Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

William Gallegos

Cuban revolution betrayed

Cuba and the Latino movements in the U.S.

First Published: Unity, Vol. 3, No. 14, July 4-17, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The recent exodus of more than 100,000 Cuban refugees to the U.S. has once again raised questions about the development of the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The Cuban government has tried to portray these refugees as gusanos (worms) fleeing a socialist country. Castro has compared them to the Cubans who left their country after the defeat of the Batista regime in 1959, refugees who opposed the Cuban Revolution and resisted the smashing of U.S. domination of Cuba.

But 1980 is much different from 1959. Revolutionary Cuba has become Cuba the Soviet colony. Today’s Cuban refugees are not fleeing socialism; they are fleeing a nation completely controlled by the imperialist U.S.S.R. They should not be condemned by revolutionary and progressive peoples, but welcomed and supported in their effort to escape Soviet domination. This is an important question, since U.S. imperialism is trying to use the refugee issue for its own purposes, as are the Castro regime and the Soviet social-imperialists.

The Cuban Revolution: a great inspiration

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 was a tremendous inspiration to the people of the world, especially to the peoples of Latin America and to the Chicano and Latino nationalities in the U.S.

The Cuban Revolution stood for anti-imperialism, and especially opposition to U.S. imperialism, at the time the strongest and most vicious imperialism in the world. It stood for armed struggle at a time when the Soviet Union and its lackeys like the Communist Party U.S.A. were preaching that working and oppressed people could achieve socialism peacefully. It stood for the solidarity of the peoples of Latin America, who had suffered so long under the brutal domination of the U.S.

Latinos in the U.S. – Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central and South Americans – shared a common history with Cuba of domination by Spanish colonialism and U.S. imperialism, and were especially inspired by the Cuban Revolution. It helped popularize the ideas of revolution, anti-imperialism and Marxism-Leninism in the Latino movements. Che Guevara became a hero alongside Mexico’s Juan Cortina and Emiliano Zapata, and Puerto Rico’s Don Pedro Albizu Campos. The Cuban Revolution was celebrated in Chicano teatro, song and poetry, and many Chicanos and Puerto Ricans visited Cuba.

Cuban Revolution betrayed

The Cuban Revolution has been betrayed and Cuba has become a Soviet colony. Cuba has become one of the most active and vocal supporters of Soviet aggression and expansionism, and has even developed a mercenary army to serve Soviet imperialism.

The Castro regime insists that Cuba is a socialist country, that its defenses of the Soviet Union is defense of the “socialist camp,” and that its adventures in the third world are acts of “proletarian internationalism.” But what are the facts?

After the overthrow of the Batista regime, the Cuban people faced a very difficult situation. They needed to end the underdeveloped economy by diversifying agriculture and building an industrial base. This would provide the economic foundation for ensuring Cuba’s independence and raising the people’s living standard.

But the U.S. imposed a severe trade embargo against Cuba in 1960, which made it almost impossible for Cuba to obtain replacement parts for her factories and transport systems. Furthermore, most of Cuba’s trained technicians and intelligentsia fled the country when Batista fell.

The Soviet Union took advantage of the situation, signing a series of trade agreements with Cuba in 1964 in which the Soviet Union was to provide all of Cuba’s oil needs, most of its raw materials, and a quantity of capital goods for industrialization. Cuba was to pay with sugar exports.

For a short time, Cuba attempted to diversify its economy, but Cuban agricultural development was hamstrung by the poor quality of agricultural implements supplied by the U.S.S.R., a series of natural disasters, and her own inexperience. Soon Cuba was unable to pay her Soviet creditors.

In 1968, the Soviets extended Cuba’s loans, but refused to cancel the debts and cut back on oil shipments to Cuba. Cuba accelerated production of her only cash producing commodity – sugar – to pay her debts. By the late 1960’s, the Cuban government was exhorting the Cuban masses to produce the largest sugar crop in history – 10 million tons. Cuban soldiers, militia and even factory workers were recruited for the harvest.

This signaled that Cuba was becoming more reliant, not iess, on sugar. And since Cuba for a long time had to sell most of the sugar to the U.S.S.R. and eastern Europe at a fixed price, she could not utilize the price increases on the world market. Cuba’s debt grew until today Cuba owes the Soviets more than $4 billion – far more than she ever owed to the U.S.

The Soviet Union also took advantage of Cuba’s need for trained political, technical and military personnel. Thousands of Cuban students were sent to the Soviet Union for training. The U.S.S.R. thus gained a loyal following in the most strategic sectors of Cuban society.

Lastly, the U.S.S.R. utilized an experienced fifth column within Cuba – the Popular Socialist Party (PSP), the pro-Moscow revisionist party which opposed the armed struggle waged by Castro and the guerrillas until shortly before Batista’s fall. When the PSP and other organizations merged in 1961 to form the Integrated Revolutionary Organization (forerunner to the Cuban Communist Party), leading positions were held by former PSP leaders like Blas Roca and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez. Roca became Cuba’s president and Rodriguez became chief economic planner and negotiator of Cuban foreign trade agreements. Rodriguez engineered Cuba’s entry into the Soviet-dominated Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, which formalized Cuba’s role as sugar supplier for the Soviet bloc.

Cuba’s loss of economic independence was followed by the loss of her political independence. The same Fidel Castro who had once correctly condemned the revisionist parties of Latin America as traitors to the revolution, was to reverse his stand in the mid-1970’s and declare them fraternal parties. The Soviets hoped Cuba’s prestige would help these pro-Soviet parties to gain some standing among the Latin American masses.

In 1974, Cuba dispatched 20,000 troops to Angola. This mercenary army helped provoke a civil war which cost the lives of over 150,000 Angolans. Cuba invaded under the signboard of “proletarian internationalism,” claiming that Angola was threatened by South Africa. Yet Cuban soldiers never fought a single battle with South African troops. Today Cuban troops occupy Angola, and with their help, the U.S.S.R. has been able to turn Angola into a dependent country and build naval and air bases there.

In 1978, Cuba trained and organized the Katangese mercenaries to invade Zaire’s Shaba Province, an area of strategic importance to the Soviet Union. These mercenaries were the same ones who fought against Patrice Lumumba and the revolutionary forces in Zaire in the 1960’s.

Cuba has also sent troops and advisers to countries in the Mideast, Africa and the Caribbean. Their purpose is to bring them under the wing of Soviet domination. Already they have had some success in countries like Nicaragua, Grenada and Jamaica, all of which have signed trade agreements with the U.S.S.R. at Cuba’s urging, and sent some of their young intellectuals to Russia for training.

The ideals of the Cuban Revolution have been betrayed. Revolutionaries throughout the world are saddened by this tragic turn of events, and express their solidarity with the Cuban people – especially the Cuban youth who have been forced to become cannon fodder for Soviet imperialism and the refugees who have been driven from their homeland.

Latinos in the U.S.

The Soviets have always tried to use Cuba’s prestige to gain a following in the U.S., especially among Latinos. The Cuban government has spared no expense in bringing oppressed nationalities to Cuba to convince them of Cuba’s “socialism” as well as the “socialism” of the U.S.S.R. Many Latinos in the U.S. have participated in the Venceremos Brigades, various Cuban cultural festivals, and the World Youth Congress held in Havana in 1978.

For the Chicano Movement to follow the path of the Cuban Revolution means ultimately to sacrifice the struggle for Chicano self-determination. It means to exchange the oppression of the Yankee eagle for the burden of the Russian bear.

With the arrival of the Cuban refugees, the question will become sharper, since most of the refugees will likely settle among the Chicano and Latino population in the U.S. This will undoubtedly cause some controversy in the Latino movements.

Today many Latinos still admire Cuba and see it as an example for other national movements. Most are motivated by honest revolutionary sentiments. At the same time, a growing number of Latinos recognize the betrayal of the Cuban Revolution and consider it a serious setback for the Cuban people, the peoples of Latin America, and for the Latino movements in the U.S.

The question of Cuba will continue to be discussed and debated within the Latino movements. Honest, differences will undoubtedly be worked out in the course of the protracted struggle. In the meantime, we should continue to be inspired by the original ideals of the Cuban Revolution, and to support the Cuban people in their struggle to rid themselves of all foreign domination.