[Marxism] Follow-up on Diana Spenser's NACLA article

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 29 08:14:25 MDT 2005

(The first item appeared on Walter Lippmann's Cubanews mailing list on 
Yahoo. The second was a private communication from a Mexican socialist in 
response to it.)

The way I read this is that in Mexico and beyond, the Zapatista support 
networks include a lot of fashionable "libertarians" who think they are 
onto something new, but are not. She states that Cuba "has no 
patience...with the Zapatistas", and I suspect that this is based on the 
fact that when the Zapatista revolt first occurred in 1994, there were 
Zapatista admirers in and out of Mexico who hoped and expected that Cuba 
would support them and break off relations with the Mexican government. 
Unfortunately, that was unrealistic.

Fidel's only comment (that I recall) on the Zapatistas at the time, given 
obliquely, was that given the world situation after the fall of the USSR, 
there was not much future for new armed struggles. But since the 
Revolution, Cuba has been cautious in its relations with Mexico, for 
reasons of simple survival. Mexican Marxists (former Mexican Communist 
Party, Popular Socialist Party and successor groups) understood Cuba's 
practical needs on this basis and did not complain about it. Since the 
election of Fox in 2000, Cuba has been more openly critical of Mexico. 
Meanwhile, the task the Zapatistas have before them is very different from 
that of the Cuban state. It is very easy for outsiders to criticize Cuba's 
effort to build or maintain friendly relations with Mexico, China or 
whomever, but for Cuba not to do so might be terminally self-destructive.

Efforts to play off Cuba against movements like the Zapatistas, or for 
people in the Zapatista support networks to play themselves off against 
people in international Cuba solidarity, may well continue. Nevertheless, 
there are elements in the world Marxist / Marxist-Leninist movements that 
are very supportive of the Zapatistas -- the novelist Jose Saramago, who is 
active in the Portuguese CP,

The late Gladys Marin, until her untimely death Secretary-General of the 
Chilean CP, and now the new Party of Mexican Communists which aspires to 
fill the political space of the old Mexican Communist Party (PCM) and the 
last Secretary General of the PCM, Arnaldo Martinez Verdugo, all have 
expressed themselves in support of the Zapatista movement/struggle 
especially in its present announced phase of re-injecting itself into the 
class and popular struggle in Mexico at the national level. In Mexico, the 
Popular Socialist Party was at first highly critical of the Zapatistas but 
now, as well as the Party of Mexican Communists, has shifted ground and is 
much more supportive of them.

Emile Schepers


Dear Emile,

To clarify some points in your response to Diana Spencer's piece on Cuba:

1. The Zapatistas and the World Social Forum are not the same thing. In 
fact, the Zapatistas have never participated in the WSF. Recently some 
leading Mexican intellectuals have publicly called on them to do so, which 
would, in my opinion, be a very positive development.

2. Cuba has always participated with large delegations in the WSF. The WSF 
have always shown solidarity with Cuba. The Cuban press has not only 
highlighted the WSF, but have given them such prominent and positive 
coverage; in fact, one would think Granma was an official organ of the WSF. 
Cuba clearly sees the antiglobalization movements as a major strategic ally 
in the struggle for a better world. Spencer is utterly wrong on a factual 
level in this regard.

3. Cubans participated in some of the Zapatista international gatherings in 
Chiapas, notably the Intergalactic. The Cuban publishing house Editorial 
Caminos published a 373 page inexpensive edition of texts of the Zapatista 
National Liberation Army (EZLN) entitled "Ansias del Alba: textos 
zapatistas" in 2001 (that is, a year BEFORE the incident with Vicente Fox 
that led to a deterioration of relations between the two countries). 
Spencer is wrong here as well.

4. For the past two years, the Zapatista National Liberation Front, the 
political wing of the EZLN in civil society, has endorsed the July 26 Cuba 
solidarity march in Mexico City. (Incidentally, the Mexican WSF group has 
actively participated in solidarity efforts, including with speakers at 
rallies organized by the Mexican movement in Solidarity with Cuba). FZLN 
leaders regular participate in solidarity activities as well.

5. Recently the EZLN through its leading spokesman Comandante Marcos has 
been more vocal is its support for and solidarity with Cuba. In the past, 
Marcos' statements in support of Cuba have been aired on Cuban TV-

6. I cannot speak for other countries, but here in Mexico, support for Cuba 
is strong in civil society in general and the forces that participate in 
the anti-globalization movement in particular, including among human rights 
NGOs. Three hundred organizations, most of them civil society 
organizations, unions, neighborhood organizations (the urban popular 
movement) and NGOs- endorsed this year's July 26th march, for example. Cuba 
is most definitely a reference point for such forces.

7. Cuba correctly maintains proper diplomatic relations with Mexico and as 
such does not interfere in our internal affairs. Unfortunately, such an 
approach is not reciprocal.

Hope these points can shed some light on the debate.

Fraternally, Pedro

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