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Bolsonaro never tires of proving that it is a Donald Trump doormat. For the first time, the Brazilian government has aligned with the United States and rejected a UN General Assembly motion calling for an end to the US economic blockade against Cuba.

By Jeferson Choma

Brazil’s position, however, did not change the historic UN position that, for the 28th consecutive year, passed the motion against the embargo.

The blockade of Cuba is a criminal act of US imperialism in retaliation for the revolution by the people of that country. In December 1960, the United States suspended the purchase of Cuban sugar. In January 1961,  they broke off diplomatic relations. In April, some 1,400 US-sponsored Cuban exiles, trained and funded by the CIA, landed at the Playa Girón, a beach in the Bay of Pigs, to overthrow the government. They were defeated by the heroic Cuban resistance. In January 1962, Cuba was excluded from the Organization of American States (OAS). In February, President John Kennedy – the “darling of America” – ordered a total economic blockade against Cuba. In addition, during all those years the CIA has prepared attacks to kill not only Fidel Castro, but also educators, popular leaders and ordinary workers.

In 2006, documents were revealed to the public showing the involvement of the US Secret Service in the attacks. This whole story is ignored by those who support Bolsonaro’s criminal policy in the country.

The great comedy in this whole story is that Bolsonaro’s love for Trump is unrequited. The biggest symbol of this was the fact that the US refused to endorse Brazil’s attempt to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

We must repudiate Bolsonaro’s policy against Cuba. It is also necessary to stand radically against the economic blockade of the island that causes deprivation of medicines, food and only punishes the Cuban people.

What is Cuba today?

However, another important debate is needed. After all, what is Cuba today? Is it just the blockade that has caused ills to the Cuban people?

Thanks to the 1959 revolution, Cuba made tremendous progress in areas such as education and public health, at levels comparable to imperialist countries, and surpassed more developed nations such as Brazil, Mexico, or Argentina in these areas. The general standard of living of the population has also greatly advanced, and poverty has been eliminated. If it were not for the revolution Cuba would be another miserable Latin American country.

However, it must be said that the achievements of the revolution have gone far backward. Only a stupid fanatic denies this fact. And it’s not just because of the criminal embargo imposed by imperialism. Another extremely important problem is that capitalism was already restored on the island in the second half of the 1990s, associated with European imperialism and Canada. As an example, we cite the end of the state’s foreign trade monopoly exercised by the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Today, both state and joint-venture enterprises can freely negotiate their exports and imports.

There are other examples, such as tourism, where the Spanish company Meliá has a hotel chain in the country. Or the case of the Cuban telephone company (Etecsa), which was privatized by the government, sold to the Mexican Domos Group, in partnership with Stet from Italy.

But perhaps one of the most sensitive pieces of evidence of the restoration is the return of capitalism-like ills. Prostitution, the old capitalist curse, has returned strongly to the island and is visible around the Malecon Avenue in Havana.

Social inequality and misery are also seen in the neighborhoods, streets, and in access to public services. Those with money live in rich suburbs (that’s right, there are rich people’s homes in Cuba) while the poor have to live in crumbling apartments in central Havana.

Therefore, associating Cuba with socialism is a mistake made by various sectors of the Brazilian left. In addition to restoring capitalism, the Cuban regime is a dictatorship that prohibits elementary democratic rights such as independent trade unions, striking, autonomous newspapers, books, and even traveling to other countries is very restricted. Is this the Castroist left’s goal when it comes to defending socialism? The point is that socialism has nothing to do with that. Socialism is the economic and political power in the hands of workers organized in a new type of state, sustained by councils, assemblies, etc., of workers and peasants. This does not even exist in Cuba, Venezuela, China or North Korea.

Of course, the imperialist blockade against Cuba or any attack on its people is unacceptable. Therefore, the first duty of anyone fighting for social transformation, against oppression and exploitation, is to stand with the Cuban people. But to be with them means also to fight against the ills caused by capitalism that returned to the island.