[Marxism] William Mandel on Cuba's problems today

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Jan 8 16:31:43 MST 2006

Bill Mandel, a lifelong fighter for social justice, progress and against racism
presents his take on the changes now unfolding in Cuba. Always thoughtful.

My take on Bill Mandel's take on the meaning of the fall of the Soviet Union:

From: William Mandel <wmmmandel at speakeasy.net>
Sent: Jan 8, 2006 5:13 PM
To: Harriet M Gelfan <hmg at sover.net>
Subject: [Fwd: FYI--comments?]

This extremely important speech by Castro goes to the heart 
of the issue you wished to discuss. While Castro understands 
that socialism in Cuba can self-destruct, he believes that 
can be prevented by what were called in the USSR, after 
Khrushchev, "voluntarist" methods. That word was 
well-chosen, because it makes clear the difference between a 
system, which may rock and pitch but is self-righting, and 
the subjective, administrative measures Khrushchev took and 
Castro is now taking.

I have always believed that, barring assassination of 
Castro, socialism would survive in Cuba until his death, 
simply because no country abandons its George Washington, 
never mind his extraordinary genius and flexibility. But the 
mushroom-like reappearance of capitalism in areas of the 
Cuban economy as soon as Soviet aid disappeared is, to me, 
proof that capitalism, being a system, has more vigor than 
the patches that can be thought up and applied from the top.

There is one major difference between the former USSR after 
Gorbachev and Cuba. Cuban socialism lasted long enough, and 
its foreign policy of medical aid, a method of eliminating 
illiteracy, etc., to impress South America and to influence 
leaders (Chavez and others) with the wisdom to base their 
reforms on their national specifics as well as to become 
more or less closely allied with Cuba.

It is possible that whoever, individually and collectively, 
follows Castro in Cuba, will learn from Chavez and the rest, 
so that a new system with many similarities from country to 
country may take root throughout Latin America.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: FYI--comments?
Date: Sun, 08 Jan 2006 10:34:50 -0600
From: Joe Bryak <joebryak at gmail.com>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;


This article on the same subject appeared recently in the 
PWW. Be interested
in your criticisms Tom whitney

Cuba waging fight against corruption

By W.T. Whitney Jr.

Cuban President Fidel Castro, speaking Nov. 17 at the
University of Havana, asked, "Do you believe that this
revolutionary socialist process can fall apart, or not?"
His answer: "This revolution can destroy itself. . We
can destroy ourselves, and it would be our fault."

At issue is a plague of "vices, theft, [and] re-routing"
at the hands of "social parasites . and the new rich,"
he said. Cuba has lost $1.5 billion, "part of it stolen;
part, wasted; and the rest thrown away." During the years
of acute economic hardship known as the special period, he
said, "we saw the growth of much inequality and certain
people were able to accumulate a lot of money."

For two years, Cuba's leaders have been pursuing a
campaign against corruption within government bureaucracies
and the Communist Party. Measures promoting economic
centralization and control of hard currency have been
central to the project.

Under the aegis of "Operation July 26," the government
is responding to serious losses in its fuel distribution
program that emerged first in Pinar del Rio province and
later throughout the country. Half of the proceeds from
sales of gasoline and diesel fuel were found to have ended
up in private hands. Additional supplies of oil arriving
from Venezuela contributed to bringing the problem into the

The government has assigned 28,000 social work students to
pump fuel, monitor refinery operations and check on gasoline
truck deliveries. Thousands of fuel industry employees have
been fired for illicit activity. Many government ministries,
the locus of much abuse, now face restrictions on fuel use
for their own vehicles. As a result of these measures,
revenues are up by the equivalent of $100,000 per day.

The origins of the social workers are worth noting. They
have all completed a yearlong course with pay at one of four
schools established in 2001 to prepare them for assisting
people in their own communities and studying at the
university level. The students were recruited by the Union
of Young Communists from the ranks of young people at risk
for educational failure and joblessness. Many of their
families are undereducated. Many are Afro-Cuban. To pit
these students against the newly rich is to demarcate the
struggle along class lines.

The campaign has moved into other areas. In September, the
military took over Havana port operations, in part to stop
thievery by port workers and truckers. Pharmaceutical
factory employees, accused of stealing medicines for private
sales, have been dismissed. Authorities are monitoring
family operated restaurants, pharmacies and farmers'
markets to cut down on hard currency losses. They are
curtailing the sale of houses obtained free from the state.
Reports are current that the convertible peso, typically
used by tourists, will soon be reduced in value relative to
the regular peso.

Castro has chided the Cuban people for failing to monitor
their own individual energy use and berated the newly rich
for squandering fuel and electricity. And he called upon
Cubans and people everywhere to adjust consumption to the
prospect of global oil scarcity: "In 30 or more years .
oil will run out, just as many of the world minerals," he

The country's improving economy has created conditions
favorable to the anti-corruption campaign. Anicia Garcia, an
economist at the University of Havana, told the Los Angeles
Times, "We are taking advantage of the better situation to
deal with the social problems that appeared during the
crisis that came with the end of the Soviet Union." She
cited the increased availability of consumer goods and a
variety of food products, and pointed out that state
salaries and pensions have increased by more than 20 percent
this year.

In 2005 Cuba experienced a positive balance of trade for the
first time since 1989, and its economy expanded 11.8  percent,
a figure arrived at by attaching monetary value to social

Some predict that the anti-corruption campaign will be a
watershed in the history of the Cuban Revolution. According
to Castro, "We speak of a revolution that can discuss all
this and can grab the bull by the horns. . Let there be no
[fall of] the USSR here, no socialist camps dissolved [and]
broken up, [and] no empire here to set up secret prisons for

Nevertheless, the stakes are high: "Either we defeat all
these deviations and make our revolution strong, or we
die," Castro said.

atwhit at megalink.net

More information about the Marxism mailing list