[Marxism] Tariq Ali on Evo Morales and Cuba

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 13 21:23:51 MST 2006

(The complete interview is much, much longer.)

MotherJones.com / interview / 2006

Tariq Ali: Toward A New Radical Politics

A lion of the literary left on the war in Lebanon, U.S. imperialism,
and the prospects for reform in the Middle East.

Paige Austin August 09 , 2006


MJ: You were in Bolivia decades ago during Che Guevara’s campaign
there. Have you been since the election of Evo Morales in January?

TA: I’ve not been but I will go soon. It’s very, very heartening
what’s happening there. Someone asked me the other day what 
I think of Bolivia and I described it as “Che’s revenge.” You have a
government in power which has publicly paid homage to Che and his
struggle and I said, he would’ve been so pleased by that if he’d been
alive! It’s the only developments taking place in the world which one
can identify with to a large extent and say, Great!

MJ: Do you see Morales potentially abandoning his promises to aid the
poor now that he’s in office, as you have accused Lula of doing in

TA: Not so far. You can’t exclude any possibility, but so far no. The
first thing Morales did when he was elected was very interesting: a
plane was sent for him, he got into it and flew to Havana and got a
two-and-a-half-hour tutorial from the old man about what to do, how
to proceed. And that’s a very public gesture. Most Europeans when
they’re elected go to Washington and kiss ass in the White House.

MJ: You visited Cuba last year and met with writers and intellectuals
there. How would you characterize their situation? You’ve always
lauded the Cuban Revolution but certainly it has meant a lot of
restrictions for Cubans.

TA: I haven’t defended those restrictions. I think the big tragedy of
the Cuban Revolution was that it became dependent on the Soviet
Union, and it became dependent on the Soviet Union under a very
reactionary bureaucratic regime led by Leonid Brezhnev. I think that
adversely affected Cuban culture and Cuban politics, [and it] made
the Cuban press the most dull and dreary and predictable in the whole
of Latin America. Writers were persecuted. I never defended any of

But at the same time I refused to back those who wanted to get rid of
Fidel, who sent assassins to kill him, who want Miami to move to
Havana, I’m not in favor of that. I think that the Cuban Revolution
has made incredibly important gains—and you can see these when you
go, despite the hardships. It’s the most educated country in the
continent, probably in the whole of the third world. In a population
of 12 million you have between 800,000 and a million graduates
produced each year. You have human capital in the shape of doctors
who are helping Africa, Latin America. I remember very vividly that
when the earthquake happened in Pakistan, the Cubans sent 1,100
doctors, half of them women, which were more than the doctors sent by
all the Western countries put together.

But I do think the Cubans have to change some of the political
structures there and allow critical voices, for their own sakes,
because unless there is accountability the revolution will totally
atrophy. I said this very, very publicly to people of all sorts when
I was in Havana and they took it on board I think. They have a very
cultivated minister of culture, Abel Prieto, who certainly
understands the problem. He is re-printing all the Cuban authors who
were banned during the bad times: Cabrera Infante, Reinaldo Areinas,
all these people are being re-printed now in Cuba. And these absurd,
absurd and crazy restrictions on homosexuality have all gone: there
is none of that left, which is a big leap forward.


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