[Marxism] Ricardo Alarcon Interview: "An objective possibility exists..."

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 24 09:50:24 MDT 2006

This is one of the most wide-ranging interviews we've
seen with the President of Cuba's National Assembly. 
It's much to long for Marxmail, but here are a few
excerpts to spark readers' interest. I've formatted 
it in Word for those who wish to print it out for
closer study.

Topics include Washington's "war on terror", racism
in the U.S. and its response to Hurricane Katrina and 
the relationships between Cuba, the governments of Latin
America, the social movements in Latin America, and
some of the domestic problems of Cuban society as well.

Alarcon takes up many of the questions which are of 
particular interest to people from the Trotskyist 
experience, though not only them. 

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

An objective possibility exists to bring together
everything which opposes real capitalism
Interview with President of Cuban Parliament Ricardo Alarcón

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann

Rebelión / http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=30096

Formatted in Microsoft Word for printing:

Rebelión / La Haine
April 18, 2006
By Néstor Kohan and Luciano Álzaga


The Cuban Revolution’s foreign policy in the 1960s favored links with
revolutionary movements and set governments aside. Things have
changed now that “progressive” governments are coming up. How can the
Revolution keep its links with those governments without letting
those movements down? If it only favors links with “progressive”
governments, isn’t it taking the risk of weakening the example that
it meant for decades to those movements? Remember that in practice
these social movements of protest do not always agree with their

R.A: I think we can avoid that risk. We have tried to remain
respectful to everyone. Some governments frankly deserve respect, as
does some movements’ autonomy. Obviously, the focal point of
revolutions today and the road to progress in Latin America is not
guerilla warfare nor armed struggle. And probably some comrades still
defend that concept, which we respect and never frown at. But there’s
another thing: in the 1960s, the Mexican government was the only one
we would distinguish from the rest in our speech, where we portrayed
it as a conservative government closely tied to the U.S., even if we
had to acknowledge that they were the only ones who refused to yield
to the policy of breaking up with Cuba.


R.A: Bolivia’s indigenous movements are an interesting case. Prior to
the elections I signed several cooperation agreements, already under
way, with a group of mayors in a meeting convoked by MAS, the
Bolivian left-wing social movement. They were not an underground
movement, they enjoyed governmental authority at the time. The first
place Evo visited was Havana, which sent a clear signal. And we’ll do
anything we can to help him. Another important thing, which I
mentioned at a rally in Bamako [Republic of Mali, Africa]: it is not
only the first time a president who stands for indigenous people’s
interests wins the elections, but also the first victory of the
social movements. In this debate taking place in the forum about
separating the movements from the governments I said: are we going to
leave Evo and his movement out of the picture because they won? Evo
always speaks in those terms: more than a party’s victory, it’s the
social movements’ victory. Evo was able to guide them with electoral
purposes and win, and by a landslide at that, which will have an
inevitable impact beyond Bolivia.

Truth is, reaching a balance is not easy, but I don’t think you can
point to any statement by a Cuban authority taking sides with any
sector opposed to these friendly governments or either supporting the
latter. I do have said, when asked, that I have high regard for
comrade Lula as a person, I believe he’s an honest man. Some people
in Brazil may certainly disagree, but I know Lula since he was a
simple metalworker and find it very hard to associate him with
corruption. I don’t believe it about Dirceu either; it’s difficult to
believe what they say about him.


By way of hypothesis, let’s suppose Fidel forms an alliance with
Kirchner about a specific subject. Can there be a Cuban social
movement linked with any Argentinean piquetero movement opposed to
Kirchner so that they state their support for those movements when
Kirchner sends them to prison or to trial in order to neutralize
their protests?

R.A: I don’t see any contradiction therein. Conferences have been
held in Havana which those sectors have attended and where they have
expressed their views and vilified a given Latin American government.
At any rate, it’s true that there’s a kind of “self-censorship”
pretty much addressed in our media. It has to do with a style, a way
of working, that’s just one of the negative remnants of the Soviet
model. A method of operation, though it’s not as simple as that,
which poses a challenge to Cuba at a governmental level but also to
those organizations since now the existing reality is more
complicated and richer in nuances.

Neither Fidel nor I have ever made a statement against Lula, or
against the MST for that matter. I have talked about this with [MST
leader Joao Pedro] Stedile, but they also have a problem: they can’t
look at the government as their No. 1 enemy. It used to be much
easier before, both for them and for us, as well as for our trade
unions, our students, etc.

Our FEU [Federation of University Students] would certainly have to
make many statements different from those the Chancellery would have
to make for reasons of solidarity. I’m sure they did in the old days.
Expressions of solidarity were immediately aired at the time when
Mexico voted in the OAE or when something big happened regarding the
Mexican students. And of course, whenever there was a discussion or a
voting within the IUS [International Union of Students, Prague], the
most complicated issue then, they acted autonomously.

But it was so easier when there were the good guys and the bad guys
in opposite sides. It’s not like that anymore. In line with Cuban
strategy, we emphasize establishing as broad a front as possible to
fight imperialism and the FTAA, in defense of Chávez, ALBA
[Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas] and now Evo, and add to it
as much as we can. That’s the focal point, what you will very often
hear from us. And that’s what any FEU or a trade union member repeats
in their statements.


The so-called real socialism had problems with some socialists; the
term “real socialism” itself was some bureaucrats’ response to
criticism. They said that real socialism is what we’ve got here, and
the rest were just lucubrations. Consequently, you were not a
socialist if you didn’t endorse the socialism that “really” existed.

Capitalism is seeing that in its mirror. There are forces which are
not anti-capitalist, at least not in our books, but are now acting
against the existing capitalism, present-day capitalism, the only one
there is. Thus, I think you must devise tactics to march alongside
all those people insofar as it is possible, keeping in mind that any
project to revive national capitalisms are unrealistic; I don’t
believe in them. But it would make no sense to refuse to go hand in
hand with those forces. On the contrary, now we have a chance to
draft a much more flexible speech, like the Declaration of Porto
Alegre, a minimum, all-encompassing platform capable of adding people
to the struggle against the truly existing capitalism. That’s where
socialism will start taking shape, which in my opinion will
necessarily means socialisms.

The bright side of the crisis we endured in the past, the demise of
the socialist countries, is that there’s no more counterposing
between two blocks or two systems, and hence no need to copy any
models. Now is the time of [early 20th century Peruvian Marxist
thinker] Mariátegui: “Neither rubbings nor copies, but heroic
creation”. And if it is a creation, each will have to be different.
Socialism in Venezuela, if attained, won’t be like Cuba’s. That’s why
I like Chávez’s phrase, 21st Century Socialism, because it’s very
open and takes into account all these facts.

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