[Marxism] more from Castro on recent cabinet changes

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Fri Mar 27 18:26:58 MDT 2009

Bhaskar Sunkara writes about Fidel and his recent denunciation of the
Spanish imperialist government's efforts to get Europe to carry water for
American imperialism's anti-Cuba campaign: "He was awfully harsh on the
center-left regime in Spain, but he was oh so friendly with Franco."

This is, of course, an especially unintelligent social democratic critique
of Cuba, but perhaps an additional word or two might profitably be said on

The statement that Cuba, or Fidel "was oh so friendly with Franco" is a
stupid slander for which no evidence can be adduced whatsoever. The ONLY
thing that can be said is that Cuba did not break economic and diplomatic
relations with Franco. But Cuba never broke relations with ANYONE. NOT EVEN
with the Coard regime in Grenada, which murdered Fidel's close comrade and
friend, the leader of the Grenadian Revolution, Maurice Bishop, and with him
also the revolution, throwing the doors open to an imperialist invasion in
which Cuban blood would inevitable be shed, as it was. But even then, Cuba
announced it would maintain its economic aid to Grenada, saying only that
other relations would have to be subjected to "a serious and profound

In the case of Spain at the beginning of the 1960's, Spain did not follow
the U.S. imperialist lead in breaking off diplomatic relations and cutting
off commerce with Cuba. 

The campaign to isolate Cuba politically, economically and diplomatically
was a central objective of the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson
administrations. Spain's refusal to go along with it was a Good Thing,
whatever one might imagine the motives of the Franco regime to have been.
And what was it that Cuba was supposed to do? Since Franco had refused to go
along with the leader of the imperialist camp in breaking relations with
Cuba, should Fidel have enforced imperialist discipline by cutting off
Cuba's relations with Spain? Wasn't that really someone else's job? 

In what way could Fidel's complementing imperialist efforts to isolate the
island by cutting Cuba's ties even to "Western" countries that didn't break
with Cuba be considered an intelligent, never mind revolutionary policy?

And we should also remember that there are aspects to this question that go
well beyond immediate politics. Cuba and Spain are tied together by links of
language, culture and blood. The overwhelming majority of Cubans trace their
non-African ancestors to Spain. Cuban Spanish is virtually indistinguishable
from that spoken on the canary islands, down to having the same slang
expressions for taking a bus ("coger una guagua") which in a place less
close to the "mother country" like Chile would be understood as the obscene
suggestion of fornicating with an infant. 

Fidel's father came from Spain, so did my grandparents on my fathers side
and great grandparents on my mothers, as well as the father of the only
Cuban girlfriend I've ever had (decades ago in Miami), ALL the grandparents
of my sister's ex, etc. etc. etc. Just this week I learned that apparently I
am eligible to register for Spanish citizenship under a new law that was
mostly aimed at benefitting descendants of civil-war era émigrés. Cuba had
only been independent for a few decades when the revolution took place and
before independence had been for nearly a century Spain's major remaining
colony in the Americas which received a huge number of immigrants from
Spain, something that continued even after formal independence. 

Obviously Bhaskar Sunkara knows and understands none of this history. But it
ALSO explains the harshness of Fidel's denunciation of Zapatero. What even
Franco had been unwilling to do, in significant part in recognition of the
historical, linguistic, cultural and family ties between Cubans and
Spaniards, which is to align with Washington's anti-Cuba campaign, Zapatero
now does eagerly, and in close collaboration with Francoist dotard King Juan
Carlos. And what's more, Zapatero's suave, almost Gallic European
politicking offends something at the very core of Hispanic culture, at least
as it has been preserved in Cuba:

That it is more important to be upright than to be right; that it is much
more admirable to be honorable than to be rich or successful.

THIS is what ties the two halves of Fidel's recent commentary together, his
defense of comrades Osmany Cienfuegos and Pedro Miret against the
imperialist media slander campaign that they had been "purged" by Raúl in
the recent government reorganization. The truth, Fidel explained, is that
both had withdrawn from active roles years ago (one is 79, the other 82)
after a lifetime of service and their non-inclusion in the new government
was simply a recognition of what had long been a fact. But what offends
Fidel the most is that the honor of these comrades has been questioned at a
time in their lives when they may no longer be in a position to respond. 

And it is ALSO and PRECISELY the low and dishonorable character of
Zapatero's anti-Cuba machinations that has drawn Fidel's ire. It is a side
of Fidel's personality, and the core values of the revolution, that now that
he is free from formal responsibility for government policy he perhaps feels
a little freer to express.


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