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(en) Cuban anarchism: the history of a movement by Frank Fernandez - Chapter 6 : Reality and Reflection

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.illegalvoices.org/apoc/books/cuban/front.html)
Date Tue, 24 Feb 2004 08:44:12 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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The now obvious socioeconomic failure of the Cuban revolution
could not have been appreciated before the mid 1970s. During the
1960s, Cuba had sufficient monetary reserves to hide this failure:
international credits, cash on hand, foreign currency, and
exportable agricultural production (primarily sugar and tobacco).
These economic riches, inherited from the now-defunct capitalist
system, maintained the Castro regime during the first
“socialist” decade, the start of which had been officially
announced in 1961.

The projects and policies instituted in these first years of economic
adventurism, “revolutionary” inefficiency, and failed social
attempts were all based in “scientific socialism,” political,
social, and economic centralism, and state control of all of the
island’s economic activities, including all but the smallest
agricultural, industrial, service, and distribution businesses. The
revolutionary course in these days was based in or at least was
said to be based in the leninist concept of “democratic
centralism,” in which the entire socioeconomic life of Cuba was
in the hands of the Partido Comunista Cubano; and, as was the
custom in the European marxist models, the direction and
supervision of all of the powers emanating from the state were made
the responsibility of the Political Bureau and Executive Committee
of the PCC*, and Fidel Castro as First Secretary of the Party.

The first and most essential project chosen by the new socialist
state was the rapid substitution of a gigantic project of industrial
growth and agricultural diversification to replace the cultivation of
sugarcane as Cuba’s economic mainstay a monoculture
which had sustained the Cuban economy since the beginning of the
19th century. With diplomatic and commercial relations with the
U.S. broken, and with the U.S. economic blockade in place, this
new economic direction would make it very difficult to return to the
old politico-economic system. Preventing this return was precisely
the aim of the Castro regime.

While this change in the economic system was taking place, the
Castro government moved to establish closer ties with the Soviet
Union, a country with which Cuba had maintained diplomatic and
commercial relations since 1933. So, Cuba not only made a 180
degree turn economically, it made a similar turn politically, with the
USSR assuming the dominating role formerly played by the USA
for almost seven decades.

Cuba’s workers and campesinos didn’t benefit much from
this transition from capitalism to leninism, nor from the substitution
of the USSR for the USA as political master. In fact, this transition
brought with it some of the worst labor abuses since the darkest
days of Spanish colonialism.

The regime instituted “voluntary” hours of additional work,
with the stated purpose of building “socialism,” a system
which no one appeared to understand. To these extra hours,
“Red Sundays” were added “voluntary” days of
(of course) unpaid work by students. At this time, one of the most
popular slogans, repeated daily, was that of “making
unemployment disappear”; and with all of these
“voluntary” days and hours of unpaid work, the regime
certainly succeeded in achieving that goal. But, curiously, this
isn’t one of the achievements touted as a triumph of
Castro’s first few years in power.

At the same time that these economic plans were being
implemented, shortages began to appear in the necessities of daily
life, and the government instituted rationing. Each citizen had a
monthly allotment of food and clothing an allotment the
government couldn’t always supply. This rapidly led to protests,
but these protests were quashed by the Committees for the Defense
of the Revolution and by the state security apparatus. The protests,
however, were clearly an alarm bell, and the government fast
realized that its new economic measures, planned and instituted so
quickly, had become a social and economic disaster. So, it changed
course again in an even more marxist direction.

The government then implemented Ernesto Guevara’s old
proposals to complete the “collectivization of the means of
production” and to create a system which at all costs would
avoid material incentives, a system that would obligate the Cubans
to become “new human beings” honest, egalitarian,
nonegotistical, and above all in possession of a “superior
revolutionary consciousness” and thus willing to sacrifice
everything for the construction of a socialist society. So, in 1968,
the government, as part of a “revolutionary offensive,”
seized all the remaining small businesses in Cuba for the purpose of
liquidating forever the hated “petit bourgeoisie” who still
stubbornly persisted in creating personal wealth. Despite these
measures which not only didn’t improve things, but made them
worse, the Castro regime and its policies could still count on the
backing of many of those at the bottom of the social pyramid.

Things began to change dramatically after the failure of the touted
“10 million ton sugar crop” campaign in 1970. This
agro-industrial operation involved the unprecedented militarization
of the labor force for the sowing, cutting, and milling of sugar, and
also the slashing and burning of woods and other unspoiled natural
areas in order to increase the area for the planting of sugarcane.
This process, which involved cutting down large number of trees
and the diversion of farm fields and pasture land to sugar
production, caused long-lasting and perhaps irreparable damage to
Cuba’s natural environment. This process was so gigantic that
it even affected rainfall and drainage patterns. Perhaps the most
notable effect of this was the siltation and salinization of Cuba’s
rivers and reservoirs. (Unfortunately, this lack of concern for
Cuba’s natural environment persists to this day.) But despite
these draconian and environmentally disastrous measures, the goal
of a 10 million ton sugar harvest wasn’t even approached.

After this dramatic failure, the USSR began to realize that the
attempted rapid industrialization of the island and the reorganization
of agriculture had been monumental errors. As Cuba’s primary
outlet for its products, the USSR “suggested” that the
Castro regime return to the old methods of planting, harvesting, and
milling sugar. But the damage was done. Future sugar harvest
yields were all below what had been projected, and the island
atrophied economically for almost a decade as was predictable,
given that Cuba’s workers had wasted almost a full year on
Castro’s impossible “10 million ton” project. Everyone
could see that this scheme was both an economic and an ecological
disaster, and the Cuban people began to distance themselves from
the government.

Of course the Soviet bureaucracy in Moscow understood that the
Cuban agricultural project wasn’t producing adequate
dividends, and as is natural in these sorts of affairs, it decided to up
the ante. It drastically increased aid to the Cuban government
beginning in 1971. This aid didn’t consist of ICBMs or nuclear
weapons; it consisted of massive amounts of development aid and
commercial subsidies. The annual subsidy in the years
1961-1970 averaged $327 million (over $1.5 billion yearly in
2001 dollars), and in the decade 1971-1980 averaged $1.573
billion per year (over $5 billion today).

But despite this massive aid from the Soviet Union, popular
discontent grew in Cuba in a manner unexpected by the guardians
of the system. Public disillusionment with the false promises of the
revolution’s leaders grew rapidly during the 1970s, resulting in
increased repression, jailings, and exiles.

To get a better idea of the extent of the repression in these years,
one should note that new penal facilities were built in every single
province throughout the length of the island. These consisted of
prisons, jails, forced labor (one could fairly call them
“concentration”) camps, and prison farms. Prisoners were
used to construct all of these. In 1984 there were 144 jails and
prisons throughout the island holding tens of thousands of inmates,
both common and political prisoners. The last data available
indicate that there were 168 Cuban prisons in 1988 holding
common prisoners (including those caught attempting currency
transactions involving U.S. dollars), political prisoners, and those
who had attempted to escape the island. In those years, the number
of prisons and the number of prisoners in Cuba increased in an
almost Malthusian manner.

The Cuban people weren’t the only ones suffering from
Castro’s policies at this time; the people of Latin America and
Africa were, too. In accord with the policy of “national
liberation,” the Castro regime supported guerrilla
movements - both urban and rural - in almost all of the
countries south of the Rio Grande. These movements ran head on
into an iron determination by the U.S. government to keep control
of the countries in its sphere of influence. This resulted in short
order in the Castro-backed insurgents provoking the creation of
military dictatorships (backed, of course, by the CIA), a gang of
uniformed gorillas who dedicated themselves to kidnappings,
“disappearances,” rape, robbery, torture, and
murder - directed as much against innocent civilians as against
their guerrilla enemies. Literally hundreds of thousands of people
died as a result in countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador,
Argentina, and Colombia.

In Africa, the Cuban regime intervened militarily in several
countries, most notably Ethiopia (on the side of the murderously
repressive, marxist-leninist Dergue government, in its attempts to
suppress the independence movements in Tigre and Eritrea) and
Angola. Over a period of more than a decade, Cuba sent hundreds
of thousands of soldiers to fight in African campaigns, in the
abovementioned countries and also in others, such as Algeria, the
Congo, and Sudan; the Cuban troops found themselves involved in
uprisings, coups d’etat, civil wars, tribal conflicts, and
undeclared wars. The same Cuban troops who fought against South
Africa for the independence of Namibia exterminated entire villages
in Angola and Ethiopia. All of this cost Cuba many millions of
dollars as well as tens of thousands of military casualties.

This long history of disasters and injustice, both inside and outside
of Cuba, led even those Cubans who still support the government
first to doubts, then to apathy, and finally to a frustration which they
themselves don’t understand. All of this has led to a mass
desire to escape the country. But that’s a bit difficult, given that
the Constitution of 1976 denies Cuba’s citizens the right to
freely travel abroad - or, more accurately, to flee the regime that
oppresses them. This constitutional prohibition was, however, a
formality, as measures denying the Cuban people that freedom had
already been in force for years.

After the 1980 Mariel “boatlift,” Castro’s Cuba
appeared to have stabilized itself at least economically, even though
social tension continued. Soviet economic aid contributed notably to
this economic stabilization; it increased further in the
1981-1985 period to a total of $22.658 billion, an average of
$4.5 billion a year (roughly $8 billion today). This was by far the
most aid Cuba had ever received throughout its history, and these
huge figures graphically demonstrate the heavy involvement of
Moscow in the remote Caribbean island.

Despite this massive aid, the results of the first 25 years of
Castroism couldn’t have been more negative. Cuba’s
economy was directly and massively dependent on the USSR, and
its government was a dictatorship that permitted no
criticism - despite the empty words of the 1976 Constitution. The
working people realized that the state had broken the social
contract, and dedicated themselves to passively sabotaging that
state. Those who couldn’t escape attempted to survive by
working as little as possible. From the construction sector to the
massive state bureaucracy, and even in agriculture, production fell

This was well known when the state-controlled labor union central,
the Confederación de Trabajadores Cubanos Revolucionaria, met
in its 39th conference in October 1979. The leaders of the Castroite
workers’ organization noted “a series of grave alterations in
Cuban labor life.” The hierarchs of the CTCR accused
Cuba’s workers of “lack of discipline, thefts, and
negligence.” They ended their analysis of the Cuban labor
situation with some truly astonishing statistics. They stated that,
“[Of] 1,600,000 persons in the active population (labor force),
only half a million produce anything.” That is to say, if we can
trust these statistics, that less than a third of Cuba’s labor force
was participating usefully in the economy.

This data, obtained from a “Report of the Conference,”
couldn’t be more revealing. It indicates that a majority of
Cuba’s workers, because of lack of motivation or some other
reason, were refusing to work for “the construction of
socialism”?â???a slogan that emanated constantly from the
highest places in the dictatorship, and was repeated ad nauseam in
every communications medium imaginable. The Cubans had lost
faith in their government and would soon lose it in their country.

In 1982, the Cuban state put in place a law that permitted foreign
companies, for the first time in over two decades, to invest in Cuba.
This in large part corresponded to the Soviet New Economic Policy
of the 1920s which, like the Cuban measure, was instituted for the
purpose of avoiding “state decomposition.” This policy of
capitalist investment would, ironically, have a bright future in
“socialist” Cuba.

The smaller scale agricultural reform of allowing “farmers’
free markets” had a much darker future. Under this reform, the
state allowed campesinos to sell some of their farm products directly
to consumers outside of the state rationing system. It was motivated
to permit this largely because of its own inability to reliably supply
rationed products. This small-scale experiment was rapidly shut
down by the government, which reasoned in the admirable style of
scientific socialism - at the same time that it was encouraging
investments by multinational corporations - that farmers’
markets would create a dangerous petit bourgeoisie, in
contradiction to the principles of revolutionary socialism.

The sociopolitical crisis of the USSR at the end of the 1980s, and
the sad ending in 1991 of the system imposed on the Russian
people by Lenin, had deplorable consequences for the Cuban
economy. During the last five years of Soviet assistance,
1986-1990, economic aid averaged over $5 billion per year, a
figure which was impossible to maintain by a disintegrating political
system. The Castro regime decided to survive the socialist camp
disaster by changing its political economy and entering into a
“Special Period,” which would lead to a social situation
worse than anything that had gone before, and to a quality of life
worse than that in Third World countries. (The “Special
Period” is still in effect.)

To avoid anything similar to the “Bucharest Syndrome” (the
shooting of the dictator by his own forces), the regime instituted
even more repressive measures, increased the severity of the
political laws, and targeted its own military. General Arnaldo
Ochoa, a national hero of the African campaigns decorated as a
“Hero of the Republic of Cuba,” was, because of suspicion
of disloyalty, condemned to death; he was shot by a firing squad on
July 13, 1989. Colonel Antonio de la Guardia was shot on the same
day, as were two other military officers, Amado Padrón and Jorge
Martínez. Patricio de la Guardia, Antonio’s brother, and a
general with the elite Special Troops (Tropas Especiales), was
condemned to 30 years in prison. This purge of high-ranking
military men ended in September 1989 with the arrest and
sentencing of José Abrantes, a Ministry of the Interior (secret
police) general. Abrantes died soon thereafter under mysterious
circumstances while in prison.

At the same time that it was purging its military and secret police,
the Castro regime initiated an opening in the direction of the
so-called Cuban community in exile, particularly in the United
States. This opening including permission for exiles to visit Cuba
and to send money directly to their family members in Cuba. (Of
course, money spent on travel and money sent to Cuban citizens
would prop up the Cuban economy, and thus help prop up the
Castro regime.) The Castro government also opened a strong
diplomatic campaign to increase economic ties with all of the
capitalist countries in Europe and Asia, as well as, surprisingly
enough, the U.S., the Vatican, and Israel.

At the same time, and marking the definitive economic failure of
Castro’s “socialism,” the farmers’ markets were
permitted to reopen; some establishment of privately owned small
businesses was tolerated; and, most significantly, the
“dollarization” of the Cuban economy took place. This last
meant that the U.S. dollar could circulate just as freely in Cuba as it
did in the U.S. - while up till this point trafficking in dollars
meant going to jail in Cuba. The purpose of this measure was to
expedite the sending of money by exiles to Cuba. This amount
quickly reached $800 million per year, an amount higher than that
produced by the most recent sugar crops (sugar being a badly
decayed industry in Cuba).

Meanwhile the slogans about the “gains” realized in health
and education were repeated, for external consumption, while class
differences sharpened between those employed in Castro’s
apparatus, those receiving money from relatives abroad, and those
relying on salaries paid in devalued pesos. Once again hopelessness
spread like a cancer among the least favored and, as in not so
remote times, the most daring Cubans decided to illegally abandon
the island on flimsy rafts via the Straits of Florida - a very
dangerous journey that has claimed thousands of victims over the
years. In a very real sense this is a form of suicide induced by
desperation, and a form in which Cuba leads the world. The Elian
González affair is a good illustration of this tragedy.

Perhaps the worst incident in this ongoing sad situation was that
involving the tugboat “13 de marzo” (“March
13th”). On July 13, 1994, more than 70 persons crowded this
tug as it set sail from Havana toward Florida. It was intercepted
outside Havana Bay by the Cuban coast guard, which ordered it to
return to Havana. The tug refused and continued heading toward
Florida. At that point the Cuban coast guard vessel attacked the
“13 de marzo” with high pressure water hoses, sinking it.
Forty-one persons died when it went down, including many women
and children. The survivors were taken prisoner. This sordid attack
on unarmed civilians was supposedly ordered directly by Fidel

While all this has been going on, Castro has definitively ended his
“socialist” experiment, with the sole purpose of maintaining
his hold on power. He has instituted a form of state capitalism,
similar to that of neo-fascist “Red” China, in which foreign
investors in direct partnership with the Cuban state dominate the
production of goods and services. As an example, the workers in
the Cuban tourism industry, an industry entirely in the hands of the
Cuban state and Spanish investors, receive their salaries in Cuban
pesos (the exchange rate being about 20 pesos to one dollar), which
effectively excludes them from the world of “dollarization.”
As well, the Cuban people in general are barred from entering the
hotels and beaches reserved for foreign tourists, thus creating a type
of apartheid - imposed by their “socialist” government.

This is a pathetic conclusion to a revolution that began amidst
jubilation and great hopes. After 40 years the Cuban revolution has
ended in economic deprivation, desperation, sharp class divisions,
massive emigration, and a criminal tyranny that suppresses all
dissent. How did this come to pass? How did this project that
promised civil liberties, political and social reforms, just and honest
government, and an equitable redistribution of the country’s
riches come to such a bad end? How did a revolution - and a
“revolutionary” government - with great popular backing
end up like this?

There are many reasons for this failure, but in our view there are
two primary ones: the socioeconomic course and the speed with
which it was adopted by Cuba’s ruling elite; and the continual,
massive repression of individual liberties.

In regard to the first of these, the transition from the capitalism that
existed in Cuba prior to the revolution to the authoritarian
pseudo-socialism substituted for it never yielded the expected
results. This was largely due to the idiotic and ego-driven speed
with which changes were implemented. The bearded ones were in
too much of a hurry to impose their system, and never seriously
planned the transition from one system to the other. But it was also
due to the very nature of the “socialism” they attempted to
impose. Instead of handing over the fields, factories, and workshops
directly to the workers after expropriating them from their
owners - a measure with which Cuba’s anarchists would, of
course, have been in accord - the Cuban government placed all
of the great businesses, industries, banks, transportation networks,
etc. under the control of the state. And they put elements loyal to
the government, but without the foggiest idea of how to make these
enterprises function, at the head of them all. It’s not surprising
that those without expertise in the fields they controlled made a
hash of things, especially in that they were attempting to implement
rapid structural change.

The second reason, perhaps more important than the first, was the
creation of a military dictatorship worse than that which preceded it,
a massive repressive system reaching into every neighborhood (via
the CDRs), capable of violence and murder to maintain itself in
power, and that mistreated, harried, and tortured political prisoners
more savagely than its predecessors. Castro’s and the
PCC’s destruction of individual liberties was a crime against the
Cuban people, a people whose chronicle is that of love of liberty and
fighting for freedom.

This destruction of personal freedom was the principal reason for
the Communist disaster on the island. A shocked, enslaved people
on their knees cannot effectively collaborate in social and political
reconstruction. This is precisely why the many marxist attempts to
create free, peaceful, egalitarian societies through the systematic
use of coercion, violence, and terror by small elites have failed so
abysmally the world over.

For their part, the Cuban anarchists have fought against tyranny
throughout Cuban history, from the struggle against the repressive
capitalism of the sugar barons to the pseudo-socialism of Castro.
The anarchists were the first to understand and denounce the
Castro regime. The anarchists’ struggle for freedom and their
understanding of what Castroism meant for Cuba can be seen as
early as 1960 in Agustín Souchy’s Testimonios sobre la
Revolución Cubana and the public denunciation of Castro in the
same year by the Asociación Libertaria de Cuba. The correctness
of these early appraisals can be fully appreciated now that end of
Castroism finally appears to be drawing near.

With Castro’s death, there will be a new dawning of liberty in
Cuba. That dawn will allow Cuba’s anarchists to once again
propagate anarchist ideas and to organize on the island. The
solidarity of overseas anarchist groups will be an important help in
those efforts, but it won’t be indispensable. It will be
Cuba’s workers themselves who will organize to achieve
freedom in its concrete sense of control over their own lives, control
over the wealth they create, and control of the work that produces
that wealth. As the old Asociación Internacional de los
Trabajadores saying goes, “The emancipation of the workers
must be the task of the workers themselves.”

But Cuba’s anarchists have pointed the way to that
emancipation. Since the 19th century, they have fought a dual fight:
against tyranny and for workers’ control of the economy. In
regard to Castro, Cuba’s anarchists have consistently opposed
his counterrevolution (suppression of individual freedom and the
institution of state control rather than workers’ control) since its
early dark days. Remarkably early on Cuba’s anarchists
expressed their opposition to centralization, violence, coercion, and
the remarkable militarization of Cuba (a matter on which many U.S.
and European anti-militarists have been notably silent), and their
support of worker-controlled unions, free municipalities,
agricultural cooperatives, and collective workplaces. To put this
another way, Cuba’s anarchists have consistently supported a
real revolution rather than the phony one which has mesmerized so
many leftists (including many anarchists).

Anarchism and its ideas are not dead in Cuba, as many who wish to
erase these concepts of social redemption from the Cuban agenda
wish us to believe. Marxism, as a utopia, as a vision of a better
world, and as a practical means to get to that world, died when its
ideas were put into practice by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il
Sung, Pol Pot, and Castro. The ideas of anarchism are, in contrast,
quite alive - and they showed their vitality in the one major test to
which they were ever put: the Spanish Revolution of 1936-1939.
It is clearly premature to bury libertarian ideas.

Anselmo Lorenzo once said, “The first thing necessary to being
an anarchist is a sense of justice.” We would add that it’s
also necessary to be an optimist. The new generation of Cubans,
who have suffered the terrors of Castroism for decades, will find
libertarian ideas to be the best, and probably the only, means of
achieving a world free of intolerance, domination, hate, greed, and

Optimism is a key factor in understanding the task of reconstructing
anarchism in Cuba, in part because it’s a key to Cuban
psychology. But there are other psychological factors that must also
be taken into account. One is the rampant ideological confusion and
disillusionment on the island.

Marxists have always insisted that the correct path to socialism is
the creation of an elite, a “revolutionary vanguard,” that
after taking power will lead the people to a socialist utopia by
instituting “scientific” political and social principles. Of
course, this approach has led to failure in virtually every land where
the principles of Marx and Lenin have been put into practice. In
Cuba, this attempt to produce a “new man” has led to
disaster; the old revolutionaries were unable to force-produce a
“revolutionary” youth.

The Cuban people have for nearly two centuries held in common a
love of freedom. This first manifested itself in the struggle for
independence from Spain, where some took the path of violent
insurrection, others demanded reforms, and the majority simply
wanted a better system of government that Spanish colonialism.
Later, in the twentieth century, the failure of two republics
semi-independent of the U.S., and the rise of two outright
murderous regimes, those of Machado and Batista, didn’t
prevent the generation that came of age in mid-century from
continuing the fight for Cuban freedom. But the defeat and
humiliation of this idealistic, revolutionary generation by the at first
authoritarian and later despotic figure of Fidel Castro placed a major
roadblock in this centuries-old quest for liberty. If there’s any
positive aspect to the Castro dictatorship, it’s that it has served
as an object lesson to many Cubans to never support strongmen or
“maximum leaders,” no matter what
“revolutionary” slogans they mouth.

But the Castro detour will be just that - a detour. There are many
other social, moral, and psychological characteristics of the Cuban
people that incline them instinctively, as it were, toward anarchism:
their disrespect or indifference toward the state; their permanent
rebellion against authority and its representatives, be they political
or religious; and their systematic opposition to laws, rules, and
regulations that attempt to restrict their freedom.

At the same time, it’s necessary to point out that even though
the Cuban character has an affinity for anarchism, being anarchic
and being an anarchist are not the same thing. Still, Cubans are
inclined to defy authority and to defy the laws of both church and

The Castro government was well aware of this Cuban tendency,
and it took pains to suppress it from the start through the massive
use of terror and coercion. The fear unleashed by Castro has
temporarily dried up the love of liberty and the disdain for tyrants
and their orders. The Cuba of today, with its multitude of prisons,
secret police, and government informers on every block (the
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution - more accurately,
the Committees for the Defense of the Regime), is a society based
on mere survival. Only through the use of near-infinite repression
has Castro maintained his grip on power; and not only has he
retained that, he’s temporarily created a different Cuban
attitude (at least as publicly expressed) - one that disdains
“bourgeois civil liberties” and that respects repressive laws.
In short, Castro’s is a remarkable achievement: replacement of
the traditional Cuban love of freedom by its opposite, cringing

At the same time, while the present regime bears great
responsibility for this “achievement,” there were tendencies
in this direction prior to the rise of Castro; and Cuba’s
anarchists, from the time of El Productor, have attacked these
tendencies. First and foremost has been the matter of racism. Cuba
(at the same time as Brazil) was the last country in the Western
Hemisphere to abolish black slavery; and the racism and economic
disparities left in slavery’s wake were a severe hindrance to
social emancipation in Cuba throughout the twentieth century.

The Castro regime has made much of its supposed elimination of
racism in Cuban society, but in recent years racism has resurfaced,
for economic reasons. Since the Castro regime reversed itself and
allowed the free circulation of U.S. dollars on the island, and the
sending of dollars from exiles (predominantly white Cubans) to
those still in Cuba, a great many white Cuban families have been
able to survive while doing very little or no work and, of course,
while producing no useful goods or services. This has led to
considerable resentment on the part of those not receiving money
from abroad (primarily blacks), and it has also resulted in the
introduction of a de facto class system with heavy racial overtones.

This class system has led to widespread indifference and indolence
in agriculture and the sugar industry. Workers and campesinos
refuse to work more than the absolute minimum necessary in a
society where tourist dollars mean more than those produced by any
type of production for export.

As for the means - other than coercion, violence, and
surveillance - employed by the Castro government to keep itself
in power, one must cite its propaganda apparatus. The Cuban
government controls every radio station, TV station, and
publication on the island. From these, the Cuban people receive a
daily dose of marxist-leninist “scientific socialism,” a
doctrine with which they dare not publicly disagree. They also
receive daily reports about how happy they are because of the
revolutionary “gains” of the Castro regime, and because of
their supposed “equality.” Hearing such claims repeated day
after day, year after year, without public contradiction, some come
to believe them. And others - primarily those in the
government/Communist Party apparatus, the top tier in Cuba’s
class-based society - want to believe those claims, because they
help justify their privileged positions.

Cuba’s educational system also serves as an indoctrination
factory. Students receive daily doses of marxism as revealed truth,
and they are not free to criticize it, just as they are not free to
criticize the educational system imposed on them by the state. They
also are not free to choose their own paths in life. As in Plato’s
republic, if the state decides that they have, for example, an aptitude
for veterinary medicine, they must serve the state as veterinarians.
In education, as in virtually every other aspect of Cuban life,
freedom is absent.
- - -
Since remote times, human beings have evaluated, criticized, and
altered the society that surrounds them. Anarchism is a recent
development in this noble and humane undertaking, which has run
as a thread through human history from the Athens of Socrates, to
the Stoic philosophers, to the Renaissance, and to the philosophers
and encyclopedists of the Enlightenment. William Godwin in
England and P.J. Proudhon in France are but two early examples of
those who took this tradition and built upon it to produce
anarchism. If I read them correctly, their purpose, like that of later
anarchists such as Errico Malatesta and Peter Kropotkin, was not
only to eliminate the state, but to create a freer, more just human
society. This intention - whether or not its bearers use the label
“anarchist” will, I am convinced, never die. It will
continue to survive generation after generation, despite temporary
setbacks, in Cuba as everywhere else.

As for Cuba, enchained and on its knees, I cannot help but think of
the reference of Enrique Roig San Martín to the “tree of
liberty.” In Cuba, it put down roots and sprouted branches until,
in the 1960s, it was burned and cut to the ground. But it didn’t
die. There will be those in the generations that succeed us who will
take up the altruistic legacy of their forbears, so that the roots of
anarchism, the roots of freedom, now buried in the fertile Cuban
soil, will once again spring to life and will bear the fruits of liberty
and social justice.
* Acronyms

AIT Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores
ALC Asociación Libertaria de Cuba
ARS Alianza Revolucionaria Socialista
BIL Boletín de Información Libertaria
CDR Comités en Defensa de la Revolución
CGT Confederación General de Trabajadores
CNOC Confederación Nacional Obrera de Cuba
CNT Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
CO Comisiones Obreras
CONI Comité Obrero Nacional Independiente
CTC Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba
CTCR Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba Revolucionaria
DDG Documento de Gaona
FAI Federación Anarquista Ibérica
FAIT Federazione Anarchica Italiana
FAL Fundación Anselmo Lorenzo
FGAC Federación de Grupos Anarquistas de Cuba
FJLC Federación de Juventudes Libertarias de Cuba
FOH Federación Obrera de La Habana
FRE Federación Regional Española
FTC Federación de Trabajadores de Cuba
ISHSS International Society for Historical and Social Studies
IWA International Workingmen’s Association
IWW Industrial Workers of the World
MAS Movimiento de Acción Sindical
MLCE Movimiento Libertario Cubano en el Exilio
M26J Movimiento 26 de Julio
PCC Partido Comunista Cubano
PLA Partido Liberal Autonomista
PRC Partido Revolucionario Cubano
PRCA Partido Revolucionario Cubano Auténtico
PSP Partido Socialista Popular
SGT Sociedad General de Trabajadores
SIA Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista

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