Cuba

Nationalism or class solidarity?

Fire Brigades Union activist and National Officer Riccardo la Torre spoke to Sacha Ismail. *** Yesterday we had “Victory in Europe” day, and a lot of nationalism. What are your thoughts on it? Well, first off I’m angry that workers are dying because they’re at work and aren’t given proper protection, and yet the same “leaders” responsible want us waving Union Jacks. There’s immediate reasons to be angry too, because the day itself created a lot of unsafe conditions. I’ve seen blokes out selling Union Jacks and pictures of the Queen – which makes the political agenda of it all pretty clear, but...

Bernie Sanders' Cuba problem

As the possibility grows of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination for President, his opponents are looking for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. This shouldn’t be difficult, as Sanders has been politically active for some six decades. Surely he has written or said something embarrassing during that period. But after trawling through the various archives, they have found very little to work with. Until now. Last week, the attention of the mainstream media focussed on things that Sanders had said about Cuba in the past. It seems that many years ago, Sanders made reference to two...

Unofficial protest in Cuba

On 11 May, an unofficial Pride protest in Cuba was disrupted by the Cuban police, with some violence, and several activists were detained at the protest or in the run-up. Nevertheless, around 300 people, many of them young, joined the protest with slogans including “Viva gay marriage”, “A diverse Cuba”, and “Yes, we can.” It was the first time in many years that a civil society protest has gone ahead in Cuba without a permit. On 8 May, the 12th annual Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia, run by the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), had been cancelled because of supposed...

Industrial news in brief

At its 28 February meeting, the National Executive of the NEU (National Education Union), the country’s fourth largest trade union considered a proposal to support two separate international delegations in the coming year. Following a pattern established by the NUT, the countries chosen were Palestine and Cuba. Before the amalgamation which created the NEU, delegations to these parts of the world became a more or less annual event in the NUT. Many union members and activists would like to see the NEU spread its solidarity a bit wider. There is a case for ensuring that the spotlight is kept on...

No excuses for Cuban labour fronts

Bernard Reagan, national secretary of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, has eulogised the Cuban ″trade unions″ in a laughable piece of semi-Stalinist sophistry (Morning Star, 9 February). Reagan makes out that Cuban workers have been struggling continuously since the Cuban Workers’ Confederation was founded in 1939. It is true that workers fought to overthrow the dictator Batista during the 1950s – something every socialist supports. The disagreement comes after the Castro movement took over and linked up with the old (Stalinist) Communist Party. In early 1959, workers replaced the old union...

Socialism is not Cuba

Fidel Castro’s 26 July Movement overthrew the corrupt Batista regime, and took power in Cuba sixty years ago, at the start of January 1959. The early period of the Castro regime improved social provision and living standards for the poorest in Cuba. Increasingly it did that while also suppressing the independent trade unions and political pluralism which existed, even though harassed and weak, under Batista. Sixty years later, the Morning Star is celebrating and excusing Cuba’s lack of democracy. It is pointedly silent about the economic inequality which has grown there since the Cuban...

With the Cuban workers, not the Cuban police state!

(The following text was printed as a leaflet; that leaflet was ripped up by the organisers of the Cuba Solidarity fringe meeting to whom it was addressed, in a half-hearted attempt to emulate the Cuban police state...) A Letter to Delegates It is a disgrace that over the last two years the National Union of Teachers [now National Education Union] has spent £48 000 subsidising delegates on “solidarity” visits to Cuba. This is an enormous waste of money, and politically it is positively harmful, too. Cuba is a police state with no free elections, free speech or free trade unions. ‘Solidarity’...

Letters

I’m entirely with David Pendletone (Solidarity 452) that we should seek to win the labour movement and the Labour Party to a programme for a workers’ Europe. But what if we fail to win a majority for that before March 2019? We should assume no “inevitability of gradualness”. But even if we, around Solidarity, increase our forces twenty-fold in the next year — twenty times more activists, twenty times more readers, twenty times more influence — we may not win Labour conference 2018 to that programme. And, even if we do, a workers’ Europe is not a programme that can realised by action in one...

Letters

I agree with the front page and the vast majority of the editorial "Stop Brexit" (Solidarity 451). However, I disagree that revolutionary socialists should advocate a second referendum. Unlike the situation with the first referendum, I don’t think we should necessarily oppose others who call for a referendum or oppose a referendum if it is called, but we ill serve our politics by championing the demand. As the editorial recognises, referenda are “a poor form of democracy”. In a second referendum our politics: for a workers’ Europe, more democracy within the EU and a levelling up of benefits...

Cuba: the role of the working class

What role did the Cuban working class play in the 1959 revolution? This is the key question discussed in Steve Cushion’s provocative book, A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrillas’ Victory, (Monthly Review, 2016). Whilst the book demonstrates the active role workers played in Cuban history during the 1950s, the author is soft on Castroism and inflates the role of the Stalinists. Cuba in the 1950s was ruled by the dictator Fulgencio Batista. His regime was propped up through the trade union bureaucracy, led by Eusebio Mujal, who ruled the Cuban...

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