Once upon a time there was a country that was almost a colony of the USA, and as it could not be otherwise, it was an extremely poor country. The situation, however, changed in a few years. Illiteracy rate, which used to be of 24%, became 4%. The rate of unemployment dropped from 2o% to 4%. The rate of children’s mortality fell from 60 per thousand to 11.1 per thousand. The relation inhabitant-physician changed from 1 076 to 303. The headway was so great that “…by mid-eighties poverty had been eliminated in both rural and city areas. In those years there was a reasonable economic growth, and increase in the rate of employment and wages…”
A miracle? No. These achievements were reached because that country, called Cuba, made a revolution to become independent from imperialism and expropriated capitalism. Well, today, this country, “this Cuba”, does not exist any longer.
It is a fact that few would choose to challenge that in the countries where bourgeoisie had been expropriated (Russia, Hungary, China, Poland, Cuba, etc) great transformations took place recently. What is under discussion is the nature of these changes and it is here that enormous differences can be seen among the different trends of Marxist intellectuals.
Among the many questions posed there is one that generates great polemics and its main feature is that- in general – it is the starting point for all the other issues. It is the class character of these countries.
It is stale news to say that Marxists consider the question of the State to be greatly important. Actually, ever since its earliest days, with the criticism by Marx and Engels of Hegel’s conception of State, Marxism has placed this issue among its main concerns. It is with this as a background that, ever since the triumph of socialist revolution in the former USSR in 1017, or more precisely since the degeneration of that State, this has been an issue under constant debate.
Reality is not different now, so just as during decades revolutionary Marxists have been discussing – very harshly at times – about whether the USSR was still or was no longer a workers’ state (a discussion which, incidentally, has never ended) a new great debate emerges, that is to say: whether Russia and the other countries are already capitalist or not yet.
As far as Russia and the whole of the Eastern European countries are concerned, this discussion is being solved by facts. Confronted with so much evidence, there are few left who would choose to defend the “workers”, “socialist” or “non-capitalist” character of these countries. But it is not the case of China, Cuba and Vietnam. There are many who consider that in those countries capitalism has been restored (or pretty near to it) and there are many others, perhaps even a majority, who consider that these are “revolutionary” states and should be regarded as something like the last “bastions of socialism”.
This idea of “revolutionary state” is frequently applied when speaking of Cuba. For example: an important conference took place recently (last January) in Australia, organised by a Marxist party, the DSP. Organisations of 15 countries took part in it and a special guest, the consul of Cuba in Australia, opened it.
A long way to restoration
Those who stick to the idea of the “revolutionary” role of the present day Cuban State use the arguments taken from the speeches made by Fidel. This old Cuban leader never seems to get tired of talking of socialism. That, however, proves little.
It is not enough to listen to the speeches of leader to know what is going on in the Cuban – or any other – state. It is necessary to study the changes that took place in economy, in the institutions, in the legislation, and anyone who makes this kind of research with a minimum of seriousness will discover that in Cuba just as in Russia, capitalism has been restored, and more than that: he will find out that this country is about to become a semi-colony, or even a colony, of capitalism. On the other hand, and with regards to Fidel’s speeches: it is well worth while to remember that talking about socialism in order to advance towards restoration has been a privileged tactic of all the restoring leaderships, like Gorbachov, for example. While he was restoring capitalism through his famous Perestroika, he used to say that “our aim is to strengthen socialism and not to replace it by any other different system. What West is offering us in economic terms is, in my opinion unacceptable…”
Structural economic crisis
Capitalist restoration in Cuba responds to the same causes as in the remaining former workers’ states. On one hand there is the reactionary Utopia of building “socialism in only one country”, and the consequent economic crisis. On the other hand, a leadership that can only see one alternative for the crisis: appealing to capitalism.
As far as the Cuban economic crisis is concerned, if it is any different from that of the other States, it is because its bases are more structural, and it is this what explains not only the speed of the restoration, but also the fact that Cuba has taken the lead in giving away the country to imperialism – in this case European.
The structural crisis of the economy has a lot to do with the fact that it is based on monoculture. Cuban economy hinges round sugar, and that makes it extremely vulnerable. This reality, which comes from before the revolution, has never been overcome by the revolution and much less so through the help of the USSR.
Long standing concessions
There is a false delusion that in Cuba, just as in China or Russia, pro-capitalist reforms are only just starting. The truth is that they come from way back.
Ever since 1977, Cuba has made several concessions to capitalism. Between 1977 and 1983, the number of farmers’ cooperatives increased from 44 to 1 472 and the area cultivated by them grew from 6 000 to 938 000 hectares while the number of cooperative farmers increased from a couple of hundreds to 82611.
But the greatest pro-capitalist concession was no doubt the introduction in 1980 of the peasants’ free markets where smallholders, after fulfilling their contributions to the State, could sell their farming surplus at prices feely determined by the supply and demand.
At the same time, in the cities, the government legalised and encouraged autonomous work in some sectors. That is how craftsmen, gardeners, taxi-drivers, photographers, carpenters, mechanics were encouraged to set up their business just as were some liberal professions, for example, architects, engineers, physicians, and dentists.
Also in the early 90s, the State liberalised former restrictions on private housing construction and so, between 1980 and 1985, two thirds of the houses built were private.
Some changes of certain importance were also introduced in the relation of state-owned firms and in the whole of the economic plane. State owned firms were decentralised and subdivided into smaller units (from 300 they became 3 000). Many of the central decisions were transferred to the managers. New taxes were collected from these firms and their subsidies were reduced.
Promises made in the late 60s that payment of rent would be abolished were forgotten in these years. Tariffs were fixed for public services that had been free so far, such as public telephones. Prices went up for many articles such as cigarettes, beer, rum, electricity, water, food in workers’ eateries, long distance transports and restaurants.
This set of measures, however, as much as they were concessions to capitalism, did not open a runaway rush towards restoration. This is so, because at that time the government conceded to capitalism, but kept within certain limits. For example: peasants who were authorised to sell their products in the free markets could only operate in the areas where they lived while intermediary were persecuted.
In 1982, police arrested several free market salesmen and confiscated their products. Castro personally got involved in the case and accused the farmers of collecting very high prices and threatening them with heavy taxes. This very same year Castro launched a virulent attack against self-employed people who were becoming rich. These restrictions that the government imposed on the development of private activity were to leap qualitatively in 1986 with the launching of what was called PR (Process of Rectification).
One of the aims that the Castroite leadership means to achieve through PR was to limit private property and market. That is why he abolished the peasants’ free markets and the small private factories, reduced the numbers of the self-employed and restricted the building of private housing.
These steps led in 1988 the non-private farming sector to occupy 92% of all the farming land and to a drop in the proportion of the self-employed from a total 1.2% of the labour power to 0.7%.
Studying this stage of the Cuban policy and economy (the Process of Rectification), different analysts declare that Cuba tried to row against the trend of the process that took place in the former USSR with Gorbachov. This is, for example, what Carmelo Mesa Lago says: “In 1986 Castro launches the PR, which places Cuba in the opposite direction with respect to the reforms towards which the market oriented economy emerged in the socialist field.”
Seemingly, judging by the data provided above, these analysts were right. But this was not true. They committed the gross error of not taking into account that at that time, while the government limited private property for Cubans, the Decree-Law 50 of 1982 remained fully valid; this law was made to foster foreign investments in conditions that were extremely favourable for these investors. It was not a minor detail for it was the base for what took place a few years later (in 1995) when a Law of Foreign Investments was made and which constituted the legal base for the current process of restoration.
In 1986, Castro was now rowing against the current. What he was doing was to lay the foundations for what was to become the restoring policy: advance towards restoration on the basis of opening the country to foreign capital, seeking an association between this capital and the state which would leave room for the appearance of a new bourgeoisie stemming out of state bureaucracy.
Failure of the Process of Rectification
From the point of view of economic results, the Process of Rectification ended in failure. As from 1990, the economic crisis had a lot to do fundamentally with the consequences of the end of USSR, but as a matter of fact, most economic results had become manifest as early as 1986. Yearly average sugar production between 1986 and 1990 was 7 582 000 tons, 195 000 tons under the 1981-85 average. A similar decadence took place in industry. The yearly average of its output dropped from 11 between 1981-85 to 10.8 between 1986-90.
None of the production objectives were reached. In oil, nickel, shoes, citric fruit, tobacco, textiles, milk, fish or beer production the results oscillated between 20% and 64% of the foreseen level.
As far as housing is concerned, at the beginning of the PR Fidel Castro announced that the building brigades could all by themselves 100 000 units a year. The results were far from that aim. Between 1986-89 the brigades built not more than 18 315 houses.
Farming results also dropped. In 1989 tobacco, milk and eggs production was lower than that of 1985.
The value of Cuban exports dropped by about 10% between 1986-89 while simultaneously imports grew 1%.
Between 1985/89, Cuban debt in currency increased from 3 6000 to 6 200 million dollars. There are estimates, however, that indicate that the real foreign debt in 1990 (including the part in currency and the part that is not) reached 37 600 million dollars. This would make it the biggest debt per capita in Latin America.
The dissipation of economy became much more acute in the early 90s, when the USSR discontinued any kind of economic aid, including low rate loans. The 1990 sugar production, which was foreseen as reaching 9.5 million tons, barely reached 8 million and kept on decreasing in the following years: 7 623 in 1991, 7 030 in 1992 and 4 280 in 1993.
In spite of the fact that the Process of Rectification was a failure from the point of view of economy, we cannot say the same thing from the point of view of the restoration aims and objectives posed by the Castroite leadership, for it was at that time that the foundations for the process that was to open since the 90s were lain.
In the early 90s Cuban leadership set sail towards restoration. One restoration step was followed by another. Three important CEA economists (Centre of Studies on America) from La Havana fervent supporters of the economic reforms summarise this process as follows:
“A deep crisis forced the need to assume a process of increasing transformations in the organisation of national economy…
This process of changes has had the following antecedents:
– Progressive opening towards foreign capital. Its root is in the Decree-law 50 of 1982. It was designed to be applied exceptionally. As from the late 80s and especially since 1990, this alternative of investment is carried out in a more ample and generalised way…
Until 1991, foreign investment has been essentially aimed at tourism. Since that year this possibility is open for almost all the branches except the ones that are considered as strategic and liable to be developed with own resources.
In 1992 certain space is opened in sectors considered as strategic, such as commercialisation of bio-technological pharmaceutical products.
In 1993 representations of foreign banks are accepted in Cuba to widen the infra-structure of financial services for the rest of the operating in the country. More recently, towards the end of October 1994, Cuban government declared that no productive sector of national economy would be closed to foreign investments…. …since the late 80s, and especially after 1990, as a result of an increasing presence of joint ventures with foreign capital, limited societies became more numerous in Cuban economy.
– End of state monopoly of foreign trade. Foreign trade activities, formerly totally controlled Ministry of Foreign Trade (Mincex) and mainly carried out by firms belonging to the ministry, are now being taken charge of directly by a growing number of firms.
– Changes in the legal system. Here, the most important change was the Reform of the Constitution of July 1992. Economically speaking, the most relevant modifications have been: a redefinition of socialist property and acknowledgement of a new emerging form of property…
– New legal dispositions for self-employment… adopted in September 1993, that regulate and broaden the authorisation of self-employment. The prices of these services or products wil be established in accordance with the law of supply and demand…
– Basic nits of Co-operative Production (UBPC) have been created. Until July 1994 there have been 1 555 UBPC in sugar cane covering the state area of the cane, that is to say 80% of all the land under this crop. ..
Farmers associated in the UBPC do not achieve juridical property of the land, but they are owner of the product and, consequently, they share out the profit.
On 1 October 1994, the so-called farming markets will begin to function; it is a new mechanism in which all the agents will be able to take part through the surplus production… and where prices will be fixed by the supply and demand…
– Industrial and craftsmanship markets are created as from December 1 1994… These markets will allow for the direct relation between buyers and sellers and prices will be determined in accordance to supply and demand.
New Law of Foreign Investments: Cuba on sale
The economic reforms summarised by the three Cuban economists had their own golden clue in the Law of foreign investments passed by the National Assembly in September 2995.
A Cuban jurist, Juan Vega, wrote what follows about the antecedents of that law, “Experience stemming out of Decree-Law 50 of 1982, together with the political and economic events that took place in the world during this period of time demanded an even more ample legislation about foreign investments.
The elaboration of this new legal text was carried out taking into account not only this experience and those political economic circumstances but also the legislation of other countries on this matter.
The Law of Enterprises of Foreign investment of the People’s Republic of China…
In China there are few branches of activity where creation of enterprises of foreign capital is forbidden or limited…”
A mere reproduction of some paragraphs of the new Cuban law speaks for itself about the aims it pursues.
“…The purpose of this law is to promote and encourage foreign investment for profitable activity in the territory of the Republic of Cuba…”
“…foreign investments within national territory will have full protection and security and cannot be expropriated except for cases when such an action is done for public utility or social interest… prior indemnity in a currency freely exchangeable for an amount established in mutual agreement.
“…The state guarantees tax-free transference abroad for the foreign investor and in a currency freely agreed and with no limitation whatsoever.
“…Foreign investments may be authorised in all the sectors except health service and education and armed forces, except in their business system.
“… Joint ventures, with national and foreign investors, taking part in contracts of international trade association and firms with entirely foreign capital, in accordance with valid legal provisions, are allowed to export products directly and to import also directly in accordance with the needs of their aims.”
This law was received with exultant joy by an important part of international capitalism. That is because bourgeoisie realised that not only there were no more restrictions in Cuba, but also that the country was on sale, and the rushed to buy.
As an example of that, even in 1996, in many firms of the world a guide book for investors could be found, edited in English and in Spanish, titled, Cuba, Opportunities of Investment. Apart from making a passionate defence of Cuba’s history, nature and administration, you can find there some of the advantages for investors. “Cuba is almost a fiscal paradise. …Income tax in force in Cuba is not applied to foreign investors…”
With such as fiscal paradise not to mention plentiful cheap labour force (maintained mainly due to a previous accumulation), Cuba has become “great business” and it is small wonder therefore that so many firms have landed there in such a short time.
On this issue, the guide book tells us that “…over 1 000 international enterprises and commercial firms will take part in XIII FIHAV International Havana Fair which, as far as participants are concerned, is the third Fair in Latin America. At present, over 100 Canadian firms have links with Havana.
Canadian consortiums have important interest in mining, tourism and energy and operations in farming, including sugar industry, are foreseen.
…The first foreign investing country in Cuba, apart from Canada, as far a number of firms and presence in tourism, is Spain, followed by France, Mexico, Germany, Holland, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Sweden… Today, Cuba has commercial relations with about 4000 firms from over 100 countries. There are over 600 offices representing foreign companies…
The Mexican company, Grupo Domos, has bought 49% of Cuban telecommunication, with an investment that so far reaches 750 million dollars shared with an Italian communication group, with a licence for 55 years. The amount of the investment will reach 2 000 billion dollars, and benefits for both partners are spectacular.
The blockade and the Helms-Burton Bill
In the late 30s, Trotsky defended the position that, in spite of its bureaucratic leadership, the USSR was still a workers’ state. With this in his mind, he state, “as long as the state monopoly of foreign trade has not been abolished, as long as the right to capital has not been re-established, the USSR, in spite of the “merits” of its rulers, will continue being for the world bourgeoisie a relentless enemy”
What Trotsky said about the USSR we said for many years about Cuba. But today reality is different.. In Cuba, the state monopoly of foreign trade has been abolished and the right to capital has been re-established. What has remained of a workers’ state are some remains of dictatorship of the proletariat, only that what remained is the dictatorship. At this stage of our analysis we might as well pose a couple of questions that some people have already asked us: what about the USA blockade and what about the case of Elain Gonzalez? Aren’t these signs of deep hostility of imperialism towards Cuba? If capitalism has been restored in Cuba and its economy is being handed over to to foreign capital, how come imperialism is still so hostile?
These questions compel us to precise a first issue: USA is not the only imperialist country. There are also the powerful European imperialisms. It may sound ridiculous to remind such an elementary fact, but it is well worth mentioning, because important sectors of European revolutionary left tend to “forget” this “detail”. Coming back to the point, well, it is precisely this imperialism, the European, that is supporting the process of restoration on the island, with the Pope’s blessing.
Neither can we forget the fact that the blockade imposed by the USA receives all the support of the exiled Cuban bourgeoisie but is increasingly challenged, inside the USA, by important sectors of American bourgeoisie, who is anxious to invest in Cuba, and there as strong indications that there is a resistance to it in the very Clinton administration. If it were not so, the frequent trips of American entrepreneurs to the island would not be understandable not to mention the participation of the powerful American pharmaceutical industry in a recent fair in Havana (all this with Clintons support), just as the recent conflict between the Cuban exiled bourgeoisie and the American government, which took shape during the Elian Gonzalez case.
The issue of the blockade and of the interests at stake can be better understood after a close study of the famous Helms-Burton Bill. The existence of that law is no proof to the non-restoration of capitalism in Cuba. As a matter of fact, it is evidence to the contrary. This law, aimed at protecting the interests of the former owners who had been expropriated by the revolution, has been promulgated precisely because capitalism has been restored in Cuba.
Helms-Burton attempts at a response to a problem that has been posed in all the restoration processes, the issue of the restitutions. Restoration in the East has made world capitalism happy. But it did not satisfy the former owners who had been expropriated either by the revolution or by the Red Army. It was not enough for them to see market economy re-established. They demanded restitution of their former properties.
In many countries of the East the criterion of paying compensations and even of restituting the property was adopted. The countries where most restitution were carried out were Eastern Germany, Bulgaria and former Czechoslovakia. But similar things happened in most of these countries. In Rumania, for example, land was given back in such a way that 2.5 million new properties were created.
These processes, however, have not been easy, that is why there is no united criterion among the imperialist on how to proceed. In a World Bank report, for example, the “For and Against of Restitutions” are analysed and the fact that it is necessary to act cautiously, for some restitutions may be “… complicated and even arbitrary and create uncertainty, and that may damage our method of privatisation.”
It is this problem, which the World Bank has warned against, what is under discussion in Cuba, and the Helms-Burton Bill is directly related to that. Wherever the property that had been nationalised by the revolution is being re-privatised, the former owners demand restitution. For the powerful Cuban bourgeoisie exiled in USA, it is not enough to have capitalism restored in Cuba. They want to have what was done in the East: restitution of their former property. This demand has placed the Cuban government against the ropes for it is esteemed that they would have to pay about 100 billion dollars in indemnity. On the other hand, if instead of paying indemnities, the government decided to hand back the factories, lands and buildings, it would practically mean diving them the power, and Castroite bureaucracy is obviously not prepared to commit suicide. This is the framework within which European imperialism, Canada and great Latin American firms – especially Mexican – are investing in Cuba and occupying properties that had formerly been either American or of Cuban entrepreneurs, today exiled. It is out of here that the Helms-Burton Bill stems out.
The powerful Cuban bourgeoisie settled in Florida, USA, pressing and blackmailing the American authorities, managed to get a bill through the Congress that would allow the exiles (including nationalised Cubans) to sue anyone who would use “their” property in Cuba. On the other hand, the bill explicitly prepares a transitional government in Cuba, the sole way that the exile have at present to recover their property.
This bill has caused a serious conflict between the majority of the world bourgeoisie and the American government. For the former restoration of capitalism in Cuba opens the possibility of doing good business and they are not willing to give that up for the sake of the interests of the Cuban bourgeoisie exiled in Miami. The bill was repudiated at the Ibero American summit of November 1966 in Chile while the foreign ministers of EU declared that it was not legally binding and a great majority of the world governments manifested their disagreement with the bill.
The Elian Gonzalez case
For essentially electoral reasons, American administration accepted the blackmail of the powerful Cuban bourgeoisie and stick to the blockade and to the Helms-Burton. There is, however, growing evidence that the American government is about to change this policy as the only way of recovering the isle.
A fact clearly points in that direction: it is the case of the boy called Elian Gonzalez. The story is well known. A boat carrying Cuban exiles sinks on its way to Miami. Among the survivals there is the boy Elian, whose mother was drowned. The boy was rescued and handed over to relatives who live in Miami. After that, his father, who lives in Cuba, demanded that the boy should return to him while the relatives demanded that he should stay in Miami. This problem which, in any other country would not have exceeded the limits of a family dispute gave rise to an enormous national debate both in Cuba and in the USA and had international repercussion. There were dozens of demonstrations in both countries; the governments took stands, etc.
There are three main characters in this play: the Cuban bourgeoisie exiled in Miami, the government of the USA and the government of Cuba. So far, nothing new. After all there have been numerous conflicts involving the three in these last forty years. The news is that the characters played different roles to what they used to do in the past, and also that there has been a good dose of comedy in it all. The old role of the American government standing by the Cuban bourgeoisie in their confrontation of Fidel Castro and his state (the case of the “gusanos”) was replaced by a de-facto agreement between Fidel and Clinton to set the Cuban bourgeoisie aside. The last scene of this play, with the federal agents storming the house of the exiles in order to return Elian to his father (that is: to Fidel) is extremely demonstrative of this new situation. The response by the Cubans was prompt: strikes and demonstrations against Clinton whom they accused of treason.
The model of the restoration in Cuba
The scholars of the transformations occurred in the former workers´ states talk of several “models” of restoration. Little, however, is said of this aspect in Cuba. Which is the Cuban model of restoration and what are its particular features?
The restoring plan in Cuba differs considerably from what has been done in Russia and in the majority of the countries of Eastern Europe. In its essentials, restoration in Cuba has been following the Chinese model. This can be seen fundamentally on four planes. In the first place, the pro-capitalist changes have been carried out slowly and gradually. In the second place, foreign capital played the starring role in the process of restoration. In the third place, state owned-companies have been playing – in both cases – an extremely important role of backing and supporting the private firms. In the fourth place, unlike Russia and most of the countries in the East, the progress of restoration is not based on handing over to the employees and to the population in general the shares of the companies.
Scholars and defenders of restoration processes have debated for a time the virtues and the shortcomings of the diverse models of restoration, and the convenience of adopting each alternative for specific countries. What those people do not understand is that adopting this or that model does not depend on the free decision of the leaders but on the circumstances under which the process took place. In Russia, for example, the restoration plan – Gorbachov’s Perestroika – contemplated a slow and gradual process. If this not happen, it was not because of the rules’ will, but because of the interference of the masses. Something similar happened in the majority of the countries of the East. In all those countries the restoring rulers had to ride the stormy waves of anti-bureaucratic revolutions in order to sail towards restoration, and it was precisely because of this that they had to make many concessions. For example, in Poland, during a whole period the central demand of the restorer Walesa was factories for workers! This demand hid the fact that factories were privatised but showed that workers were active.
In China and in Cuba restoration was carried out through slow and gradual reforms and in these country the rulers did not make concessions in the field of the means of production, because there the rulers either did not have to confront the workers (Cuba) or they did confront them and defeated them (China).
Particularities of Restoration in Cuba
In spite of the fact that restoration in China and in Cuba followed similar patterns, the results are, in a way, different.
Restoration of Capitalism in Cuba takes place in the midst of a re-colonising offensive by imperialism. On this background, the Chinese model, applied in Cuba, made this country a much easier prey for imperialism, so there restoration is associated, almost directly, to the process of re-colonisation.
The target the imperialism is aiming at with restoration in the workers’ states is not, obviously, to create new powers that might dispute its space in the world market. The aim is to create new colonies of semi-colonies. But restoration and colonisation are not the same thing. As restoration was carried out from inside these states, and not as a result of an invasion, these two processes developed at a different pace.
In Russia, for example, there has been a restoration, but colonisation has not yet been fulfilled, even though important steps have been taken in that direction. Bureaucracy, government and the new bourgeoisie act as partners for imperialism, but they do resist even if timidly, in defence of their space and they do not give up the idea of becoming one of the great economic powers, as can be seen in the affair about the participation of the countries of the East in the NATO.
Something similar can be said about China. Both countries, if there is no revolutionary intervention of the masses, will unavoidably become semi-colonies or even colonies of Imperialism. From this point of view they do not differ from Cuba. The difference, however, exists in the fact that if imperialism is to re-colonise Russia and China, it will have to be prepared for a long march, full of contradictions, while in Cuba these contradictions will be much smaller.
At different times in history, for example just after the war, other colonising offensives were confronted and partially defeated (at least for a time) but in every case, the condition for making this possible was that government had to confront the attack and what it more, those governments had to rely on the mass movement to do so. Today, however, nothing of this kind is happening either in Russia, China or Cuba.
The rulers of these three countries not only did not challenge imperialism but also they called it in desperately begging it to penetrate their territories. Their aim was to become junior partners of the international capital.
It is quite likely that that Russia and China may reach that aim at least for a short time before becoming semi-colonies or colonies. The situation in Cuba, however, is different. The association of China or Russia with imperialism is totally uneven. It is something like an association of tiger with a cat. Before long, the tiger will kill the cat. But the association of Cuba with imperialism is something altogether different. It is much more like an association of an elephant and an ant.
Since Cuban economy is so rachitic, the penetration of European imperialism and the almost certainly forthcoming penetration of American imperialism will unavoidably take Cuban government to become not a partner for imperialism, but a manager of imperialistic business. This is the fate that awaits the Cuban government.
Almost all the left people who visit Cuba comment on something that cannot but affect us very badly: it is the discrimination against Cuban people. Foreigners, with their dollars are entitled to everything; Cubans are entitled to next to nothing. There are material bases for that. This kind of situations is typical to colonial regimes. And this cannot be otherwise. Cuba is a country where foreign capital can build the most luxurious hotel – something they have been doing for quite a while now – but a Cuban cannot own a restaurant with more than three tables and twelve chairs.
Of course, this situation can be reverted. There is no natural law to make Cuba become a colony of imperialism. But if this process is to be reversed, Cuban masses must recover their anti-imperialist traditions and challenge the new colonisers. Only that to do this it will be necessary to challenge Fidel himself, for it is he who is opening the gates of the country to these colonisers and this task, so far, does not seem easy. This is why the general dissatisfaction has not become rebellion. It is not easy to confront someone who is at the head of the counterrevolution if in the past he was the leader of the revolution.
The brochure prepared in 1994 by entrepreneurs meant to be a guide in Cuba highlighted the fact that Cuban government benefited foreigners to the disadvantage of Cubans. “The income tax affects native-born Cubans but partners, leaders and officials of joint venture are exempt from it.”
About the workers the brochure said, “…the price of labour in Cuba is highly competitive in international terms. ….Labour force is the main resource of the country. Cuban state organisation guarantees free education and health service and housing is almost free for the immense majority are owners of the houses where they live.”
Finally, the brochure provided data on a key issue as far as capitalism is concerned: the industrial reserve army.
From a full employment state, with excessive labour freedom, the passage is to another kind of state, based on efficiency, which is the consequence of the emerging unemployment and about 160 000 people out of a total population of 11 million are self-employed and there will be a surplus of about 400 000 labourers in the nearest years who should find employment in private activity or be re-cycled.
Martín Hernández – Member of Executive Committee of the IWL-FI