and local revolutionaries sometimes 
clashed, as they had earlier in Mexico, whose support for Cuba internationally 
against the regional isolation imposed by the US through the OAS and pliant 
regimes exacted a heavy price on the Mexican left. 

After 1986, the USSR began cutting back its support for Cuba and Cuba was 
less able to assist insurgent coalitions like the FMLN and coalition governments 
like the FSLN. That allowed the US to increase the pressure, using the means 
outlined above but limited by the public backlash when such methods were 
exposed in the Iran-contra scandal, but there was little Cuba could do to 
compensate, given the withdrawal of Soviet support. (The Chinese government and party 
were hostile as well.) 

The collapse of the USSR severely constrained Cuban options, not because aid 
was cut off to revolutionary formations in the region -- that had largely 
disappeared by 1990, which marked the electoral defeat of the FSLN and impasse in 
the Salvadoran war -- but because terms of trade of Cuban sugar for Russian 
oil were turned upside down almost overnight: Where once Cuba traded up to 7 
million metric tons of sugar to the Comecon bloc for machinery, spare parts, 
military hardware, etc., after 1992 oil contracts were cancelled and had to be 
renegotiated at world (imperial) market prices. Instead of trading a ton of sugar 
for 5 or 6 tons of oil, suddenly Cuba had to pay 5 or 6 tons of sugar (which 
was abundantly available from other sources, including those subsidized in the 
US quota system) for a ton of oil made expensive by the decliing production 
off embargoed Iraq. Cuba has yet to recover fully from this "betrayal" which 
was less the price paid fro Cuban illusions in the Soviet-sponsored 
"international socialist division of labor" than the consequence of full restoration of 
capitalism and the pillage of socialist property by the newly minted junior 
partners of US imperial finance-capital.

The dynamics and vacillations of Soviet policy are outlined in Fred 
Halliday's From Managua to Kabul, but there is much more to learn from accounts of the 
internal debates within the FMLN and FSLN. Nowhere have I seen a thorough 
analysis that integrates the internal and external factors, and most of the 
self-critcism evades questions of what model or combination of policies and 
alliances would have successfully countered the two inevitable given conditions of 
superpower contention in which the US was always playing with more cards from the 
deck stacked against revolutionaries even before the USSR folded and left 
Cuba holding a losing hand.

Douglas L. Vaughan, Jr.
for Print, Film & Electronic Media
3140 W. 32nd Ave. 
Denver CO 80211

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