Fidel Castro Death 5th Anniversary:
For Workers’ Democracy and International Solidarity to Defend Cuban Revolution
On Thursday November 25, it was the fifth anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro, the leader of the 1959 Cuba Revolution. He led the 26th of July Movement in a determined and relentless struggle against dictatorship and oligarchy. This culminated in a victory on January 1, 1959 over the tyrannical Batista regime which was backed by United States Imperialism. This victory was achieved with militant guerrilla efforts but was consummated by a general strike of the Cuban Labour Movement. This shows the central role that the working people can have in substantially achieving a social change. However, Castro’s original idea of the revolution was not to break from capitalism but to establish a “progressive capitalism”. It was the hostile reaction of the US imperialism that forced the revolution in an anti-capitalist direction.
By Omole Ibukun, National Committee member, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
Over decades the Cuban revolution has recorded tremendous successes in medicine, education and healthcare. This was made possible by the Cuban planned economy despite its limitations including lack of workers democracy and the leadership’s top-down methods on key issues. This success was highlighted through the interventions of Cuban doctors in the third world and recently through the intervention of the Cuban doctors on the COVID-19 pandemic. This was made possible by free healthcare and free education, as opposed to capitalism’s general reliance on so-called free markets and private companies providing services.
The recent slowdown of the progress of the Cuban Revolution and developing internal crisis is due to two factors. Firstly, a planned economy needs to be democratically planned or else it starts to be stifled by top down and bureaucratic methods as it becomes more complicated. A democratically planned economy can only be built on the basis of worker’s democracy.
Secondly the sanctions of US Imperialism on Cuba affect the potentials of the Cuban Revolution. Working class people and socialists should mobilise internationally against such imperialist sanctions. It is the international solidarity that could counteract the US embargo on Cuba. For years Castro relied on support from the former USSR and also to a much lesser extent during the period of Chavez when Cuba enjoyed Venezuela’s support with cheap oil. However, workers’ democracy and democratic workers’ control and management of the nationalized economy could have mitigated the effects of these sanctions even they are not totally eliminated.
It is in this context of limitations due to bureaucracy and lack of workers democracy, and even the attacks on democratic rights that the Cuba revolution has to be criticized. For instance, while the US Imperialism has continued the attempt to sponsor unrest within the Cuban society, it is this lack of workers’ democracy that gave the US imperialism the fertile ground to plant those seeds on.
It is the lack of democratic rights that led to the silencing of socialist as well as pro-capitalist oppositions within the Cuban political space and also that has made it impossible for the centre to hold in Cuba since the Castro brothers left power.
The massive protest that rocked Cuba in July underscores the craving for a change by the working people. It was not every protester who was influenced or mobilised by US Imperialism’s agents or propaganda unlike the argument of the Cuba regime. Many protesters were genuinely drawn to the arena by the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic but worsened by bureaucratic methods and wrong policies as well as the quest for the respect of democratic rights.
Given the stark failure of capitalism around them in Latin America it is not automatic for majority of Cuban population to support capitalist restoration. However, to prevent the possibility of the propaganda or condition for capitalist restoration, especially illusions in gaining US aid, gaining traction it is necessary to fight for the establishment of a real system of democratic workers’ control and management, and for democratic rights. For instance, there is need to end the one-party system, with the rights of all socialists and the people to organize political parties and groups, if they reject taking up arms to support US imperialism or capitalist restoration.
Capitalist restoration in Cuba will completely erode the gains of the Cuba revolution and also constitute a setback for the struggle for socialism internationally including in Nigeria. So, socialists and working-class people in Nigeria and elsewhere must not only support the struggle against imperialist intervention in Cuba but also support the enthronement of democratic workers’ control and management of the nationalized economy in Cuba and respect of democratic rights. This must be side by side with the building of mass revolutionary movement for the enthronement of socialist working people governments especially in Latin America and globally.
For more on Castro and recent developments in Cuba read: