The mobilisations that took place on the island since 11 July and the Cuban government’s response are being followed with extreme attention in America and around the world. The dictatorship has responded with repression, calling its shock troops to the streets to act alongside the regime’s armed forces, a measure that has left hundreds of people arrested and at least one confirmed dead.

 

By Pablo Bordon

 

However, despite the initial campaign that sought to portray the legitimate popular protest – which took place against hunger, the health crisis and the lack of minimum democratic rights – as a pro-imperialist movement, the Cuban government showed obvious contradictions. While a chorus of “leftist” defenders of the regime denied any legitimacy to the social protest, the president himself couldn’t sugar-coat the situation. Thus, Diaz-Canel had to acknowledge, at least partially, that many of the protesters “are dissatisfied people. They could have shown their dissatisfaction in other ways, but they chose this one. It’s legitimate too because they have aspirations and dissatisfactions, they have not always received adequate attention”[1]. We ask ourselves: were they not just mercenaries, gusanos (worms) paid by the empire? This shows that the hate speech used by the regime’s accomplices was demolished by the people’s pressure on the streets and pushed them to recognise, albeit in a limited way, the justice of the demands. Of course, they then go back to raising the spectre of an imperialist conspiracy. In any case, statements like this, from the mouth of any dictator or totalitarian government, only happen when it’s impossible to hide completely the facts.

 

On the other hand, the imprisonment of some well-known figures, opponents of the government and who are impossible to describe as pro-imperialist, such as Frank García Hernández, Cuban historian and Marxist; Leonardo Romero Negrín, a young socialist and physics student at the University of Havana; Maykel González Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota; and Marcos Antonio Pérez Fernández, a pre-university student provoked a strong united call from various democratic and left-wing sectors that ended up achieving the partial release of the most known prisoners, although the number of prisoners is still difficult to determine.

 

The new measures show that protests are fair

 

The government, which said that all the ills were the exclusive work of the blockade and the pandemic, denying any responsibility for the application of austerity measures to make the people pay for the crisis, as all capitalist governments do, made a series of announcements under pressure from the protests [2]. Some are minimal concessions, which, above all, do nothing more than demonstrate the legitimacy of the protests themselves.

 

Faced with the obvious lack of essential medicines, the government authorised the unlimited entry of medicines, food and toiletries brought by airline passengers, supposedly for non-commercial purposes. In this way, they demonstrate that, beyond the blockade, it is possible to bring in this type of product, as long as it is authorised by the government.

 

Evidently, the rotten PCC bureaucracy, fearing that the stick would not be enough to contain the protests, has had to use the carrot as well. Although from the point of view of the Cuban people’s needs these measures do not represent a fundamental solution, they are a slap in the face for the whole chorus of organisations that denied the legitimacy of the demands raised by those who came out to protest.

 

However, at the same time that the regime announces measures to alleviate the pressure from below, it deepens another ones aimed at continuing to favour private business.

 

The Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil, has explained that they have “reached a consensus to eliminate the obligation to use the wage scale for the payment of salaries in state-owned companies” so that the companies can “administer their wage fund,” [3] a measure that is presented as an incentive for wage increases, but which opens the door to reductions that do not even respect a minimum scale.

 

From there they move on, amid confusing verbiage, to the typical bourgeois productivity system and labour and wage flexibilisation, explaining that “It is not that the wage is unregulated, that we can earn whatever we want, but that there is a wage fund, a commitment to the owner and a function to be fulfilled, so it follows the same principle that you earn more the more wealth you generate, the more efficient you are…under a pattern of reasonableness, with economic sense and taking into account the way our economy operates.” [4] The problem lies in one “detail”: who appropriates the wealth produced in an economy geared to producing profits? An issue forgotten by the minister.

 

Among the planned reforms, progress is also being made in handing over state-owned enterprises and joint ventures to private owners, as the minister explains when he states that “While micro, small and medium-sized private companies have an owner who is a natural person, in the case of micro, small and medium-sized state-owned companies, the owner is the state, which is represented through a legal entity.” The alternatives under consideration, he said, “are budgeted units, companies or Higher Business Management Organisations and also scientific centres and universities that can act as partners or owners of micro, small and medium-sized state-owned enterprises.” [5]

 

Strengthening protests and surrounding them with solidarity

 

For the Cuban people no solution will come from the hands of the ruling bureaucracy, turned into a new bourgeoisie, that has restored capitalism and today applies austerity plans against the people on the island, nor from the illusions that pro-imperialist opportunists are trying to raise.

 

The IWL-FI believe that the only definitive solution will come from a new socialist revolution, to, this time, empower the proletariat, fighting all bureaucracy and exercising workers’ democracy.

 

We know that there is no total or partial agreement on this fundamental issue with many comrades, but, while we continue to debate, we call on all those who are in favour of the right of the Cuban people to mobilise for their demands to show solidarity with the protests and to demand the release of all those arrested for protesting.

 

Notes:

 

[1] http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2021/07/14/diaz-canel-y-dirigentes-del-gobierno-comparecen-en-la-mesa-redonda-video/#anexo-1581051

 

[2] http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2021/07/14/diaz-canel-y-dirigentes-del-gobierno-comparecen-en-la-mesa-redonda-video/#anexo-1581023

 

[3] https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-cuba-cuba-autoriza-excepcionalmente-viajeros-importacion-alimentos-medicamentos-limites-aranceles-20210715015157.html

 

[4] Idem

 

[5] http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2021/07/14/diaz-canel-y-dirigentes-del-gobierno-comparecen-en-la-mesa-redonda-video/#anexo-1581059