[Marxism] Alarcon: "The current situation in Latin America is better than that which the Bolsheviks encountered."

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 21 13:47:30 MST 2006

Just in from the translator, an astute Marxist looks at today's
world, the struggle in the U.S, Mexico, and Latin America as a
whole. He takes up some of the most important issues of the
struggle today. He doesn't attempt to lay out the strategy or
tacitics for their resolution. He provides a broad framework 
within which much of what's being discussed and debated at
the present time can be usefully understood, in my opinion.

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

Translation by Robert Sandels.


La Jornada (Mexico) 

Interview with Ricardo Alarcon, 
President of the National Assembly 
of People's Power of Cuba

"The current situation in Latin America is better than that which the
Bolsheviks encountered. I don't want to say that we are going to
repeat Moncadas or Sierra Maestras. It's not a question of imitation.
We are fortunate that in Cuba our Lenin has lasted throughout this
half century."


Oviedo, Asturias. Immersed in the hurricane of a history that began
long before Nov. 25, 1956, when in Tuzpan, Veracruz, aboard the
Granma in pursuit of a dream, Fidel Castro not only was able to
conquer and persuade"with reason and justice in the struggle," as
Unamuno said, but he eliminated the word "impossible" from his
vocabulary and for half a century set a strategic course toward a
social paradigm.

>From the left and right of the ideological spectrum came pressures in
favor of various hypotheses and prejudices: Which will prevail? The
people who support the revolution or the accidents of providence?

Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada (Havana, 1937) was not among the 82
members of the Granma expedition, but was among the July 26 Movement
youths who supported them.

A former Cuban ambassador to the United Nations, foreign minister,
and president of the National Assembly of People's Power, Alarcón is
an advocate of the "parlamentarization of society" (the classical
idea of the German jurist Hans Kelsen) and has won widespread respect
from his enemies, a rare accomplishment among men of thought and

In this small city where Leopoldo Alas (Clarín) wrote La Regenta
(1885), a satire ridiculing the provincial pettiness and ignorance of
the supposedly cultured who are incapable of saying anything sensible
while expressing their liberal or conservative ideas, Alarcon told La

"I believe that in Latin America it is possible to construct
alliances, agreements. There are interests that agree on limiting the
interventionist power of United States imperialism. It is necessary
to eradicate that pattern, which makes it difficult for us to build
agreements. The so-called Washington Consensus, which still survives,
must go."

And as he signed his book Cuba and the Struggle for Democracy, we
asked: You say that Fidel has one defect; he doesn't know how to
rest. Is this a defect in all Cubans?

Alarcón smiles: "I wouldn't say that. For Fidel Castro, the
missionary sense of commitment is paramount."

­And then?

"People talk a lot about what will happen when Fidel dies and they
focus everything on that. The CIA was very alert and tried to kill
him on more than 600 occasions. If Fidel had died at the beginning of
the revolution, Cuba would have been exposed to terrible risks. But,
unlike Lenin, who died early, Fidel forged several generations of
capable leaders to direct the revolution with innovative style and

­A year ago, at the University of Havana, Fidel said, "nothing is
irreversible." Was that a gunshot in the middle of the concert?

"Internal reflection has not stopped. Fidel's central idea is that
the revolution and socialism are inevitable but are apart from
supposed laws of history."

­And what do you think?

"As a boy I thought that I would see the world revolution and that
later we were going to take a sip of it. But when you reach a certain
age you begin to give more importance to the future of the world. 
The fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites dramatically underlined
that feeling. The most hard-line capitalists and the leftists
believed that the USSR would be a socialist state or a capitalist one

Democracy within revolution? ­How can one change course?

"Our revolution was an indigenous, not an imported one. So, we go
back to the second Declaration of Havana (1962): "The duty of all
revolutionaries is to make revolution." To make means to create.
Likewise, if you do something you can undo it. This problem is real
and different from the nonsense about transition, succession, and
other naïve terms the media employ. It has to do with the old debate
among the Marxists: How to carry out a socialist revolution that
needs constant deepening and a favorable external context."

­Is the external context favorable to the Cuban revolution?

"The current situation in Latin America is better than that which the
Bolsheviks encountered. I don't want to say that we are going to
repeat Moncadas or Sierra Maestras. It's not a question of imitation.
We are fortunate that in Cuba our Lenin has lasted throughout this
half century."

­Is the revolution to be saved by Lenin or by Jose Marti?

"Fidel studied Cuban history in depth - the Cuban revolutionary
experience - and found its roots. In his Centenary speech (1969), he
very well sums up the fundamental thesis that in Cuba there was just
one revolution, when Marti was a child. For this reason it has more
force. Marti was able to articulate, to offer an interpretation. When
he was very young he united two generations and had moral and
political authority over the old combatants of 1868. One has to
imagine how those veterans responded a boy who tried to apply a
doctrine to a movement in which he had not participated."

­What real weight do you think the Cuban-Americans of Florida have in
the government of George W. Bush?

"Bush's actions lack logic. The effort to persecute travelers to Cuba
is directed against Cuban-Americans who are voters. It's absurd 
when you think that these actions are carried out to get more votes. 
The policy is not just for Miami. All over the United States an
electioneering vision predominates. From the start of the first
administration, there was a perfect union between the most radical
groups in Miami and the North American right. Think of the number of
Cubans who occupy posts at the federal level. With the exception of
some Hispanics of Mexican origin, it's as if the only Latinos were
Cubans. Even the Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, who was an
executive with Coca Cola in Mexico, is a Cuban."

The end of Bushism

­There are leftist voices in the United States who reject the idea
that imperialism is in crisis.

"The United States lacks the momentum it had at the end of the Second
World War. In 1989, in a certain sense, it emerged the winner against
the USSR. But a new situation is emerging: the loss of its hegemony
in the West originally brought about economically by the Marshall
Plan, the nuclear umbrella, and the Cold War, etc. And in Latin
America, crude, aggressive capitalism of the neoliberal model is

-How do you think the internal politics of the United States will
impact Latin America?

"In the first place I don't think there will be more of Bushism. 
It's going to be difficult for them to go on past 2008. There is a
disconnect between those who continue to repeat the discourse of
Fukuyama in the 1990s (the end of history, of socialism, etc.) and
the current situation."

A time of transition

"Washington does not know what to do in Iraq. The neoconservatives
believed, in a truly stupid way, that it was possible to reverse
history and to focus their strategy on the Greater Middle East. But
at the moment the Berlin wall came down and they proclaimed the
victory of capitalism the caracazo happened. The neocons were
incapable of imagining that their weak point was in Latin America,
something that the leftist forces also failed to see."

­Could Washington make an aggressive change in direction in Latin
America if it retreated from Central Asia?

"­The risk exists and it could be worse than in other periods, but 
I trust that it won't happen. The war in Iraq proves that it's one
thing to defeat a country and another to govern it. Nevertheless, in
the context of culture, of ideas, the Washington ideology retains its
hegemony, and you can not say that it is in decline in Europe."

­Various Latin American governments are trying to escape from the
United States orbit. At the Mar de Plata summit, the Free Trade Area
of the Americas was defeated. How will this history play out?

"­We can be optimistic to the extent that there are more governments
with a popular sensibility and that there are politicians with a
truly popular background who are taking over power from the managers
of transnational corporations. Not all of them are responding in the
same way. The United States' strong point lies in its ability to
influence, to deceive, to confuse, to falsify the terms of debate. In
many Latin American countries, including those in which progressive
forces govern, neoliberalism prevails. But if we believe in the myth
of US invulnerability and omnipotence we are lost."

­In the coming days México will have two presidents. One will take
power on Nov. 20 and the other on Dec. 1. How do you think this will
influence Cuba-Mexico relations?

"It's an unusual situation. I can't recall a similar case. My problem
is that anything I say can be taken as an official view of my
government. Something has to happen. For many years Mexico 
was an example of exceptional political stability. It will be difficult to
go through six years with two presidents. Something has to happen 
and that something will depend heavily on the struggle by the social

Translation by Cuba-L Direct [R. Sandels]

More information about the Marxism mailing list