Last July 11, several demonstrations were held in Cuba against the Castro regime. They expressed the demands of numerous sectors of the Cuban people for the terrible socio-economic situation in which they live and the demands for democratic freedoms denied by the regime[1].

 

By IWL-FI International Secretariat  –  October 20, 2021

 

The regime responded with harsh repression, persecution and imprisonment of many activists who had participated[2]. Now, the Archipelago collective is calling for a new demonstration to “march peacefully for our rights”. In it, “they will demand a halt to the regime’s violence, respect for human rights, the immediate freedom of those jailed and a democratic solution to the political differences on the island”[3]. Considering these demands to be legitimate, the IWL-FI supports the call for this mobilization [4].

The mobilization was initially planned for November 20, but the government called for a counter mobilization on the same day, threatening to take to the streets together with the Armed Forces and their shock groups. The organizers of the protests against the regime then changed the date to the 15th, and requested official authorization to carry out the march, the response was to prohibit them from doing so. In the response letter, published in the official news portal CubaDebate, it is expressed:

“The promoters and their public projections, as well as the links of some with subversive organizations or agencies financed by the U.S. government have the manifest intention of promoting a change of political system in Cuba. […] The march is a provocation, as part of the strategy of regime change. Article 4 of the Constitution defines socialism in Cuba as irrevocable. Therefore, any action against it is unlawful”[5].

This response of the Castro regime expresses a profound hypocrisy or, what is the same, a big lie, by stating that the prohibition is made to “defend socialism”. The truth is that the centrally planned state economy (after the expropriation of imperialist properties and the Cuban bourgeoisie that fled to Miami after the 1959 revolution), and the important conquests for the workers and the Cuban people that this allowed, have not existed for decades. It was the Castro regime itself that restored capitalism in the 1990s, through various measures that destroyed that base[6].

This had two consequences. The first was that European imperialism (especially the Spanish State) and Canadian imperialism have already taken advantage of the Foreign Investment Law of the 1990s and have made large investments in Cuba, especially in the international tourism sector, in which they have a determining weight, in many cases associated with GAESA (the conglomerate of state enterprises controlled by the Cuban Armed Forces). The presence of Spain’s hotel chain Meliá is well known and notorious. These investments were made without questioning the Castro regime but in full agreement with it. Already in 2005, there were 258 companies associated with foreign capital. The countries with the greatest presence are Spain (77 companies), Canada (41) and Italy (40)[7].

To this strong entry of European and Canadian imperialism into the economy, the Castro regime added legislation which offers increasingly better conditions for the arrival of new imperialist investments, such as the creation of a duty-free zone without taxes or labor rights at the Mariel port[8].

At the same time, capitalist restoration has represented the loss or degradation of a large part of the gains achieved with the revolution and a constant deterioration of the standard of living of a large part of the Cuban workers and masses. A situation which, since the 1990s, has only worsened with new measures and adjustment plans, such as the so-called Zero Day plan, launched at the beginning of this year[9], which has been aggravated by the lack of an adequate response to the pandemic. This is one of the main real bases of the mobilizations against the Cuban regime and not an “attack on socialism” as Castroism pretends to present in order to justify the repression.

 

Cuba: A capitalist dictatorship

It is under this ” defense of socialism ” lie, that the regime tries to hide the reality that the Cuban workers and people, do not have the most elementary democratic rights to form political, trade union or social organizations that are not controlled by Castroism. Any organization created outside the regime is considered “illegal”, and accused of being an “agent of imperialism” and of the local bourgeoisie residing in Miami and, therefore, subject to repression.

In his Twitter account, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Parrilla defended the ban on the November 15 march as follows: “The U.S. combines policy of maximum pressure to suffocate Cuba and brutal disinformation campaign, with the financing and open promotion of those who lend themselves to its destabilizing agenda of ‘regime change’.”[10]

The Cuban government’s response is not just words. Examples are the numerous arrests carried out, not only during but also after 11J or the banning of the 15N march itself and threats to activists. In these conditions, with capitalism already restored on the island, with the constant deterioration of the standard of living of the Cuban workers and masses, and with the absolute lack of democratic freedoms, the Castro regime has to be defined as a capitalist dictatorship that must be fought, both in the struggle for the most elementary socio-economic demands of the masses and in the struggle to obtain democratic freedoms. For that reason, we supported and defended the mobilizations of 11J and now we do so with that of 15N. For that reason, we also maintain that the Castro regime must be overthrown by the struggles of the workers and the masses, who will thus be able to win broad democratic freedoms for themselves, in the perspective of continuing the struggle to advance towards the construction of a new workers’ state in Cuba.

At the international level, those currents that accept the Castroist argument of “defense of socialism” or remain silent in the face of it, end up playing the role of active or silent accomplices of this capitalist dictatorship and its repression.

 

The appearance of the CTDC

We have said that the Castro regime claims that all its internal opponents are “destabilizing agents” at the service or influenced by U.S. imperialism and the Miami bourgeoisie.

It is evident that the majority of U.S. imperialism and this Cuban-American bourgeoisie seek a political regime change on the island and that they act through the trade blockade and by using their “communicating channels” with sectors of the Cuban population to organize themselves politically in the country. For this reason, we permanently repudiate this blockade and call to fight against it. It is necessary to point out that European and Canadian imperialism have made large investments associated with GAESA without questioning the Castro regime but in full agreement with it, without any embargo or boycott on their part.

With regard to the political action of the Cuban bourgeoisie from Miami, there has been a new development on the island: the appearance of the Council for a Democratic Transition in Cuba (CTDC), linked to it. In its program, the CTDC demands “a shock plan” to move rapidly towards a “market economy”. Lest there be any doubt as to its deeper objectives, within the framework of “respect for the private property rights of all Cubans”, it demands a “Special plan to compensate for the expropriations of the revolutionary period under international assistance and collaboration“[11]. Properties that today are mostly in the hands of GAESA.

Consequently, the first step is to recognize and define undoubtedly that U.S. imperialist agents and the bourgeoisie are grouped together in the CTDC. At the same time, it is necessary to point out that their dispute with the Castro regime is not a struggle between “capitalism” and “socialism” because capitalism has already been restored in Cuba by the regime itself. What is in dispute is who is going to control and/or administer that economy as a junior partner of the imperialist investments: whether the Castroist apparatus through GAESA or the Miami bourgeoisie by recovering its properties.

But, beyond this clarification, we repudiate the program of the CTDC because it is also a program against the needs of the Cuban workers and masses, even attempting an even greater leap in the process of colonization and greater exploitation conditions, and we call to fight it politically and by all means.

 

What should we do if a reactionary bourgeois sector adheres to the mobilizations?

Having made this clear definition, however, there remains a pending problem: the CTDC has adhered to the call for the 15N march and calls to participate in it. It is necessary to point out that, many times, in the struggle against a capitalist dictatorship, a wide and varied spectrum of political components intervene: together with revolutionary and progressive sectors, reactionary bourgeois sectors also participate which, in many cases, are linked to imperialism.

This is what happened in the struggles against the Assad dictatorship in Syria and of Ghadafi in Libya. This is also the case even with the mobilizations against the Bolsonaro government, in Brazil, since the PSDB (a traditional party of the right-wing bourgeoisie) calls to participate in them. They do so in defense of their own interests.

What should be done in this case? For us, in the first place, it is necessary to maintain the unitary struggle around the point or points that generate it. Regarding 15N: “stop the violence of the regime, respect for human rights, immediate freedom for those jailed…”. In this framework, sectors influenced by the CTDC could participate because, whether we like it or not, they have some influence on part of the mass movement. But this cannot confuse us, nor be used to divide or discourage the demonstration, which is not called by imperialism. We are facing a 15N protest driven by activists who are fighting against the dictatorship and for their freedom to demonstrate!

The basic element of this confusion, after 60 years of the revolution, is the fact that the bureaucratic regime presents the current harsh Cuban reality (the pressing shortages, the fact that for many workers the only way out is to emigrate to the US, the lack of liberties, the standard of living of the bureaucrats…) as “socialism”, against which a “democratic capitalism” may seem much better.

The fact that we propose to accept the participation of the CTDC in the march of November 15, insofar as it influences a sector of the Cuban people, does not mean that before, during and after that mobilization we should not fight with redoubled force its proposals and its influence. On the contrary, it demands an even greater struggle.

 

For a great Unitarian March! For democratic freedoms and against capitalist hunger and misery! No to repression! Against all imperialist interference!

We have analyzed in depth the adherence of the CTDC to the 15N march and the policy that we propose in view of this fact, because it is the main reason that the current known as the “unofficial Cuban left” expresses for not adhering to that call. This current participated in the mobilizations of 11J and its best known member is Frank García Hernández, who was arrested (and later released) after that protest.

Now, in response to this call by Archipiélago, they have expressed from their web page: “The unofficial Cuban left should not participate in the demonstration of November 20 (NdA: this date was later modified by its organizers for 15N) marching with those who intend to implant in Cuba a neo-liberal capitalism” (that is, the CTDC)[12].  In our previous statement we have already discussed why we consider this position wrong, and criticized it. In this one, we have deepened that debate.

But even if the CTDC had not adhered to this call, Frank García Hernández calls not to participate in the 15N call. Because although “the unofficial Cuban left should support the just and initial claim of Archipelago, as well as its right to demonstrate…”, in its call “the immediate needs of the broad majorities that make up the Cuban working class are not made explicit” which would have been present in the 11J. Therefore, he characterizes this call as that of those who “have satisfied the basic conditions to eat three times a day”, middle class and intellectual sectors to whom the basic needs of the masses would be of no concern.

We believe that this sector commits a more serious error than the previous one because it divides and confronts the two central demands of the struggle of the Cuban people against the regime: the struggle for the basic elementary needs of the masses, and the struggle for democratic freedoms that the regime denies in absolute terms.

These struggles must be carried out in a united way, because this unity strengthens and empowers each one of them. The struggle for democratic freedoms becomes stronger when it is taken up by the masses. The struggle of the masses develops in a more powerful way with democratic freedoms to organize and develop. That is why, in this unitary struggle, the workers and the poor masses, and the democratic middle and intellectual sectors are natural allies. On the other hand, this is what objectively happened on 11J, where both sectors expressed themselves together.

Frank García Hernández gets into a contradiction with no way out: he considers the democratic demand of Archipiélago and its right to demonstrate to be legitimate, but he refuses to participate in the march. The correct thing to do would be to call for mobilization and include the demands of the workers and the masses he defends. That is our proposal for this sector. In the event that he maintains his divisive position, this attitude does nothing but favor the Castro regime against which he claims to fight.

In said article, he leaves open the possibility that “the unofficial Cuban left decides to demonstrate” separately with a series of demands that are enunciated therein. We have said that we consider this division to be a serious mistake. On the other hand, does Frank Garcia Hernandez believe that this possible demonstration will be allowed or will not be repressed by the regime? Didn’t the regime repress the 11J, which he claims as arising from just demands “from below”? Didn’t he himself end up in prison after those demonstrations? No matter how many turns we give it, the struggle for the elementary needs of the masses and the struggle for democratic freedoms go hand in hand and are inseparable.

In addition to this united proposal, we want to end this statement with a warning and an appeal. The Cuban regime has prohibited the demonstration of 15N but Archipelago maintains its call to march. Therefore, in addition to the strong official repressive apparatus, the regime is preparing a “spontaneous” counter-demonstration to act as a provocation and as the first line of repression, with unforeseeable consequences.

In view of this possible perspective, we reiterate our support for 15N and we call on the political, trade union and social organizations (especially those that claim to be left-wing and popular) to defend the right of the Cuban people to demonstrate peacefully, to demand that the Cuban government allow it to take place, and, as is very likely to happen, to repudiate the repression of this march.