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(en) Cuba Libertaria, No.2: Independent Syndicalism (ca)

From GALSIC <cesamepop@noos.fr>
Date Sun, 27 Jun 2004 18:02:29 +0200 (CEST)


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Given the longevity of the Castro dictatorship and its deliberate
re-writing of the past, the idea has spread that Cuban political
history begins with the Castro régime. And so it is that, for the new
generations, the cultural, political and social wealth and plurality of
Cuban history before the confiscation of power by Fidel Castro has been
hidden. A concealment that, obviously, more particularly regards the past
fights of the labour movement before it fell under the control of Castrism.
It is not therefore strange that, after more than 40 years of
dictatorship, the immense majority of Cuban workers know nothing of
that past and have lost all connection with the labour organizations
that forged it. Neither is it strange that, as a result of this labour
acculturation and of the "syndicalism" which at the moment exists in
Cuba (which does not defend the rights of the workers, but the
interests of the boss-State and its nomenclature), all attempts to
create unions at the edge of this "syndicalism" have labour
independence as their main objective. Such independence is intolerable
for the Castro régime, since it would mean the end of their union,
political and cultural monopoly; that is to say, the end of the single
union, of the single party, etc. This lies at the heart of their
systematic use of repression so that workers are afraid to demonstrate
their dissatisfaction with and opposition to official "syndicalism", to
impede all forms of debate and independent labour expression at
national level.

This also lies at the heart of the urgent necessity to rediscover and
spread the history of syndicalism before the "Cuban Revolution" (the
very syndicalism which made it possible for the revolution to have, in
its early days, genuinely emancipatory aspirations), so that a truly
independent labour movement capable of effecting real change can rise
again in Cuba.

>From its origins, the Cuban labour movement was strongly oriented
towards anarcho-syndicalism. From 1880 on, the Cuban anarchist press
spread the concept of class struggle and the working classes' ideas for
defence and demands. After the establishment of the Republic (1902),
non-Marxist socialists and anarcho-syndicalists challenged each other
for the ideological leadership of the labour movement without impairing
the organizational tasks and of the demands of labour. From 1910, State
officials and agents won an 8-hour working day and child labour for
those under 14 years of age was banned.

Frank Fernández' book, "The History of the Cuban Libertarian Movement"
is a valuable contribution to the essential work of re-discovering our
historical memory, even if it is just to find out how the first
associative activities of workers came about in Cuba in the latter half
of the 19th century, and ended up becoming the backbone of Cuban
syndicalism, or to understand why a single National Workers' Union
[Central Obrera Nacional] was formed. A unitary conception of
syndicalism that no syndicalist questioned at the time because all
currents of social thought of the time were democratically represented
in this Union. A conception that continued in the same way until such
times as Fidel Castro, having taking possession of power, took up again
the idea of the Single Union, but emptied it of any pluralistic sense
and of any will to make demands.

With Castro, all currents were prohibited within the Union and the
right to strike was suppressed. With Castro, the union became an
appendix of the Single Party and of the State, becoming part of the
apparatus of control over the working class. This is what Cuban workers
have to live with today, what they think of the official CTC, and this
is the reason why, for some years nows, independent unions have been
appearing...



Contact and information:

MLC: movimientolibertariocubano@yahoo.com.mx
Solidaridad con Cuba: cubava2003@yahoo.com.mx
El Libertario: ellibertario@hotmail.com
GALSIC - France: cesamepop@noos.fr

Websites with information on Cuba:

El Libertario: http://www.nodo50.org/ellibertario
Cubanet : http://www.cubanet.org
A-Infos: http://www.ainfos.ca
http://www.infoshop.org>

Our address:
GALSIC,
Tribuna latinoamericana,
145 Rue Amelot,
75011 Paris,
France


>From Cuba Libertaria, N°.2 - May 2004
Published in Paris by GALSIC (Support Groups for Libertarians and
Independent Syndicalists in Cuba)

Translation by nestor mcnab


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