Revisiting Cuban Revolution

In the late 1950s, Fidel Castro’s July 26 movement overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, in Cuba. US President John Kennedy in February 1962, signed the US policy, now known as the Cuban Embargo into law. Throughout the cold war, Cuban forces acted as military advisers and front line soldiers, across Africa and South America. US President Barack Obama is the 11th US President to face a socialist Cuba. In mid-December 2014, USA announced a series of steps aimed at normalising relations with communist Cuba. USA has opened talks with Cuba about establishing full diplomatic relations and reopening an embassy in Havana. Senator Marco Rubio said the other day the possible ‘Obama-Raul’ agreement includes normalising banking and trade relations. There has been a prisoner swap including three Cuban nationals held in US jails, and Alan Gross, an American development worker who had been in a Cuban prison for five years, on spying charges. The rapprochement between USA and Cuba, which included a telephone call between President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro, was brokered with the help of Canada and Pope Francis.

The United States and Cuba have been locked in hostilities for more than half a century, and Obama is facing, and quite expectedly, howls of protest from the political right and far right in Washington and within the Cuban exile community in Miami for not denying the hard reality of Cuban Revolution.

No doubt, the immediate payoff for Obama was release of Gross (65), whose lawyer and family have described him as mentally vanquished, gaunt, hobbling and missing five teeth.

Gross’s case raised alarms about USAID’s practice of hiring private citizens to carry out secretive assignments for CIA in hostile places. Cuba considers USAID another instrument of continual US harassment dating to the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

For one thing the US administration has already relaxed some restrictions on commerce with Cuba, although bigger steps to end the embargo would require the approval of Congress. Telecom and internet connections between the countries are now permitted. Remittances that Cuban American families can send to the island have been increased. More travel by Americans to Cuba is permitted, and travellers are allowed to bring back $100 in tobacco and alcohol, including famous Cuban cigars for personal use. US credit and debit cards can be used in Cuba. There have been some mild reforms under Raul Castro who took the mantle from Fidel Castro, in 2008. Under Raul Home and Car sales, and owning mobile phones are legal in Cuba. Thousands of small businesses, and larger groups, arranged as co-operatives, have emerged in Cuba. The US outpost at Guantanamo Bay continues, since 1903, separated from the rest of the island by razor wire and guard towers, and still used as prison for 136 detainees, from the war on terror. USA still sends Cuba a cheque each year for $4085, which has never been encashed by the Castros. The lifting of the US trade embargo on Cuba, is set to flood the island’s stagnated economy with billions of dollars.

The communist left in India never gave any serious thought over Cuban Revolution. Nor did they find any valid reason at any point of time to analyse the inner dynamics of Cuban social reality that thwarted repeated attacks by America to destroy gains of Cuban Revolution from within and from outside. The Cuban Communist Party has serious differences with the Chinese communists over a number of ideological and political issues. But they truly showed the Maoist courage by implementing their independent way of social management with Cuban characteristics and resisting Washington’s aggressive designs for decades while squarely facing and overcoming the adverse impact on the Cuban economy because of sudden termination of preferential Soviet trade ties.

This way or that even Fidel’s bitter critics cannot avoid the compulsion of revisiting Cuban Revolution.

Vol. 47, No. 28, Jan 18 - 24, 2015