Mobilization Against Cuba in Latin America
by Albert Weisbord
(From the magazine “La Parola del Popolo” December 1961)

I

THE SUCCESSFUL Cuban revolution has shown clearly the dire necessity and urgency for new measures to be taken if Latin America is to be saved for U.S. capitalism. It is plain that the U.S.A. can no longer rely upon the large agrarian landlords, or the Juntas composed of pompous military dictators and tyrants to control the masses. Furthermore, the control of the country by such antidiluvian cliques maintains the country’s political life so rigid and aloof from the modern world as to make it impossible for up-to-date capitalism to get its full growth and develop in every direction as it should. The old regimes absolutely must go both in order to prevent social revolution and in order to develop modern industrial capitalism.

The Cuban revolution has also shown that it is very difficult to convince the Military Juntas and antiquated sections of the ruling class that they must give up political and military power. The newer social sections of capitalism in each country must be aided by the controlling imperialism if they are to remove the older elements and take over. Otherwise there might be civil war in the course of which the masses may adopt their own methods, launch their own demands, and thus reach a social revolutionary stage on the same level as Cuba. The problem of the United States is how to nudge out the worn out older elements, the Trujillos, their Generals and other “aristocratic” anachronisms by a steady and persistent pressure without starting a civil war in which the masses can act on their own.

Furthermore, the pushing out of the older and the establishing of the newer system of control must be done as far as possible in such a way that the masses of workers actually are induced to believe the whole thing is mainly for their benefit and will actively participate in isolating the older regimes and in supporting the new. In supporting the new capitalist the masses can also be induced to fight the Cuban Revolution and similar attempts elsewhere.

Since the triumph of Fidel Castro, American imperialism has worked feverishly over this problem greatly sharpened by the defeat of the counter-revolutionary invasion of Cuba and the move of Castro to line himself up with the Soviet Powers.

The Alliance for Progress announced by Kennedy as the new plan for Latin America is the result of this American preoccupation. It is a massive plan containing thoroughly worked out program, strategy, tactics and systems of techniques to accomplish the various aims assigned to it.

As now adopted, the Alliance for Progress contains the following principal elements:

1

The United States will make available to Latin America over the next ten years a minimum of $20 billion. This sum will not all be given as an outright gift but will include funds allocated to the Inter-American Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank, the Development Loan Fund, the International Cooperation Administration, as well as funds from international lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund the World Bank and private funds from investors from various parts of the world. It looks like a big sum to the Latin Americans but considering that the money will be spent over ten years, that it is to cover all of South and Central America, that much of it will be in the form of loans to be repaid, that many other lending countries will be involved as well as the United States and that the money will not be spent unless certain conditions are met, it can be seen that the shrewd Yanqui hand is very competent to get the most for the least.

The money will be handed out, moreover, only after certain primary conditions urgently considered vital by the United States are fully met. The U.S.A. has now considerable experience in handing out money to underdeveloped countries run by avaricious military feudal elements who like to grab all they can while accomplishing nothing for which the money was given. This might be all right for Asia, Formosa, Korea, Viet Nam and such places where the only intransigent fighters against communism are the old style military, but as Cuba has shown, this is no longer fit for Latin America. Besides, American capitalism does not work best with classes it does not understand and which are bizarre from the American point of view. It prefers to work through its own types, the modern bourgeoisie, and use its own methods.

The newer capitalist elements, however, are just as greedy and selfish as the older military feudalists. They would like to use the money for their own capitalist development regardless of what would happen to the older classes who, however, dominate the military and alone can put down the masses. Sections of the newer groups, especially these allied with the older, would be willing to share the loot with the military but do not wish to share the wealth with the masses of workers and toilers who are susceptible to revolution of their own kind, as witness Cuba. Such newer capitalist types would like to use the money for capital investment and reinvestment, for industrialization of the country and for modernization of agriculture. They wish to get better terms of trade and win new markets with the money, even driving out the imperialists from the markets if they can.

Naturally, if a good part of the money granted by the U.S. is to go to these newer capitalists, just as a good part must go to the older groups who control the armed forces still so necessary to keep down the masses in Latin America, at the same time something must be given to the masses or new Cuba’s will be the result. And it is to prevent new Cuba’s from arising that primarily motivates the U.S. (This is not to say that the U.S. does not have other motivations in developing modern capitalism in Latin America, such as to counter Europe in its drive to use its controlled African markets against the U.S. dominated markets in Latin America.) Thus, the Kennedy Plan has provided that hand in hand with general economic capitalist advancement there must go measures of social welfare to appease the workers and toilers.

The vast sum allocated by the United States will have to be matched by another sum coming from the Latin Americans themselves. How will the Latin American ruling classes raise this second amount? Does anyone really think these people will tax themselves? The agrarians will try to see the capitalists are taxed, the capitalists will try to tax the older agrarian rulers and their generals, the generals will fight to keep their privileges and perquisites; the wealthier groups will levy heavy indirect taxes on the petty bourgeoisie and salaried elements; etc, etc. All this may cause more disorders and revolutions.

2

Clearly the money can not be handed out directly by the United States. The people of each beneficiary country must be made to feel that the money comes thanks to the acumen and justice of its ruling classes. These ruling classes must be called together and the whole plan worked through them. Accordingly the plan was first proposed to the Organization of American States where these ruling classes are gathered to work out their mutual plans and where the United States is the predominating factor. Once it was approved by the OAS it was sent to its Economic and Social Council for more specific elaboration.

The Inter-American Economic and Social Council met at Punta de Este, Uruguay, from August 5th to the 16th this year. It worked out a “Charter” with twelve objectives containing the conditions the U.S.A. put to granting any funds. These objectives are stated:

a. Per capita growth must increase by at least 2 1/2% a year;
b. Incomes and standards of living must be raised;
c. Economies must be diversified and commodity prices stabilized;
d. Industrialization must take place;
e. Agricultural productivity must be raised;
f. Comprehensive agrarian land reforms must be encouraged;
g. Adult illiteracy must be eliminated;
h. Life expectancy must be increased;
i. Construction of low-cost housing for low-income families must be increased;
j. Stable price levels must be maintained and inflation avoided;
k. Economic integration of the Latin American countries must be strengthened;
1. Cooperative programs must be developed to prevent harmful effects of excessive fluctuation in foreign exchange earnings.

THE BIG QUESTION to be settled was how would the plan be implemented. Each country would have to set up its own program but a central reviewing body would have to exist to pass on the proposals made by the rulers in each country. Under the influence of the United States, the Organization of American States had set up a standing committee of experts to receive, discuss, and evaluate as well as to follow the progress of the plans during the course of their development and implementation in each country. This standing committee urged the creation of an organization similar to that of the Marshall Plan which had been established by the U.S.A. for Europe.

It came, perhaps as a surprise to the United States that these proposals were not entirely acceptable to the larger Latin American powers. After all, Latin America was not Europe. It had not been devastated by an awful war and regardless of what the Yanquis might think, it was not on the very verge of being taken over by the communists, at least not in the eyes of the passe feudal military groups that still had much to say about the policies of their respective countries and which traditionally were more tied to Spain and to Portugal than to the Yanquis. They knew that the Yanquis were doing this primarily for their benefit and they did not think they should lose control over their own country to be displaced by an international board controlled by the U. S. A. They wanted to be less accountable to the overall organization.

On the other hand the smaller countries of Latin America, in the main bought body and soul by American imperialism and utterly dependent upon it, fought hard for the U. S. viewpoint. The rulers of the smaller countries felt the breath of the Cuban revolution hotter on their necks and were more eager to get full U.S. support against their masses. 

The result of this disagreement was a compromise, finally adopted and incorporated into the Charter of Punta del Este, under which a panel of nine experts will be attached full time to the new organization. Each government, if it so wishes, can submit its plans for review to an ad hoc committee composed of three of the nine experts and three additional experts not on the nine man panel—a six member ad hoc committee to be appointed by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States as requested.

Through the new set up the United States will be in commanding position to control the internal conditions of all the affected countries receiving aid. It will be able to dictate what social reform measures shall be taken, what shall be the tax structure, the share of the social product to be distributed to each economic class, the rate of growth, the degree of industrialization, the level and character of international trade, the cost of living, the level of prices, how strong the trade unions shall become, etc., etc. Now very clearly every working class group will come to understand that supporting its exploiters and oppressors is the might of the United States itself. If a revolution erupts the workers and toilers will have to fight directly not only the criminals in their own country but also the Organization of American States and the United States of America. 

By means of this Alliance for Progress plan the United States also intends to stamp out the growing economic influence of the Soviet Union and to defeat European competitors taking away U. S. trade and using African raw materials to the detriment of Latin America. If the Soviet Union is declaring that it does not “export revolution,” the U. S. A. is actively exporting counter-revolution. 

How effective the conditions laid down in the Charter will be to relieve the desperate crisis in which Latin America finds itself at the present time should be truly the subject of another article. (It may be that the Charter will not be effective at all and perhaps was never meant to be effective since the U.S. sponsoring the plan has not the welfare of Latin America at heart but its own vital interests which in many important respects are in direct opposition to those of an independent Latin America). The present article is limited to the question of the isolation of Cuba and the mobilization of Latin America to quarantine and crush the Cuban Revolution. 

From this angle it is ridiculous to believe that a per capita annual growth of 2% , for example, can stave off working class action. Even a far greater economic growth can occur with the masses yet getting very little benefit from it and indeed being all the more stimulated to revolt. According to the World Economic Survey issued 1960 by the United Nations the annual compound rate of growth from 1950-51 to 1957-58 was for each country listed as follows:

ANNUAL COMPOUND RATE OF GROWTH 1950-51—1957-58

This annual rate of growth was matched in these countries both by the level of fixed capital formation as a percent of the total gross domestic product and by increase in these levels during the same period. The following table shows the percentage of the gross fixed capital formation to the gross domestic product during this period for the same countries:

FIXED CAPITAL FORMATION AS % OF TOTAL GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
           1950-51  1957-58
     Cuba     12%    20%
     Venezuela   23%    23%
     Colombia   18%    23%
     Ecuador    10%    13%
     Guatemala   9%     13%
     Peru     18%    21%
     Mexico    12%    16%
     Bolivia    15%    15%
     Chile     9%     9%
     Brazil    15%    13%
     Argentina   23%    24%

And yet, for all that economic growth the most recent figures of per capita income as given by the N. Y. Times, January 10, 1961, are as follows: PER CAPITA INCOME ESTIMATES 1960: Guatemala $100-199, Honduras 100-199, Mexico 200-299, Panama 200-299, Peru 100-199, Colombia 100-199, Venezuela 600-699, Paraguay 100-199, Cuba 300-399, Uruguay 300-399, Chile over $400, Argentina 500-599, Bolivia under $100, Brazil 100-199, Trinidad 400-499, Tobago 400-499, Bahama Isles 500-599, Jamaica 300-399, Nicaragua 100-199, Ecuador 100-199, Haiti under $100, Netherland Antilles 100-199, Costa Rica about $300,

At the same time the cost of living has risen as follows: (The figures are for 1958 as a percentage of the base figures for 1953(1953=100). They come from the 1958 Survey of Latin America issued by the United Nations) Argentina 275, Colombia 155, Brazil 265, Mexico 155, Chile 843, Paraguay 226, Uruguay 193.

The fact of the matter is that the galloping inflation evidenced by this terrific rise in the cost of living within five years is only one symptom of the truly desperate situation in which the masses find themselves—thanks for one thing to the pressure of American imperialist capitalism. The Alliance for Progress is not going to end that situation by any means. 

How American capitalist pressure works to the detriment of Latin America is briefly touched on in a recent report issued by the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress of the United States: “At the behest of politically powerful minority groups in this Country the government has instituted import quotas on lead, zinc and petroleum. For many years there have been import quotas on sugar and other agricultural commodities. There is an export subsidy on the export of our cotton. All these things are produced in Latin America.”

It remains to be seen whether the US. will reduce import barriers and eliminate export subsidies so as really to aid Latin American economy. The AFL-CIO leaders are among the fiercest fighters to keep Latin American workers and products out of the country.

3

One of the basic elements of the Kennedy Plan is to fight the Cuban Revolution from “below” by means of the organized labor movement controlled by the AFL-CIO in the United States. Since the struggle began in Cuba the AFL-CIO has been extraordinarily interested in the formation and development of its own Latin American labor international called the Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers (ORIT) centered in Mexico where the Trade Union movement is very definitely hog-tied to the AFL-CIO. How Meany controls ORIT can be seen by the Fifth Congress held last August in Rio de Janeiro.

This Fifth Congress elected Sanchez M. from Mexico as President and Juaregui H. from Peru as General Secretary. Since Peru has one of the most violent anti-Castro governments in all Latin America, Jauregui is perfectly safe for Kennedy. Of the fifteen members on the Executive Committee, the United States took three, Meany, Reuther, and Reed in which group must be placed Jodoin of Canada. Four stooges from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico were added so that with the delegates from Mexico and Peru the U.S. could always completely dominate the scene. Four others came from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. The only one that might be expected to oppose consistently U.S. policies was from British Guyana.

It must have been clear to Kennedy from the very beginning of his plan that if he wanted to reach the Latin American masses efficiently it would have to be with the connivance and active support of the leaders of the trade union movement controlled by the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO has an active International Committee headed by the renegade communist and FBI supporter Jay (Jacob) Lovestone and by his subordinate for Latin America, Serafino Romualdi, an Italian who tries to appear Spanish. While the ORIT headquarters is in Mexico City the ORIT Inter-American labor Bulletin is issued in Washington by Romualdi since the AFL-CIO means to keep strict control.

In return for the servility expected from this “labor leadership” Kennedy means to pay well as can be seen from the recent announcement that in Ecuador alone the Alliance for Progress is going to build two “labor temples,” one in Guayaquil and one in Quito, which it is estimated will ultimately cost $560,000 over a period of six years. Of this amount the U.S. government will pay $350,000 and the Ecuador government $210,000. Just think, $560,000 for two labor temples in a country where the laborer gets about $100 a year in wages! And this is Meany’s “free” labor movement!

As planned by the U.S. Government, immediately following the conclusion of the Punta del Este Conference, ORIT called a special economic conference held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 17th to 19th. Thus, not a single day was wasted in accordance with the pre-arranged schedule. It was up to the labor leaders to so slant the Punta del Este Charter as to give the proper orientation and direction to all the labor organizations under its control.

THE CUBAN REVOLUTION has taught Kennedy and the AFL-CIO leaders that if they wish to behead the revolutionary movement in Latin America it is absolutely necessary to indoctrinate and organize the agricultural laborer and toiler since it is this group that dominates underdeveloped countries and understands the real situation without being corrupted or bribed. It is for this reason that the Sao Paulo Economic Conference issued a Statement in which it declared.

“The starting point for progress in the sovereign countries of Latin America, and also in those that are still under colonial rule, must be a program of rapid, radical transformation of their agrarian economy. The basis of progress in the underdeveloped parts of America must indeed be land reform. Whatever the particularities and differences that can be found in the various countries, common to all of them is the need to transform the structure of their rural economy, juridically and socially, that is, to begin to put into practice processes of land reform.”

"We understand by land reform the return of the land to those who till it, and a recognition of their right to receive in full the fruits of their labor. In other words, a fundamental condition for progress lies in the elimination of the system of feudal holdings which, together with their political power, has plunged our peoples into misery and slavery.” (This last paragraph originally in Italics—A.W.).

So there we have it, the chief enemy is not U.S. imperialism or foreign capitalism, or local capitalists but “feudal holdings.” The conference knew very well that in Argentina and in Uruguay, for example, there are no “feudal holdings.” It also knew very well that the so-called “feudal holdings” in such places as Costa Rica, Guatemala. Honduras, El Salvador and such petty countries are entirely controlled by large modern U.S. corporations such as the United Fruit Company and that it would be absolutely inconceivable in these countries for the land to be given to those who work it without a full revolution against the very governments whose agents were sponsoring the “Statement.” If these delegates meant what they said they would be sponsoring Cuba Type Revolutions everywhere for this is precisely what the Cuban Revolution did.

Furthermore the Statement admits there are some Latin American countries under colonial rule and yet never mentions them by name nor states who is their colonial master. What other colonial master could there be in Latin America save the United States? (Or could it really be Holland. France, and Great Britain who are thus singled out?)

Apparently the stooges at the Economic Conferences did not care that while they talked of the misery and slavery of the peoples in Latin America and called for them to get the “full fruit” of their labor, eliminate the “feudal holdings,” and undertake a program of rapid radical transformation of their agrarian economy, the parent ORIT would launch a veritable crusade of hate and venom against the Cuban people who did exactly that! The fact is the “Statement” was issued not to arouse exploited masses to revolution but only to warn the old military regimes that they must carry out the will of modem capitalism as laid down by the U.S.A. Of course the Economic Conference also talked about tax reform, the need for trade union development, for an extension of social security systems and the need for labor participation in government planning, but all this was only to increase the power of the labor leaders. Much good all this did them in Cuba! 

Immediately following the Economic Conference held in Sao Paulo the Fifth ORIT Congress was held in Rio from August 20th to August 25th. This Congress adopted a Declaration on the Political Situation in the Americas. In this Declaration they admit that the people of Latin America are in a “deplorable condition of ignorance, misery and slavery” but again they point no finger at capitalism or at the big corporations supported by U. S. imperialism, only using vague phrases to denounce excessive oppression, despotic feudal oligarchies, military police, terrorist machines, etc. Now, however, for the first time they reveal the full object of their attack: “Russian Imperialism” now operating through Cuba. The Declaration continues:

“Those who fight against Fidel Castro fight in favor of their own country and of all our American people. True to our democratic tradition, we fought yesterday against the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. In order to remain loyal to the same democratic tradition, we have today the political and moral obligation to fight against the communistic tyranny of Fidel Castro." 

“The seriousness of the problems above mentioned as well as the critical situation in which the American democracy finds itself require more than mere words and statements. We need a vigorous action throughout the American Continent, of which the trade union forces must be the vanguard. It is not enough to denounce the totalitarian regimes; we must act to extirpate them forever from American soil.” Such action is to include complete economic boycott and “ … all possible help to the exiles of these dictatorships so that they may equip themselves for the struggle to re-establish freedom in their countries.” (Note that Batista agents are not excluded from such help.)

So now we see the true meaning of the Fifth Congress of ORIT, namely, to mobilize the working masses for a crusade against Castro. Meany means to accomplish what Kennedy and the Church failed to do, namely, destroy the revolutionary movement in Cuba.

These treacherous AFL-CIO leaders of ORIT have the gall to declare that “yesterday” they had “fought” against the military dictatorship of Batista. Who of them fought? When did they fight? How did they fight? Were fighting words even uttered? On the contrary, they and their henchmen worked hand in glove with American imperialism in Cuba supporting Batista as was shown in the article printed by La Parola del Popolo only last year “Whats Going On In Cuba?” How these worthies “fought” is seen by the Declaration itself which says that Batista was a tyrant and military dictator and yet breathes not a word against the U.S. government the principal instigator and supporter of that regime. 

This careful protection of the United States role in Latin America is also seen in the Special Resolution adopted against the Dictatorship of Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua. These countries are attacked because the dictators ruling them will not allow the formation of trade unions, even those that would join the U.S. oriented ORIT, but it is highly significant that the Special Resolution does not speak in the violent language used against Cuba: there is no demand on the democratic governments (U.S. included, of course) to destroy these regimes as there is to destroy totalitarianism (Cuba): there is no call here for labor to enlist “with a militant spirit” and “with all their resources.” Of course the Special Resolution says not a mumbling word on the fact that it is such U.S. interests as United Fruit Company that support the tyrannies mentioned. Where the Resolution does have to take into account that the dictatorial regime of Duvalier in Haiti can live only from the economic help tendered by the U. S. there is only a respectful plea to the U.S. to stop and “re-examine its policy.”

II

Returning To Cuba, the true fact of the matter is that the AFI-CIO-ORIT gang not only does not repudiate Batista but actually praises him to the skies. In the very issue of their paper where they print the above analyzed statements, declarations, and resolutions there is a special article, no doubt written by Serafino Ramualdi, the stool pigeon expert for the AFL-CIO which controls the organization.

This article alleges the following as “facts":
1. The per capita income in Cuba under Bastista was $339 in 1956 and was raised to $360 in 1957, a level much higher than the average per capita annual income for all Latin America.
2. Cuba was the second highest country in per capita meat consumption in the Americas.
3. Under Batista Cuba had only 23% illiteracy and was ranked fifth in all Latin America.
4. In 1957 Cuba exported under Batista $807 million (of which $618 to the U.S.) and imported $773 million (of which $482 million from the US.).
5. In 1958 Cuban industries represented a capital investment of about $3,269 million of which only 20% was represented by foreign capital. According to the article the percentage of sugar in these overall figures of Cuban national products was only 28%. “which should dispose once and forever of the legend that Cuba was a mono-culture country, largely dependent on foreign capital, especially from U.S.”

And now comes the great paean of praise for Batista: “The Cuba that Fidel Castro seized in January 1959 was NOT, on the strength of the above mentioned official figures, the underdeveloped hungry and illiterate country that Communist propaganda is trying to make the world believe in order to justify Fidel Castro’s ‘liberating’ revolution. On the contrary, the dependency of Cuba on foreign capital was decreasing. Moreover, no country can be described as subject to “imperialism” when the foreign investments amount only to 20%.” The article concludes how much worse Cuba is at present under Castro than it was under Batista.

This is how the “labor leaders” “fought” against Batista “yesterday.” Would that they would “fight” that way against Castro and not encourage new counter-revolutionary invasions. 

Apparently, then, if we put together ORIT’s Economic Statement and its Political Declaration, all Latin American countries needed land reform, but not Cuba, the starting point must be a program of rapid, radical transformation of agrarian economy, but not in Cuba; the land should be returned to those who till it, but not in Cuba; those who till the land should receive the full fruits of their labor, but not in Cuba; the system of feudal holdings must be eliminated, but not in Cuba, the feudal holders must be eliminated from political power, but not in Cuba; the Latin American peoples have been plunged into misery and slavery, but not in Cuba; throughout Latin America there is excessive oppression, despotic oligarchies, military police and terrorist machines, but not in Cuba. And why? The answer is crystal clear: Because Cuba was owned by the United States and the United States was paying for labor temples and for the “labor leaders” salaries and power! Besides what do Meany, Lovestone, and Romualdi care what the local yokels say, who is running the outfit anyway? 

Now if everything was so lovely in Cuba under Batista how then did it happen that the Cuban Revolution was successful at all? Why did so many people join it? How could Castro with only a dozen men hidden in the mountains manage to build up an armed force that in two years destroyed the trained 60,000 troops and police of Batista in spite of the support the Cuban “labor leaders” and even the Communist Party of Cuba gave to him? What kind of a theory of revolution does Romualdi espouse, anyway? It would be very amusing to hear Romualdi’s and Jake Lovestone’s fantastic reasons how Castro managed to become victorious.

Nevertheless, despite Romualdi’s basic intellectual dishonesty it is interesting to turn to the figures he gives. First, about the per capita income. And first about methods of accuracy. The figures usually given by responsible bodies concerning the per capita income in underdeveloped countries are rarely if ever in exact numbers. This would give an illusion of accuracy which does not in fact exist and no honest statistician works so. For example, the United Nations gives ranges and gave for 1950-61 the per capita income figure for Cuba of $250 to $350. (U.N. World Economic Survey, 1959), while the N. Y. Times on January 10, 1961, gave as its estimate $300 to $399. It takes an ignoramus like Romualdi to quote figures supposedly exact to the last dollar on such variable matters as per capita income for an undeveloped country where statistics are not well developed.

Second, the article rates the per capita income in Cuba much higher than the average per capita annual income for all Latin America. No hint is given as to how this so-called $300 average per capita annual income for all Latin America was obtained. Incidentally, in a recent report signed October 23, 1961, by Christian A. Herber and Wm. L Clayton and sent to Congress, Professor Frank Tannenbaum’s estimate of an average annual income in Latin America is given as $200. But what is a 50% exaggeration to Romualdi and Company? As for Cuba’s relative standing, the same U.N. that estimated Cuba per capita income as $250-$350 estimated that in Chile as $350 to $450, those in Argentina and in Venezuela as $450 to $550. The New York Times estimates gave higher per capita incomes for Chile (over 400), Argentina ($500 to $599), Venezuela ($600 to $699), Trinidad ($400-$499) and the Bahamas Islands ($500 to $599).

Of course it is very well known how miserably poor are the village Indians in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, etc. There has never even been an accurate census taken of the wild and primitive peoples who live in some of these places but surely these savages can not be said to be part of modern society such as are the workers in the country aforementioned. It is ridiculous to throw such people into the pot to get an “average.” Statisticians who calculate like that are more than “average” jackasses. 

Third, the term “per capita income” really tells us very little about the working clan and its standard of living. This per capita income is obtained by estimating the population of the country, estimating the gross national product or the national income or the personal income or the disposable personal income (nothing is said which base has been used here) and then dividing the latter by the former. 

Let us suppose that in some rough way this is worked out, say for Brazil. We have the population, say 70 million and we get some way the total production (of course we could not get the production in the Indian villages on the Amazon) and then we divide the latter figure by the former, does this tell us in the least what is the standard of living of the masses? Suppose Cuba shows a “per capita income” of $300 a year, what does this average figure mean. It could mean that one third of the people get $700 a year and two thirds get $200 a year or that three quarters of the people get $100 a year and one quarter got $900 (which is more like the Cuban situation). And of the one quarter which got an “average” of $900 a year, one hundredth of these might have received $60,000 a year and the other ninety-nine hundredth $300. 

And what is the point of these figures: That the Cubans should have waited until they were reduced to the level of the Amazon savages before revolting? Or that they should have been very grateful to their American masters for giving them the $100 yearly income? Perhaps Romualdi and Lovestone can eat “average” figures, the Latin American masses cannot.

Now the figures on meat eating: Can one really say with a straight face that Cuba was the second highest country in per capita meat consumption in the Americas? If Argentina had the highest per capita meat consumption in the Americas then Cuba supposedly came ahead of the United States, Canada, Uruguay! But how did the masses buy this meat, which to some extent would have to be imported, with the $300 “average per capita income,” with the $100 actual wage for the guajiros? If one has to lie at least one should try to lie in such a way as to be somewhat believable. Not Romualdi, however.

Let us suppose that what the article meant to say was that Cuba showed the second highest per capita meat consumption in Latin America, again we have the question of “average” figures. Apparently Romualdi is more interested in “average” figures than in the figures pertaining to the great mass of workers and toilers. Now it may be true that in the old days when Habana was the mecca for U.S., tourists stuffed themselves to the gills in great orgies once they arrived. It is also true that nowhere than in Cuba was there a greater percent of United States businessmen, supervisors, foremen, technicians, tradesmen, salesmen, etc., who stayed in the country for a considerable period each time and who ate well at the corporations’ expense. Does this mean the CUBAN people ate better than other Latin Americans?

Here are the official government figures as given in the aforementioned article “What is Going On In Cuba": “Of the great majority of Cubans, the agrarians, 90% were found in a state of plain malnutrition. The average span of life was only 40 years. Over 70% were infected with parasites of all sorts. Habitually, only 2% ate eggs, 4% ate meat, 10% drank milk. It was estimated that over 500,000 children had died of gastroenteritis in the half century culminated with Batista. The workers, ten to a shack, lived in miserable hovels, often made of waste material, without potable water, except in some central locality, without toilets. 90% had no electric light. There were few schools and 44% of them could not even sign their own names. For them generally there were no doctors, no hospitals, no clinics, no nurses. The agricultural laborers worked in the sugar fields only three to four months in the year for a dollar a day or less, from sun-up to sun-down. They bought their necessities in company stores that mercilessly robbed and cheated them. Their clothes were made of gunny sacks or coarse fiber cloth. All this in a rich semi-tropical country filled with fruits and natural foods of all sorts." 

But again, what is Romualdi’s point: that meat eaters should not revolt? That those who eat well should not bite the hands of the capitalists? That flesh pots are better than freedom from slavery and controlling one’s own life? That the Cuban standard of living under Batista is what the masses of Latin America should strive for and then everything would be well with the world?

OR WHAT is Romualdi’s point in regard to illiteracy? Does he know so little about the Cuban agrarian working class as to deny that 44% of them could not even sign their own names, thus making ridiculous the illiteracy figures he quotes from outside sources? He is more concerned that there were 49 centers for specialized training in music, journalism and such and that there were five private universities in Cuba under Batista than he is about how educated the workers were.

And suppose that Cuba were fifth in all Latin America in “average” illiteracy? How stinking must the other Latin American countries be and how ripe for revolt! Romualdi has a double edged argument for the workers: those who cannot sign their names are too ignorant to revolt and those who can are too enlightened!

The fourth point made by the Editor of the ORIT bulletin is that Cuba exported under Batista in 1957 $807 million (of which $618 to the United States) and imported $773 million (of which $482 million from the United States). These figures, apparently, are to show how “rich” the country was under Batista. All that it shows is how important the trade was to capitalism, especially U. S. capitalism.

First it should be noted that the difference between the exports and imports were not left in savings but were part of the profits of foreign imperialism taken out of the country, generally speaking.

Second, the imports consisted in large part of machinery and means of production needed by the capitalists for further reinvestment and for expansion. We have seen in the tables given above that the rate of economic growth in Cuba under Batista at this time was about 11% a year and that 20% of the gross domestic annual product at the time was thrown into fixed capital investment. Since the fixed capital investment came out of the imports this means that foreign capitalists not only exported $35 million in profit but made many hundreds of millions more, a vast amount of the imports going not for the consumption of the masses but for capital expansion. How much profit was taken by the government can be seen by the fact that when Batista fled the country he and his henchmen absconded with an estimated half a billion dollars!

Then Romualdi’s article makes the ridiculous point that American investments were “only” $800 million or “only” 20% of the total estimated Cuban capital investment. Now the 1960 Statistical Yearbook of the U.S. gives merely the direct investments of the United States in Cuba as $861 million, higher than U.S. investments in Mexico, higher than U.S. investments in all of Central America and highest in all Latin America except for Brazil and the tremendous U.S. oil developments in Venezuela.

But these are only the “direct” investments. The U.S. Statistical Yearbook shows that other private and government investments for Latin America were about as great as the direct investments, so that if we apply this ratio to Cuba it would mean not 20% but 40% of the economy was dominated by the U.S. Furthermore we must add to this the investments of other foreign capitalists as well.

The crowning joke of the whole article in this connection is that it declares that 20% control by foreign investments can not possibly mean the country is subject to domination. Haven’t we seen corporations in the United States controlled by a major capitalist group owning only 15% or less of the stock? Haven’t we seen a few large distributing houses controlling less that 20% of the production in a given field completely dominate the prices in that field? Haven’t we seen certain large corporations producing themselves less than 20% of the total yet control the entire industry in fact? Haven’t we seen industries control other industries in the nation far more than 5 times their size?

Returning to Cuba whose principal products were agricultural, mainly sugar and tobacco controlled by large U.S. interests, whose public utilities such as telegraph and telephone, gas and electricity were U.S. owned and controlled, whose exports to the tune of 75% or more went to the United States and whose imports were dominated similarly, whose soil had seen repeated invasions by U.S. troops, whose gangsters came by the thousands from the United States to make Habana the greatest vice center of the Americas, whose harbors were naval bases for the U.S., whose foreign policies were entirely dictated by the U.S. what more proof was needed? Did England ever do more in India, the Dutch in Indonesia, France in Madagascar? 

And finally the article gloats that now things are difficult in Cuba and declares under Castro profits are less, sales are less, etc., etc., in the main wishful thinking. Why does not Romualdi consider how the mighty United States has tried utterly to destroy little Cuba and has made it as difficult as possible for her to succeed? Tourism from the U.S. has ended. Sales of sugar to the U.S. have come to an end. A stringent economic boycott has been established not only for the U.S. but for all the powers the U.S.A. can influence, a boycott all the more effective since such a tremendous amount of goods came from the countries effecting the boycott. And what about the bombs hurled over Cuba burning over 10% of her sugar crop? And what about the stealing of half a billion dollars by the Batista gang? And what about the closing down of all foreign owned enterprises in order to paralyze the economy of the country? And what about the direct counter revolutionary invasion sponsored and paid for by the United States? And what about the military harassment of Cuba by the armed forces of the United States? Is it any wonder that the Cuban regime has been in difficulties?

What Romualdi is trying to do is to frighten the Latin American masses and to threaten them with the same kind of treatment or worse if they dare to disobey the AFL-CIO labor leaders and fight American imperialism. The mobilization against Cuba in Latin America is only in its beginning. We can expect it to grow steadily more intense and violent until it reaches a flaming climax … unless the Latin American masses step into the picture.