In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency. Correos […]
June 3, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Edward Snowden, video conferencing from Moscow before an audience at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada), denounced that the U.S. government tends to hijack and militarize telecommunications innovations, taking advantage of the natural human desire to communicate and exploiting it for unlimited power.
“They took our nuclear capability and turned it into the most horrible weapon the world had ever witnessed,” Snowden said, arguing that the 21st century is seeing the same trend, but with computer science: “iits reach is unlimited… but not the safeguard measures!
Snowden argues that modern militarized technologies, with the help of social media and technological giants, allow governments to become “all-powerful” in their ability to monitor, analyze, and influence people’s behavior.
“It is through the use of new platforms and algorithms […] that we can change our behavior. In some cases, they are able to predict our decisions, and they can also push them toward different outcomes,” he said.
For Snowden, the need for human beings to belong to social groups is being exploited, as network users voluntarily consent to provide their private data by signing carefully drafted agreements that almost no one ever reads.
“They have hundreds and hundreds of pages of legal jargon that we are not qualified to read and evaluate and yet are considered binding on us. And now these institutions, which are both commercial and governmental, […] have structured and entrenched it into the most effective means of social control in the history of our species,” he concluded.
Edward Snowden is known for leaking information about U.S. government spying programs to society through the NSA and the CIA.
In video, Snowden on how digital companies and governments use our private data
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The services Google offers on devices with Android and iOS operating systems store your location regardless of terminal settings. Kevin Curran, professor of computer security at the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Ulster (Ireland) explains to Sputnik how Google gets away with it.
“In 2007, it was discovered that Google logged climate access points using the company’s vehicles on the streets. In 2017 we saw the company sell the unique addresses of cell phones stored on telephone poles. Now we’ve discovered that when you deactivate the location, data is still transmitted when we receive weather updates,” Curran explains to Sputnik.
In other words, Google knows where you are even though you’ve explicitly disabled location settings in your cell phone settings. Curran points out that the blame lies with the custom ads in the applications. Between April and June, Google made $32 billion in profits, 90 percent of which came from advertising.
“People find it cheaper to buy ads to show on their cell phones, but Google doesn’t make much money from them. What’s really important for Google is to know where you are,” he explains. So the company offers those who buy those ads a tool that gives them access to data related to the demographics of a particular region, allowing them to target the people they’re interested in. That’s how Google makes real money.
“The more data – especially about the location – the more ads and the more benefits for Google. So what they really want is for you not to deactivate your location history. That’s why they tell you that [giving up your location] will make the ads more specific and the services they can offer you will be better. And to a certain extent, it’s true,” the specialist points out.
The problem would not exist if the settings of the device gave the user full authority over their personal data. If, when deactivating the location, it would not end up in the hands of third parties. But the problem exists and it is then when the responsibility falls on the company. Google should better specify what the user gets and doesn’t get by disabling location settings, Curran reports.
“Some people have never entered the Google activity log, but the log shows you where you’ve been. If you have it activated (which is what most people do), you can see all the trips you’ve made, how high up the street you’ve been, and the pictures you’ve taken when you were there. If you go to Google’s ‘My Activity’ tab, you’ll see not only your search history, but also the places you’ve been,” he warns.
Also, how many times have you opened WhatsApp or any of the other apps on your mobile phone? The situation is aggravated by the fact that the vast majority of terminals on the street have Google services and applications installed. And while it happens on all Android devices, iPhone is not saved either. “Google pays Apple a lot of money to have their services on iOS,” he reveals.
“It doesn’t matter what phone you’re using. If you use Google services, they will continue to track you,” he warns.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
Canada has not only financed and supported opposition parties in Venezuela, but has also openly allied itself with some of that country’s most undemocratic and extremist elements. The Canadian liberal government has openly supported the Voluntad Popular (VP) party’s offer to seize power by force since January 2019, although Ottawa has actually given its support for years to this electorally marginal party in the US nation.
The VP party that sponsors Juan Guaidó has an unfortunate history for Venezuelans. Shortly after Henrique Capriles, the presidential candidate of the opposition coalition Mesa Redonda de Unidad Democrática recognized his defeat in January 2014, its leader, Leopoldo López, launched the “La Salida” movement in an attempt to overthrow Nicolás Maduro, VP activists formed shock troops for the 2014 guarimbas protests that left 43 Venezuelans dead, 800 wounded and a large amount of property damage. Dozens more died in a new wave of VP-backed protests in 2017.
While VP has been effective in fuelling the violence, it has not, however, managed to win many votes. It occupied 8% of the seats in the 2015 elections, in which the opposition won control of the National Assembly. With 14 of the 167 deputies in the Assembly, VP won the majority of the four seats in the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition. In the December 2012 regional elections, its vice president was only the sixth most successful party and performed somewhat better in the next year’s municipal elections.
Founded in late 2009 by Leopoldo Lopez, VP has always been known for its close contacts with the United States, especially its relations with U.S. diplomats, according to the Wall Street Journal.
López studied at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Internally, Lopez skillfully manages his distant relatives as great-great-grandson of Latin American independence leader Simón Bolívar, and his status as great-grandson of a president and grandson of a member of a presidential cabinet.
Between 2000 and 2008 he was mayor of Chacao, a Venezuelan municipality of some 65,000 inhabitants.
During the 2002 military coup, López orchestrated public protests against legitimate president and revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez and played a leading role in the “citizen’s arrest” of the Venezuelan interior minister. In 2014 Leopoldo López was sentenced and sentenced to 13 years in prison by the attorney general’s office and the Supreme Court of Justice for inciting, planning and leading violence during the guarimbas protests of that year.
Canadian officials are known to have had close contact with López’s emissaries after his conviction. In November 2014, his wife Lilian Adriana Tintori Parra, a well-known Venezuelan sportswoman and political activist, visited Ottawa to meet with Foreign Minister John Baird, his colleague in the conservative cabinet of Jason Kenney, Prime Minister of Alberta Province since 2019, and leader of the Conservative Party of that province since 2017. After meeting Lopez’s wife, Baird demanded the release of Lopez and other political prisoners of VP.
Three months later, Carlos Vecchio, National Policy Coordinator of the fantom government of Guaidó, visited Ottawa along with Diana López, Leopoldo López’s sister, and Orlando Viera-Blanco to speak before the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the United Nations Permanent Commission on Foreign Affairs and International Development. There, in a press conference, they attacked the Venezuelan government and in a forum at McGill University they spoke about the supposed “crisis due to the decline of democracy and the repression of human rights in Venezuela”.
The spectral government of Juan Guaidó named Carlos Vecchio and Orlando Viera-Blanco as its ambassadors to the United States and Canada, respectively. In October 2017, Vecchio and Congresswoman Bibiana Lucas attended an Anti-Maduro group meeting in Toronto.
Canada has undoubtedly strengthened the VP’s hard-line position within the opposition. A February Wall Street Journal article titled “What the hell is going on,” asks, “How did a small group seize control of the opposition?
As Montreal writer and political activist Yves Engler writes, Venezuelans did not need Canada to come and give impetus to a marginal party that can only help lead their country into an increasingly serious and complex conflict.
June 5, 2019.
This article may be reproduced by quoting the newspaper POR ESTO as the source.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The 67th Meeting of the fearsome Bilderberg group was held from 30 May to 2 June 2019, with some 130 guests from all over the world. 23 countries that stayed in one of the most sumptuous places in Switzerland, the Montreux Palace Hotel.
The Bilderberg meetings began at the start of the Cold War as a discussion club of American and European leaders against communism or, more specifically, against the Soviet Union. The first event took place in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel (which remained as the name of the group), in the Dutch city of Oosterbeek. Since then its meetings have been in various places in the western world, most of them in North America.
Switzerland has been one of the Group’s preferred host countries after the United States. Switzerland had hosted it five times before this occasion (1960, 1970, 1981, 1995 and 2011).
Bilderbergers conferences are secret events, run by those who pull the strings behind world leaders – politicians, CEOs, big financiers and other business executives, artists and personalities from the Western world. They are almost always American and Euro-Western. This time there are a dozen from Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria and Estonia.
The most they get to the East is Turkey, perhaps in the hope of attracting it back to NATO as an alternative to its inclusion in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO is not an Eastern version of the Bilderbergers but an open forum for economic development policies and defense strategies, without Western-style secrets or manipulations.
Bilderbergers’ associates overlap with those of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Trilateral Commission and the London-based Chatham House, which sets the rules for meetings, not to mention the World Economic Forum (WEF), held every January in Davos, Switzerland. The WEF represents a relatively transparent window to the world, although it also holds its meetings behind closed doors. The Bilderbergers are a completely secret organization, although it is said that their meetings are informal conversations that allow participants to freely use the information they receive, although they are not allowed to reveal the identity or affiliation of the speakers, nor of any participant in the particular talks.
Switzerland is one of the most secretive countries in the world, it is the world of banking, of big finance, it is the safe haven for international corporations that are privileged simply because they are domiciled in Switzerland. Not only do they pay lower taxes, but they also escape the ethical standards they would have to apply when doing business exploiting natural resources in developing countries.
As a nation, the Helvetic Confederation (Switzerland) is run by the US Federal Reserve (FED) debt-based monetary system, a scheme that has survived for the last hundred years, under the leadership of the Rothschild banking clan.
It is closely associated with and controls the Western banking system’s gold bunker, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, also called the “central bank of central banks”.
The BIS is intimately linked to Swiss finances, conveniently located near the German border, it served as an intermediary of the FED to finance Hitler’s war against the Soviet Union.
It is no coincidence that Switzerland was spared destruction in both world wars. It is the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country where laws are made directly by big finance and big corporations, i.e. where parliamentarians sit on the boards of directors of corporations and financial institutions, when they make laws for the people, a country where a white-collar interest group makes the laws that big capital requires.
One of the permanent agenda items propagated by the Bilderbergers is the reduction of the world’s population, so that the few at the top can live better and longer with the world’s rapidly diminishing resources.
Talking about the future of capitalism does not mean that we consider that to be the only possible system,” André Kudelski, organizer of the event, told the Swiss newspaper 24 Heures. And in that he is right, capitalism is not only not the only viable system. It is the only one that is proven not to be viable, because it has demonstrated its feasibility by spreading injustice, inequality, crime and misery all over the world.
Facimile by Walter Lippmann, June 2, 2019.
Havana. March 7, 2011
by Jean-Guy Allard
• THE complete file of the investigation of the French CGT shipping company into the sabotage of the La Coubre vessel, responsibility for which is attributed to the CIA, is being held in the strongbox of a French maritime foundation, with a 150-year restriction on its release set by the legal counsel of the vessel’s last owners.
The file, whose existence was unknown until recently, lay for close to 50 years in the enormous collection of records belonging to the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT), also known as French Line, the owner of La Coubre when the tragedy struck in Havana on March 4, 1960.
In 1973, the CGT joined the Compagnie Générale Maritime, a state enterprise which was later privatized and handed over to a consortium currently known as CMA CGM. In 1995, the legal ownership and management of CGT’s archives was entrusted to a foundation whose 16-member executive included two CMA CGM representatives.
With the aim of conserving French maritime resources, this foundation, the Association French Lines, manages a historical research service for a number of shipping enterprises, in its headquarters located on Lucien Corbeaux Street in the port city of Le Havre.
Of the 30,000-plus files in the foundation’s archives, 79 contain references to La Coubre. One, numbered 22091, placed in the collection in 1997, has the following description: “La Coubre. Explosion in Havana, repairs, photographs, press articles, list of the missing persons, report to the executive committee, insurance terms, correspondence.”
The content of this file would seem to be of greatest interest, given its information on details of the act of terrorism in Havana that have never been made public. It came from the Legal Office of the defunct CGT and is marked “Classified,” with the surprising prohibition “PUBLICATION RESTRICTED 150 YEARS.”
The existence of such a dossier of information about La Coubre crime certainly constitutes one more mysterious element in the web of enigmas surrounding the most significant act of terrorism of the century in the Americas.
Dating back 51 years, on March 4, 1960, the sabotage of La Coubre to 100 deaths, among them six French members of the ship’s crew, more than 200 injured and many victims whose bodies were never found. The material damage was estimated then at approximately $17 million.
On many occasions, Cuba has charged the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with responsibility for the explosion aboard La Coubre in the port of Havana.
In the hours following the explosion, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro presided over a historic event in Plaza de la Revolución, in which he stated his conviction that the hand of the CIA, which had already shown itself highly aggressive toward Cuba, was behind the crime.
Named April 16, 1948 by the Canadian Vickers Ltd of Montreal, Canada shipyard, from October 11, 1951, La Coubre had been navigating between France, the French West Indies, Central America and the United States.
On August 22, 1960, La Coubre was towed from the port of by the Dutch ship Ooostzee to Rouen, France, where Chantiers de Normandie rebuilt the destroyed section. The ship went back into service April 1, 1961. La Coubre was successively renamed Barbara, Notios Hellas, and Agia Marina before finally being sold for scrap at the end of 1979 to a Spanish enterprise in Gandia (Valencia), which demolished it.
More than 50 years later, the U.S. government is still refusing to turn over documents related to La Coubrefrom its secret archives.
“It is not possible to have ignored circumstances in which a number of U.S. nationals were involved,” affirms Dr. José Luis Méndez Méndez, an eminent historian of terrorism against Cuba, citing a long list of suspicious elements linking the United States to the events.
“This crime had to have been officially investigated,” he stated.
The 22 French survivors of La Coubre were later repatriated by ship. Six French seamen lost their lives in the criminal explosion. First Lieutenant François Artola, pilot Jean Buron and sailors Lucien Aloi, André Picard, Jean Gendron and Alain Moura died, victims of this cynical act of aggression. •
Translated by Granma International
By: Wilder Pérez Varona / Interview with Eric Toussaint.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Wilder Pérez Varona (WPV): The first question I want to ask you is in relation to the issue of bureaucracy.
Before 1917 the subject of the socialist transition is one thing: since the Revolution of 1848, the Paris Commune (which is a fundamental episode, but of ephemeral character) was always limited rather to questions of theory, principles, projection (we know that Marx and Engels were reluctant to be very descriptive with respect to those projections). The Revolution of 1917 placed this problematic of transition in other terms, in another plane; in a plane that has fundamental practical elements. One of them has to do with the issue of bureaucracy, which appeared gradually throughout the 1920s. On this question of bureaucracy as it was elaborated in those circumstances, how do you define that function of bureaucracy by giving it a role as such a relevant actor, at the level of the class triad: working class/peasantry and bourgeoisie? Why that important place? I would also like you to express yourself on the distinction of “class”. You are very careful to talk about bureaucracy as a class; however, other authors do.
Eric Toussaint (ET): Well, it is clear that the experience of Russia and then the Soviet Union is, I would say, almost the second experience of attempting to seize power in order to begin a transition of rupture with capitalism. The first experience is the Paris Commune, which lasted three months in 1871, limited at the territorial level to Paris as such, isolated from French territory and attacked. So it is clear that revolutionaries like Lenin, Trotsky, and other leaders of the Bolshevik Party had no point of comparison with other experiences and conceived of the problem of transition, as I mentioned in my presentation, in a triangular way, that is, the need for an alliance between proletariat and peasantry to defeat the bourgeoisie and Imperialism, and to resist imperialist aggression after the seizure of power.
And the issue of something like the subsistence and weight of the tsarist state apparatus, which had a bureaucracy, and then the struggle against bureaucracy and bureaucratism was rather conceived at first as a struggle against something that was part of the past, of the tsarist heritage. Within the framework of the development of the transition, from the early years, both Lenin and Trotsky and others found themselves faced with a new problem and they had to start analyzing and clarifying, and so on. Lenin did not manage to elaborate, I would say, a theory of bureaucracy because he died in January 1924, but what is absolutely true in Lenin’s case is that he, in several extremely clear and important interventions, denounced the bureaucratic deformation of the workers state under construction. Already in the debate on trade unions in 1920-1921 he said that the workers’ state led by the Bolshevik Party had bureaucratic deformations and, therefore, the workers and their unions had to maintain some level of independence from the bureaucratically deformed workers’ state. That seems very important to me.
Another aspect in Lenin’s position of late 1922 and early 1923 is found in the critique of an institution created by the same government, called the Worker and Peasant Inspectorate, and Lenin says that this body, which has to serve in the struggle against bureaucracy and to which every citizen (proletarian or peasant) can turn and denounce bureaucratic behavior, says that this same body is totally bureaucratized. And that organism was directed by Joseph Stalin. Lenin proposes a complete reform of that organism in which there were twelve thousand civil servants. At that time the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate, which supposedly fought against bureaucratism, actually helped bureaucratization and aggravated the problem in which the bureaucratically deformed workers’ state already found itself. It should also be mentioned, because it is little known, that Stalin did everything necessary to make it disappear at the public level or even to prevent public knowledge of Lenin’s letters saying that Stalin should be removed from the post of Party Secretary General.
That’s what I mean about Lenin. Then I said in my presentation that the problem of transition to socialism is not limited to the bourgeois/proletariat/peasant triangle, but that there was a fourth actor that is bureaucracy, and bureaucracy is not limited to being a legacy of the past, in the case of Russia from the tsarist past, but the bureaucracy itself emerges within the transition process and consolidates itself as an actor that is progressively gaining confidence, in the course of the transition, of its interests, and its interests (in the case of the Russian experience) began to distance themselves from the interests of both the proletariat and the peasantry and, in some way, the bourgeoisie. That is, the bureaucracy did not consciously aim at the restoration of capitalism and the power of the bourgeoisie. The bureaucracy was not, I would say, an aid to capitalist restoration, but pursued its own interests and in that case its own interests were to have the monopoly of political power and from the apparatus of the state to direct, lead the process and, in some way, transform the party into an instrument of bureaucracy, transform the unions into a transmission belt of bureaucratic power to the rank and file and have an economic development in which the proletariat and peasantry cannot really act in defense of their own interests, but begin to be (in the case of Russia) exploited by the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy headed by Stalin promoted a level not only of authoritarianism, but also of dictatorship over the working people both in the rural world and in industrial enterprises or other state-controlled economic sectors.
But of course, bureaucracy does not generate a new ideology. The bureaucracy is not going to vindicate bourgeois ideology because it is officially being fought against. Then the bureaucracy, in general, took the “official” socialist program as an ideological dress and program, and speaks in the name of deepening the process of building a socialist society because the bureaucracy does not generate an ideology of its own, which would imply distancing itself from the official program of the Revolution. Somehow the bureaucracy operates in a hidden way with its own interests, and can destroy both organizations and people who really want a deepening of the process, can destroy them using officially the defense of socialism.
In the course of the 1920s, leaders like Christian Rakovsky, a Bolshevik leader, revolutionary, important, and then Trotsky, began to understand the specificity of the bureaucracy. It took years to really understand what it was all about and it is with the 1935 elaboration of The Revolution Betrayed that Trotsky comes to a complete elaboration of the analysis of what is a bureaucratically not only deformed, but degenerated state. That is to say, the ties that the power of the Soviet Union had with the Revolution in 1935 and the first years had completely distanced themselves. There remained a society that was no more capitalist, there were no capitalists in the Soviet Union, but the process towards socialism, which implies democracy, workers’ control, forms of self-management, independent and free cultural creation, the possibility of debate among revolutionaries, of open debate, had been totally degraded and destroyed and there were no more these spaces. That is why Trotsky called for a political revolution saying, it is not so much a social revolution against property relations in the production sector, it is not an anti-capitalist revolution that has social features. A political revolution is necessary to allow the proletariat, the peasantry, all wealth-producing workers, and the people in general, to regain political power. Hence the term “political revolution”. And hence demands that are above all political: freedom of expression, freedom of organization, workers’ control, self-management, pluralism of parties respecting the constitution.
Trotsky also launched a debate on the extension or not of the revolution, what is it for, what is the Communist International for? Trotsky advocated the extension of the revolution to the international level and for permanent revolution. It is necessary to remember that a Communist International had been built, the Third International founded in 1919, then led by Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Radek (Stalin at the beginning of the Communist International did not really have any presence, he was not an internationally known leader as the head of the process of extension of the revolution). It is only when Stalin succeeds in expelling Trotsky from the Communist Party in 1927 and expelling him from the country in 1929 that he begins to fully lead the Stalinized Third International and puts that International at the service of the interests of the very bureaucracy of the Soviet Union, and no longer to really extend the revolution internationally.
WPV: And although the bureaucracy does not generate an ideology of its own, nevertheless in practice (from the historical evolution of the so-called “real socialisms”), it actually managed the capitalist restoration in those countries. You also pointed out that they exploited the classes of peasants and workers, of producers in general, how then do you distinguish that bureaucratic management and exploitation with respect to a capitalist exploitation; between the one carried out by the bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie?
ET: It is that during that long period of bureaucratic power, that same bureaucracy considers that the conditions are not yet met to pass to a process in which, as a social layer is transformed into a class for the private accumulation of wealth. What is, I would say, typical of the capitalist class: a private accumulation of wealth.
But at the same time, the lesson of the Soviet Union is that, after all, that bureaucracy that is not building a new kind of system chooses capitalist restoration and the bureaucrats themselves become capitalists. In other words, they somehow cross the border as a social layer and transform themselves into a capitalist class. As bureaucrats, before capitalist restoration, they can accumulate levels of wealth, privileges, and so on, but their privileges come from the management of a society in which large private property, capitalist property, does not exist or is totally marginal and that does not have a great future, but that social layer (or a part, a fraction of the social layer) may last for decades and at any given time decide that it is time to restore capitalism. This is what happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the Soviet Union. I personally think that’s what happened in China from the Reforms of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1980s as well, and in Vietnam we also had that evolution.
Of course, the historical perspective could have been of another kind, that is, a capacity of the producers (proletariat, peasantry or intellectual worker) to regain power from a political revolution, but that did not happen and it was not Gorbachev’s perspective. He spoke of Glasnost, in terms of liberation from political debate, but Perestroika was to introduce reforms in favor of the progressive capitalist restoration. So that is the great challenge of the transitional society: how to deal with the problem of bureaucratization and the consolidation of the bureaucracy as the leading and dominant social layer, also when the country is isolated, and has problems to really succeed in increasing production, increasing its endogenous development, and responding to the needs of the workers.
WPV: To a large extent all the reforms of the 1980s were also made with the slogan of the democratization of bureaucratized socialism. However, the history of the relationship between Socialism and Democracy has involved many conflicts, many contradictions, many misunderstandings…
ET: It is extremely complicated because (you know perfectly well in Cuba) the transition to socialism leads Imperialism to a policy of aggression that can take various forms. Therefore, this aggressive attitude makes it complicated to have total freedom of expression within the framework of the process. The same aggression produces reactions of limitation of expression, and so on; but of course, at a given moment the bureaucracy uses the external threat to maintain a limitation of the political debate because it is not really in the people’s interest to have a political debate that could weaken the bureaucratic control over society.
So, the issue is very complex. I would say that it is clear that we have to face an external aggression that can take various forms, but we cannot, under this situation of aggression, limit in an exaggerated way the possibility of expression, of organization, of protests, and so on.
In my presentation, I made reference to Rosa Luxemburg, who totally supported the Bolshevik Revolution. As you know, she was assassinated in January 1919 under orders from German Social Democratic ministers, but in 1918 she wrote several letters to the Bolsheviks, which she made public, to say “comrades Lenin, Trotsky, beware of the measures you are taking to limit political freedoms,” etc., because that can lead to a process that is going to be deadly for the Soviet Revolution. I would say, what is the balance that we must find in the transition, and at that level we must also evaluate the attitude of Lenin, Trotsky, and others… what happened to Kronstadt, that rebellion of sailors near Petrograd; what happened to the secret police (the NKVD or Cheka), which had the possibility of extrajudicial execution processes, of imprisonment of opponents… the question of trade unions; it is clear that we have to be able to analyze this.
It is also important for us to analyze what happened in a country like Cuba. The whole libertarian issue in the 1960s in Cuba, then followed by the increase in the negative influence of the USSR bureaucracy from the economic difficulties after the 1970 harvest, and then analyze and also draw lessons from the Cuban experience. It is also very important.
WPV: Of course, we have to analyze the processes in their particular contexts, but we also have to take into account certain limits in the prerogatives of the revolutionary government itself, let’s say, to assume the direction and control of the process. In this link between Socialism and Democracy, you are in favor of the limitation of democracy. In other words, it is not just Democracy, it is not the democracy that has been hegemonized by capitalist perspectives, but a limited democracy (socialist or of any other kind, a workers’ democracy).
ET: For example, for me one of the lessons of the Russian experience is the need for a multi-party system by saying that, within the framework of the transition, the existence of several parties should be allowed if they accept, respect, the socialist, working-class Constitution. In the society of transition to socialism, one cannot allow a pro-imperialist party calling for outside intervention, or supporting outside intervention, or let it freely organize, recruit and prepare a pro-imperialist strategy. But there may be different parties, which have different visions of the transition, and which can coexist; and the people must be able, thanks to their political formation and increasing it, to choose among various options. Of course, encourage debate and call for consultations on decisions to be taken.
I would also say that one of the lessons of the so-called “real socialism” societies of the twentieth century is that, and this seems fundamental to me, they must have at the economic level an important sector of private economy, small private property. The small private property of land, the small private property of workshops, restaurants, shops. The Soviet experience also had an influence on Cuba, nationalizing almost everything at any given moment, which damaged the process. I was here in 1993 when the liberation of the activity of the self-employed was announced and seemed to me to be a good measure or the peasant free markets where peasants can come to the city and sell their products. That space should have been maintained in the Soviet Union, where the forced collectivization imposed by Stalin from 1929 was a disaster, and its tremendous consequences on agriculture. That is to say, there is the question of political democracy, but also for me there must be a differentiation of statutes of producers and small private production, and small private property or private initiative must be guaranteed during the process.
In the case of China, Vietnamese and the Soviet Union, which disappeared in 1991, then the Russian Federation, Ukraine, etc., did not put limits to private property and restored the large private capitalist property. And bureaucrats or friends of the bureaucrats were transformed into oligarchs and accumulated tremendous wealth as new capitalists, even very aggressive against the workers and robbing the nation of a large part of the wealth generated by the producers.
So the debate is not just about democracy, it is also about economic reforms and the social content of economic reforms.
WPV : On the question of limits to the market, the limits to private enterprise, in these socialist experiences (including Cuba) the discussion has often turned in terms of the Plan / Market relationship. In other words, to what extent the centrally planned state must intervene, must limit, limit the expansion of the market. However, it is presupposed that there must be a central Plan; In general, it is something implicit, something that is not questioned. In relation to this, it can be assumed that the Plan thus conceived is also one of the most effective instruments available to the bureaucracy, what is your opinion on the matter?
ET: I remember discussions in Cuba about the role of the market, etc., for example, the debate that took place when Che was Minister of Industry. In the 1990s discussions about the role of the market came back, I remember very well, I was invited to all the events about globalization between 1998 and 2008-2009. Fidel [Castro] participated in all the events that lasted three, four days, at the Palacio de las Convenciones with one or two thousand Cuban and foreign guests, and Fidel on several occasions asked exactly about the role of the market and the limits to be set to the market..
Personally, my answer is as follows. It is fundamental to allow and support the small private initiative, the small agricultural production, which may even be a majority but small, that is, a majority of peasant families producing most of the agricultural production. It is one of the incentives to increase production and achieve food sovereignty, to also improve their standard of living thanks to increased production with the sale of more products, it is a powerful incentive to achieve a high level of production and quality because the farmer knows that if he does not produce quality products he will not be able to sell them on the market or to the state.
Therefore, I believe that at that level there were serious errors in the conduct of the agricultural policy of many so-called socialist countries, where they wanted to nationalize or impose cooperatives that were not really efficient. But, at the same time, for me, planning is fundamental and I would say that in modern economies it is even more important. Let’s imagine for a moment a socialist revolution in Europe or the United States. Planning is fundamental, how can you imagine the fight against climate change, if you are not planning to put an end to power stations with coal, oil or gas, and change it for forms of renewable energy? That has to be planned, because it is not the local communities, the families, who can make that decision, because the production of energy at this time is on a large scale. Therefore, combating climate change has a relationship with what I said about family production using organic methods of agricultural production, in order to combat climate change or to limit the effects of climate change that is already underway.
So, planning is important. The issue is how to ensure that the people, the citizens, can influence planning decisions. And there for me the answer, in some way, passes through the Internet, the media we have, Television, and so on. Several options can be presented to the people and decide, if we take such an option we can foresee that it will have such consequences on their living conditions, if we take another option it will have these negative effects; allow debate on these options, and at a given moment, that people pronounce on options that have to do with the priorities of the Five-Year Plan, for the decade, and so on.
For me, the lesson of the so-called socialist experiences of the last century lies in the fact that it was a planning led by bureaucratic apparatuses that decided what was most interesting and imposed priorities. On the contrary, it would have been necessary to discuss different options. For me, then, we must not end planning, we must democratize planning.
Precisamos una nueva opción socialista, autogestionaria, ecologista, socialista, feminista. Tenemos que abogar por esa perspectiva.
WPV: Returning, finally, to the framework of the event, which has been the opportunity to interview you, what does it mean for you to hold in Cuba this international event on the figure of Trotsky? What importance do you attach to dialoguing with Trotsky today?
ET: For me, this Trotsky conference is a very positive initiative. It is an academic conference, not a tribune of political organizations to recruit, but a discussion on many different aspects of Leon Trotsky’s elaboration, contribution and combat. During the conference, Trotsky’s struggle against the bureaucracy, the struggle for the extension of the revolution, the struggle to confront external aggression were analyzed. Trotsky was the head of the Red Army that managed to defeat counter-revolution and external aggression in 1919-1920 in Soviet Russia. Trotsky’s contributions on the problems of everyday life, his contributions on literature, culture (it was an important topic in this conference), the reality of Soviet society in the 1920s were also analyzed during the conference….
And why is it important to do it in Cuba? Because Cuba is, I would say, the only country of what were called “socialist countries” where capitalism has not been restored. There is a fundamental debate for Cuba about how, taking into account the lessons of the last century, the internal struggles in the Soviet Union between 1920 and 1930, on the one hand; and the recent experiences of capitalist restoration in Russia, in China, and in other countries, how to position themselves as Cubans, in a sovereign manner, and lead the way into the future. Of course, it is complicated because the external aggression continues. We have Trump, who is restricting the small space that had been opened during Obama’s term for Cuba, which was somewhat limited but indicated an opening. Now, with Trump, spaces are closing again. So, of course, the stakes for the Cuban people and the challenges for Cuban socialism are very important.
As an internationalist, I have always supported the Cuban Revolution, I have supported the fight against the blockade imposed on Cuba, I have bet on dialogue with Cubans. And to see that there is a space in Cuba to rethink Trotsky’s contribution, the meaning that this contribution can have in today’s debates in Cuba, is a joy for me. There are dozens of comrades here who are revolutionaries in their countries, who may have different positions, different visions of Trotskyism, there are of course, there are different visions of Marxism, different visions of Leninism, of Fidelismo, of Guevarism, there is not just one vision. There are discussions, but I can tell you that I feel the enthusiasm of comrades who have been fighting for decades and who consider this initiative in Cuba to be very positive.
1] Eric Toussaint. Doctor in Political Science from the Universities of Paris VIII and Liège. Militant internationalist. Author of several books published in Cuba: Global Crisis and Alternatives from the Perspective of the South (Editorial Ciencias sociales, 2010, http://www.cadtm.org/Crisis-global-y-alternativas-desde ), Las Finanzas contra los pueblos. La Bolsa o la Vida (Social Sciences Publishing House, 2004, http://www.cadtm.org/La-Bolsa-o-la-Vida-Las-Finanzas ), among others.
2] Refers to the paper presented at the International Colloquium dedicated to León Trostky held in Havana between May 6 and 8, 2019, which was hosted by the Benito Juárez house. See the paper: Eric Toussaint, “Lenin and Trotsky versus the bureaucracy and Stalin. Russian Revolution and Transitional Society. Spanish: http://rebelion.org/docs/256387.pdf. English: http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4900
3] See Che Guevara, El Gran Debate Sobre la economía en Cuba, Editorial Ocean Press, 2018, 424 pages, ISBN: 978-1-925317-36-7, https://oceansur.com/catalogo/titulos/el-gran-debate-2.
4] See for example: http://www.fidelcastro.cu/es/discursos/discurso-en-la-clausura-del-v-encuentro-sobre-globalizacion-y-problemas-del-desarrollo-en.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
John Bolton has been saying for years that he wants to overthrow the Iranian government, but this time he seems to have gone too far, writes Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News and former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and many other newspapers.
“I met John Bolton and interacted with him almost daily with my colleagues in the press corps at United Nations Headquarters in New York, when he was the United States ambassador there between August 2005 and December 2006. Most of his diplomatic colleagues, officials and journalists were surprised that Bolton was appointed as the representative of the United States for his long and public disdain for the UN.
In 1994 Bolton had said publicly that “the United Nations Secretariat in New York has 38 floors and if I lost ten floors, nothing would change.” Even more revealing was when in that same conference he confessed that “no matter what the UN decides, the United States will always do what it wants”.
For Bolton, these frank admissions classify as signs of force, should not be taken as reasons for alarm.
He is a man without a sense of humor and, at least at the UN, he always seemed to think that he was the most intelligent person in the room. In 2006, he gave a conference at the United States mission to correspondents at the UN, on nuclear enrichment. Its objective was to convince the audience that Iran was close to having an atomic bomb despite a 2007 National Intelligence Calculation of the United States that Tehran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
But arrogance may have finally defeated Bolton. At the top of that agenda has maintained the stated goal for years: bomb and overthrow the Iranian government.
Bolton has a very high judgment on himself, rooted apparently in a sincere belief in the myth of American greatness. He always seems angry and one can never define if the reason for the dispute is personal or diplomatic. He personally takes on political or other differences with nations that disagree with the positions of the government of the country he represents. In this field, he links his sense of personal power with that of the United States as a nation.
It is more than any ideology. It is fanaticism. Bolton believes that the United States is exceptional, indispensable and superior to all other nations … and is not afraid to say it in public. He is not the typical government official who moves from passivity to aggression. It is aggressive always. He is always willing to make intimidation personal in the name of the country he represents.
It is, of course, a vociferous instigator of the US coup in Venezuela and was the one who organized the “Brooks Brothers mutiny” that interrupted the vote count in Florida in the disputed presidential election of 2000.
Practice the common tactic in the US ruling class to describe the disobedient leaders who are about to be overthrown: Saddam was Hitler, Milosevic was Hitler, Noriega was Hitler and Hillary Clinton called Hitler Putin. This derives from a false rebirth of the glory of the USA after World War II: painting the adventures abroad as moral crusades, and not as naked aggressions in search of gain and power.
Bolton is the distillation of the pathology of American power. It is unique in the purity of this pathology.
He was chosen for the position by a president with very limited knowledge of international affairs – except in the case of real estate.
Two months after Bolton was appointed national security adviser, in June 2018, Trump withdrew the US from the six-nation agreement that caused Tehran to reduce its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for a relaxation of US and international sanctions. In response to increasingly stringent sanctions, Iran said on May 5 in Tehran that it would restart partial nuclear enrichment.
If this were a White House that worked properly, it would be the president who would order a military action, and not a national security adviser. “I do not think Trump is smart enough to realize what Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are doing to him. “They are manipulating him,” former US Senator Mike Gravel told RT this week.
The New York Times recently reported: “Privately, several European officials described Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo as pushing a confident Mr. Trump through a series of steps that could put the United States in the process of war. before the president notices. “
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In the midst of so many terrible things happening in the world, it’s easy to be depressed by the torrent of bad news generated by the Trump administration in foreign policy matters.
Resistance to the edicts of the U.S. Empire is growing daily. We see it in the reactions towards the trio of idiots who make up the Triumvirate of War: John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and John Pence.
Trump’s government has abandoned diplomacy to such an extent that only their crude and naked aggressions are evident. And it has gotten to the point that even the most accomplished diplomatic agents of Washington seem to have dispensed with subtleties as part of the tools of their profession.
Only the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, continues to speak in classical diplomatic language.
In his annual address to the diplomatic academy in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister hailed a new geopolitical era marked by multi-polarity. Lavrov explains that the emergence of new and rising centers of power to maintain stability in the world requires the search for a balance of interests and commitments.
He said that there has been a change in the center of global economic power from the West to the East and a markedly globalizing liberal order started losing its attraction and is no longer seen as a suitable model for all.
“Sadly, our western partners, led by The United States, do not want to agree on common approaches to resolve problems,” Lavrov said, accusing Washington and its allies of trying to “preserve their secular dominion of world affairs despite objective tendencies towards the formation of a poly-centric world order.”
He argued that these efforts were contrary to the fact that now, economically and financially, the United States can no longer solve the economy problems and other world affairs single-handedly.
“To fictitiously maintain its dominance and previous positions, Washington resorts to blackmail and economic coercion, making use of the media,” says Lavrov.
There is much to be drawn from this statement, which was published in Newsweek and many other media without much editorial comment.
Lavrov said he understands the conflict in its entirety and its depth in the psyche of US and European leadership, considering the feeling of ownership that does not abandon them.
This is what explains the intensification of aggression on the part of the Trump administration on the world stage.
Meanwhile, fear grows in the western halls of power.
Countries like Iran, Lebanon and Russia can do simple things like getting together to sign some kind of contract on oil exploration, or railroad financing, and the United States will freeze it out of the global financial system.
That is why the ultimate goal of this resistance is not a decisive and satisfying victory for all, but to survive long enough so that the opponent finally has no choice but that of stopping and going home.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels the world like a mobster. He lies about all matters and demands allegiance, but goes away empty-handed. Blackmail only works with the weakest and most isolated, like Ecuador, where what was at stake was “only” the life of Julian Assange. Ecuador is about to discover how expensive the generosity of the United States and the IMF are.
Such was the essence of Pompeo’s statement on the destabilization of Venezuela by China. It’s also why Maduro refused US and IMF aid, and why he had to pay for this with the destabilization of his country, through sanctions, threats and blackouts….
No wonder the ambassador of China in Chile exclaimed: “Mr. Pompeo has lost his mind.”
For Trump’s foreign policy team, the moment of truth is approaching. Will they start a war with Iran at the instigation of the newly re-elected Benjamin Netanyahu?
Empires don’t like to be disrespected; less still to be ignored. Therefore, there seems to be no possibility that Trump’s plan may work. The axis of resistance, despite all the small moves, is to win the war of attrition. The U.S. maximum pressure policy has a finite lifespan, because –like all things in economics– it has a temporary function.
And every small movement, every action big or small, whether in response to sanctions or behind-the-scenes pressure, changes the state of the conflict. And it is not in the nature of the people behind Trump’s policies to admit failure. They will continue to push until there’s a catastrophic outcome.
April 24, 2019.
This article may be reproduced by quoting the newspaper POR ESTO as the source.
Interview with Yunier Mena, young Cuban communist
By Ubaldo Oropeza, Centro de Estudios Socialistas Carlos Marx
May 18, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Yunier Mena is a young Cuban student who attended the León Trotsky International Academic Event held in Havana from May 6 to 8 of this year.
Ubaldo Oropeza (UO) – First of all, I would you like to know what you thought of the meeting about Trotsky?
Yunier Mena (YM) – What I liked most about the academic meeting about Trotsky was the fact that I felt among communists, apart from the profound and just ideas I could hear.
UO.- I have noticed, since my previous visit to Havana, that now there is a different atmosphere, a lot of business, a lot of shopping, a very strong market environment, I imagine that, as you say: “feeling among communists”, is like breaking with something that has been growing in Havana.
YM.- In Havana and throughout the country, even in the Constitution of the Republic, there is an advance of capitalism, in my opinion. There is private property, money, and goods that do not come commonly through the channels of the State enter the country and this creates a mercantilist and unpleasant situation in the country.
UO.- As a young person, do you think that young people are inclined to capitalism, to pay more attention to consumption than to understanding what is happening?
YM.- There is everything, because reality is very complex, there are young people who don’t have a political thought, most of them into circus and bread. But there are young people who think about these issues, there are many who don’t say it, but surely very soon they will say it.
UO.- I’m asking you that because when the Soviet Union fell many young people were inclined towards capitalism. As you say, in the youth there is everything, but the great majority has been depoliticized. Besides, the vast majority of the youth, the only thing they knew about socialism was the iron grip of the bureaucracy. The old revolutionary traditions of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s time were forgotten and distorted. What do you think of this situation, that at a time when youth have to choose capitalism or a planned economy, where they would turn?
YM.- The youth and the majority of the people believe that capitalism is what is good, is natural, what works best and has taken man further. There is an imposition on people’s consciousness, on people’s criteria of a supposed success of capitalism, the economic success of capitalism. This is happening outside of Cuba and Cuba is no stranger to it.
UO: At a time when private property is advancing and the market is advancing, that false certainty of the people about the supposed success of capitalism is being reinforced.
The confidence that now exists in capitalism, what is the reason for this? I think there are two factors, on the one hand the control of the government bureaucracy, which eliminated workers’ democracy, direct participation in the decision-making of the working class, and on the other hand, the economic blockade that prevented industry from developing, and of course, the isolation of the revolution.
YM.- People’s support for capitalism has to do with several questions, on the one hand, capitalism itself, how it works, its human relations, its cultural and ideological dominance makes people think that it is the only thing they can have and aspire to. There is an ideological domain that makes people support capitalism. They think that society can only function that way. The apolitical nature of young people is due, on the one hand, to this natural reproduction of capitalism in the ideology of people who participate in economic activities and relations that have to do with capitalism.
Che said that man changes while reality changes, I agree with him, I think that the state that functions vertically cannot lead us to socialism, because man does not decide for himself, does not construct reality by himself and cannot transform himself. This apoliticism cannot be transformed until man is directly responsible for his future. Until the decisions that are taken are taken by the same ones that fall the results of that decision.
UO.- Finally, there is a very complex situation at the moment because the policy of American imperialism is being very aggressive in Venezuela, trying to hang the revolution that overthrows Maduro. It also has it with Cuba, even a few days ago the so-called Helms-Burton law has been retaken which proposes restricting the sending of money to Cuba to a maximum of $1,000 every three months, lawsuits by capitalist companies that were expropriated in the revolution, there is talk of a total blockade. There are complicated periods in sight for Cuba. What do you think the youth have to do, like you, who think that capitalism is not an alternative and at the same time opposes any imperialist intervention?
YM.- I think that we have to fight without fear against imperialism and against the bureaucracy that prevents socialism from advancing. What is needed is for people to build their own reality. We must consciously oppose capitalism, confront imperialism.
One of the things I sensed in the meeting about Trotsky’s ideas is that we are not alone. That there are people in different parts of the world who oppose capitalism. The support that Cuba and socialism has in Cuba was also shown. I think that it is important to defend Cuba and that we Cubans know that we are not alone, there are many people in the world who support us.
This socialism has many problems, but it can be improved and not go to capitalism. The possible socialism that we need is not the one that asks for capitalist participation, like private property or organized production over workers. We have to satisfy collective needs, we have to produce wealth organized by the workers themselves.
I think that this country needs to produce wealth, and this wealth is not produced by capitalism. We can produce wealth in a socialist way and distribute it better and discourage ourselves. Not to fall into the game of capitalism, capital is not interested in collective human development. Only democratic and productive socialism can promote solidarity and human development.
By La Izquierda Socialista
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Interview with Frank García Hernández, Cuban intellectual, organizer of the First International Academic Event on Leon Trotsky, in Havana.
The Socialist Left (LIS): Would you like to tell me your impressions of the Trotsky meeting we just had?
Frank: I never imagined it was going to be so shocking. When it was over, just before the event ended, I noticed so many good intellectuals, including Robert Brenner, Paul LeBlanc, Gabriel García, Helmut Dahmer, Eric Toussaint, people who unfortunately don’t know each other in Cuba -except for comrade Eric- but who are excellent academics.
Almost 10 Trotskyist tendencies were present – who were not invited as such, all the exhibitors representing universities, institutions and academic journals came – and there was no clash between them. They sat at the same table, even though they have big political differences. And at the end, at the end of the last day, comrade Rob Lyons raised his left fist and began to sing The International. He could hardly continue, many did not know what to do, but later other voices joined in, and all of them: in Iranian, Indian, Turkish, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese the International was sung. And in a few minutes, we lived the World Revolution in that small hall. Then I realized something very important: Cuba, 60 years later, is still a revolutionary meeting point.
The event had a very great reception at a global level, a participation of academic institutions, of organizations like yours. The International Marxist Tendency was one of the first to reach out to us when the meeting was just an idea, a very big thank you to you who in record time published the book The Revolution Betrayed in order to bring it to Cuba: you will have the merit of being the ones to blame for reading it. We are also very grateful for the text by Alan Woods In Memory of Leon Trotsky, a basic text and therefore very useful for Cuban youth who still do not know it. In addition, the IEPC helped us a great deal by making it possible, thanks to comrades Pablo Oprinari and Sergio Moissen, to present the title of Trotsky Escritos Latinoamericanos. But it is very important to talk about the Leon Trotsky House Museum. So much so, that’s why I mention them last: so I can stop at them with more force. The compañera director: Gabriela Pérez Noriega, always wrote to us and asked us: “What can we help you with? To each one of the requests we made, she answered affirmatively. She never put a but, rather, she had such beautiful initiatives as bringing the first photographic exhibition on Trotsky that is exhibited in Cuba. And thanks to them, Santa Clara and Havana will be flooded with T-shirts with Trotsky’s image. Trotsky will walk in Cuba.
LIS: The meeting is very significant precisely because it is being held in Cuba, at a time when the revolution is being besieged by American imperialism: Trump’s speeches have been quite harsh in the last period asking Cuba to take its hands off Venezuela, if it doesn’t it is going to have very harsh repercussions for the island. Trump still thinks Latin America is his backyard. It is a fundamental task of a Marxist revolutionary to defend the conquests of the Cuban revolution from any imperialist attack. On the other hand there is a situation that strikes me, the situation inside Cuba has changed rapidly in recent years, particularly in Havana, there are hundreds maybe thousands of new businesses, it seems that a new class is forming, what do you think of this?
Frank: First I would like to say something, even if it has nothing to do with the event. The measures that Trump is taking against Cuba are not exactly a result of what is happening in Venezuela, but this president has had a term with terrible results. He has not put a brick in the wall he had promised on the border with Mexico, the economic war with China has not brought him economic dividends but only losses, his economy has not grown, he has fought with his best allies in the European Union. He knows that by trying to apply the Helms-Burton law he will win votes in the Cuban electorate in Florida, which weighs heavily in the presidential election.
Second, which has to do with the event, is the Cuban situation. We are learning to live with private property – class struggle through -. Some want us to live peacefully with private property and accept it as such. Even if we do, the class struggle runs through us.
The bourgeoisie is born with its media, its cultural policies, its consumerism. The prices of goods -due to the fact that they are quite deregulated in the capital- soar, since the bourgeoisie needs, in order to maintain its business, to consume more than what the working classes consume. The impact is even harder because the businesses that these class controls are essentially in the service sector. This leads to food hoarding and therefore: shortages. Something that does not happen in other regions of the country, like Santa Clara, because the bourgeoisie is more controlled by the government and there is less concentration of wealth.
But comrade Yunier Mena, a Cuban speaker at the event, a philology student, rightly affirms that, more than economic strength, the bourgeoisie has strength in its ideological impact. I explain why: they present themselves as successful Cubans, concerned about culture, animal rights, the LGTBIQ community; they appropriate a good part of civil society, they speak on its behalf, they present themselves with a renovating discourse, they say they are not interested in politics and that they are misunderstood by the Communist Party, they emphasize that they are Cubans and nothing else. The result: The society, mainly the Havana society, ends up admiring them.
On the other hand, the party doesn’t know what to do. It stimulated, propitiated and guaranteed the birth of this new – old – class. It does not fight them because they believe that the class struggle is to divide the people. They forget Fidel’s stance – which kept the bourgeoisie weak: he warned them again and again that they were the fruit of a provisional economic policy. Now, the new Constitution, while insisting on the construction of a communist society, gives constitutional guarantees to their form of property: private property, which is established and exists thanks to the exploitation of human beings by human beings.
I am sure that all this caught the attention of so many participants. Only as an audience did I receive the request of 192 people to attend the meeting; if all the exhibitors had attended, there would have been 51. If I had had a larger logistic structure, I would have gladly accepted it all.
What hurt me the most is that there was not much Cuban public because the event was not publicized, but what I like the most is that all Cubans who were at the event have taken with them a copy of The Revolution Betrayed.
LIS: Victor Hugo once said that when an idea has its moment, nothing can stop it. It seems to me that, as you say, although there was little diffusion of the event, Trotsky’s ideas and thought will have an impact on the next period here. We can’t say that this is the first time Trotsky has been known in Cuba, previously there were groups calling themselves Trotskyists that participated in the different revolutionary processes in Cuba, however, now the reappearance of this figure is given a very significant moment, capitalism is in a dead end, it offers nothing to youth, women and the working class. What can you say to the youth and workers about Trotsky’s figure and its impact on Cuba?
Frank: When ideas start, there’s no one to stop them, that’s very true. I want to limit something, it’s not surprising that Trotsky’s reception in Cuba is so good, what’s surprising is that Trotsky didn’t arrive sooner.
This return of Trotsky to Cuba can never be compared to his arrival in the year 32 when Juan Ramón Breá and Sandalio Junco brought him in a suitcase. We were talking, at the time, about a capitalist society in crisis, involved in a violent class struggle against a murderous dictatorship and with a people with a literacy level of less than 50%. That first Trotskyism gradually disappeared. After the decade of the 1950s, Cuban Trotskyism never surpassed 50 militants, almost always entrusting other organizations as tiny as them. When the Revolution triumphed, they were suffocated, not only by the persecution of the Popular Socialist Party, but also by the major events that were taking place. The working classes paid more attention to the attacks of imperialism and internal counterrevolution than to the controversies, complex for them, sometimes even extemporaneous, between Trotskyism and Stalinism.
At the same time, since the 1960s a critical, heterodox Marxism was fostered in Cuba, which was censored in the 1970s, but after the fall of the Soviet Union, it reappeared with tremendous force. That Marxism has stagnated a bit. It needs more theory. Where there is a great setback in the assimilation of Marxism today is in the university student body. They continue to identify it with the official discourse. That is why Trotsky, who is not present in the study programs, is so attractive to them. This already happened in the 90’s with Gramsci and it was tried to happen with Rosa Luxemburg but it did not bear fruit. 60 years of revolution, in spite of all the errors, completely transform the mentality of society. One of Fidel’s main achievements is that he was in charge of disengaging society by constantly offering culture as an emancipatory instrument. This approach to Trotsky starts from a Marxism already studied and assumed, something that will avoid any sectarian position.
In Santa Clara, a study circle composed of university students called Cuban Communist Forum has already arisen. They have a Facebook page and I call on the world militancy to show solidarity with them by sending them magazines and bibliographies of thinkers such as Daniel Bensaid, Pierre Broué, Isaac Deutscher, Ernest Mandel, Victor Serge, Alex Callinicos, Cornelius Castoriadis, Alan Woods, Tariq Ali, Michael Löwy… They urgently need theory. See if it is important to help these students, who as soon as they returned to Santa Clara began to spread the bibliography they brought and, as I already told you, especially The Revolution Betrayed, the short biography of Alan Woods and another text, also biographical, authored by Esme Choomara, in addition to some explanatory brochures of the Permanent Revolution provided by Paul Le Blanc. These young people are not organized as a political group, they are not interested in doing so. They are born as a circle of study and debate. They do not claim to be Trotskyists, but communists. They understand Trotsky as part of a system of ideas in which Marx, Engels, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Mariategui, Gramsci, Che Guevara, Fidel.
Trotsky returns to Cuba, to the Cuban revolution 60 years later and the situation is completely different from when he came with Junco and Breá. The analyses being done now are neither extemporaneous nor supranational. Trotsky does not land in a quagmire. There was already a knowledge of him; in November 2016 a postgraduate course on his life and work had been given. This course led to the publication in a Santa Clara cultural magazine of a fragment of Trotsky’s speech when he founded the Red Army. What is needed now is literature. For this we have to work hard on the publication of the book that gathers the memories of the event. The book will end up being a before and after the meeting. It will be the first title published in Cuba that will be dedicated exclusively to Trotsky. I call for full solidarity with that dream and with the dream of holding a second international meeting in June 2020 in Sao Paulo: one of the most beautiful fruits of the Havana meeting.
LIS: Thank you very much, Frank, we thank you for everything you have done for the meeting and for the comrades of the International Marxist Tendency and the Leon Trotsky House Museum.
Frank: My greatest greetings and acknowledgments to the International Marxist Tendency, to comrade Alan Woods who sent an emotional message. The International Marxist Tendency were the first to reach out to us when this meeting was just an idea, they were the ones who established contact with the Leon Trotsky House Museum because we had no contact with them. They have been key to developing the event, a work of almost a year, they were tremendously understanding of all our problems, especially comrade Ricardo Márquez -alias el Che- who at any time I wrote to him on WhatsApp or Facebook and he, even at dawn, took the trouble to answer me, to help me coordinate with other people with whom I could not maintain communication due to technological problems. I know that behind him there is a whole team, a support structure, of colleagues like Ubaldo, the German colleague Rosa Carolina: the first foreigner who came to ask and see what was happening -then dozens came- colleague Jordi Martorell, who was always willing to come and who always had a strong bond with colleague Celia Hart -who was my very close friend. Thank you very much to all of you. Excellent magazine América Socialista, we hope to have more issues of this magazine in Cuba and be able to collaborate with it.