The new US-Cuba agreement and
the struggle in defence of the workers’ state
LCFI, Coletivo Lenin and Tendência Revolucionária
Em Português - 28/12/2014
After 18 months of secret talks between the US and Cuba, mediated by Canada and Pope Francis, the two countries held the first gestures of rapprochement in half a century with the release of prisoners that both countries kept from the other. But ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba depends on the US Congress, which must vote on the end of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws. However, those who defend the blockade are the majority of both houses of Congress.
The imperialist state is composed of different fractions of the American bourgeoisie. So, despite their importance, they are social minorities, minor counterrevolutionaries, like Zionism (not to be mechanically confused with Judaism) and the ‘worms’ (gusanos as Fidel Castro called them, the Cuban capitalist counterrevolutionary that fled mainly to Miami when he took power) in the US which maximizes bourgeois deformations of representation in imperialist policy.
For example, Blacks are 13% of the American population, but every cop has the right to strangle and kill an unarmed poor black man, according to the Justice of the richest city in America. The Zionists and the ‘worms’ are partners of the richest 1%, but just like Zionism, these reactionaries may impose its orientation on the White House on certain issues crucial to their interests. Therefore, the overthrow of the imperialist legislative blockade will not be possible while the bourgeoisie reactionaries dominate the right wing of Republicanism. However, we have no doubt that it was the majority consensus of imperialism of the need to contain the influence of Russia and China in Latin America which was brought to bear on the executive and led Obama to make this agreement.
Because of the turn of events in Syria, regions of Ukraine and to a lesser extent worldwide semi-colonialism it was time for Cuba to take advantage of new global correlation of forces created after the crisis of 2008 and the rise of a block of countries orientating towards China and Russia who were also taking advantage of the decline of American imperialism
The Cuban revolution marked a turn in the history of the twentieth century in Latin America. In addition to defeating a pro-US dictatorship in Uncle Sam’s backyard, for the first time in the Western Hemisphere capitalism was expropriated. This allowed a small island with less than a dozen million people to escape the fate of an agricultural colony subservient to the US to proudly show to its population and the world its unprecedented achievements like the elimination of hunger and poverty, an educational system. Its excellent health and medical advances are exported to the rest of oppressed humanity.
Cuba became a workers state after the overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista and the seizure of power by the movement’s guerrilla army on July 26 in 1959. The revolutionary process at first did not have a socialist strategy. Its aims was only the achievement of democratic capitalist tasks such as the end of the dictatorial regime and agrarian reform.
But amid the cold war against the USSR the revolutionary process threw a spotlight on the contradictions between the tiny island and imperialism. It was only when imperialism tried to invade the island in the Bay of Pigs in April 1960 to defeat the new regime that the direction of the revolutionary movement of Castro and Che was finally to complete the expropriation of the multinationals. Then the entire capitalist class departed in droves for Florida. From that time on the ‘worms’ (rats), as they came to be known, have integrated themselves organically with imperialism and had been determining US policy on Cuba up to mow.
This type of overthrow was a definite theoretical possibility recognized by Trotsky in the Transition Program of 1938:
“However, one cannot categorically deny in advance the theoretical possibility that, under the influence of completely exceptional circumstances (war, defeat, financial crash, mass revolutionary pressure, etc.), the petty-bourgeois parties, including the Stalinists, may go further than they themselves wish to a break with the bourgeoisie. In any case, one thing is not to be doubted: even if this highly improbable variant somewhere, at some time, becomes a reality and the workers’ and farmers’ government in the above-mentioned sense is established in fact, it would represent merely a short episode on the road to the actual dictatorship of the proletariat.”
In the Cuban case, the “short episode” lasted between 1959 and 1961. The direction of that Castro’s M-26-7 took involved empirically revolutionary measures, but almost always under imperialist pressure. Che himself, who historically represented the internationalist wing of the Cuban Government, recognizes that the radicalization of the revolution was more conditioned by the imperialist pressure than the socialist convictions of its leaders:
“What lies ahead depends greatly on the United States. With the exception of the agrarian reform, which the people of Cuba desired and initiated themselves, all of our radical measures have been a direct response to direct aggressions by powerful monopolists of which your country is the chief exponent. US pressure on Cuba has made necessary the ‘radicalisation’ of the revolution. To know how much further Cuba will go, it will be easier to ask the US government how far it plans to go.” (La Nación, 6/9/1961).
The Cuban revolution, which was never directed by a revolutionary party, was bureaucratised by its own internal limitations. This process of bureaucratization worsened when the fragile island needed material assistance and appeal to the workers’ state of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR. But soon the principle and the policy of “peaceful coexistence” of Stalinism showed young direction of Cuban State how their Russian allies were unreliable. Che was disillusioned with the USSR government during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, because he felt ‘ betrayed ‘ by Moscow who withdrew their armament from Cuba without warning to the Cuban Government, capitulating US pressure.
THE BLOCKADE AND THE END OF THE USSR FORCED THE BUREAUCRACY TO PRESERVE THE CUBAN WORKERS STATE FOR THEIR OWN SURVIVAL
The policy of isolation and blockade imposed by imperialism from 1962 exercised a powerful counter revolutionary pressure for decades under exceptional condition and that forced Castro to take an oppositional stance in order to defend the new forms of property relations established by the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and imperialism.
For us only the dialectic of these special circumstances explains how being a workers’ state that was weaker than the USSR and China, for example, and as for a long time depending on these “mega workers’ states”, Cuba managed to survive the demise of its sponsors.
These are the elements of these contradictions demonstrated by the following features:
1) Cuba is a workers’ state that didn’t arise from the actions of industrial workers;
2) It is the workers’ state which is geographically closest to the hard core of world imperialism;
3) It is economically the most fragile and when the USSR collapsed and abandoned it it was at its weakest;
4) In proportion to its fragility Cuba made the biggest effort in the international arena in Africa and in Latin America, without getting any immediate strategic profit for their efforts, but using it as element of resistance against the pressure of imperialism.
5) To influence mass movements in Latin America the Castro bureaucracy needed to abandon part of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s nationalism;
6) The role of the Cuban bourgeois ‘worms’, as an organic component of imperialism, it is disproportionate to its economic weight fraction as a bourgeois class.
7) Thus, among all workers’ states the Castroite bureaucratic was forced to confront imperialism far more than any other and had to rely on the masses far more because of the threat of imperialism.
In a way, and to a certain extent, and these exceptional circumstances, above all by the blockade imposed for more than half a century, prevented the capitalist restoration processes developing gradually and peacefully in Cuba and North Korea (as in China and Viet Nam). This is due to the fragility of these workers’ states who have to fight against imperialism and their respective bourgeois “worms” in Miami or South Korea. In these circumstances the restoration of capitalism could only occur through a civil war.
THE NEW COLD WAR AS A DECISIVE FACTOR
THAT FORCED IMPERIALISM TO MAKE THE NEW US-CUBA AGREEMENT
However the new cold war saw a historic breakthrough and unprecedented influence from China and Russia on the whole of Latin America. The need to combat this favoured the imperialist wing that was less influenced by the policy of isolation. They sought the path of co-optation as against the more reactionary isolationist Republican wing of the bourgeoisie. This opened up space for the current US-Cuba agreement, which however still keeps the essence of the policy of economic blockade which is unlikely to be seriously reviewed since it needs the approval of Congress where Republican influence grows with each election.
Obama’s speech was as illuminating as it was unexpected. He said it was:
“the most significant change in our policy in more than 50 years, we end up with an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to boost our interests”.
The interests were and are the capitalist restoration in Cuba, which now will be favoured by increasing the flow of capital between the two countries, but also now such interests combine with the need to contain the advance of the capitalist Eurasian rival block, trying to mitigate the isolation that was caused when imperialism itself stepped in back in 1961.
This American representative recalls that “the relationship between our countries has developed on the background of the cold war and America’s firm opposition to communism”.
And during that conflict:
“Proudly, the United States supported democracy and human rights in Cuba throughout these five decades. We did it mainly through policies aimed at isolating the island, preventing the most basic travel and trade that Americans can enjoy anywhere else. And, although this policy was rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in the imposition of such sanctions, and so had little effect beyond providing the Cuban Government a justification for the restrictions on its people. Today, Cuba is still ruled by Castro and the Communist Party, which came to power half a century ago."
“for over 35 years, we have had relations with China – a much bigger country also ruled by a Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we restored relations with Viet Nam, where they fought a war that claimed more American lives than any confrontation of the cold war. ”
I.e. the balance sheet that the White House makes is that the tactic that worked best was co-opting and not blocking.
Conversely, the cold war was won long before but even so capitalism was not restored in Cuba, thanks to the situation created by the United States. Then, in the face of the new cold war in which the United States is losing ground on the continent and in the world there is a need for a new tactic for Cuba, since, as he says “these 50 years have shown that the isolation hasn’t worked, it’s time for another attitude.”
As the WSWS website commented:
“Underlying this seeming contradiction is a definite logic, however. The move toward rapprochement with Cuba and the sanctions against Venezuela are different tactics that are directed toward the same aim: bringing to power pliant regimes prepared to more fully accept US semi-colonial domination. While much has been written about Obama’s “bold move,” the real driving forces behind a change in Cuba policy have been corporate and financial sectors that have seen a market they believe should be theirs being dominated by China, Spain and other countries.” WSWS After announcing “normalization” with Cuba, Obama slaps sanctions on Venezuela By Bill Van Auken, 20 December 2014, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/20/cuba-d20.html
The agreement for the exchange of prisoners and favouring the tourist exchange now made corresponds to a fourth step lived by the island since the crisis of rafters in the early 1990s (on 12 August 1994 Castro ordered the coastguards to prevent the departure of boats from Cuba. Rafters is the name given to the persons who emigrate illegally in self constructed or precarious vessels from Cuba. The Cuban Rafters, almost always disagree with communism and the Cuban government of the Castro Family, wiki.)
The first was when Cuba, which suffered more with the imperialist blockade after the end of the USSR, had managed to relieve the siege by winning concessions in particularly from European imperialism and by the intercession of the Vatican since Pope John Paul II.
The second step was made possible by the process that began with the populist wave led by Chavez in Venezuela in the first decade of this century which exchanged oil for Cuban health services.
The third wave of this process occurred after the 2008 crisis and its epicentre was the USA. The port of Mariel is the fruit of this third step. Wikipedia informs us:
“Following an agreement reached in 2009 between the governments of Brazil and Cuba, the Brazilian engineering group Grupo Odebrecht built a new port, including a major container terminal, in partnership with the Cuban company “Zona de Desarrollo Integral de Mariel”, a subsidiary of the Cuban military controlled Almacenes Universal S.A. This project would have received an agreement from the Brazilian government to subsidize it up to US$800 million, out of which $300 million would have been already appropriated. The port has been dredged to 60 feet (18 m), enabling it to be used by Super-panamax vessels.”
This project will enormously enhance the advantages of the Eurasian block and especially of the Brazilian bourgeoisie in the Caribbean trade dispute. This port, combined with the new Atlantic-Pacific canal route via Nicaragua which is being built by China and the Pasadena oil refinery, purchased by Petrobras, the Brazilian multinational energy corporation, are part of an economic and infrastructural Eurasia block offensive against the decadent USA. This has stolen a march on big capital and fanned right reaction throughout the continent.
These steps are confirmed in the current Cuban economic recovery:
“Since 2003 GDP has grown continuously until today according to the reports of ECLAC. In 2006 the economy grew by 12.6%, being the fastest growing in Latin America according to ECLAC that year. It grew by 7.6% in 2007 over the previous year. During the year 2009, ECLAC estimated a year on year increase in GDP of 1% compared to the year 2008 (despite the stock market Crisis of January 2008 from international involvement) “”
The US desperately and urgently needs to reset the “Panamericanism” to inoculate the Americas against Russia and China. What the White House fears most is that the two countries will establish Cuba as the US Eurasian bloc representative of Russia and China, triggering off a new missile crisis.
The new “openness” front with Cuba was essential for the future of the mythological “recomposing of Panamericanism”. Besides trying to reassert its influence with the re-establishment of relations with their worst opponent on the mainland, while simultaneously deepens the sanctions against Russia, the United States knows that there is no “Panamericanism” without Brazil. Consequently pressure is being applied against the PT government who hosted the BRICS summit in mainland Latin America, to ensure that Brazil will be “secure” against the growing influence of Eurasian capitalism.
Argentina has structurally developed as a complementary economy with the United States and worse, in some commodities like cereals, is competitive with imperialism. The country, once again may be the weakest link of Panamericanism and that explains the unprecedented efforts of the core Russo-China orientation towards Argentina not only in the economic sense but also in the geostrategic sense.
The end of the blockade may release dammed tendencies. Cuba may initially take advantage of imperialist despair at not losing their own backyard, but Yankee capitalism will spare no efforts to devour the island and the new rich will graduate from the bureaucracy of the CP, as has already occurred in workers’ states where capitalism was restored. In this sense the growing sectors of bureaucracy are as eager to restore capitalism in Cuba as has already happened in the bourgeois regime in Viet Nam, or may result in new pro-imperialist Venezuela.
THE END OF THE LOCKOUT,
THE RESTORATIONIST ROLE OF RELIGION AND
THE REPEAL OF THE SPECIAL MEASURES
We believe that a progressive workers’ sate has to take advantage of the new cold war to end all reprisals taken against them for daring to have expropriated the multinationals and their bourgeoisie vassal. We argue that the blockade should be abandoned unconditionally. However, we also believe that the bureaucracy seeks to convert Cuba into a sort of Caribbean Viet Nam, as the imperialist blockade is suspended, or earlier if possible, i.e. the bureaucracy is taking advantage of the situation to favour the restorationist a religion outlook and not socialism.
The tragicomic blockade did not result in the end of the workers’ state. We denounce all secret diplomacy between the bureaucracy and US imperialism or any other capitalist nation. We fight for the progressive withdrawal of all measures implemented during the “special period” which were taken as special measure because of the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 and the increase of the embargo by the United States in 1992, as well as all subsequent measures that have weakened the planning of the economy, the monopoly of foreign trade and the nationalization of the means of production.
For a start we demand the return of full employment scheme and the repeal of all layoffs; the foreign investment law of 1995, the re-establishment of the monopoly of foreign trade, the full nationalization of all joint enterprises and production. In other words, if things are getting better is necessary to repeal the measures that have put the workers’ state under pressure since 1990. This program must be combined with combating the ambitions and privileges of the bureaucracy, namely, the struggle for political revolution and the establishment of proletarian democracy in Cuba. A political revolution in Cuba would be only be possible if there is a revolution on the continent. Without this, any attempt at political revolution in Cuba would not survive.
FOR POLITICAL REVOLUTION AGAINST CAPITALIST RESTORATION.
The struggle for political revolution on the island assumes a permanent character, fighting the measures of the Castro government that conspire against the property relations and forms created by expropriation of imperialism and the Cuban bourgeoisie. At the same time we advocate the construction of popular committees of workers, peasants and cooperative members. We must fight against the secret dialogue agreements with Democrats, Republicans or ‘worms’ as well as with the European imperialism and the Latin American bourgeoisie, everything must be submitted to the debate, rectification and ratification by the organized population.
No return of the property to the ‘worms’. What was expropriated must remain state-owned and under the control of the democratic workers ‘ councils, producers and consumers. The first priority of the state is to ensure health and food for the people. No privilege for bureaucracy and for tourists to the detriment to the working masses. Down with tourist separatism, for the free access of all Cubans to all hotels, beaches and spas used exclusively by tourists. Everything must paid for in Cuban pesos. We must defeat the bureaucracy in the struggle for proletarian democracy and in the struggle for equality against the privileges.
It is necessary to institute a workers’ court of inquiry to investigate and condemn corruption in the black market and amongst the new rich. We defend the right to strike and to organize as part of the struggle for political independence against the Castro bureaucracy, imperialism, its NGO counter revolutionaries and the Vatican. We are for proletarian control of industry and the economy as a whole as well as on trade agreements and foreign trade with Europe, with China and the entire Eurasian block and the Latin American capitalist countries. We demand accounting control by the working class delegates with executive powers to inspect the books of all enterprises. These delegates must hold mandates which are subject to recall and they must be elected in the workplace by the workforce.
Only workers must decide how much and what should be produced and distributed, as well as the wages and the pace of production. They must combat the mass layoffs, privatization of state enterprises and cuts in social services in the state. We oppose the creation of any party or organization that opposes the workers’ state and the dictatorship of the proletariat and defended the creation of a revolutionary Trotskyist party in Cuba and the establishment of proletarian democracy on the island. Capitalist restoration is not a fait accompli in Cuba; only the revolutionary struggle of the Latin American masses against any internal or external restorationist religious offensive can defeat this.
RACISM IN CUBA
One of the great difficulties in the race debate in Cuba is to decide on the proportion of Afro‑Cuban descendants of the slave population on the island of some 11 million people. Claims vary from government figures of 33% to academic and US funded NGO estimates 62% or higher. The reason for the variation is the official denial of racism in Cuba and the availability of statistics for professional and well paid jobs in the tourist industry where whites absolutely dominate. If the population is overwhelmingly white that is natural, if it is overwhelmingly Black or mixed race that that proves discrimination. Government figures are not believed in serious academic circles.
According to an article by the NGO the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), Revolutionary Racism: Afro Cubans in an Era of Economic Change, June 21 2011:
• Fidel Castro’s regime enacted anti-discrimination legislation and redistributive reforms benefiting Afro-Cubans
• Afro-Cubans are disproportionately affected by Cuba’s economic struggles and change
• U.S. dollars from remittances, tourism and paladares contribute to growing inequality along racial lines
• Cultural and educational representations continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes 
It argues cogently that Fidel Castro’s initial drive against the racism was relatively successful:
“He outlawed all forms of legal and overt discrimination, including discrimination in employment and education. Castro also worked to increase the number of Afro-Cuban political representatives, with the percentage of Black members on the Council of State expanding from 12.9% in 1976 to 25.8% by 2003. However, overall, Afro-Cuban representation decreased as the institutions become more powerful.
Castro’s redistributive social and economic reforms had a positive and measurable impact on the quality of life for Afro Cubans. The government’s great achievements in extending education and medical benefits to all Cubans have narrowed racial disparities in life expectancy and matriculation rates. Alejandro de la Fuente, Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, used statistics from the 1981 census to illustrate the progress made during twenty years of Revolutionary rule. He found that by 1981 there was a gap of only one year in life expectancy rates between whites and non whites, which proved that Cuba had achieved relatively equal access to such indicators as “nutrition, health care, maternal care and education.”
But after three years he declared the struggle won and further discussion on its continued existence was banned:
“Fidel Castro declared that the Revolution had eliminated racism, making any further discussion of racial inequalities a taboo subject. Official discourse directly tied racism to capitalism, and thus the development of an egalitarian society officially ended racism.”
It is this essentially bureaucratic approach to all economic and social problems that puts the gains of the revolution in greatest danger. It is hard to escape the notion that the government allows and actually promotes racism to divide the Cuban working class, especially in times of great crisis. The great strides that were made in fighting racism began to unravel after the economic collapse of 1992:
“The Special Period, the difficult decade following the fall of the Soviet Union, caused economic hardships for all Cubans. The government stopped numerous social services and the country struggled with widespread shortages. During this period, the structural legacy of racism meant that Afro‑Cubans faced a greater brunt of the economic challenges. Many of the economic reforms passed to bring the Cuban economy out of its deep recession served only to exacerbate these racial inequalities. When faced with a economic stagnation, the Revolution’s commitment to social justice lost ground to the need for economic recovery, especially given the official belief that racism was no longer an issue, the racist implications of economic reforms were not an issue for the Castro government.”
Moreover economic reforms are benefiting the white population greatly at the expense of the Afrio Caribbean:
“However, in 2000, the Havana Survey found that 77 percent of the self employed were white, and that these white entrepreneurs were more economically successful in comparison to their Afro Cuban counterparts. Once again, blacks face disadvantages because they lack the capital in USD from tourism and remittances: it often takes an initial investment, such as a bicycle for deliveries, or real estate that could be used as a storefront or neighborhood restaurant to start up a new business. Afro Cubans are also disadvantaged when it comes to the development of paladares, or small restaurants run out of the home. The quality of housing was not addressed in the original anti discriminatory reforms, and Afro Cubans are still concentrated in overcrowded and dilapidated housing areas, limiting their opportunities for owning and opening paladares.”
Whilst the article seems well balanced as against the Government’s simple denial of the problem and the enemies of the revolution who exaggerate it out of all proportion we must urge a measure of caution. It is an NGO and therefore in receipt of US government funds and no doubt with CIA involvement, the good cop and not the bad cop, but nonetheless a US cop. The use of the ideology of “democratic reaction”, using the supposed fight against homophobia, sexism and racism, has been a leading disguises the recent imperialist ideological offensive.
3. The tendency of change of the United States against Cuba is essentially the change in the world economy after the crisis of 2007-2008, the fact that MERCOSUR, unasur and the CELAC stopped outside the US and Canada. These countries were left out of the Latin America and the Caribbean. CELAC has established agreements with China in meetings chaired by Cuba.
(The Union of South American Nations, USAN; (Spanish: Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; Portuguese: União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; Dutch: Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN) is an intergovernmental union integrating two existing customs unions – Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) – as part of a continuing process of South American integration.
Union of South American Nations, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_South_American_Nations
CELAC, The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is an intergovernmental mechanism for dialogue and political agreement, which includes permanently thirty-three countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time. It was created with a commitment to advance the gradual process of regional integration, unity and carefully balancing political, economic, social and cultural diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean, 600 million people. http://www.celacinternational.org/?page_id=3232)
5. SINCE LA HISTORIA VIVA, PUEBLO PEOPLE, 17 Diciembre 2014 By Magazine La Calle, By: Yenny Torres Bermudez http://www.lacalle.cu/historia-viva/gente-de-pueblo/
 Revolutionary Racism: Afro Cubans in an Era of Economic Change, June 21, 2011 http://www.coha.org/revolutionary-racism-in-cuba/