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(en) Workers solidarity, 72 Sep. 2002 -

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 28 Sep 2002 23:41:01 -0400 (EDT)
Review Cuban Anarchism - The History of a Movement

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Frank Fernández first gives a detailed and well
documented account of how libertarian ideas first
took hold in Cuba. During the1850s, mass Spanish
immigration to Cuba brought with it new
revolutionary ideas. These ideas interacted with the
misery of the super-exploited Cuban workers, slaves
and campesinos.

As early as 1857 anarchist ideas took root with the
creation of workers' mutual aid associations, regional
centres and secular schools. By the 1880s there were
several explicitly anarchist workers associations and
publications such as El Productor , a popular
anarchist newspaper, which was published twice
weekly by 1888. Towards the end of the decade
several anarchist-organised strikes shook the Cuban
tobacco industry.

The 1890's in Cuba saw the war for independence
from Spain. Fernández describes the differences that
existed within the anarchist movement over
involvement in the war of independence. In 1892,
however, a Cuban anarchist conference voted in
support of the independence movement and despite
differences of opinion many Cuban anarchists
actively cooperated with the separatists.

After the war of independence class struggle
continued in Cuba this time under the yoke of
Yankee imperialism. Despite often severe repression
anarchists continued fighting to build Cuba's militant
labour movement and in the 1920s in particular
anarchist books, periodicals and pamphlets
proliferated. Although there was no specifically
anarcho-syndicalist trade union, anarcho-syndicalist
ideas predominated within the large trade union
federations such as the Workers' Federation of
Havana (FOH) and the Confederación Nacional
Obrera de Cuba (CNOC),

Anarchist influence declined after the 1930's when
the PCC (the Cuban Communist Party) made deals
first with the Machado government, then with
Batista, which put the PCC in control of the trade
union confederation, making it dependent on the

Fernández goes on to describe anarchist participation
in the armed struggle against the Batista dictatorship
and the repression of the anarchists after Fidel Castro
- máximo lider - came to power. All opposition to the
new state was eliminated; press, radio, television
censored or suppressed. Leading
anarcho-syndicalists were expelled from unions and
many imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Left with few
alternatives many Cuban anarchists went into exile.

The remainder of the book details the experience of
the Cuban anarchists in exile, their various
publications and their difficulties in relation to the
international anarchist movement, which was initially
often reluctant to oppose Castro's revolution.

A weakness in the book lies with it's lack of a general
analysis of the Cuban revolution, with Fernandez
analysis differing little to that of the US bourgeoisie.
Nevertheless the book as a whole is well researched
and informative and is a much needed source of
information on the important role that anarchists
played throughout the history of the Cuban workers

                          Deirdre Hogan

Also available free online at

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers
  Solidarity'.  http://struggle.ws/worksol.html

We also provide PDF files of all our publications for you to print out
 and distribute locally http://struggle.ws/wsm/pdf.html

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