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[Latin America] [Cuba]
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Book Review: Tania La Guerrillera Y La Epopeya Suramericana Del Che

Tania La Guerrillera Y La Epopeya Suramericana Del Che
("Tania: Undercover with Che Guevara in Bolivia" is the title of the English translation)
Ulises Estrada
Ocean Press 2005
tania the guerrilla

Mention the name Che Guevara virtually anywhere in the world and images of Cuba, Fidel Castro and armed struggle come to mind. Travel to places like Cuba, Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay and say the name Che and another image comes to mind; that of Haydée Tamaia Bunke Bider, better known as "Tania the guerrilla", the only womyn to live, fight and die as part of Che Guevara's Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), National Liberation Army.

The first time i came across the figure of Tania the guerrilla was in reading the book Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson, which documents Che's extraordinary political life from childhood to his death. And while Jon Lee Anderson's book is unrivaled as far as political biographies goes, his emphasis was on Guevara, so his writing on Tania left much to be desired. In stark contrast, Ulises Estrada's present work casts much needed light on this figure little known here in the U.$.

Tania the guerrilla was born Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider on 19 November 1937 in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Erich Bider, a German communist, and Nadia Bunke Bider, a Russian Jew (pg 157). The Bider's fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and settled in Buenos Aires, promptly joining the banned Argentine Communist Party (ACP) (pg 143). Nadia Bider recounts how Haydée was exposed to politics early on as the Biders hosted ACP meetings, hid weapons, stashed communist literature in their home and helped Jewish refugees (pg 162). Besides joining the ACP, Nadia and Erich also belonged to various anti-fascist organizations (pg 144).

The Biders were to remain in Argentina for most of Haydée's young life and would not return to Germany until well after the Soviet Red Army smashed fascism there. Then in 1951, when Haydée was fourteen and after having spent two years in Uruguay, the Biders moved to the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also known as East Germany, part of the old Soviet bloc (pg 145). Haydée, having lived all her life in South America, did not want to leave her home and made her parents promise to let her return when she was older (pg 145).

After arriving in the GDR, Haydée felt as if she'd experienced a "revelation" (pg 145). She immediately incorporated herself into political life. Having attended her first Free German Youth meeting, Haydée returned home with "great enthusiasm." According to Nadia, Haydée confirmed that the socialist system was superior to capitalism, because, among other things, she was allowed to speak freely and express herself politically (pg 145). No doubt that having lived in Argentina, a "democracy" where the communist party was banned and poverty and exploitation were rampant helped her make this materialist comparison.

Apparently Haydée never forgot her beloved Argentina and, after having settled into German life, couldn't help but share with her new friends her preference for Argentinian folkloric music (pg 145). Like most girls raised in a capitalist democracy (Argentina, Uruguay), Haydée was socialized into dreaming of marriage and children. When she got older, however, even in adolescence, her priority was to one day join the revolutionary struggle in Latin America — this was to remain a focal point for Haydée (pg 145).

At age 18, Haydée was admitted into the United German Socialist Party in the city of Stalinstadt. Due to Haydée's high level of political education and commitment, she was admitted into the UGSP after only a one-year waiting period instead of the mandatory two. This would be the only time in its hystory that this exception would be made (pg 258). Haydée first became familiar with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the struggle in the Sierra Maestra while attending the 5th annual World Youth Festival in the Soviet Union in 1957 (pg 145). Shortly thereafter, she decided she had to go to Cuba and the next two years in Germany were spent organizing for the trip (pg 146). Haydée was confident that in Cuba she'd learn the revolutionary methods with which to liberate Argentina from the imperialist stranglehold (pg 146).

Haydée's participation in Che Guevara's ELN started sometime after arriving in Cuba. She was chosen from among two other Argentinian wimmin living on the island to take part in "Operation Fantasm", which was the code name given to the mission to infiltrate the Bolivian government at the highest levels, as well as to initiate a guerrilla insurgency there (pg 20). At the time Haydée was interviewed for this position, she was working as a German translator for the Cuban Ministry of Education (pg 22). She was also involved with the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the World and the steering committee for the Woman's Federation (pg 22). In addition, Haydée also worked with the Rebel Youth Association, the Young Communist Union, she volunteered in various other serve-the-people type programs and was a member of Cuban Popular Defense Militia (pg 25). The author of this book, who was working in Cuba's Ministry of the Interior at the time and was vice-minister of "political intelligence" as well as one of the people to recruit Haydée for Operation Fantasm after Che himself recommended her, remembers how she swelled with pride whenever she wore her olive green uniform and service weapon (pg 25). Among other useful academic accomplishments of Haydée was her fluency in Spanish, English, German and French (pg 145). She'd also just received a Journalism Degree from Havan University and, at the time of her departure from the GDR, she'd just completed her first year as a philosophy major at Humboldt University in East Berlin (pg 25). It was also around this time Haydée met Carlos Fonseca, the founder and leader of the Nicaraguan Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN), to whom she'd confessed her wish to one day participate in the guerrilla struggle there (pg 25).

After being vetted and being given the role in Operation Fantasm, Haydée began training for her position, which included cryptography and learning how to use various types of communications equipment (pg 27). Haydée was not given any specifics as to her mission other than the fact that she'd be functioning mostly as a technician, but under no circumstances should she rule out the possibility of actively participating in armed struggle (pg 28). At this point, Haydée asked that she'd be allowed to choose her own pseudonym for her mission. She chose the name "Tania" in honor of Zoja Kosmodemjanskaja, a Soviet womyn guerrilla who was killed after being captured and tortured by the Nazis during the German invasion of the USSR (pg 28). Days after her training was complete, she was taken to the Ministry of Industry, where she was met, much to her surprise, by Che himself (pg 28)! After congratulating her on her decision to take up this task, Che informed her that it was not too late to back out, as he understood the gravity of what they were asking her to do. Without hesitation, Tania stated that as a communist, it was her revolutionary duty to carry out whatever task necessary to liberate Latin America from imperialist exploitation (pg 29). Che then gave her his assessment of the political, economic, social and military situation in South America. He condemned Amerikan imperialism for siphoning the region's wealth and for its subordination of Latin American governments who they bought off with only a pittance of what they themselves stole. He then concluded his assessment by telling Tania that you couldn't be a revolutionary unless you were an anti-imperialist (pg 30).

In preparing Tania for her mission, the author shared his views on guerrilla warfare with her. He said that according to his own experience in the Sierra Maestra, it would be very difficult for a guerrilla insurgency in the rural areas to maintain itself and succeed without the support of an organization in the city, especially during the insurgency's early states. Only after the revolutionary movement in the rural areas reached maturity could it then execute military and political operations with independence (pg 32). From a Maoist perspective, however, this political-military line is incorrect. Strategically speaking, it is completely backwards as the peasant masses make up the driving force of any revolutionary movement in agrarian societies. So before moving on with respect to this topic, let us be clear that as Maoists, we disagree with the Cuban political-military strategy known as Focoism. Focoism is defined as:

"The belief that small cells of armed revolutionaries can create the conditions for revolution through their actions. Demonstrated revolutionary victories, the success of the Foci, are supposed to lead the masses to revolution. Focoism often places great emphasis on armed struggle and the immediacy this brings to class warfare. Focoism is different from People's War in that it doesn't promote the mass line as part of guerrilla operations." -From the MIM(Prisons) Glossary

So while as anti-imperialists we have great unity with the national liberation movement that booted U.$. imperialism from Cuba, we also have a variety of criticisms of Focoism, in particular the line being espoused in this book. The line that says only the "urban population" (industrial proletariat & left-wing sections of the petty-bourgeoisie) in a Third World country are advanced enough to lead the revolution is crypto-Trotskyist. The Focoists, while claiming to be communist and claiming to follow in the footsteps of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, in fact prove themselves to disagree with the philosophy of dialectical materialism in practice by attempting to prove external forces as principal both in general and in particular. By relegating the role of the masses as makers of hystory to mere spectators in hystory, the Focoists display a lack of faith in the masses and thereby uphold the bourgeoisie theory of hystory which they also claim to struggle against in their individualist attempts to bring about revolution. The Focoist political-military line upheld by the author is therefore anti-Marxist, anti-dialectical materialist, anti-communist and contradicts the entire hystorical process ever since the emergence of classes and class struggle. It is no wonder that Focoism has never succeeded in defeating imperialism anywhere in the world with the exception of Cuba. Indeed the Cuban example has been the exception and not the rule when it comes to the revolutionary transformation of society.

On the other hand, if we look at all three major stages of the Chinese Revolution: from the war of independence against Japan; to the revolutionary war that ousted the KMT from China, including Amerikan, British and French imperialism; to the struggle for New Democracy, we can see how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of Mao Zedong struggled shoulder-to-shoulder with the masses in order to build dual power from inside the revolutionary base areas from which they were able to encroach upon, encircle and challenge the cities of China. This revolutionary war strategy is called People's War and it is the model for national liberation struggles all throughout the Third World in the era of dying imperialism.

Once her training was complete, Tania's handlers were confident she was more than prepared to fulfill her role. They believed that during the course of her training, she'd displayed many new character traits: hate for the enemy, firm ideological grasp of the revolutionary task at hand, discipline, vigilance, a disposition towards sacrifice in victory without any personal ambition or gain and satisfaction in completing her mission (pg 42). Tania soon departed for Prague under the alias "Maria Iriarte" from Argentina (pg 62).

Once in Prague, she was briefed on the next stage of her mission by Czech agents working in tandem with Cuban intelligence. Tania then travelled to Italy and then to the Federal Republic of Germany, also known as West Germany, which was split at the time between U.$., Briti$h and French imperialism. Tania's objective here was to deepen her cover as Maria Iriarte so that she may then establish herself as “Vittoria Pancini” of Italian origin (pg 62). It was in the course of these trips that Tania was finally confronted with the on-the-ground reality of capitalism and the class distinctions between the developed West and the under-developed Third World. Here Tania was able to witness the existence of poverty alongside the opulence that characterized the West; the egoism of western society and various other social ills she'd only learned about in school and her studies of Marxism. Whereas many people newly arrived in imperialist countries have swooned at the sight of such riches, Tania on the other hand found that her resolve was only strengthened (pg 63). After a few months in West Germany, Tania was sent to Italy to create another persona, that of "Laura Gutierrez Bauer", also from Argentina (pg 79).

On 5 November 1964, after returning to Italy from West Germany, Tania arrived in Peru by way of Argentina on her next stop to La Paz, Bolivia (pg 82). This is where Tania really proved her powers as a Cuban spy. Through her connections she'd established with the Argentine embassy as "Laura", she was able to infiltrate the Bolivian dictator, General Ramon Barrientos's inner circle. Near the end of 1964, Tania managed to get herself invited to a special banquet breakfast for Gen. Barrientos, where she had a conversation with him and even had pictures taken together (pg 84). Following this event, Tania abandoned her residence at Hotel La Paz and moved into the guest house belonging to Alicia Dupley Zamara, the wife of an important cement factory administrator. From here, Tania was able to stockpile connections deep within the Bolivian bourgeoisie as well as with various right-wing leaders and organizations, reactionary Christian social-democrats and pro-fascist organizations (pg 35). Next, Tania began to embed herself into various government agencies, such as the Office of Criminal Investigations, where she was able to collect information on the extent of Amerikan imperialism's penetration into the Bolivian penal and judicial system. She also gathered intelligence on the local jail in La Paz known simply as "the Panopticon" (pg 89).

Afterwards, Tania left Bolivia for Mexico City, where she was to meet a member of Cuban intelligence who informed her of her next mission and congratulated her for a job well-done. Tania had accomplished far more than anyone expected. She was also informed that she'd been voted in absentia into the Cuban "Communist" Party* (pg 76).

The next stage of Tania's mission was to gain Bolivian citizenship so as to better facilitate her cover and role in the Bolivian urban insurgency. She was to be Che's eyes and ears in the Bolivian government. Tania gained citizenship by marriage to a Bolivian university student, Mario Martinez (pg 105). On 31 December 1966, Tania met with Che in the ELN's base camp in the Bolivian mountains for the first time since leaving Cuba. By all accounts it was a joyous reunion and Tania celebrated the 9th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution with the ELN guerrillas. Two days later, Tania left camp with explicit orders from Che not to return to the camp and to refrain from any illegal activities that might blow her cover. However, on 19 March 1967, Che was angered to receive news that Tania had returned to camp. In Tania's defense, she stated there was no other member of the incipient urban insurgency she yet trusted enough to deliver fresh soldiers to the ELN, which was the task Tania was carrying out at the time. The timing, however, could not have been worse as the ELN had just suffered the desertion of two volunteers (pg 113). Che immediately ordered Tania to return to the city. Before she could leave, however, they received information that the Bolivian Army was aware of the ELN's location and were on the hunt. On 23 March 1967 combat operations began when, during the course of an ambush initiated by the Bolivian military, seven government soldiers were killed and 14 were taken prisoner. Four days later, news reached the camp that Tania's cover might have been blown when government officials announced over the radio that they were looking for someone matching Tania's description with links to the ELN. Around this same time the Bolivian police found identification belonging to a "Laura Gutierrez" inside of a jeep of a home they'd raided in search of possible connections to the ELN (pg 118).

On 31 August 1967 "Tania the guerrilla" was killed by government soldiers during an ambush along the edges of the Rio Grande. According to the only surviving member of the ELN, the group were trying to march out of the zone known as the Bella Vista mountain range where the military was attempting to confine Tania's unit, which had split off from Che's. As Tania knelt down to touch the water a single shot rang out. Tania had been shot through the arm. She immediately lifted her arm over her head to reach for the M1 slung over her back, when she suddenly collapsed. The single bullet traversed her arm and hit one of her lungs. Tania fell into the Rio Grande and was swept away by the current as shots raced back and forth between the ELN and the Bolivian Army (pg 124). Tania's body was found three days later by government troops (pg 125). On 8 October 1967, Che Guevara was taken prisoner and summarily executed the following day (pg 126). The bodies of all 33 fallen ELN guerrillas would then be disappeared by government troops and would not be found for nearly 30 years, when retired Bolivian general Mario Vargas Salinas confessed to Jon Lee Anderson the true location of Che Guevara's remains (pg 132).

As late as 2005, the people of Vallegrande, near the site where Tania was killed and where her remains were last seen, still held a special Mass every Sunday for Tania the guerrilla (pg 138). Until the dissolution of the GDR in 1990, there existed more than 200 juvenile brigades and "feminist" groups with the name Haydée Tamar Bunke Bider. Day care centers and elementary schools also bore her name in the GDR (pg 261). Today, with the temporary triumph of imperialism in Germany, none of these are still around. In Cuba, up until 1998, there were many collectives and various other institutions with either the name Tamara Bunke or Tania the guerrilla. And in Bolivia, the name Tania remains very popular for girls. In Nicaragua and Chile there also existed until 1998 many institutions and organizations with any variety of Tania's names and aliases (pg 261).

It was Tania's mother's last wish that Tania's remains be laid to rest alongside her fallen comrades whenever she was found. On 30 December 1998 Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider; alias Maria Iriarte; alias Vitorria Pancini; alias Laura Gutierrez Bauer; alias Tania the guerrilla finally arrived to the Ernesto Che Guevara Memorial in Santa Clara, Cuba, where she remains today (pg 273).

The role of wimmin in the annals of revolutionary struggle are not confined to a few noteworthy names such as Tania the guerrilla. From the Maoist struggle of the Naxalbari currently playing out outside the cities and urban areas of India, where guerrilla wimmin battalions and guerrilla units led by wimmin are some of the most feared by government troops, to the overwhelming amount of leadership positions held by wimmin in the Communist Party of Peru (aka "Shining Path") in the era of Gonzalo, to the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies of the U.$. empire, wimmin will remain a vital component in the struggle for socialism-communism — this is what Mao meant when he said "wimmin hold up half the sky."

Indeed, the most effective road forward has already been paved. Revolutionary accomplishments should be viewed as the product of many peoples' collective labor and not just a select few. Anyone attracted to the Focoist theory of revolution need only look at the hystories of oppressed peoples' movements everywhere and learn from practice. What has been more successful – Maoism or Focoism? The relationship between mass movements and the individuals leading them is a dialectical one and neither can carry out the task of revolution without the other.

¡Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

*The Communist Party of Cuba is the ruling pary in Cuba today, which is only communist in name. The Cuban revolution that overthrew the Batista regime was also not a communist one. Fidel Castro had moved away from Marxism-Leninism towards a more national democratic orientation leading up to the revolution. The governing party that Castro and others formed after the revolution was renamed the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965, 6 years after the revolution, under the influence of the then revisionist Soviet Union. Cuba had become a client of the Soviet Union, which turned off the socialist path after Stalin's death in 1953 and the rise of Kruschev who began the attack on Stalin's socialist policies.
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[Theory] [Cuba] [ULK Issue 54]
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Revolutionaries Must Adapt to Change for Success

Every popular movement is confronted with a common obstacle: change. As life progresses, it evolves in a never-ending forward trajectory. Because of this fact, the current questions, problems and circumstances facing the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement will never be the exact same problems in the future as they are today. This is an undeniable fact. As comrade Mao faced different variations of imperialist opposition than those faced by Comrades Stalin, Lenin and Marx, so too does the current struggle and fight for communism face distinctly different obstacles.

Tactics and strategy are the only effective measures against an ever-evolving foe. Every popular movement has set down tactics and strategies for overcoming determined opposition and many have adhered to them uncompromisingly, to the fatal detriment of their movement. Inflexibility, lack of progressive and innovative thinking, an unbending determination to follow a set course and finally stagnation. All cancerous to a movement.

History gives us examples of movements that have failed for lack of adaption and others that have survived by adapting. The Cuban wars for Independence are examples of the latter. Beginning in 1868, the Ten Years War began in earnest, led by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes. As their reality changed so too did their tactics and strategies. There were three major stages to the struggle that lasted over 30 years. La Guerra Chiquita in 1879 (the Small War) was the second, followed by the Spanish -Cuban-American War (1895) which ended in 1889. In each stage there were new leaders; Antonio Maceo, José Martí, Calixto García, Máximo Gomez and others. These revolutionaries never stopped evolving and adapting to the reality of their circumstances.

This Cuban example is one that should be followed as it leads to success. Overwhelming opposition, oppression, and outright violence assailed these revolutionaries. Yet, they prevailed, overthrowing the imperial yoke that burdened them for so long. Those struggling for communism must do the same: adapt and be both reactive and proactive. Tactics and movement strategy are not principles, they can be and should be changed according to the present reality. Only fundamental principles are set in stone and uncompromising. Tactics are meant to confront specific circumstances. Yesterday's tactics will not solve tomorrow's problems. Evaluating circumstances, employing tactics and strategy, re-evaluating and employing new tactics and strategies must be a part of any anti-imperialist/capitalist movement. Without adaptability failure is inevitable.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's main point that the revolutionary movement must be adaptable to current conditions and obstacles. We have overarching political line that is the theory behind our work, but then we develop strategies from this line which match current conditions in the world. And from those strategies we implement tactics suited to our day-to-day work.

The history of the Cuban revolutionary movement does provide some good examples of adapting to conditions, such as the period highlighted by this writer. Cuba in more recent years also provides us with some examples of strategic mistakes and failure to correctly account for conditions. The Cuban revolutionary strategy led by Castro missed out on some important global conditions that should have impacted their strategy, and thus ultimately failed to learn from history. The end result was a dependence on the social-imperialist Soviet Union that held back the development of Cuba and forced them into some counter-revolutionary actions and policies. Maoism was alive and well in the world at the time of the Cuban revolution but they did not learn from the successes and failures of China's experience. The Soviet Union had already given up on socialism and was building a state capitalist system when Cuba became dependent on trade in a way that mirrored imperialist countries' relationships with their satellite colonies, keeping Cuba from diversifying crops and forcing Cuban troops to fight Moscow's battles in Third World countries.

Notes: For more on the Cuban revolution, send us $5 or equivalent work trade for a copy of MIM Theory #4: A Spiral Trajectory, the failure and success of communist development
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[Spanish] [Cuba] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 48]
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El Objetivo del Imperialismo Estadounidense Buscando Aliviar Tensiones con Cuba: Conveniencia Económica

Los E$tados Unido$ y Cuba recientemente acordaron restaurar sus lazos diplomáticas después de medio siglo de hostilidad, tomando pasos para finalizar uno de los últimos enfrentamientos en el mundo de la Guerra Fría. El anunciamiento del Presidente Obama, hecho en coordinación con el Presidente Raúl Castro, declaró que estos países alejados por largo tiempo volverán a comenzar cooperaciones en una serie de temas económicos y de viaje y el restablecimiento de la embajada Amerikana en La Habana, la cual fue cerrada después de la revolución Cubana en 1961.

Aunque la Revolución Cubana fue un golpe contra del imperialismo Amerikano, el cual mantuvo bajo llave a la economía Cubana, Cuba se volvió dependiente del estado capitalista de la Unión Soviética después de la revolución de 1959. Para entonces una nueva burguesía había subido en la Unión Soviética y se había alejado de su orientación socialista hacia el estado capitalista. En vez de construir socialismo en Cuba, Castro y su gobierno terminaron por construir una colonia satélite de la Unión Soviética.(1)

El rechazo Amerikano de asociarse con Cuba fue una reacción al exitoso alto de la denominación Amerikana de parte de la gente Cubana y una concesión a los tantos inmigrantes Cubanos ricos que se fugaron a los EE.UU. después de la revolución, en vez de una postura política seria. Los imperialistas Amerikanos no han dudado en asociarse con gobiernos y países que son fuertemente anti-Amerikanos cuando los beneficios económicos de la relación son imperiosos.

Los recientes cambios de póliza forjan lazos económicas significantes entre los dos países permitiéndole a instituciones financieras de EE.UU. abrir cuentas con contrapartes Cubanas, facilitando restricciones en la exportación de equipo agrícolas y telecomunicaciones a Cuba, permitiendo que los ciudadanos Amerikanos usen tarjetas de crédito y débito en la isla. El mayor alzamiento a corto plazo de los cambios vendrá por remesas, las cuales permitirá a los parientes de Cubanos mandar $2,000 al mes a sus tierra natal, que del limite presente de $500. Las remesas son la fuente más grande de ingreso económico de la isla. En efectivo y productos (aparatos y ropa), cuentan por 5100 millones de dólares al año en ingresos, casi el doble de lo del turismo que cuenta por unos 2600 millones de dólares.(2)

Los beneficios inmediatos para el país son obvios. El gobierno Cubano reportó que el crecimiento económico para el 2014 fue al rededor de 1.4%, y que aproximadamente 40,000-50,000 Cubanos emigraron en el año pasado. Por razones económicas, Cuba está hambrienta por efectivo, y su mayor socio de comercio, Venezuela, está enfrentando una crisis económica debido a la reciente caída de precios del aceite. Los analistas dicen que la posibilidad de perder la ayuda Venezolana tal vez jugó un papel en el alcance del acuerdo con los EE.UU.

Abundan Oportunidades de Negocios

La restauración de lazos comerciales beneficiará a la economía EE.UU., permitiéndole a compañías unirse a otros países que han operado por décadas en Cuba y hecho sus propias incursiones capitalistas, como Canadá y estados miembros de la Unión Europea. Agricultores Amerikanos, ya ayudados con el levantamiento parcial del embargo a productos de agrícolas, tendrán nuevas oportunidades de exportación. A pesar de las fuertes regulaciones y limitaciones estrictas, las exportaciones de productos agrícolas Amerikanos a Cuba crecieron de 4 millones de dólares en el 2001 a 547 millones de dolares en el 2010.

Grupos que van desde la Agencia de la Federación Agricola Amerikana (Amerikan Farm Bureau Federation) hasta la cámara de comercio de los EE.UU. apoyan fuertemente el levantamiento del embargo porque ven a Cuba como a un mercado de exportación significante. Las oportunidades abundan en otras partes, como en la telecomunicación, la reventa, el turismo, y recursos naturales. "Cuba necesita todo lo que hacemos en los Estados Unidos," dijo el director de relaciones del gobierno de Caterpillar, Inc. La compañía espera pronto instalar una concesionaria en Cuba. "Hemos estado pidiendo una póliza nueva hacia Cuba por 15 años." Compañías de hospitalidad Amerikanas también están deseosos de hacer negocios en Cuba cuando puedan. "El minuto que sea disponible, estaremos allá," se reportó que dijo el Jefe Ejecutivo Oficial de Choice Hotels Internacional, Inc.(3)

Todo esto es evidencia del sistema capitalista en Cuba. Las compañías Amerikanas quieren acceso a este mercado que corporaciones basadas en otros países han estado disfrutando por años.

De Yanqui a Imperialismo - Social Soviético: Negligencia de Alternativas Socialistas

Con la revolución de 1959, Cuba buscó desmantelar la hegemonía económica que los EE.UU. tenía sobre el país. La nacionalización parcial de ciertos sectores de la economía, seguida por confiscaciones completas de propiedades de propietarios extranjeros, fueron enfrentadas con fuerte oposición de EE.UU., pues muchos ciudadanos Amerikanos mantenían grandes inversiones allí. El tres de enero de 1961, el Presidente de EE.UU. Dwight D. Eisenhower rompió relaciones diplomáticas con Cuba después de que Castro culpó a la embajada Amerikana en La Habana de ser un centro de actividades contra-revolucionarias en el país. En febrero de 1962, el Presidente John F. Kennedy proclamó un embargo en la mayoría del comercio de los EE.UU. con Cuba. La economía Cubana en ese tiempo estaba en serio peligro. Las plantas industriales, confiscadas después de la revolución y ahora en un estado destartalado, necesitaban los materiales principales para seguir operando. Partes para los equipos de las fábricas y vehículos motorizados hechas en EE.UU. ya no estaban disponibles. Las cosechas eran pobres, y la racionalización de alimentos inició en marzo de 1962. En contra de este foro, Cuba firmó un acuerdo de comercio con la Unión Soviética por 700 millones de dólares, seguido por un crédito de 100 millones de dólares y un acuerdo de entregar una gran porción de azúcar dos años atrás. A mediados de julio de ese mismo año, miles de consultantes económicas y militares iban en su camino hacia a la isla.

Aunque fue un mejoramiento sobre el estado neo-colonial que tenía bajo EE.UU, la nueva alianza que Cuba forjó con la Unión Soviética fue apenas simbiótica en naturaleza. Esta relación con deudas-pendientes también afectó a Castro en su manejo para diversificar la economía Cubana atravéz de industrialización, cual al último comprobó ser sin éxito. Históricamente, la cosecha mas valiosa de Cuba ha sido la caña de azúcar. Bajo la tutela de EE.UU, más de la mitad de la tierra de cultivo era dedicada a esta cosecha para exportarla a los mercados de EE.UU. Poca cambió después de la revolución, y la azúcar contaba por casi dos tercios de todos los réditos de exportaciones. Esta gran dependencia en una sola cosecha continuó a obstruyendo la economía Cubana. Cuba necesitaba azúcar para cumplir su tratado de comercio con la Unión Soviética y sus aliados, y como resultado, su diversificación agricultura y su habilidad de alimentar a su gente sufrió. La economía de Cuba se mantuvo estancada, y se volvió muy dependiente en la ayuda Soviética. Eventualmente con la caída del bloque Soviético, Cuba fue herida económicamente severamente.

Además, la ayuda material dado a Cuba fue inferior en calidad, y no estaba equipada para las necesidades y condiciones climáticas del país Caribeño. La abrogación temprana de revolución violenta por todo Latinoamerica de Castro lo puse en desventaja y debilitó las relaciones de Cuba con la Unión Soviética. Los Soviéticos por su parte acortar la ayuda económica cada que el gobierno de Cuba cruzara la raya, como fue el caso cuando Cuba se opuso a la invasión y de Checoslovaquia por la Unión Soviética y sus países en 1968. Después de una ronda torciendo en brazo económica, Castro tomo una estancia más neutral.

A diferencia de una aparente cooperación económica de la Soviética-revisionista, la linea de China comunista en esa época en consideración a la ayuda material y financiera socialista estaba basado en cooperación mutua y aconsejó que debería hacerse a la medida de la necesidad de ambos países con la meta hacia una economía auto-suficiente. De ninguna manera debería de ser condicional y llevar altos intereses, lo cual perpetúa el cielo de endeudamiento en el país recipiente. La ayuda de material debería de ser de primera calidad y no anticuado tecnológicamente. También deberá servir sus condiciones materiales. Implementaciones agrícolas Soviéticos exportadas a Cuba, por ejemplo, causaron mucho daño en los campos de caña de azúcar.

¿Principios Socialistas?

En el último discurso sobre el tema de normalización de relaciones, el Presidente Raúl Castro dijo que Cuba "no dejará sus principios socialistas." A pesar de su aserción nosotros contendemos que él y Fidel ya lo habían hecho desde 1961. Ellos aceptaron la falacia de que uno no puede tener producción sin incentivo, instituyendo varias medidas agrarias y industriales del estilo Soviético, como la implementación de incentivos de trabajo y diferenciales de sueldos para alzar mejor las cuotas de producción. Viendo las implementaciones de Mao Zedong de los incentivos morales para recompensar los logros de producción por encima de lo normal de la fuerza laboral en China, pudieron haber sido una alternativa viable a esta. La lucha de clases también fue puesta al margen con su enfoque en rendimiento económico como medida del éxito del país en construir socialismo, la cual constituye un fracaso de deshacerse de la teoría de las fuerzas productivas - una póliza que ha llevado a muchas revoluciones socialistas a sus perdiciones revisionistas.

Esta es una razón crítica por el cual la Revolución Cultural en China representa el mayor avance hacia el comunismo en la historia: teorías y prácticas capitalistas no van a desaparecer así nada más bajo el socialismo y deben de ser combatidos activamente. De otra manera una nueva burguesía se levantará desde las fuerzas proletarias anteriores y intentarán tomar el poder en contra de los intereses de las masas. Esto pasó en la Unión Soviética, y su trato a Cuba demuestra claramente como los capitalistas del estado ignoraron las necesidades de la gente cubana.

Desde que Raúl Castro tomó el control de su hermano Fidel en el 2008, el gobierno Cubano se ha tomado una serie de reformas económicas tentativas para mover al país de un estado capitalista de cuadro a un sistema capitalista totalmente desarrollado.

Manteniendo Solidaridad con Cuba en Perspectiva

Habiendo soportado siglos de repetidas intrusiones imperialistas, Cuba se les ha ingeniado para alcanzar un grado de independencia y soberanía sobre sus asuntos. Apoyamos el derecho de auto-determinación de Cuba, y aplaudimos el notable éxito del gobierno Cubano de proveer servicios educativos y médicos a todos los segmentos de la sociedad Cubana. La estancia anti-imperialista de Cuba en una serie de asuntos se mantiene fuerte, y en una confrontación con imperialismo, Cuba se merece nuestro apoyo. Más sin embargo Cuba no es socialista, y la gente de Cuba sabe que su gobierno hasta este punto de su historia no es un gobierno revolucionario, sino un pragmático. Es nuestra esperanza que la gente de Cuba experimenten un florecimiento de conciencia revolucionaria y que se organicen por sus derechos en los años venideros conforme la intrusión capitalista pone a su país en la mira para futura explotación económica.

Notas: 1. Para más historia de Cuba ver el capítulo 5 de MIM Theory 4: A Spiral Trajectory: The Failure and Success of Communist Development. 2. "Cubans Differ Over Impact, Focus on Economy," Wall Street Journal, 19 Diciembre, 2014. 3. "U.S. Firms Examine New Ties," Wall Street Journal, 18 Diciembre, 2014.
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[Cuba] [USSR] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 43]
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The Objective of U.S. Imperialism in Seeking Cuban Detente: Economic Expediency

The United States and Cuba recently agreed to restore diplomatic ties after a half-century of hostility, taking steps toward ending one of the world's last Cold War standoffs. President Obama's announcement, made in coordination with President Raúl Castro, stated that these long-estranged countries would restart cooperation on a range of travel and economic issues and reestablish the American embassy in Havana that closed in 1961 after the Cuban Revolution.

While the Cuban Revolution was a blow against U.$. imperialism, which had a choke-hold on the Cuban economy, after the 1959 revolution Cuba became dependent on the state capitalist Soviet Union. By 1959 a new bourgeoisie had arisen in the Soviet Union and it had turned away from its socialist orientation toward state capitalism. Instead of building socialism in Cuba, Castro and his government ended up building a satellite colony of the USSR.(1) Amerikan refusal to associate with Cuba was a reaction to the Cuban people successfully shutting down Amerikan dominance and a concession to the many wealthy Cuban immigrants who fled to the United $tates after the revolution, rather than a serious political stance. The Amerikan imperialists have not hesitated to associate with governments and countries that are strongly anti-Amerikan when the economic benefits of the relationship are compelling.

The recent policy changes forge significant economic ties between the two countries by allowing U.$. financial institutions to open accounts with Cuban counterparts, easing restrictions on the export of U.$. agricultural and telecommunication gear to Cuba, and permitting U.$. citizens to use credit and debit cards there. The biggest boost in the short-term from the changes will come from remittances, which will now allow relatives of Cubans to send back $2,000 a month to their homeland, up from $500 at the moment. Remittances are the island's leading source of income. In cash and in kind (appliances and clothes), they account for $5.1 billion a year in income, nearly double tourism at $2.6 billion.(2)

The immediate benefits for the country are obvious. The Cuban government reported that economic growth for 2014 was around 1.4%, and an estimated 40,000-50,000 Cubans emigrated in the past year. For economic reasons, Cuba is starved for cash, and its biggest trading partner, Venezuela, is facing an economic crisis due to the recent plunge in oil prices. Analysts say the possibility of losing Venezuelan aid likely played a role in reaching an agreement with the United $tates.

Business Opportunities Abound

Restoring trade ties will benefit the U.$. economy, allowing companies to join other countries which have operated for decades in Cuba and made their own capitalist inroads, such as Canada and European Union member-states. U.$. farmers, already helped by a partial lifting of the embargo for agricultural goods, will have new export opportunities. Despite heavy regulation and strict limitations, U.$. exports of agricultural goods to Cuba grew to $547 million in 2010 from $4 million in 2001.

Groups ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation to the U.$. Chamber of Commerce strongly support a lifting of the embargo because they see Cuba as a significant export market. Opportunities abound elsewhere, such as in telecommunication, retail, tourism, and natural resources. "Cuba needs everything we make in the United States," said the global government affairs director for Caterpillar, Inc. The company hopes to soon install a dealership in Cuba. "We've been calling for a new policy toward Cuba for 15 years." U.$. hospitality companies also are eager to do business in Cuba when they can. "The minute it's available, we'll be down there," the CEO of Choice Hotels International, Inc. was reported as saying.(3)

All this is evidence of the capitalist system in Cuba. U.$. companies want access to this market that corporations based in other capitalist countries have been enjoying for years.

From Yanqui to Soviet Social-Imperialism: Neglect of Socialist Alternatives

With the 1959 revolution, Cuba sought to dismantle the economic hegemony the United $tates had over the country. Partial nationalization of certain sectors of the economy, followed by a complete confiscation of foreign-owned property, were met with stiff U.$. opposition, as many Amerikan citizens held large investments there. On 3 January 1961, U.$. President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba after Castro charged that the U.$. embassy in Havana was the center of counter-revolutionary activities in the country. In February 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on most U.$. trade with Cuba. The Cuban economy at the time was in serious danger. Industrial plants, confiscated after the revolution and now in disrepair, lacked the raw materials to keep operating. Spare parts for factory equipment and motor vehicles made in the United $tates were no longer available. Crop yields were poor, and food rationing began in March 1962. Against this backdrop, Cuba signed a $700 million trade agreement with the Soviet Union, following up on a $100 million credit and agreement to deliver a large procurement of sugar two years earlier. By mid-July of that year, thousands of Soviet military and economic advisors were making their way to the island.

While an improvement over the neo-colonial status it held under the United $tates, the new alliance Cuba had forged with the Soviet Union was hardly symbiotic in nature. This strings-attached relationship also affected Castro's drive to diversify Cuba's economy through industrialization, which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Historically, Cuba's most valuable crop has been sugarcane. Under U.$. tutelage, more than half of the cultivated land was devoted to this crop for export to U.$. markets. Little changed after the revolution, and sugar accounted for almost two-thirds of all export revenues. This heavy dependence on a single crop continued to hinder Cuba's economy. Cuba needed sugar to carry out its trade agreements with the Soviet Union and its allies, and as a result, agricultural diversification and the ability to feed its own people suffered. Cuba's economy remained stagnant, and became heavily dependent on Soviet aid. With the eventual collapse of the Soviet bloc, Cuba was severely wounded economically.

Furthermore, the material aid given to Cuba was inferior in quality, and was not geared towards the needs and climatic conditions of the Caribbean country. Castro's early advocacy of violent revolution throughout Latin America put it at odds with and weakened Cuba's relations with the Soviet Union. The Soviets in turn would curtail economic aid whenever the Cuban government stepped too far out of line, as was the case when Cuba opposed its and the Soviet bloc countries' invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. After a round of economic arm-twisting, Castro took a more neutral stance.

Unlike the socialist veneer of Soviet-revisionist economic cooperation, communist China's line at the time in regard to socialist financial and material aid had its basis in mutual cooperation and advised that it should be tailored to the needs of both countries with an aim towards economic self-sufficiency. In no way should it be conditional and carry high interest, which perpetuates the cycle of indebtedness in the recipient country. Material aid should be of first-rate quality and not technologically outdated. It should also suit their material conditions. Soviet agricultural implements exported to Cuba, for instance, did much damage to sugarcane fields.

Socialist Principles?

In his latest speech on the subject of normalization of relations, President Raúl Castro stated that Cuba "will not give up its socialist principles." Despite his assertion, we contend that he and Fidel had already done so by 1961. They embraced the fallacy that you cannot get production without incentive, instituting many Soviet-styled agrarian and industrial measures such as the implementation of work incentives and wage differentials to better boost production quotas. Looking to Mao Zedong's implementation of moral incentives to reward the workforce in China for overachievements in production could have been a viable alternative to this. The class struggle was also sidelined with their focus on economic output as a gauge of their country's success in building socialism, which constitutes a failure to do away with the theory of productive forces — a policy which has led many a socialist revolution to its revisionist perdition.

This is a critical reason why the Cultural Revolution in China represents the furthest advance towards communism in history: capitalist theories and practices will not just disappear under socialism and must be actively combatted. Otherwise a new bourgeoisie will arise from within former proletarian forces and attempt to take power against the interests of the masses. This happened in the Soviet Union, and their treatment of Cuba demonstrates clearly the state capitalists ignoring the needs of the Cuban people.

Since Raúl Castro took over from his brother Fidel in 2008, the Cuban government has undertaken a series of tentative economic reforms to move the country away from the state capitalist framework to a full-fledged capitalist system.

Keeping Solidarity with Cuba in Perspective

Having endured centuries of repeated imperialist encroachment, Cuba has managed to attain a degree of independence and sovereignty over its affairs. We support Cuba's right to self-determination, and applaud the Cuban government's notable success in providing educational and medical services to all segments of Cuban society. Cuba's anti-imperialist stance on a range of issues remains strong, and in a confrontation with imperialism, Cuba deserves our backing. Yet Cuba is not socialist, and the Cuban people know that their government at this point in its history is not a revolutionary government, but a pragmatic one. It is our hope that the people of Cuba will experience a blossoming of revolutionary consciousness and organize for their rights in the coming years as capitalist encroachment places their country in the cross-hairs of further economic exploitation.


Notes:
1. For more history of Cuba see Chapter 5 of MIM Theory 4: A Spiral Trajectory: the Failure and Success of Communist Development.
2. "Cubans Differ Over Impact, Focus on Economy," Wall Street Journal, 19 December 2014.
3. "U.S. Firms Examine New Ties," Wall Street Journal, 18 December 2014.

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