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Nationalism and Socialism in Cuba from the 1800s to 1965

This chapter develops the contextual framework within which I can explore the origins, evolution and importance of Trotskyism in Cuba by moving from an analysis of the theoretical and organisational development of official communism and Trotskyism at an international level to an analysis of the specific national context. As such, I outline the development of the principal features of the Cuban political economy and the form in which nationalist and socialist aspirations were expressed. Although there is no extended discussion of the colonial period, its legacies in terms of class structure and revolutionary traditions dating from the independence struggles of the nineteenth century provide the starting point for this discussion. I then consider in more depth the period encompassing the subsequent accelerated process of integration with, and subordination to, the U.S. economy up to the 1959 Revolution, before discussing the institutionalisation of the post-1959 revolutionary order. The main foci of attention are the development of the official Cuban Communist Party from its foundation in 1925, and the forces of radical nationalism in Cuba, particularly the Auténticos led by Ramón Grau San Martín and Joven Cuba led by Antonio Guiteras in the 1930s.

In each section emphasis is placed on highlighting the general patterns of economic and political developments in Cuba. In particular, I argue that alongside Cuba’s continued semi-colonial status, the major defining feature of the post-independence Cuban political economy was the weakness of class-based institutions. This peculiar characteristic, I contend, not only sowed the seeds for the formation of Bonapartist-type regimes, both pre- and post-1959, but promoted the growth of a powerful official communist party which was willing to conclude opportunist agreements with various authoritarian political leaders in order to advance its own narrow interests against those of both the national bourgeoisie and the working class. This analysis of the Cuban national context not only provides static markers for later reference but also allows judgements reached in the subsequent examination of Trotskyism in Cuba to be made on the basis of the specific national backdrop as well as the debates and developments at the international level.(1)

3.1 Independence and the Development of the Cuban Political Economy

3.1.1 Background to Independence: The Foundations of the Cuban Political Economy

The development of the international political economy at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century confirmed Cuba’s position as part of an expanding global capitalist system and conditioned the pattern of Cuba’s future structural development as a largely sugar producing, export economy within that capitalist system. The collapse of sugar production in Haiti in the 1790s fuelled a wave of investment in the sugar sector in Cuba.(2) This economic leap forward, in turn, stimulated a substantial growth in the size and importance of a Creole land-owning class which would later grow to challenge Spanish commercial and political interests. Initially, though, the spectre of Haiti ensured that the Napoleonic Wars, which had acted as the mid-wife of independence struggles elsewhere in Latin America, did not ignite Cuba.(3) Indeed, up until the 1860s the Cubans who did advocate separation from Spain largely desired U.S. annexation in defence of slavery.(4)

The first outburst of revolutionary nationalism in Cuba found expression in the form of the Liberation Army which prosecuted the fight for independence during the Ten Years’ War of 1868-1878. Annexationism had lost its appeal as slavery was in the process of being abolished in the U.S. after 1863, and the old threat to the Creole land-owning class that ‘Cuba would be either Spanish or African’ had lost credibility as the number of whites surpassed that of Blacks.(5) The impact of the international economic crisis of 1866-67, compounded by Spain’s imposition of general tax increases, eventually provoked a section of the Creole land-owning planters to back the project of rebellion.(6)

While the protracted first war for independence brought military defeat for the independence movement, it had long lasting economic and political consequences for Cuba. Apart from forging a spirit of independentismo in arms, the young class of Cuban land-owners faced ruin.(7) Many of those land-owners who did not have their land and mills confiscated after the end of the 1868-78 War, and who survived the post-war economic crisis of the 1880s, only did so to lose their old ownership of both cane land and mills in the 1890s and early twentieth century. Economic imperatives which necessitated a modernisation of sugar production meant that those already indebted land-owners who could not afford to keep pace were transformed into colonos, that is, into planters who cultivated cane but who, unable to grind it, merely sold it on to the large mills.(8) In greater numbers, property titles were exchanged as Cuban planters increasingly functioned as the local agents of North American capital penetration.(9)

After the Spanish victory in the Ten Years’ War, the surviving Creole landowners largely sought reform with stability inside the existing political framework.(10) However, as economic conditions tightened in the 1880s and 90s, the divisions between the political centre under the control of the Spanish, and the hard-pressed native productive classes again became apparent. Increasingly, Cubans chose opposition to Spanish domination via revolutionary politics. Apart from the dispossessed and impoverished native planters who had been pressed into the urban petty bourgeoisie and whose advancement was blocked by favour for Spaniards, those sympathetic to the cause of revolution also included the poor peasants and the more militant expatriate workers in Florida. In the winter of 1891-92, the Partido Revolucionario Cubano was organised by José Martí and Carlos Baliño to overcome “the petty jealousies of the insurgent caudillos” and give the revolutionary independence movement a united military command against the Spanish forces.(11)

3.1.2 Independence, U.S. Domination and the Cuban Bourgeoisie

The second major war of independence from Spain, 1895-1898, known as the Spanish-American War, was three years in preparation under the auspices of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano. As most authors, both Cuban and non-Cuban, highlight this independence campaign united much broader layers of the Cuban population against Spanish tutelage than any rebellion before had done.(12) Even the Cuban anarcho-syndicalist movement was not hostile to the sentiment of national liberation after the 1892 Workers’ Congress had agreed on a formula which allowed workers to join the separatist movement on an individual basis.(13)

With the advance of the insurgent armies from the eastern third of the island into the rich central and western zones of Cuba in early 1896, the attitude of the Spanish authorities hardened and they responded with a strategy of meeting war with war.(14) By 1898, however, the physically and financially exhausted Spanish forces had abandoned all offensives and controlled little territory outside heavily garrisoned coastal cities. In such a climate, the Cuban planters faced extinction as a political force by Spanish loyalists while also being threatened with extinction as a solvent, viable social class by the action of the Cuban Liberation Army. As it became evident that all efforts on the part of the Crown forces to either conquer or conciliate the separatist movement had failed, it was to the U.S. government that the property owners in Cuba, irrespective of nationality, turned.(15)

While the insurgents rejected all conciliation with Spain, their attitude towards the U.S. was more accommodating. Most of those separatist leaders who had not lobbied for U.S. intervention from the outset of the war positively co-operated with the U.S. forces when they landed in Cuba in June 1898. The U.S. government, in contrast, was less generous to the Cubans. After attempts to purchase Cuba from Spain in the mid-nineteenth century had come to nothing, the U.S. had supported the principle of ‘no transfer’ to another European power and reluctantly defended Spanish rule in Cuba as a substitute for annexation.(16) However, in 1898 as it became clear to all that Spanish sovereignty had slipped beyond recovery, the U.S. was faced with the stark choice of Cuban independence or direct military intervention. After the Liberation Army had rejected a U.S.-sponsored call for a cease-fire in April 1898, it was evident that the spectre of an independent Cuba raised the possibility of further political, social and racial disorder as well as intervention by the European powers. With the presumption of U.S. succession under threat, the U.S. administration opted for intervention in order to neutralise the competing Spanish and Cuban claims to sovereignty and impose a third by force of arms.(17)

In 1898, then, the U.S. landed troops in Cuba and, albeit on the basis of neutrality to stop the war, entered the final stages of the fighting against the remaining Spanish forces. The intervention changed everything. The United States minimised the participation of the Cuban insurgents in the final operations against the Spanish forces, and the Cubans were excluded altogether from the peace negotiations which followed.(18) While the Cuban Liberal Autonomous government established in January 1898 became superfluous,(19) the U.S. took effective control of the Liberation Army by offering the insurgents the quite substantial sum of US$75 in exchange for each rifle.(20)

The military occupation of Cuba lasted four years and was not brought to a close before the U.S. had put in place the political means for ensuring U.S. hegemony and stability in Cuba, the Platt Amendment. In its essential features, the Platt Amendment addressed the central concerns of the United States and, in large part, served as a substitute for annexation. In particular, the restrictions imposed on any Cuban government on the conduct of foreign relations, specifically the denial of treaty authority and restrictions on contracting debt, as well as the right conceded to the U.S. to intervene in order to protect life and property, sought to ensure that stability in Cuba was not jeopardised by her ability to pay debts or to protect the lives of foreigners.

Cuba entered nationhood with the remaining native stake in sugar left vulnerable to capital from outside.(21) During the United States’ military occupation and the early years of the republic, U.S. companies took advantage of the exposed state of affairs and bought up a large proportion of the Cuban sugar industry thereby stunting the growth of a native bourgeoisie. It has been estimated that by 1906, 60 per cent of all rural property in Cuba was owned by foreign companies, with another 15 per cent controlled by resident Spaniards. Cubans held only 25 per cent of the land.(22) In a capital-starved and indebted economy, foreign control, principally that of the U.S., expanded over all key sectors of the economy, including mining, banking, utilities, and transportation. The U.S. total capital stake in Cuba, which had been US$50 million at the start of the Spanish-American War,(23) had quadrupled in absolute terms by 1911 and overwhelmed local interests in most sectors.(24) U.S. domination of Cuba was also facilitated by the signing of a commercial Reciprocity Treaty in 1903, securing in economic terms what the Platt Amendment had achieved politically. Undermining the growth of a native Cuban manufacturing industry and reinforcing the mono-product, mono-export pattern of structural development, this reciprocity agreement gave Cuban sugar a tariff advantage over its competitors for the import of sugar into the United States while, in return, the U.S. was granted preferential tariffs for manufactured U.S. goods entering Cuba.(25)

Robin Blackburn has described how the nineteenth century independence wars in Cuba were qualitatively distinct from the other earlier Latin American revolts because of the shattered social order which resulted in Cuba. He wrote, “[t]he landowning aristocracy was decimated and demoralized. It had missed its chance [....] it had been ground between its fear of its African slaves and the vengeance of its Spanish overlords.”(26) Rather than a native class of employers accumulating capital via the production and net export of manufactured goods, the classical European model of capitalist development, U.S. finance capital took advantage of the Cuban economy’s indebtedness. The Cuban national bourgeoisie, already doomed by 1898, was left inert as U.S. interests capitalised and promoted the development of sugar, an agricultural product.

The comparative advantage which Cuba held in the production of sugar attracted further investments to Cuba on the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914.(27) Even though prices were controlled from 1917, the date of U.S. entry into the war, until 1919, the ceiling price of 5.5 c/lb was sufficient to further stimulate an increase in sugar production.(28) When, in 1919, the U.S. Food Administration lifted price controls on sugar, speculative investments in Cuba turned into a frenzy. The so-called ‘Dance of the Millions’ took off.(29) In May 1920, sugar was selling at 20 c/lb in New York. According to Louis Pérez Jr., “[e]very banking house owned portfolios thick with notes of mortgaged sugar property”, notes standing on future crops of sugar made at a valuation of 20 c/lb.(30)

However, as sugar beet production in Europe resumed, the price of sugar from an all-time high of 20 c/lb in 1920, dropped before that same year was out to 3.6 c/lb, with a further fall to 1.8 c/lb in 1921.(31) The crisis which this provoked led the U.S. to take a further stake in the economic and political management of the country. As Julio Le Riverend has argued,(32) because foreign banks invested their deposits over a range of operations, not necessarily inside Cuba, they did not leave their Cuban branches open to the extraordinary levels of risk which smaller, relatively unprotected Cuban banks faced. Such gearing provided the opportunity for U.S. banks to eliminate their smaller Cuban competitors and further dominate the economy. United States’ finance capital extended its presence even further in the period 1921-24. Apart from enlarging its participation in the sugar harvest,(33) it also increased U.S.-control of other strategic sectors including mining, public utilities, banks and the external debt in the Cuban economy during these years.(34)

This virtual confiscation of the productive forces in Cuba by U.S. interests curtailed the dynamism of the remaining pockets of Cuban capital. As Blackburn has argued, while the U.S. capital stake in Cuba “had reached dimensions where it no longer supported and secured the local landowning class, as it did everywhere else in Latin America: it had largely replaced this class”,(35) small-scale Cuban capital came to be invested not in competition with its U.S. counterpart, but in co-operation, merely as a complementary if not parasitic factor.(36) Any possibility that an independently-minded manufacturing or industrial bourgeoisie would crystallise in Cuba was finally lost.

The increased foreign-based ownership of the means of production also shaped the structure and function of the Cuban state. The two nationally organised political parties which arose during the first U.S. military occupation competed for the favour of the U.S. and displayed little concern for developing a native industrial base even by advocating mild protectionist measures against those countries to which Cuba’s principal export, sugar, was sent. From the initial withdrawal of U.S. troops, until the 1920s, Cuba was ruled by a succession of weak presidents who were notable chiefly for their attachment to the spoils of office and corruption. Party loyalty was not strong and politicians often switched parties to the likely victor at election time in their competition for positions and access to the resources of the new state.(37) The political ‘outs’ were simply keen to get ‘in’ in order to be able to administer funds and favour. As Luis Aguilar has argued, one result of being deprived the ownership of the major productive levers was a burgeoning bureaucracy which grew out of all proportion to the economy.(38) Pérez Jr. similarly observed that “[p]ublic office, patronage appointments, and civil service became ends; politics and electoral competition were the means.”(39) Opposition politics for the first twenty years of the republic largely revolved around threatening political insurrections as a path to requesting U.S. intervention under the terms of the Platt Amendment.(40)

This stagnant cycle of presidencies was only challenged in the aftermath of the Dance of the Millions. The collapse in the price of sugar ushered in economic depression and while U.S. finance capital once again threatened the social position of the small Cuban land-owning class, the existence of small proprietors also came under threat as money became tight. Albeit moderate at first, Cuban bourgeois nationalism once more had an identifiable social base at a time when the Mexican Revolution was fuelling a rejuvenated nationalist sentiment among a recently organised university reform movement intent on securing university autonomy from the church and state. The election of General Gerardo Machado as president of the Cuban Republic in 1925 under the slogan of ‘regeneration’ was the manifestation of this moderate nationalism. Early on, he extolled the “virtues of national industrial development and the need for economic diversification”(41) and in 1927 introduced Cuba’s first tariff legislation to favour the import of raw materials while making the import of manufactured goods less attractive.(42) While this brand of moderate economic nationalism favouring a Cuban manufacturing bourgeoisie and so-called ‘regeneration’ initially led to a spirit of cooperativismo permeating the major political parties, Machado increasingly turned to contain a newly organised and increasingly militant working class. As Jorge Domínguez has argued, Machado’s moderate nationalist programme “was limited and came too late to counteract the impact of the sugar depression.”(43)

Machado’s efforts to combat declining world prices for sugar not only led to repression against the labour movement, but opened up a divide between sections of the ruling Cuban oligarchy. Colonos were left with greater quantities of unsold cane because of the quota system and this sparked a crack in the spirit of cooperativismo. The ruptures in the written non-aggression pact also coincided with Machado’s turn to dictatorship as he openly sought to extend his term in office by altering the constitution. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the bourgeois opposition to Machado around ex-vice president Colonel Carlos Mendieta and ex-president General Mario Menocal would seek U.S. military “preventative intervention” at certain times, while at others would threaten popular rebellion in alliance with the more radical opposition.(44)

3.1.3 The Formative Years of the Cuban Labour Movement

The working class in Cuba emerged as a result of capitalist development and production for export in the two main industries, tobacco and sugar. In the tobacco industry cigar workers first formed mutual benefit and education associations during the 1850s.(45) Under the leadership of Saturnino Martínez, the influence of co-operativism and reformism on the Cuban labour movement went unchallenged until the 1880s when younger leaders began advocating the new ideology of anarcho-syndicalism.

As Jean Stubbs has noted, the 1880s in Cuba are frequently “depicted as a political battleground between reformists and anarchists.”(46) While the increasing dominance of anarcho-syndicalism in the Cuban labour movement is often largely attributed to the fact that the tobacco industry tended to stimulate the immigration of workers from Spain, who brought with them their anarcho-syndicalist ideology,(47) Joan Casanovas’ recent illuminating study has argued that the principal new ideas and leaders were home-grown. He convincingly contends that after the Ten Years’ War there were political and social changes in both Spain and Cuba which promoted the reorganisation of the labour movement under the leadership of anarcho-syndicalists. Most significantly, in the conditions of peace in the 1880s the influx of labour, both new Spanish immigrants and returning separatist Creoles, diluted the old privileges of the old Spanish labour aristocracy. As division by origin began to become less pronounced so also did division by race as slavery was progressively abolished during the course of the 1880s. Increasingly workers of all origins and races found common interest in defending wages and conditions in a tight labour market. In this social context anarcho-syndicalism with its militant tactics and ideas of working class solidarity and equality overtook the conciliatory ideas of class collaboration.(48) Anarcho-syndicalism was to dominate Cuban working class politics for the next forty years.(49)

Although, as described, the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement was not hostile to the cause of national liberation, the manifestation of anarcho-syndicalism in Cuba did retain a peculiar nationalistic hue. While the end of the four years of U.S. military occupation(50) left the Cuban working class with no organisational framework, as Charles Page has argued, a sense of chauvinistic anarchism also overtook the remaining pre-war internationalist anarcho-syndicalist spirit.(51) The main cause of this was the conflict between Spanish and Cuban workers over the issue of reserving the better-paid jobs in certain trades for Spanish workers. Spanish workers dominated the commercial sector and the skilled jobs in the tobacco industry. With an influx of foreign labour, mostly from Spain, in the first two decades of the republic,(52) labour militancy and strikes often took on a nationalistic character against Spanish control of the labour market rather than constituting any direct protest against capitalist interests.

Apart from the traditional refusal of anarchist apoliticism to accept the direction of any party or centralised structure,(53) the reluctance of anarchists to challenge the privileges which Spaniards enjoyed in labour market ensured that any attempt at working class organisation at a national level quickly broke down.(54) While anarchists were the more militant promoters of the strike weapon, particularly over demands for the payment of wages in U.S. dollars as opposed to the devalued French or Spanish currencies,(55) and were consistent in their calls for direct action against capital and the Cuban state, which it viewed as a tool of the bourgeoisie,(56) the attempts to found nation-wide socialist parties in the first two decades of independence were dominated by reformist leaders. These organisational attempts by reformists to build an opposition to the influence of anarchism in the working class were generally short-lived initiatives concentrated in the periods leading up to elections. They also took advantage of the fact that after a series of strikes the anarcho-syndicalist leaders of Spanish origin were often deported.

The attempts to build a nation-wide labour centre along reformist lines in the early years of the republic culminated with the August 1914 Workers’ Congress. A majority of delegates supported the labour initiatives of the government in return for mobilising the vote of the working class in the newly organised Partido Democrático Social.(57) Again, though, this project of class conciliation was overtaken by the spirit of anarcho-syndicalist direct action promoted by the growing economic disequilibrium during the First World War period. While sugar production expanded, as a result of Cuba’s dependence on imported goods to satisfy domestic consumer demand, a wage-price inflationary spiral was also sparked off.(58) The anarcho-syndicalist leadership, while opposing the war, encouraged labour militancy and, despite the government’s attempts at repression, the working class was increasingly organised as a force independent of the state.(59)

The First World War years also brought the Russian October Revolution. While its repercussions for twentieth century development were profound, as much in Cuba as elsewhere, initially, its impact on the Cuban political scene was minimal. The disparate political currents within the labour movement interpreted the events in Russia according to their own ideology with various anarchist leaders proclaiming themselves the Cuban section of the Comintern, without any concrete knowledge or understanding of the course of developments in Russia.(60) As Olga Cabrera has argued, the impact of the Russian October Revolution was more emotional than anything of real political significance.(61) Bearing witness to the weakness of an independent class-based socialist tradition at the time, the Bolshevik Revolution did not result in any split within the Cuban labour movement, nor in the immediate formation of a communist party. The Russian Revolution’s impact was instead limited to implanting revolutionary Marxism as a potentially successful guide to action in the consciousness of the anarcho-syndicalist milieu.

Working class organisation in all major sectors across the island gathered pace through the early 1920s. A First National Labour Congress was convened in Havana, which, in 1920-21, under the leadership of the anarcho-syndicalist Alfredo López, moved to organise the Federación Obrera de La Habana (FOH).(62) Although this trade union centre only united and co-ordinated the activity of the trade unions in the capital, in practice, its influence stretched beyond the province of Havana. In the wake of the Dance of the Millions, sugar workers suffered cuts in their wages and periods of employment. The discontent which this stimulated engendered a new wave of labour militancy. Between 1921 and 1924 this resulted in the working class movement gaining a greater degree of unity with trade union bodies in the urban areas establishing links with rural centres of work.(63) Furthermore, the radicalised student sector, under the leadership of Julio Antonio Mella, having initiated a campaign for university reform as a first step towards national regeneration, began to establish links with the organisations of the working class.

In 1923-24, strikes initiated by the sugar workers spread across the country, producing solidarity action in other urban sectors.(64) While this series of strikes brought together wider layers of workers than any previous movement, and immediately gave the struggle an anti-imperialist content in that the mills were largely U.S.-owned, it also had a narrower nationalist aspect. One central demand of the sugar workers, the call to end the annual import of Jamaican and Haitian field workers, ensured that nationalism continued to exert its influence.(65) However, the widespread support for the 1923-24 strikes inspired the formation of the Confederación Nacional Obrera de Cuba (CNOC), a permanent national trade union body, at a congress in August 1925.(66) At this historic congress, delegates representing an estimated 200,000 workers expressed a diverse range of reformist, anarcho-syndicalist and communist views. However, the anarcho-syndicalists were still dominant and the Congress reaffirmed their tenet that “authority and the state are terms antagonistic to liberty.”(67) Within weeks of the founding of the CNOC various small communist groups met to constitute the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC).

The opposition to the Machado’s government offensive at first centred around the students organised in the Directorio Estudiantil Universitario. However, as the acts of apparently arbitrary repression and assassination against labour organisations and their leaders mounted, the working class became increasingly embroiled. Labour militancy continued to rise as the Machado regime responded to a fall in world sugar prices by cutting production via the establishment of a quota system for each province and mill.(68) The already under-employed sugar workers had to suffer an even shorter harvest season. It was during this period of deepening social conflict in the late 1920s that the PCC’s influence in the working class substantially increased. In part, the PCC’s rise was facilitated by the work of Rubén Martínez Villena, a leading member of the party, in his capacity as a lawyer for the CNOC. His position allowed the PCC access to and influence in the offices of a variety of trade unions.(69)

In the late 1920s, official communist influence was also aided by the destruction of the labour movement’s experienced anarcho-syndicalist leadership who, already well known to the regime, bore the brunt of the severe repression meted out by the Machado government’s security forces.(70) However, apart from simply filling the vacuum left by the wave of repression directed at the old leadership of the labour movement, the communist take over of the leadership of the working class was also facilitated by the emotional enthusiasm some small socialist groups had had for the Russian October Revolution.(71) Communist literature in Spanish, which had started to come to Cuba via seamen and immigrants, also had an impact on these groups as well as some old anarcho-syndicalists. Sandalio Junco, for example, a Black bakery worker and anarchist when he participated in the founding of the FOH, became the International Secretary of the CNOC shortly after its founding, and joined the PCC after visiting the Soviet Union in 1927.(72) Also of significance was the fact that communist ideology had an increasingly wider base in which it could agitate and recruit. The anarcho-syndicalists who had originally gained their support in the tobacco industry and other small-scale workshops, could not compete with the communists as the sugar industry, a centre of large-scale capitalist production in an otherwise largely unindustrialised economy, was increasingly penetrated by modernising finance capital in the 1920s.(73)

3.2 The Revolution of the 1930s

3.2.1 The Revolution of the 1930s and Radical Cuban Nationalism

In the wake of the Stock Exchange Crash of 1929, and the subsequent world-wide economic depression, Cuba’s narrowly based export economy was hit hard. The problems were compounded by the protectionist Hawly-Smoot Tariff Act of June 1930 in the U.S., which increased the duty on sugar entering the U.S. home market,(74) so that the Cuban share of that U.S. market dropped from 49.4 per cent to 25.3 per cent between 1930 and 1933.(75) Similarly, the value of tobacco, Cuba’s second largest export, declined from US$43 million in 1929 to US$13 million in 1933.(76) In 1932, the price of sugar fell to as low as 0.57 c/lb.(77) Production was cut back, businesses closed and wage reductions were enforced at the same time as unemployment soared. As business failures reached record proportions, and as government subsidies and expenditure were cut to help service the foreign debt, a hard-pressed section of the small national bourgeoisie, as well as government officials and professionals who had been laid off, transferred their political hopes to the constitutional opposition. Machado, though, met this challenge to his regime with increased repression and the murder of his political rivals of all shades.

With the removal of the more moderate nationalist elements, whose threat was more based on provoking the support of the U.S. than stimulating any mass popular movement inside Cuba,(78) more militant groups emerged. In 1931 the PCC formed an aggressively anti-imperialist organisation, the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil (Left-Wing Students), to challenge what it considered was the limited democratic nationalism of the Directorio Estudiantil Universitario in the student milieu.(79) In conditions characterised by the proscription of the Cuban Communist Party, the formation of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil was one more front organisation through which the PCC conducted much of its activity. Other front organisations which had been formed during the Comintern’s Second Period of building broad anti-imperialist blocs included Cuban sections of the Defensa Obrera Internacional, affiliated to International Red Aid, the Liga Anti-Imperialista de las Américas, the Liga Anti-Clerical, and a youth organisation, the Liga Juvenil Comunista.

After the failure of an armed insurrection in August 1931 which was planned and initiated by the socially conservative Partido Unión Nacionalista headed by Mendieta and General Miguel Mariano Gómez,(80) the urban middle class also perpetuated the tradition of turning to arms by forming the ABC. Primarily a terrorist body from mid-1932, it organised among the ranks of urban professionals on a secretive cellular basis with the immediate aim of punishing those in the Machado regime who were responsible for the arbitrary acts of violence against the opposition.(81) While the ABC’s programme identified the negative role of U.S. imperialism in displacing Cubans from control over the national economy,(82) politically it was a heterogeneous organisation. Its links to the working class, however, were minimal which, apart from reinforcing its tendency towards individual terrorism, instilled in it a fear of revolution with social consequences. This eventually led it to side with the counter-revolution.(83)

During 1932 and early 1933, opposition to Machado’s rule came from all social classes. The student and middle class opposition movement was increasingly supplemented by the intervention of the working class who were also demanding widespread economic and political reforms. As labour militancy again rose in June and July 1933 at the end of the zafra, so in July the U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Benjamin Sumner Welles, began mediation talks between the Machado administration and the non-communist opposition groups. However, while these were underway a general strike called for 5 August paralysed Havana and quickly spread across the island.(84) According to a report by a New Deal advocate in the U.S.,(85) under the leadership of the FOH and the CNOC the strike “had been transformed from a limited economic movement into a political crusade openly anti-governmental in character.” Machado undertook one final manoeuvre to prevent his political demise by denouncing the U.S. mediation and offering limited concessions in negotiations with labour leaders. As the same pro-New Dealer, Charles Thomson, has described,(86) “[t]hroughout the strike the government had maintained contact with labor leaders, and on 8 August the Communist-led National Confederation of Labor [i.e., the CNOC], in return for a promise from Machado to recognize the legality of that organization, release all imprisoned workers and grant other demands, ordered the workers back to their jobs. The command, however, was opposed by the Havana Federation of Labor [i.e., the FOH] and was not heeded by the strikers.”

Amidst the mounting chaos and after losing U.S.-backing, Machado eventually fled the country on 12 August 1933. As news of his regime’s collapse came, the U.S., underestimating the extent of the popular clamour for profound reform, ushered in a government led by Carlos Miguel de Céspedes.(87) While the general strike initially folded, the working class, unlike in 1898, was organised and playing an active part in events. With the collapse of Machado’s authority in the countryside, and with the workers sensing the exhaustion of the old Cuban oligarchy tied to the Platt Amendment, a further series of strikes in the sugar industry broke out in the interior in mid- to late August 1933. As Barry Carr has described,(88) mill occupations accelerated and workers’ militancy increased after Machado’s flight as the collapse of the Machadista local councils and temporary paralysis of local military units created a power vacuum. With the army reportedly in a state of indiscipline and rebelliousness,(89) a spontaneous insurrectionary tide led by the older local trade union leaders, and catching the PCC somewhat by surprise, temporarily took control of production centres. Armed groups of workers pressed home their demands as they secured and extended workers’ control over a large number of centrales across Cuba.(90) According to Carr,(91) “[i]n a few exceptional cases [....] the occupations were transformed into Soviets.”

However, although no effective political power was able to call on a centralised armed body of men, the strikers themselves had no long-term perspective. Just as this turn of events demonstrated that in the initial stage of a spontaneous mass movement, workers reinforce the traditional organisations and methods of struggle—in this case, those of apolitical syndicalism—so this manifestation of working class militancy served to demonstrate the ultimate failing of anarcho-syndicalism. Unwilling to pose the political question of which class will hold state power, after Batista had consolidated control of the army in early October 1933, promising renewed army intervention in the centrales, the strike committees increasingly sought compromise agreements as the control of the mills was ceded to the owners. The demands of the strikers did not impinge on the political questions of power, but were rather limited to economism.(92)

With state power temporarily paralysed and the political situation still undecided, the end of the Céspedes government came in the form of the Sergeants’ Revolt of 4 September 1933 led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista.(93) In the short term, the intervention of the influential Directorio Estudiantil Universitario advocating radical reform turned an act of insubordination into a military coup. Under the political leadership of the students a five-man directorate formed a new government which in turn gave way to Grau San Martín, the choice of the radical students for the presidency.

The new regime’s nationalist support and orientation was initially bolstered by the refusal of the U.S. government to confer upon it official recognition and the placement of a cordon of thirty U.S. warships around the island.(94) According to one observer, the regime of Grau San Martín was dominated by a programme based on a spirit of frank nationalism.(95) “Cuba for the Cubans” became its motto(96) as it set about the implementation of a nationalist, reformist programme.

Seeking to chart a course between demands for radical social reform emanating from the labour and student movement, whose left-wing claimed to be anti-imperialist, and the more cautious social conservatism of the old institutions, the Grau San Martín government combined a policy of paternalistic intervention in labour-capital relations with frank chauvinistic appeals to popular nationalist sentiments. While the Platt Amendment was unilaterally abrogated and social reforms in terms of minimum wage legislation, a statutory eight-hour working day and the drastic reduction of electricity prices were introduced,(97) the Grau San Martín government attempted to challenge the dominant influence of communism in the labour movement by seeking to ‘Cubanise’ the labour force and the labour leadership. In the first place, Grau San Martín continued Machado’s policy of deporting unemployed foreigners.(98) Another decree, which popularly became known as the ‘50 per cent Law’, required all companies to ensure that at least 50 per cent of employees on their payrolls be native Cubans and that all new vacancies be filled by Cubans.(99) A further decree on labour organisation attempted to ‘Cubanise’ the trade union movement and restrict communist influence by making it illegal for foreign-born trade unionists to hold office in a labour organisation. This decree also included the setting up of a government register of all labour organisations and the establishment of a compulsory conciliation and arbitration board to settle all industrial disputes. As the pro-New Deal Commission on Cuban Affairs in the U.S. observed, a “wedge was driven between native and foreign labor”(100) as nationalism was mobilised within the ranks of labour in a struggle to weaken communism.(101)

While much of the legislation of the Grau San Martín government was motivated by the Directorio Estudiantil Universitario’s programme, the primary conduit for forcing apace much of the social reform legislation and pressing home the concerns of the radical nationalist forces was Guiteras, the young Minister of War and the Interior. However, also within the government, Batista’s authority was increasing as he rallied the army in resisting a counter-coup by the deposed officer caste and in repressing the mounting wave of strikes and social unrest.(102) Apart from violently confronting striking workers in the centrales, the army crushed a demonstration organised by the PCC in Havana to honour the return of the ashes of the murdered communist Mella on 29 September 1933.(103) In also ransacking the offices of the CNOC, Batista began to win the confidence of the moderate nationalist sectors who were hostile to the more radical anti-imperialist content of the Grau San Martín-Guiteras social reform programme.(104)

Caught between a radical insurrectional tide, which had not subsided, and pressure from the small national bourgeoisie for social peace, the fall of the so-called ‘100-day’ government of Grau San Martín came in mid-January 1934, the day after the U.S.-owned Cuban Electric Company had refused to comply with a government order to reduce its prices and the government had ordered a seizure of its plants.(105) At the beginning of the 1934 zafra, sugar interests in Cuba and the U.S. required an immediate political solution which would guarantee social stability during the harvest. Batista transferred army support from Grau San Martín to, first of all, Carlos Hevia, the moderate Secretary of Agriculture, and then three days later to Mendieta. Within five days the U.S. had recognised the new government.(106) While political power had been torn from the old oligarchy, the anti-imperialist content of the struggle had received a severe blow. The right of capital over labour once again rested on the unequivocal support of the army committed to halting the mobilisation of labour. While Batista had a narrow base of popular support, his immediate task was one of naked repression, something which the small and weak national bourgeoisie had proven incapable of carrying out alone. As Batista increasingly took on the features of a repressive Bonapartist figure above the local class formations, during the course of 1934 the Batista-Mendieta regime also attempted to legitimise and strengthen many of the labour reforms which the Grau San Martín government had introduced.(107)

In January and February 1934, following the fall of the Grau San Martín government, strikes almost overtook the government while a myriad of political groups also sprang into being to challenge Batista’s authority. Grau San Martín fled to Mexico and founded the Partido Revolucionario Cubano (Auténtico) (PRC(A)) in February 1934, a party modelled on an Aprista peaceful, nationalist opposition to the new government.(108) The most uncompromising political action group, though, was Joven Cuba founded by Guiteras. In essence a politico-military apparatus for the overthrow of Batista and imposition of socialism from above, Joven Cuba embodied an amalgam of political ideas. In the first place, Guiteras’ strategy incorporated the ideas of revolutionary violence and a socialist dictatorship characterised by a concentration of coercion as had been advocated in the early twentieth century in Europe by Sorel.(109) Guiteras also embodied the voluntarist traditions of Cuban revolutionary struggle which highlighted the subjective factor in the revolutionary process. More pertinent to my thesis, though, is that in many respects Guiteras’ approach to revolutionary struggle ran Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution backwards. That is, whereas Trotsky saw the revolution as the culmination of a process of consistent United Front work to win and pass beyond democratic demands, Guiteras’ schema in effect drew no distinction between imperialism and the national bourgeoisie, ignored the democratic political tasks of the revolutionary struggle, and sought to impose emancipation on the oppressed classes.

Reducing the revolution to a largely technical, military operation, Joven Cuba commenced a campaign of bombings and individualistic terrorist actions. As a largely uneven and spontaneous strike movement through 1934 contributed to the widespread disorder, President Mendieta suspended constitutional guarantees, so placing Batista and the army in formal as well as effective control of the island.(110) The available Cuban military resources were deployed to crush a further round of labour unrest.(111) Labour leaders across the political spectrum were shot or imprisoned, trade unions were dissolved, and the leaders of the Auténticos and Joven Cuba were hunted down.

The confrontation between Batista and the forces of radical nationalism and socialism culminated in February-March 1935 when another general strike was organised for the introduction of minimum democratic rights. Initiated by the University Strike Committee, preparatory work was hastily carried out among student and workers’ organisations with the aim of building a United Front Committee. However, political divisions among the organisations of the proletariat persisted and unity in action was not obtained. Without centralised control, the strike began spontaneously at different times in different places.(112) However, the strike was eventually as complete as the August 1933 general strike and again witnessed the seizure and occupation of sugar mills and land.(113) This, in turn, provoked the imposition of a state of martial law and the use against the strikers of the most extreme measures in the history of the republic.(114) Unable to withstand the onslaught of the state forces, the strike collapsed within a week and the repression against its leaders intensified. The forces of Batista destroyed union headquarters, declared all union funds to be state property and outlawed all political parties. Guiteras was hunted down and shot, thereby signalling the decline of the organisation and the drift of its members in 1935-36 into the PRC(A). The strike’s failure and the repression which followed brought to a close the Revolution of the 1930s, although the repercussions of these years were to extend into the next decades.

3.2.2 The Cuban Communist Party and the Revolution of the 1930s

The PCC, founded by figures including Baliño and Mella who had emerged from the popular national revolutionary movement, had, as Manuel Caballero has contended, “the extraordinary opportunity [....] of being perceived not as an ‘international’ movement but rather as an off-spring of the revolutionary traditions of Cuba, and of inserting itself into the real social and political processes of the country.”(115) Furthermore, unlike its counterparts in other Latin American countries, the Cuban Communist Party, from 1928, controlled the national trade union centre. Yet despite these peculiar national advantages, the PCC managed to isolate itself from the national revolutionary sector during the Revolution of the 1930s and win the continuing distrust of all other Left groups in Cuba for the next three decades. This outcome was largely determined by the overriding influence of the Comintern and the PCC’s uncritical adoption of its tactical zigzags, particularly from the early 1930s.

Constituted relatively late, in 1925, the PCC was initially a small party made up of students, intellectuals and experienced worker-militants, many of whom were foreign-born.(116) In terms of its initial importance within the Comintern, it was, as Barry Carr has termed it, “a ‘backwater’ organisation.”(117) Furthermore, though shaped by the Comintern’s organisational principles and political perspectives, the PCC, given its relative remoteness, was not initially a simple appendage to the Kremlin loyally implementing directives emanating from Moscow. Its subordination to the conformity of Comintern directives was only broadly confirmed when, after the intervention of the Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern and the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) in November 1930,(118) it began belatedly to employ the Third Period tactical line.

In terms of strategy, the PCC initially adopted an opportunist position with regard to revolutionary bourgeois nationalism during the 1920s, up to and including exploring the possibilities for insurrection alongside the Partido Unión Nacionalista. This perspective, though developed locally, placed the PCC within the broad scope of the Comintern’s Second Period tactical line of seeking unity with other ‘progressive’ sectors of the population.(119) The PCC, however, abruptly labelled its Second Period policy as an error from late 1930, and replaced it with the Comintern’s Third Period line of ultra-left hostility towards the non-communist nationalist-reformist sector.(120) The PCC considered that the opposition movement to Machado was the struggle of one faction of the bourgeois-latifundist alliance, with essentially the same programme and as dependent on imperialism as Machado, against the pro-Machado section.(121)

The PCC also adopted the Comintern’s assessment of the process of historical development in Latin America. During the Third Period, underpinning the PCC’s activity was the understanding that in Cuba a feudal landlord class was in alliance with imperialism. The perceived coming revolution was thereby considered to be anti-feudal and anti-imperialist in nature,(122) and they resurrected the slogan of a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ which Lenin had abandoned in April 1917.

When the August 1931 Revolt initiated by the Partido Unión Nacionalista broke out, the official communists formally maintained a position of neutral passivity.(123) The PCC argued that its involvement in joint preparatory work for an armed expedition from Mexico with the Partido Unión Nacionalista in the late 1920s, and its support for an attempted coup d’etat led by bourgeois nationalists in October 1930, had made it appear to serve as a simple shock brigade of the Partido Unión Nacionalista.(124) The PCC instead advocated a struggle against what it termed the petty bourgeois ideological pressure of putschism and conspiratorial romanticism by directing its activity towards developing and deepening the daily struggles of the working masses.(125) While this turn included supporting PCC participation in elections organised by Machado on the basis of strengthening the struggle for immediate demands,(126) it also led the official communists to insist on the validity of the dual or ‘red’ trade union tactic. The PCC rejected the perspective of working in the existing non-communist-affiliated trade unions in order to win the workers away from their reformist and anarcho-syndicalist leaders. The PCC instead sought to confront and eliminate trade unions with a non-communist political affiliation by creating ‘red’ trade unions among the working masses. While the most notable example of this in Cuba was the drive to cut across local associations by unionising the workers in the sugar industry, Cuba’s most proletarianised sector, in one national union, the Sindicato Nacional de Obreros de la Industria Azucarera (SNOIA),(127) the PCC insisted on the united front only from below with rank and file non-communist workers.(128) While up until 1930-31, there was still a variety of political positions represented within the CNOC, with the National Labour Confederation’s adoption of the Comintern’s Third Period tactics, an opposition within the CNOC to the PCC’s line began to take shape as José Pilar Herrera, the CNOC’s General Secretary, resigned at the end of 1930.(129)

In the political field, the PCC, likewise, did not attempt to form an Anti-Imperialist United Front. The official communists, thereby, did not delineate between the national revolutionary sphere around the student movement and the Grau San Martín-Guiteras axis, on the one hand, and the socially conservative camp organised around Menocal and Mendieta on the other. For the PCC, all these groups and their supporters constituted “the forces, of counter-revolution, supported by [North] American finance capital.”(130) One final contentious slogan which the PCC took from the international communist movement was that of calling for ‘Black Belts’. From late 1930 the PCC argued that in those regions where Blacks were a majority, they constituted an oppressed nation. On this basis, the PCC agitated for Black self-determination up to and including the setting up of an independent state.(131)

As I have already noted, at the time of the August 1933 general strike, the PCC-controlled CNOC conducted negotiations with Machado which resulted in the PCC leaders issuing a call to end the strike.(132) In the spirit of the Third Period, the official communists initially attempted to justify their decision by suggesting that whether or not the strike continued was not a vital question since even if victorious, the objective conditions would not allow for the immediate coming to power of a workers’ and peasants’ government. According to the PCC, the probable outcome would simply have been the coming to power of another bourgeois government. The back-to-work call, however, was ignored by the workers and Machado was forced to flee the country shortly thereafter. The PCC quickly reviewed its call for a cessation of the strike, which had exposed it to charges of substituting its priorities over those of the popular movement, eventually considering it to be an act of political myopia and a gross error.

While the official communist movement at the time explained the ‘error’ in terms of the Right opportunism of the PCC’s Central Committee,(133) at the root of the PCC’s accommodation with Machado was ultra-left hostility to a strike movement which it did not control. As Fabio Grobart stated in his explanation of the ‘error of August’, the “Party leaders concluded that, since it was impossible to replace Machado immediately by a revolutionary workers’ government, the struggle of the working class would only have the objective effect of aiding the bourgeois opposition to power.”(134) This ‘lesser evil’ thesis, which embodied the understanding that a weakened Machado was preferable to another stronger bourgeois substitute or direct U.S. intervention, was the basis for the decision to call on the workers to stop the strike.(135) It also hastened some internal argument within the PCC. Reflecting the degree of autonomy which the Cuban party still retained with respect to the Comintern, the international envoys in Cuba seem to have been against the decision to order a return to work but were over-ruled by the Central Committee of the PCC who stood behind the position of Martínez Villena.(136) The disagreement led to the removal from office of Jorge Vivó, the PCC’s General Secretary,(137) who had supported the foreign envoys, as well as hastening the dismissal of the Profintern’s envoy in Cuba, the Polish communist Mendel Michrowski (*Lowski).(138)

As a result of this ‘error of August’, the PCC also suffered an immediate loss of prestige and a dislocation of its trade union and party activity. According to an internal report of the PCC’s regional conference in Oriente held in late November and early December 1933, *Juan, the long-standing international envoy who had arrived from Mexico in 1930, noted that the ‘error of August’ had put a brake on the development of the party.(139) This revealing report recounted that in Oriente, a state of virtual anarchy reigned in the ranks of the PCC.(140) There was a breakdown of branch activity and a state of almost rebellion against the Central Committee.(141) The underlying reason was the rank and file’s unwillingness to accept those aspects of PCC policy which so flagrantly violated the deep-rooted traditions of revolutionary syndicalism and national liberation struggle in the easternmost province. Apart from taking a stand against the decision of the PCC leadership to call for a return to work during the August 1933 strike, the PCC delegates at the Oriente conference also questioned other directives passed down from above such as self-determination for Blacks in Oriente(142) and the call not to put the anti-imperialist struggle in the front line of the struggle. While the rapprochement in Soviet-U.S. relations in late 1933 arguably coincided with Martínez Villena’s ‘lesser evil’ dilution of the struggle in Cuba, the principal complaint raised by the delegates to the Oriente conference of the PCC was that such a watering down of the tactical line would strip all struggles of their content since most of the land and property in Cuba was owned by an imperialist power.(143)

During the first half of 1934, even after the collapse of the Grau San Martín government, the PCC maintained the strategy and tactics of the Comintern’s Third Period. At the CNOC’s Fourth Congress in January 1934 and the sessions of its affiliates,(144) the official communists reiterated their commitment to struggle for the self-determination of the Black population in Cuba, up to and including separation.(145) The Second Congress of the PCC held in April 1934 restated that the immediate task was the struggle against the fascist decrees of the Batista-Mendieta government and the installation of a workers’ and peasants’ government through Soviet power.(146) According to a further report, a resolution adopted by the Second Congress also reiterated that, “[o]f all the groups and parties in Cuba, the most dangerous for the revolution are the parties of the ‘Left’, chiefly the Cuban Revolutionary Party of Grau.”(147) The PCC repeated that the Auténticos and Joven Cuba, even after their partial defeat, remained the principal danger. In the opinion of the PCC, they were among the reactionary parties who were “divert[ing] the masses from the road of revolution in order to safeguard the bourgeois-landlord-imperialist domination.”(148) In an article published as late as December 1934, continuing to view Grau San Martín, Guiteras, the ABC and Batista as one homogenous block, Joaquín Ordoqui maintained that,(149) the PCC “has exposed the policy of Grau San Martín and Guiteras (his ‘Left’), a policy of ‘retreat’, that is to say, of support for the policy of the ruling classes.” In accusing the Auténticos and Joven Cuba of being in the camp of counter-revolution, the PCC, reflecting the broad Third Period line, also labelled them as fascist.(150)

However, from October 1934 after the Fourth Plenum of the PCC’s Central Committee, the official communists began to undertake a revision of their acutely insensitive ultra-left line as the Comintern prepared its turn towards codifying the tactic of the Popular Front.(151) From depicting nationalist-reformist and anti-imperialist groups during the Grau San Martín government as the biggest enemy, the PCC in late 1934 and 1935, when these nationalist groups were much weaker, decided to support the formation of a broad ‘progressive’ alliance with them. This reversal of policy would eventually lead the PCC to seek convenient, opportunist alliances with not only those Left-nationalist forces which it had previously denounced, but with Batista himself.

As various authors on the subject have pointed out,(152) and as Blas Roca, the newly appointed General Secretary of the PCC, detailed at the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern in mid-1935, the Cuban communists’ turn towards the practice of forging broad alliances, had been started in Cuba before the March 1935 strike but was far from complete.(153) In fact, by early 1935 the PCC had still not completely shed its ultra-left approach, nor fully assimilated the Comintern’s new thinking. During the February/March 1935 events, the PCC continued to concern itself primarily with political unity around an immediate maximum programme for revolution rather than with unity in action with anti-imperialist groups over concrete issues. As Blas Roca stated, “[i]n our proposals in February of this year to Guiteras, [....] we laid down conditions which hindered the formation of the united front [....] Such slogans as the self determination of the Negro and the confiscation of the lands of the large estates".(154) This self-critique was reiterated by a Cuban delegate in his address to the Comintern’s Seventh World Congress,(155) while elsewhere the PCC recognised that it had maintained a “wrong position with respect to the revolutionary government of Grau San Martín” which if had been otherwise could have contributed to the triumph of the revolution.(156)

In theory, the PCC recognised that the slogan of ‘soviet power’ was an obstacle to national unity and did not take into account the national revolutionary stage.(157) In unreservedly adhering to the two-stage theory in the new Popular Front era, the PCC explained that:

“[t]he Cuban revolution is currently passing through the national stage, and in this stage the role which other layers of the population, aside from the proletariat and peasantry, play cannot be ignored. The Cuban petty bourgeoisie, particularly the students, plays an important role because of the semi-colonial character of Cuba. And even the Cuban national bourgeoisie, with the contradictions between itself and the imperialism which suffocates it, stores up revolutionary energies which must not be wasted. Because of this, united in the common interest of liberating our country, all layers of the population, from the proletariat to the national bourgeoisie, can and must enter into a broad popular front against the foreign oppressor.”(158)

While the PCC’s initial attempts to form some kind of United Front came to nothing, the defeat of the March 1935 general strike acted as a catalyst in the PCC’s thinking. Blas Roca made an abrupt turn in emphasising that “the need for the united front is most urgent”,(159) and admitted that the PCC had previously drawn:

"such false conclusions on the position of the Cuban Revolutionary Party [i.e., the PRC(A)] and Young Cuba [i.e., Joven Cuba] as to say that they had passed over to the camp of the counter-revolution, betraying the struggle, which, to say the least, hindered and impeded the future development of the united front. The Party has committed such serious errors in its analysis as to estimate the Cuban Revolutionary Party and Young Cuba to be on the road of fascization.”(160)

At the Comintern’s Seventh World Congress a Cuban delegate similarly confessed the errors of the Third Period. He acknowledged that “the basic error of the Party consisted in mechanically setting off the class interests of the proletariat against the interests of the national-liberation struggle” and that “[b]ecause the Party did not understand these tasks it failed to draw a demarcation line between the national-revolutionary camp on the one hand, and the feudal-imperialist counter-revolutionary camp, on the other.”(161) He further recognised that the:

"’neutral’ position taken by the party with regard to the struggle between the Grau government and the reactionary A.B.C. party [....] and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army Batista, [....] objectively facilitated the coming to power of the present reactionary government. The same attitude explains the fact that the Party incorrectly characterised the so-called Cuban Revolutionary Party—a national reformist organisation headed by Grau—as a ‘fascist’ party and classified as such even the national revolutionary organisation ‘Young Cuba,’ headed by Guiteras.”(162)

Instead of labelling them as the principal danger, the PCC now sought to establish close and fraternal collaboration with the PRC(A) and the Guiteristas.(163) Instead of crudely counter-posing the struggle for a workers’ and peasants’ insurrection against a supposedly counter-revolutionary national liberation struggle, the PCC now entered the path of limiting the working class movement to precisely the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution.

In attempting to employ the new line, Blas Roca described how in April 1935 the PCC went to Miami to propose a United Front to the leader of the PRC(A), Grau San Martín himself. Blas Roca stated that “even though he [i.e., Grau San Martín] refused to receive us we (without calling him a fascist!) addressed the masses and the Central Committee of his party for a united front protest against the assassination of Guiteras and Carlos Aponte.”(164) The PCC made overtures to all anti-imperialist parties with the proposal of adopting a joint tactic with respect to the elections which Mendieta called in December 1935. The PCC, in appealing to the Auténticos, Joven Cuba and all popular anti-imperialist parties and organisations,(165) proposed Grau San Martín as their presidential candidate if such a United Front agreed not to sabotage or boycott any elections.(166)

The PCC’s subservience to the Comintern’s sectarian Third Period tactical line during the period encompassing the Revolution of the 1930s led to it suffering some isolation within the anti-imperialist revolutionary camp. Unable to influence the revolutionary groups which took up arms, and with its prestige damaged, the PCC’s initial attempts at forging a United Front in action as the international climate changed, were rebutted. However, the violent suppression of the March 1935 general strike accelerated and deepened the process of reversing the Third Period tactical line. Loyally interpreting the directives of the Comintern, the PCC was embarking on the construction of a popular alliance against Batista and the perceived threat of fascism.

3.3 Official Communism and Consensual Nationalism in Cuba, 1935-52

During the years from 1935 to 1958, U.S. hegemony in Cuba together with the weakness of the national bourgeoisie continued to impose the parameters within which the Cuban state functioned. In the first place, while the post-World War Two international trade agreements did not annul the U.S. quota system for Cuban sugar, they also left intact the preferential treatment granted to U.S. products to the detriment of industrial goods from other countries. This confirmed the continued lack of development of a manufacturing base by a native bourgeoisie and was accompanied by a stagnation in the development and growth of the economy.(167)

Samuel Farber has convincingly argued that the Cuban regime, in the aftermath of the Revolution of the 1930s, continued to display the Bonapartist characteristics which the emergence of Batista as an authoritarian national figure had first demonstrated. Farber characterised the post-1935 era as a period of conservative Bonapartism in which Batista, while not ‘representing’ the Cuban bourgeoisie, dictated policies which the latter accepted because of its historic weakness, its fear of revolution if Batista were to be opposed, and because in general terms the reforms and policy initiatives were compatible with its general interests.(168)

While Batista’s narrow base of support had not hindered his rule during the revolutionary crisis of 1934-35, when the need for naked repression was no longer the immediate concern in the post-1935 period, Batista had to look to broaden his base of popular support. It was this consideration which meant that the Cuban state increasingly took on the peculiar feature of consisting of a governing entente which was not homogeneous in terms of its class composition. As Farber concluded, “accommodations and political soundings [....] took place in order to reestablish a social equilibrium which had been lost in 1933-35.”(169)

The 1935-58 period taken as a whole witnessed a deepening of the process, initiated by Grau San Martín, of attracting the leaders of a sizeable sector of organised labour into a consensual, national political order. As Lourdes Casal has succinctly described, the two historically dynamic classes displayed profound internal divisions and fractures, so hindering the development of any cohesive class consciousness. As a consequence, the “Cuban State [....] was, to a large extent, independent and above the local classes and interest groups. In a sense, it could be seen as an instrument of domination by an extra-national class, the U.S. capitalists. While the incumbents respected the rules of the game, in so far as the hegemonic relationship with the U.S. was concerned, they could exercise considerable autonomy with respect to the local classes, dispensing favors among the various components of the ruling entente, which comprised fragments of various classes.”(170)

In the period 1935-39, after the defeat and exhaustion of the radical nationalist and labour movement in the March 1935 general strike, the construction of a post-Platt Amendment political order was determined by the weakness of the old Cuban political oligarchy and the PCC’s uncritical application of the policy of the Comintern. During 1935 and 1936, all opposition groups which had supported the March 1935 general strike maintained a position of outright hostility towards the Batista regime, though outbursts of individual acts of revolutionary violence against the ruling order did not occur to any significant extent. By 1937-38, however, the Auténticos adopted a more conciliatory tone as Batista advanced a social reform programme which to some extent strengthened the labour reforms initiated by the Grau San Martín government. Steps were also taken to regroup various non-communist, opposition organisations, including the remnants of Joven Cuba, within the PRC(A).(171) Promoted by a climate of Popular-Frontist anti-fascism among the reformist Left, this regrouping was accompanied by a moderation in the Auténticos opposition to Batista. Farber has argued that by 1939 “the distinguishing characteristic of the Auténticos was not so much that they were the broad party of the ‘left’ as that they had become the party which advocated a civilian democratic version of reform rather than a militaristic and authoritarian one.”(172)

While the parties and groups of Left-nationalism moved towards a moderate programme of national reform, the official communists’ policy underwent a metamorphosis. During 1935 and 1936, the PCC maintained a position of outright opposition towards the government. The International Press Correspondence of 18 July 1936 referred to it as “[t]he terrorist dictatorship of Batista".(173) In an article published as late as April 1937 a spokesperson for the Comintern claimed that “[t]he aim of Batista [....] is to imitate the example of Hitler and Mussolini and eliminate all opposition by creating a single fascist party completely under his control.”(174) During the early period of the Batista-led regime the PCC, in line with Comintern policy, proposed the realisation of an anti-imperialist People’s Front and electoral alliance of all the democratic organisations in Cuba against the regime.(175)

However, by mid- to late 1937, a reorientation in the PCC’s policy was initiated as Batista looked to build a broad popular base of support. Batista, of mixed race origin who had relatively recently emerged from the lower strata of society, and who was viewed with some distrust by the old political oligarchy, turned to the official communists for popular support among their natural constituency, the working class.(176) The rapprochement which took place, though facilitated by the Comintern’s policy which not only promoted broad anti-fascist alliances but did not preclude the entry of communist parties into bourgeois governments, did not constitute the formation of a genuine Popular Front. It was, rather, a unique alliance between the official communists and Batista which excluded the popular parties of democratic nationalism. This dramatic shift in Cuban communist policy laid the foundations for the formation of a pan-American anti-fascist alliance comprising Batista and the official communists in Cuba and the Mexican trade union centre and U.S. administration. These alliances in turn paved the way for the PCC’s later adherence to a Browderist line which was employed with a degree of independence from Moscow.

The cementing of the PCC-Batista joint front was not completed until early 1939. The process has been succinctly summarised by Boris Goldenberg. He wrote that, “[t]he first step, taken in late 1937, was the recognition as a legal party of a sort of Communist-front organization called the Partido Unión Revolucionaria [....] This was followed shortly afterwards by the proclamation of a general political amnesty. Then, starting May 1, 1938, the Communists—even though the party had not yet been officially legalized—were permitted to launch a daily paper called Noticias de Hoy (usually referred to simply as Hoy) under the editorship of one of the top Communist leaders, Aníbal Escalante. In June of the same year, the party Central Committee was able to hold, openly and without interference, its Tenth Plenum, which adopted its first, rather restrained pro-Batista resolutions. Finally, on September 23, 1938, the party was fully legalized, subsequently merging with the Partido Unión Revolucionaria to form the Unión Revolucionaria Comunista [....], which held its first congress in January 1939.”(177) Thus, in March 1939 a spokesperson for the Comintern commenting on the Cuban communists was able to write that “[t]owards Batista the Communist Party maintains a general attitude of support.”(178) Batista, rather than the focal point of reaction, had become the principal defender of democracy, and the official communists became his most vociferous apologist.(179)

In late January 1939, the communist party also embarked on dissolving the CNOC and founding the Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC).(180) With the support of the Ministry of Labour, government paternalism towards labour deepened. As Hugh Thomas has described,(181) the CTC, with Batista’s encouragement, immediately became “the favourite son of the Ministry of Labour. The CTC became in effect the state trade union. From the beginning, the new leaders, instead of bargaining with employers, went direct to the ministry". Improvements in wages and conditions were gained through the working class’s dependence on the paternalistic interventions of the state which, in turn, was more able to finance co-option given that the conditions of war had re-floated the price of sugar and thereby boosted the whole economy. The consensual approach also resulted in the formulation of the 1940 Constitution, which in recognising a whole host of democratic and social rights alongside respect for private property served as “the compromise that settled the revolutionary struggles of the 1930s.”(182) While this modus vivendi compromised the political independence of the working class and blunted its ability to engage in political struggle, so the national bourgeoisie was not given the opportunity to forge a mentality nor the institutions to prosecute an uncompromising struggle.

The reform alliance between Batista and the official communists in the newly organised Unión Revolucionaria Comunista (URC) was for the time being mutually beneficial as both remained isolated from middle class and Auténtico support.(183) For Batista, the apparently socially conscious military leader, the rich reward came in 1940 when he presented himself as a candidate in the May presidential elections. The URC was the first of six pro-Batista parties to group together in the Coalición Socialista Democrática to support his candidacy.(184) During his subsequent term in office, Batista was able to use the official communists to offset opposition, particularly from the Auténticos, in government and labour relations. For the official communists, although the moves towards Batista and U.S. imperialism appear to have provoked the resignation of at least one leading member,(185) they were able to take advantage of the conditions of weak bourgeois democracy and the favour of Batista to quickly take control of the most important sectors of the trade union movement and become an influential mass organisation almost overnight.(186) However, having attained this position through closed-door discussions with Batista rather than through participation in the class struggle, the renamed PCC could not legitimately claim to lead or express the interests of an active, independent labour movement. Indeed, as a number of anti-Stalinist socialist scholars have argued, the primary political role of the Cuban Communist Party was to remove itself and the working class from active intervention in the class struggle in exchange for certain economic incentives.(187)

While the official communists initially viewed the Second World War as imperialist on all sides, after the entry of the USSR into the War the URC and URC-led CTC revised their line so as to insist that all efforts had to be focused on promoting the Allies’ war efforts. Confirming that the official communists had squarely relegated the development of a revolutionary strategy to a place behind the requirements of the Kremlin’s foreign policy, the URC supported the concept of national unity and, declaring its patriotic duty to avoid strike action and create a war spirit to increase war production,(188) transformed the trade union apparatus into an auxiliary police force of the government. The U.S. also underwent a transformation from being an imperialist centre of oppression to being a trusted ally, and two communists, Juan Marinello and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez served as ministers-without-portfolio in Batista’s cabinet. In 1941, the URC also became a firm supporter of compulsory military service and the dispatch of Cuban troops to Europe. The official communists’ energy, dedication, discipline and the astuteness of their leaders’ political opportunism was such that the U.S. intelligence services referred to them as the best organised party in Cuba, standing out above the other more loosely-organised political groups.(189)

During the war, moderate opposition to the Batista-communist alliance was centred in the PRC(A) led by Grau San Martín. In the labour movement, opposition to the official communists’ control of the CTC was challenged by the Comisión Obrera Nacional (National Labour Commission).(190) The leader of this Auténtico National Labour Commission was the former member of the PCC and then Oposición Comunista, Mujal, who in the mid-1930s had joined the PRC(A) of Grau San Martín.(191)

In accord with the pronouncements of possible coexistence between the USSR and the bourgeois-democratic capitalist world following the Tehran Conference, which led directly to the dissolution of the Comintern, the URC became, in January 1944, the Partido Socialista Popular (PSP). Publicly embracing the ideas of Browderism and proclaiming the end of the imperialist epoch,(192) the PSP gave its support to Batista’s candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections, Carlos Saladrigas, one of the founders of the ABC in the early 1930s.(193) In the 27 February 1944 edition of Hoy, the PSP published its programme for the regeneration of the national economy. Reporting on these proposals prior to the elections, the U.S. security services classified them as moderate measures which had already been taken by other non-socialist countries to defend and develop national interests. Furthermore, the U.S. officials again privately commended the Cuban communists for their alertness in giving form to unco-ordinated nationalist aspirations, this in sharp contrast to other political parties.(194)

Given the impending military defeat of the Axis powers and the general international repudiation of military dictatorships, the largely honest elections in 1944 resulted in defeat for the Batista-PSP-sponsored project of continuismo and a victory for Grau San Martín and the Auténticos. Although the Auténticos were decidedly anti-PSP at core, PSP control of the CTC and influence with the government was not immediately broken. As Harold Sims has noted,(195) despite the Auténticos’ victory in the presidential elections, they “lacked a majority in congress and did not control the armed forces.” Continued communist co-operation in government was further conditioned by the PSP’s interpretation of the peaceful co-existence line laid down by the Soviet Union.(196)

However, as the era of the Cold War arrived in 1947, and the U.S. initiated a drive against communism throughout the world, so the PSP was rather humiliatingly forced to renounce Browderism to echo the less conciliatory line within the international communist movement and return to the Moscow fold.(197) The increasingly bi-polar international political alignment, combined with the Auténticos winning control of parliament in the 1946 Congressional elections, undermined the basis for continuity in the PSP-Grau San Martín alliance.

In a stronger position politically, the Auténticos were better able to move against the dominant influence of the PSP in the labour movement. The contest ensued through 1947, culminating after some violence and much bureaucratic manoeuvring with official government recognition of the Auténtico-dominated CTC(A) over the breakaway communist CTC(C).(198) The communists were forcibly evicted from CTC premises in July 1947. Despite their undeniable dedication and personal integrity in rejecting the temptations of personal enrichment which political office had offered them,(199) without official government favour, the official communists’ broad base of support melted away. As Farber has argued,(200) “the working-class did not have the desire, training or endurance to insist in following their former leaders. [....] Most workers were either cynical about this whole new operation at the top where once again one set of leaders was being replaced by another set of leaders more favorable to the current administration in office or else shared the new wave of Cold War anti-communism".

Beginning in this period, the Grau San Martín administration increasingly succumbed to the old pattern of widespread corruption in public office. This was accompanied by the toleration of open gangsterism in the streets of the major cities. Numerous terrorist groups, of which the Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario (MSR), Unión Insurrecional Revolucionaria (UIR) and Acción Revolucionaria Guiteras (ARG) were the most important, targeted anyone for reasons of money, personal rivalry or political leverage.(201) While armed actions in the mid- to late 1930s had been carried out on a political basis to further the cause of revolution against the perceived usurpers of the ‘genuine’ Revolution of the 1930s, the violence and gang warfare of the 1940s was less ideologically inspired. Although the gangs maintained a political façade through their names and vaguely subscribed to some ideology, they quickly came to be used in the struggle for control over patronage and sources of extortion and enrichment. In a political atmosphere which tolerated them, not least because through violence they helped to remove official communists from positions of leadership in the labour movement, Grau San Martín himself appointed Emilio Tró, the head of the UIR, as a chief of police.(202)

Disillusionment among the more radical and idealist elements in the Auténtico coalition led to the centre of opposition to the government shifting to the fiery popular orator and founder of the Ortodoxo party, Eduardo Chibás, who originally broke away from the Auténticos over the issue of corruption. Rather than representing, as some authors have argued, a return to the tradition of radical nationalism within the context of constitutional democracy,(203) Chibás and ortodoxia stood out on the single issue of anti-corruption in government circles. The slogan of ‘honour against money’ was largely the extent of their programme.(204) At the end of a decade in which the official communist party had led organised labour into a consensual national political order and stripped the working class of an independent class voice, a radical social programme emanating from either working class organisations or Left-wing nationalist groups which embodied an element of anti-imperialism had all but vanished.

3.4 Dictatorship and Revolution in Cuba, 1952-65

3.4.1 The Batista Regime and the Insurrectionary War

When Batista, with the support of young army officers, seized state power in the coup d’état of 10 March 1952, the Auténtico and Ortodoxo opposition to it was wholly ineffectual.(205) Furthermore, despite the traditions of syndicalism and the size of the working class,(206) the now largely de-politicised working class movement likewise offered no resistance.(207) With the quiet passing of the discredited Auténtico government, the U.S. rapidly granted the Batista regime official recognition. Within three days, the CTC led by Mujal had also pledged support to the new regime, and it was agreed that in the sphere of labour the anti-PSP perspective would continue.(208) During the years 1952-58, the Batista regime sought to recreate the social entente of the early-1940s in an attempt to win popular approval. In practice, however, the CTC’s accommodation with the government, which had been based on a programme of reforms in the 1940s, was replaced by an accommodationism which merely allowed the mujalista labour bureaucracy to line its pockets in return for its continued support and efforts to curb labour unrest.(209)

An atmosphere of political stagnation predominated as a working class with no independent outlook or explicit long-term political goals faced a weak national bourgeoisie which had long since relinquished belief in its own dynamic destiny. Filling a void, the army, whose commitment to and ties with the typical Latin American oligarchy had been broken in the 1930s, was restored to pre-eminence in national political life. However, with little stake in ownership of productive forces itself, and offering no historical perspective for any class of Cubans, the army largely functioned to perpetuate its own enrichment by resuming its former role as the arbitrator and parasitic profiteer in social struggles. As James O’Connor has argued, Cuba was:

"governed by men who had no class interests in governing efficiently or honestly. In the 1950s the collection of opportunists willing to support the dictator were by and large neither for nor against capital or labor or the farmers or the United States’ economic interests either on principle or from the standpoint of their own class interests. Instead, they were very much out for themselves.”(210)

Political agitation was once again taken up by the young, articulate urban petty bourgeoisie. While outbursts of protests emanated from the student milieu until the collapse of the Batista regime, it was the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on 26 July 1953 by a group led by Fidel Castro which re-ignited the tradition of armed political struggle. Although the initial assault was a military failure, this armed group, which became known as the Movimiento 26 de Julio (M26J), continued to support the concept of an armed rebellion. From exile in Mexico, Castro and the M26J leaders planned the guerrilla war which was to begin with the landing of the Granma along the Oriente coastline on 2 December 1956.

The defining feature of the insurrection was the widespread passive support which the actions of the Rebel Army received in an atmosphere remarkably devoid of either pro-capitalist or anti-imperialist rhetoric. As Jorge Ibarra has argued, reflecting the heterogeneous make-up of the M26J the revolutionary leadership was not defined by any class-based project.(211) While the M26J embodied a distinct liberal political component committed to a popular national revolution, in essence, the vagueness of the M26J’s social programme was no more than an extension of that of the Ortodoxo party of Chibás, a party to which Fidel Castro had belonged. Writing on ‘What is Castroism?’, Theodore Draper has argued that Castro attempted to remain faithful to the purest principles of Chibás and, as such, did not claim to represent a political tendency outside of Chibasismo but rather “a more effective ‘aparato’ to overthrow the Batista dictatorship.”(212)

While the M26J had a wing which operated in the cities, the llano, the decisive revolutionary body was the Rebel Army in the sierra. Its struggle involving no more than 2,000 relatively poorly equipped fighters was sufficient to awaken the political consciousness of significant sectors of all classes against Batista. As Blackburn has argued, a process of societal stagnation first of all permitted Batista to come to power and then enveloped the country. In the absence of the typical, well-defined ideological and institutional structures of class rule in Cuba, where the army had no roots in local class formations and political parties had displayed little continuity either in terms of their alliances or life-span,(213) the Batista regime became more isolated and increasingly had only itself to lean on.

As the Rebel Army successfully opened up a Second Front in Oriente in the spring of 1958 and made steady advances thereafter, the largely demoralised and ill-trained armed forces under Batista’s command collapsed.(214) The end of the two-year long civil war came rapidly on 1 January 1959 as Batista fled the country having concluded that he had lost the support of the U.S. government.(215) While the working class had largely remained a passive observer during the guerrilla campaign, a pre-emptive general strike, which ensured that Batista was not immediately replaced in a threatened transfer of power through a military coup, sealed the bond between the Rebel Army leadership and the awakened anti-Batista sentiment of the popular masses. The Rebel Army units triumphantly progressed across the island towards Havana, taking control of strategic military camps from an army which had ceased to resist.

3.4.2 The Institutionalisation of the Revolutionary Government

The forces which secured the political revolution against the Batista regime and the process which subsequently led to the rapid overturn of property relations are a matter of controversy. Cuban explanations of the revolutionary process concentrate on a worker-peasant alliance sustaining the socialist transformation of society as part of a century of struggle.(216) Non-Cuban interpretations, on the other hand, dispute whether Fidel Castro had for some time been a closet communist and was merely biding his time before revealing his true clothes,(217) or if he and the Revolutionary Government were, instead, pushed into communism by the combined pressures of the United States’ policy and the mass mobilisation of the working class.(218)

A further category of interpretations which highlights Cuba’s exceptionally weak social formations and absence of strong institutions of government, argues that Fidel Castro himself filled the structural vacuum. In essence, this convincing line of argument contends that without the restraining influence of conservative, pro-capitalist institutions with a well-founded history and coherent perspective for the present and future,(219) Castro as the commander of the only cohesive military force in Cuba became the only effective political institution. Taking advantage of the international climate, the Castro leadership was able to direct the Revolution’s development in an unprecedented manner by a combination of managing popular support and ensuring that the popular movement did not organise itself into representative political institutions.(220)

This Bonapartist thesis argues that Fidel Castro, at some point in 1959, opted for an official communist solution to the social questions which were beginning to arise. In employing his own personal talents and prestige to ensure that no alternative leaderships emerged from the overhaul or potential creation of representative institutions, the Revolution was not, therefore, in any sense made by the working class itself. To this extent, to confer the term ‘socialist transformation’ on the resultant changes ushered in by a Bonapartist national-bureaucratic revolution would be rather inappropriate. In forwarding the term ‘Bonapartist Communism’ to describe the emerging post-1959 regime in Cuba, Farber concluded that:

[t]here is little question that Cuban politics after the overthrow of Batista would sooner or later have been confronted with various momentous social questions [....]. This would have been the case quite independently of the particular nature and content of Castro’s leadership, but it is also quite clear that Castro had the unusual freedom of action to define and deal with those problems in his particular way, and in fact to conduct his own kind of Permanent Revolution quite different from that foreseen by Leon Trotsky where the working class was seen as achieving hegemony and carrying out its own emancipation and that of the masses through the increasing radicalisation of their own socialist revolution.”(221)

While the self-titled ‘humanist’ or ‘olive-green’ revolution initially sought to chart a third course between socialism and capitalism, as land reform challenged the right of U.S. property in mid-1959 Fidel Castro opted for an official communist solution to the social questions which were beginning to arise. This became evident in October 1959, the date which marked the arrest and public denunciation of Huber Matos, the fiercely anti-PSP military commander of the province of Camagüey.(222) Castro’s decision was also manifest in his intervention at the November 1959 CTC Congress. While the CTC had been the only institution to undergo a democratic restructuring in the weeks and months after January 1959, when debate took on political content between the anti-PSP M26J trade unionists who controlled the CTC and the pesepistas, Fidel Castro made a personal intervention to call for the adoption of neutral ‘unity’ slates for the sake of stability, rather than promote any overtly pro- or anti-communist candidates.

Castro’s de facto intervention against the anti-PSP constituency at the CTC Congress confirmed the emergence of the PSP as a central pillar in his preferred path and marked the first step in the process which ultimately led to the purging of a potentially autonomous leadership within the trade unions and its replacement by experienced PSP cadres.(223) For Castro, the PSP not only had an organisational and ideological framework which had survived all other political parties in Cuba, but it had an experienced and committed membership who had the necessary experience and skills to effect a determined political line. So long as the pesepistas were committed to creating a ‘unity’ milieu which did not seek to challenge Castro for ultimate control and leadership, the PSP also had the advantage of possessing channels of communication to the USSR, which in the late 1950s and early 1960s had some prestige internationally.

In the continued absence of a national political party, between 1959 and 1961, the charismatic authority of Fidel Castro together with the popular mobilisation of the vast majority of the populace within the activity of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA), the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs) and the militias consolidated the Revolution politically before economic difficulties surfaced. Within the logic of the Revolution, activism and empiricism directed from above substituted for a political struggle of representative bodies of the working class in the formation of a revolutionary policy and consciousness. As the state annexed the representative workers’ organisations, dissent was increasingly suppressed.(224) Even the short-lived Technical Advisory Councils, established in 1960 to promote links between management in nationalised enterprises and workers, ruled out any notion of collective decision making. Administrators always had the last word.(225) Voting at CTC congresses became unanimous, and plebiscitarian politics combined with repression ensured that no legitimate opposition to Fidel Castro’s interpretation of la patria and socialism could emerge. Furthermore, while the working class had as little control over the Cuban political economy as it had had in the deciding the outcome of the 1956-58 guerrilla campaign, Castro opportunistically manipulated the weakness of independent class-based organisations to strengthen his own position as the unchallengeable ‘Maximum Leader’. That is, from the 1959 CTC Congress he effectively emphasised or minimised disputes and resentments between the old pesepista and Fidelista M26J constituencies according to his own need to quash the development of organisations and factions independent from his authority, this while maintaining the flow of Soviet military and economic aid.(226)

While debates emerged, particularly over the economic model to adopt to usher in the ‘socialist transformation’ from above, these did so within the context of maintaining public unity around the ‘Maximum Leader’, Fidel Castro. Overwhelming popular support was mobilised, particularly around the battle against the Cuban exile invasion force at Playa Girón in April 1961 and the Missile Crisis of October 1962. However, at the same time the development of autonomous political thought and organisations were effectively stifled after the formation of the Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas (ORI) in mid-1961. Under the aegis of Aníbal Escalante of the old PSP, the ORI incorporated members of the M26J, the Revolutionary Student Directorate and the PSP. This, in turn, gave way to the Partido Unificado de la Revolución Socialista (PURS) in 1963, though not before Fidel Castro had intervened when Aníbal Escalante exhibited organisational intentions beyond the limits prescribed by Castro. The so-called ‘Escalante affair’ is illustrative of the relationship between the Bonapartist Castro and the old pro-Moscow PSP members. Escalante, as the Organisational Secretary of the ORI, used his position to favour old PSP members in the building of a new party organisation. As Pierre Kalfon has argued, this effectively amounted to a pro-Moscow attempt not only to displace M26J supporters, but also Fidel Castro himself from the leadership of the Revolution.(227) Castro, however, was able to mobilise popular sentiment against Escalante and the autonomous organisational intentions of the old pesepistas, before having Escalante removed from his post. Thus, although Castro needed the official communists, he succeeded in circumscribing their power and only conceded the formation of a new communist party to the pro-Moscow milieu in October 1965.

The debate over the economic model to be adopted in order to usher in the socialist transformation, that is, the dispute between self-finance planning versus the budgetary system of centralised planning, was the one great issue which had profound political implications in the sense that it opened up more visible divisions in the leadership. Addressing the central problem of how a semi-colonial country so heavily dependent on a single agricultural product and one major market could move towards socialism, the so-called ‘Great Debate’ centred on the structure of planning and the role of incentives. On the one hand, the self-finance planning model allowed for capitalist forms of competition between state-owned companies in determining production, investment and distribution. The budgetary finance system, on the other hand, denied any notion of a market existing among companies. Monetary transactions between enterprises were to be banned and all revenues transferred to the account of a central ministry for allocation according to the conscious priorities of the Revolution’s decision makers. While Carlos Rafael Rodríguez and Soviet technicians in Cuba defended the former system which allowed for material incentives among workers to stimulate production, Guevara was a staunch advocate of the budgetary system of centralised planning. With respect to the case of Trotskyism, it is significant that in these debates Guevara rather provocatively held meetings with Ernest Mandel, an internationally recognised leader of the International Secretariat and then the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USec). The key element in Guevara’s argument, which Mandel essentially supported,(228) was that the latter system allowed an industrial sector to develop by correcting the comparative advantage market relations conferred on agriculture. Rather than resting on material incentives to promote efficiency, Guevara advocated moral incentives as a step in the creation of the New Man, the subjective, voluntarist lever which would overcome the uneven economic development.(229)

However, just as Castro in 1963 renewed Cuba’s commitment to the project of agricultural production, an option favoured by the Soviets, against Guevara’s proposals for developing an industrial sector, so in 1964 the debate on planning and material versus moral incentives had come to end. Guevara’s theses fell, and he himself increasingly became marginalised from economic decision making. With Guevara disappearing from public view in March 1965, the defeat of his strategy was confirmed when in mid- to late 1965 none of his protégés were included in the 100-person Central Committee of the new Cuban Communist Party.(230)

The course which the debate took during 1962-65, apart from describing Cuba’s relations with the USSR, also shaped Guevara’s evolving political perspectives. While his links with and commitment to official, broadly pro-Soviet communism had solidified from late 1958 after the PSP dropped its hostility to guerrilla warfare,(231) following the Missile Crisis of October 1962, Guevara’s disillusionment with the ‘actually existing socialism’ in the Soviet Union became increasingly apparent. Having angrily denounced the Kremlin’s withdrawal of the missile bases in Cuba as a sell-out,(232) Guevara was increasingly forced to take a position against various aspects of the Revolution. In the period 1964-66, there was a shift in Cuban policy towards the Soviet Union in the Sino-Soviet dispute, culminating in Fidel Castro’s public denunciation of the Chinese regime at the Tri-Continental Conference in January 1966.(233) However, while Castro moved towards public recognition of Soviet policy options, Guevara vociferously rejected the notion of Socialism in One Country and insisted on the validity of his perspective of guerrilla warfare to spread the socialist revolution in Latin America. As Jon Lee Anderson has argued:

[t]o Che, the term ‘peaceful coexistence’ was anathema, mere appeasement of the imperialist system dressed up in diplomatic language. [....] there was no longer any doubt that his and Fidel’s path had begun to diverge. Fidel’s goal was to consolidate Cuba’s economic well-being and his own political survival, and for that he was willing to compromise. Che’s mission was to spread the socialist revolution.”(234)

Thus, by upholding the vanguard role of the guerrilla organisation and the ability of the rural insurrectionary foco to create the conditions for revolution, Guevara challenged the hall-mark of post-1935 official communism, the strategy of ‘peaceful coexistence’. In the light of the Sino-Soviet split, while Guevara himself was the only leading Cuban communist who was not anti-Chinese, Guevarism as an identifiable ideology also came to represent Maoism in the Latin American context. That is, both perspectives centred on the idea of a multi-class ‘socialist guerrilla force’ prepared to take up arms to install a government based on the expropriation of capitalist property. They also shared an acceptance of the broad anti-imperialist bloc tactics of the Comintern’s Second Period in the sense that they essentially argued that socialist revolution could be secured not via the conscious struggle of revolutionary communists but by the blunt instruments of the petty bourgeoisie. These views, furthermore, were not too dissimilar from those advocated by major sections of the international Trotskyist movement at the time. That is, like Pablo and the USec, Guevara did not insist on the need for a revolutionary Marxist party to lead a proletarian anti-imperialist revolution. To the extent that Guevara advocated the rapid expropriation of imperialist property by the revolutionary leadership, he as much as the Trotskyist groups affiliated to the USec, also reduced the theory of Permanent Revolution to an objective process guiding a revolution led by Stalinist and petty bourgeois nationalist leaderships, rather than a conscious proletarian strategy.(235)

Unambiguously breaking with the Soviet Union in a speech in February 1965 in Algiers, in which he labelled the Kremlin ‘an accomplice with imperialism’,(236) Guevara disappeared from public view on 22 March 1965. While his whereabouts were the subject of a wave of rumours, he had resolved to leave Cuba to attempt to ignite another anti-imperialist revolution, first in Africa and then fatefully in Bolivia. As a parting salvo Guevara left his thoughts on his now defeated economic policy, particularly the moral versus material incentives debate, in his essay ‘Socialism and Man’. However, avoiding any criticism of the revolutionary process in Cuba as a whole, Guevara failed to draw any link between the strategy and method of struggle during the insurrection and the Bonapartism of Fidel Castro and lack of proletarian democracy in post-1959 Cuba. While Guevara’s guerrilla strategy broke with Moscow’s outlook, his commitment to the Stalinist model of a one-party state and the repression of working class democracy and control, “as distinct from participation controlled from above”,(237) thereby remained largely intact. As Jorge Castañeda has summarised, Guevara was in the predicament of “in effect denouncing the errors while celebrating their causes.”(238)

Despite being accused of Maoism and even Trotskyism by some,(239) and indeed although he appears to have read and studied a number of Trotsky’s central works,(240) Guevara in his subsequent guerrilla campaigns in Africa and Bolivia continued to reject the strategy of the working class itself consciously fighting for and passing beyond democratic anti-imperialist objectives to socialist tasks, and creating in this struggle the organs of a new form of democracy. Instead, he essentially remained a voluntarist who wished to see a tempering of differences on theoretical issues among Left-wing activists in favour of the immediate creation of a broad bloc ‘socialist guerrilla force’ and a military campaign based in the countryside. As he wrote in 1967, “[t]o want to change things by words alone is an illusion; history will wipe them out or give them their true meaning.”(241) With Guevara unable to play the role of a Trotsky as a marginalised revolutionary leader,(242) the organisation of the Cuban political economy, while displaying a degree of cultural and stylistic distinctiveness, was left to assimilate progressively to the Soviet model.(243)

3.5 Conclusion

In summary, the Cuban Republic was born as a virtual appendage to the U.S. economy. Its native bourgeoisie, weakened by Spain’s rule-or-ruin policy at the end of the 1895-98 War, was left open to be bought out by U.S. finance. While U.S. investments capitalised Cuba’s economy and produced a working class on a large scale, development was uneven. No national bourgeoisie crystallised and it was not able to establish durable institutions to promote its own class rule. Instead, excluded in large part from the productive sources of wealth, the governance of the Cuban Republic initially passed between competing factions of a ruling Cuban oligarchy which had no distinct programme to promote the growth of a strong national bourgeoisie. While one faction enjoyed the benefits of office, the other in an attempt to win a share of the power and graft combined their calls for honest elections and government with promoting a degree of rebellion to provoke the intervention of the U.S. military.

The first crack in this pattern of development came in the mid-1920s after the Dance of the Millions and the still deeper penetration of the economy across all sectors by U.S. finance capital. President Machado, representing the small native capitalist class, came to power advocating a mild nationalist programme to regenerate Cuba without threatening the interests of the United States. However, the world-wide depression following the Stock Exchange Crash of 1929 had severe effects on the course of developments. Cuba’s economy, so heavily geared to the export of sugar to a single buyer, was very vulnerable to the imposition of protectionist measures by the United States. While Machado faithfully serviced the foreign debt, drastic cuts in wages, jobs and government expenditure threw urban professionals and workers alike into the ranks of a myriad of nationalist-reformist and revolutionary groups.

In the ensuing Revolution of the 1930s, the popular mobilisation raised the reformist-nationalist government of Grau San Martín to power. However, caught trying to balance all sides, the Grau San Martín government collapsed after the decisive intervention of the army chief Batista who had the support of the U.S. government. The principle reasons behind the success of Batista were that, 1), despite the PCC’s resources and degree of organisational discipline, it pursued a steadfast sectarian attitude to the national revolutionary sector, and 2), the national revolutionary sector most notably Joven Cuba, had few organisational links with the working class movement.

Batista’s task was to restore social stability and unambiguously protect the right of property over labour. Promoted by the Comintern’s policy of anti-fascist Popular Frontism, social collaboration and compromise followed as the official communist party and through it, organised labour, was brought into a pro-capitalist, Bonapartist-type government. While imperialism had weakened an already ineffectual national bourgeoisie, and the Revolution of the 1930s had accelerated the decline of the old ruling Cuban oligarchy, the turn to state interference in labour-capital relations also debilitated the potential for independent working class action. As the economy stagnated after World War Two, the political activity of the two dynamic classes was already compromised. It was in this ‘vacuum’ that the Rebel Army brought Fidel Castro to power on 1 January 1959, and contributed to the construction of a Bonapartist communist state which increasingly aligned itself with the policy decisions of the Kremlin. The Revolution was essentially the replacement of one form of Bonapartism with another in conditions characterised by relatively weak and unstable class formations.

Thus, given the enduring aspirations for national liberation, which even permeated the anarcho-syndicalist-dominated labour movement until the 1930s, my analysis of the theoretical and tactical development of Trotskyism in Cuba pays particular attention to the Cuban Trotskyists’ orientation towards the strong national-reformist and national-revolutionary sectors. While, as elsewhere, the issue of the Trotskyists’ critique of the official communists’ Second and Third Period tactical lines is of fundamental importance, in the Cuban semi-colonial setting where the national bourgeoisie was exceptionally weak, so also is their critique of the national liberation movement, particularly during the Revolution of the 1930s. In Part Two of this thesis I argue that it was as much the Cuban Trotskyists’ analysis of the national liberation organisations as their critique of the official communists’ strategy and programme which led them to make increasing concessions to Stalinism in terms of failing to propose a politically independent course for the working class.


1. For a concise chronology of events which provides an overview of the ‘snapshot’ events and when they took place in relation to one another see Appendix C. (Back to text)
2. See Ritter, ARM, The Economic Development of Revolutionary Cuba, New York, Praeger Publishers, 1974, pp. 12-13. (Back to text)
3. Thomas, H, ‘Cuba, c. 1750—c. 1860’, In: Bethell, L (ed.), Cuba: A Short History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 9-10. (Back to text)
4. Casanovas Codina, J, ‘The Cuban Labor Movement of the 1860s and Spain’s Search for a New Colonial Policy’, Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos, No. 25, 1995, p. 93. (Back to text)
5. Ibid, p. 84. (Back to text)
6. Aguilar, LE, Cuba 1933: Prologue to Revolution, Ithaca: NY, Cornell University Press, 1972, p. 7. (Back to text)
7. Ibid, pp. 8-9. (Back to text)
8. Pérez Jr., LA, Cuba under the Platt Amendment, Pittsburgh: PA, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986, p. 12. (Back to text)
9. Pérez Jr., LA, Cuba Between Empires: 1878-1902, Pittsburgh: PA, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983, pp. 27-28. (Back to text)
10. Aguilar, LE, (1972), op cit, p. 10. (Back to text)
11. Farber, S, ‘Cuba: One-Party State Continues’, New Politics, Vol. 5, No. 3, Spring 1995, pp. 117. While Martí’s (1853-1895) ideas for change undoubtedly included a series of socio-economic concerns, his political ideology rested more on the traditions of nineteenth century Freemasonry and moral concerns, than the ideas of Marx or other European socialists. As such, Martí can best be characterised as a progressive liberal and nationalist. John Kirk’s study into the significance of Martí is useful in that it delineates between pre- and post-1959 Revolution interpretations. Kirk notes that prior to 1959, Martí was viewed as the selfless Cuban, a noble patriot, (Kirk, JM, José Martí. Mentor of the Cuban Nation, Tampa: FL, University of Florida Press, 1983, p. 9.) while post-1960 interpretations originating from Cuba focus on his evolution from liberal to anti-imperialist. (Ibid, p. 15.) In contrast to Martí, Baliño (1848-1926) was a long-time labour leader who adhered to the two-stage strategy of fighting for national independence and development of the national economy within the parameters of capitalism before initiating a struggle for socialism. See Cabrera, O, Los que Viven por Sus Manos, Havana, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1985, pp. 17-19. (Back to text)
12. See, for example, Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 23-25; and Pérez-Stable, M, The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 4. (Back to text)
13. Casanovas, J, Bread, or Bullets! Urban Labor and Spanish Colonialism, 1850-1898, Pittsburgh: PA, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998, pp. 230-231. Joan Casanovas does append the caveat, though, that there were frictions in the labour movement. As Carlos Estefanía Aulet has also argued, many anarchists, particularly those in Havana of Spanish origin, did not support the insurrection when it broke out. While the Cuban tobacco workers in Florida were sympathetic to the separatist cause, these habanero workers took a more neutral position on the basis that patriotism and the liberal nationalist ideology of the separatists did not address the fundamental problems of the working class. Estefanía Aulet, CM, ‘Los Anarquistas Cubanos a Fines del Siglo XIX: Los Libertarios y la Guerra del 95’, Cuba Nuestra (Stockholm), No. 9, 1997, pp. 6-8. (Back to text)
14. Pérez Jr., LA, (1983), op cit, pp. 54-56. (Back to text)
15. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 28. (Back to text)
16. Pérez Jr., LA, The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography, Chapel Hill: NC, University of North Carolina Press, 1998, pp. 4-6. (Back to text)
17. See ibid, pp. 17-19; and Pérez, Jr., LA, ‘Between Meanings and Memories of 1898’, Orbis, Vol. 42, No. 4, Fall 1998, pp. 501-516. Louis Pérez Jr. has argued that although the U.S. seized numerous Spanish territories in the 1898 Spanish-American War, the principal covert purpose of U.S. policy was to ensure that the geographically strategic Cuban archipelago did not achieve genuine national independence. (Back to text)
18. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 31. (Back to text)
19. Rafael Tarragó has introduced the argument that the principal aim of U.S. intervention was to disrupt and impede Cuban national independence and a natural evolution towards autonomy and reconciliation with Spain. He has noted that while many separatists favoured U.S. intervention, the largely forgotten Partido Liberal Autonomista, the Cuban home-rule party which in January 1898 had formed a government with Spanish acquiescence, opposed U.S. intervention. Tarragó, RE, ‘The Thwarting of Cuban Autonomy’, Orbis, Vol. 42, No. 4, Fall 1998, pp. 517-531. (Back to text)
20. Le Riverend, J, Economic History of Cuba, Havana, Book Institute, 1967, p. 207. (Back to text)
21. Sugar planters who survived the destruction and curtailment of production during the 1895-98 War generally did so by taking on substantial debt, borrowing at inflated rates of interest. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, pp. 63-64. (Back to text)
22. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, pp. 71-72. (Back to text)
23. De Kadt, E (ed.), Patterns of Foreign Influence in the Caribbean, London, Oxford University Press, 1972, p. 123. (Back to text)
24. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, pp. 72-74. (Back to text)
25. This 1903 Reciprocity Treaty was an extension of a similar Spanish-U.S. treaty signed in 1891. This earlier treaty had likewise promoted the development of the Cuban sugar industry at the expense of a nascent national industrial sector. The U.S. opened its market to raw Cuban sugar in return for privileged tax concessions on the importation of manufactured products into Cuba. U.S. manufactured goods were thereby more easily able to drive Cuban manufacturers out of their home market. Tarragó, RE, op cit, p. 528. (Back to text)
26. Blackburn, R, ‘Prologue to the Cuban Revolution’, New Left Review, No. 21, October 1963, p. 57. (Back to text)
27. Pino-Santos, O, El Asalto a Cuba por la Oligarquía Financiera Yanqui, Havana, Casa de las Américas, 1973, p. 78. (Back to text)
28. Ritter, ARM, op cit, p. 17. (Back to text)
29. Pino-Santos, O, op cit, pp. 83-84. (Back to text)
30. Pérez Jr., (1986), op cit, p. 187. (Back to text)
31. Zeitlin, M, Working Class Politics in Cuba: A Study in Political Sociology, PhD Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1964, p. 30. (Back to text)
32. Le Riverend, J, op cit, p. 230. (Back to text)
33. Pino-Santos, O, op cit, p. 94. (Back to text)
34. Ibid, p. 127; and Commission on Cuban Affairs, Problems of the New Cuba, New York, Foreign Policy Association, 1935, p. 2. (Back to text)
35. Blackburn, R, op cit, p. 58. (Back to text)
36. Ibid, pp. 60-61. (Back to text)
37. Domínguez, JI, Cuba: Order and Revolution, Cambridge: MA, Belknap Press, 1978, p. 12. (Back to text)
38. Aguilar, LE, (1972), op cit, p. 33. (Back to text)
39. Pérez Jr, LA, (1986), op cit, p. 90. (Back to text)
40. Domínguez, JI, op cit, p. 11. (Back to text)
41. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 261. (Back to text)
42. Domínguez, JI, op cit, p. 35. (Back to text)
43. Ibid, p. 35. (Back to text)
44. See Thomas, H, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, New York, Harper and Row, 1971, pp. 587-598. (Back to text)
45. Stubbs, J, Tobacco on the Periphery, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 97. (Back to text)
46. Ibid, p. 99. (Back to text)
47. See, for example, Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 291. (Back to text)
48. Casanovas, J, (1998), op cit, pp. 138-177. (Back to text)
49. See Appendix D for a table showing the rise and decline of anarcho-syndicalism in the trade union movement relative to other ideologies. (Back to text)
50. This withdrawal, of course, was not complete. By provision of the Platt Amendment, it did not include the base at Guantánamo. (Back to text)
51. Page, CA, The Development of Organized Labor in Cuba, PhD Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1952, p. 40. (Back to text)
52. Between 1902 and 1909, some 700,000 immigrants arrived in Cuba, the vast majority from Spain. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 78. (Back to text)
53. See Cabrera, O, El Movimiento Obrero Cubano en 1920, Havana, Instituto del Libro, 1970, pp. 46-47. (Back to text)
54. Cabrera, O, (1985), op cit, p. 32. (Back to text)
55. Cabrera, O, (1970), op cit, pp. 50-51. (Back to text)
56. Cabrera, O, (1985), op cit, p. 74. (Back to text)
57. See Del Toro, C, El Movimiento Obrero Cubano en 1914, Havana, Instituto del Libro, 1969, pp. 97-98, 124-125; and Cabrera, O, (1970), op cit, p. 48. (Back to text)
58. Cuba was prone to suffer from inflation during times of economic upturn because the predominance of sugar meant that there was a shortage of home-produced consumer goods. (Back to text)
59. Zeitlin, M, op cit, p. 29. (Back to text)
60. Estefanía Aulet, CM, ‘El Anarquismo en Cuba desde el Nacimiento de la República a la Caída del Dictador Gerardo Machado: El Fin de la Hegemonía Libertaria sobre el Movimiento Obrero’, Cuba Nuestra (Stockholm), No. 10, 1997, p. 8. (Back to text)
61. Cabrera, O, (1985), op cit, p. 200. (Back to text)
62. Page, CA, op cit, p. 56. (Back to text)
63. Cabrera, O, (1985), op cit, p. 249. (Back to text)
64. Carr, B, ‘Mill Occupations and Soviets: The Mobilisation of Sugar Workers in Cuba, 1917-1933’, Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 28, Part 1, February 1996, p. 135. (Back to text)
65. Marconi Braga, M, ‘To Relieve the Misery: Sugar Mill Workers and the 1933 Cuban Revolution’, In: Brown, JC (ed.), Workers’ Control in Latin America, Chapel Hill: NC, University of North Carolina Press, 1997, p. 25. (Back to text)
66. Page, CA, op cit, pp. 60-61. (Back to text)
67. Cited in Zeitlin, M, op cit, p. 32. (Back to text)
68. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 265. (Back to text)
69. Roa, R, El Fuego de la Semilla en el Surco, Havana, Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1982, p. 308; and Goldenberg, B, ‘The Rise and Fall of a Party: The Cuban CP (1925-59)’, Problems of Communism, Vol. 19, No. 4, July-August 1970, pp. 64-65. (Back to text)
70. Zeitlin, M, op cit, p. 34; and Córdova, E, Clase Trabajadora y Movimiento Sindical en Cuba, (1819-1959), Vol. 1, Miami: FL, Ediciones Universal, 1995, pp. 150-152. Efrén Córdova has also noted that the anarcho-syndicalists were not as well organised and disciplined as the more cellular and centralised PCC. Ibid, p. 152. (Back to text)
71. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 575. (Back to text)
72. See Partido Comunista de Cuba, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, 1 November 1932, p. 14. (RTsKhIDNI: f.495, op.105, d.52, ll.18-35a.) (Back to text)
73. While a reformist trade union centre, the Federación Cubana del Trabajo (FCT) led by Juan Arévalo, was constituted in 1927, in these turbulent times with a working class imbued with a spirit of syndicalist struggle, it only survived through state-sponsorship. Córdova, E, op cit, p. 155. In the early 1930s, two reformist trade union centres, the Unión Federativa Obrera Nacional (UFON) created by Arévalo and the FCT then led by Luis E. Fabregat, served as strike-breakers. Ibid, p. 170. For the time being reformism offered little in terms of a viable strategy. (Back to text)
74. See Pino-Santos, op cit, p. 182; and Smith, RF, The United States and Cuba: Business and Diplomacy, 1917-1960, New York, Bookman Associates, 1962, p. 68. (Back to text)
75. Ibid, p. 70. (Back to text)
76. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, p. 280. (Back to text)
77. DeWilde, JC, ‘Sugar: An International Problem’, Foreign Policy Reports (New York), Vol. 9, No. 15, 27 September 1933, p. 162. (Back to text)
78. Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, pp. 281-282. (Back to text)
79. Sánchez Arango, A, ‘¿Qué Es el Ala Izquierda Estudiantil?’, Línea (Havana), Year 1, No. 1, 14 May 1931, pp. 1-2. (IHC(b); and ANC: Fondo Especial, Caja No. 39.) (Back to text)
80. See Soto, L, La Revolución Precursora de 1933, Havana, Editorial SI-MAR, 1995, pp. 294-301 for details of the August 1931 insurrection and its failure. Pérez Jr. has argued that this armed uprising in deliberately setting out to provoke the military intervention of the U.S. by destroying foreign property and threatening the lives of foreigners, once again demonstrated that “the Platt Amendment contributed to the very conditions it was designed to prevent.” Pérez Jr, LA, (1986), op cit, p. 295. (Back to text)
81. See Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, pp. 594-596 for an account of its early terrorist campaign. (Back to text)
82. See Buell, RL, ‘The Caribbean Situation: Cuba and Haiti’, Foreign Policy Reports, Vol. 9, No. 8, 21 June 1933, p. 87 for an outline of the ABC’s far-reaching programme of proposed reforms. (Back to text)
83. Samuel Farber has argued that the ABC pursued a zigzagging policy between that of stimulating social dislocation to that of accepting U.S. diplomatic intervention. However, its essentially pro-capitalist, authoritarian leadership eventually prepared an alliance with the pro-U.S. forces in order to stem revolution only to find that the government had no use for it as state repression proved sufficient to quell social unrest in 1934-35. See Farber, S, Revolution and Social Structure in Cuba, 1933-1959, PhD Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1969, pp. 85-96; and Farber, S, Revolution and Reaction in Cuba, 1933-1960: A Political Sociology from Machado to Castro, Middletown: CT, Wesleyan University Press, 1976, pp. 52-59. (Back to text)
84. Zeitlin, M, op cit, p. 36. (Back to text)
85. Thomson, CA, ‘The Cuban Revolution: Fall of Machado’, Foreign Policy Reports (New York), Vol. 11, No. 21, 18 December 1935, p. 254. (Back to text)
86. Ibid, p. 256. (Back to text)
87. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 625. (Back to text)
88. Carr, B, op cit, p. 139. (Back to text)
89. Thomson, CA, op cit, p. 260. (Back to text)
90. Commission on Cuban Affairs, op cit, p. 183. (Back to text)
91. Carr, B, op cit, p. 140. Carr’s analysis of the mill occupations and the creation of what have become known as ‘soviets’ challenges any suggestion that they were organs of dual power. In essence, Carr argues that the mill occupations were often pre-emptive actions in the dead season aimed at forestalling the cancellation of the 1934 harvest. However militant, they did not seek to challenge the longer-term relations of production. Ibid, p. 130. (Back to text)
92. For an account of the process of conciliation see Marconi Braga, M, op cit, pp. 34-36. (Back to text)
93. The Sergeants’ Revolt involved the rank and file of the army, led by a group of sergeants, ousting the entire layer of commissioned officers after the troops suddenly found themselves in control of the Havana army camp. The Directorio Estudiantil Universitario immediately rallied around the insubordinate troops, persuading the soldiers under the leadership of Batista to accept the students’ programme for a provisional government. Thomson, CA, ‘The Cuban Revolution: Reform and Reaction’, Foreign Policy Reports (New York), Vol. 11, No. 22, 1 January 1936, p. 262; and Pérez Jr., LA, (1986), op cit, pp. 320-321. (Back to text)
94. Domínguez, JI, op cit, p. 58; and Thomson, CA, (1936), op cit, p. 265. (Back to text)
95. Ibid, p. 266. (Back to text)
96. Ibid, p. 266. (Back to text)
97. Ibid, pp. 266-267. (Back to text)
98. Carr, B, ‘Identity, Class, and Nation: Black Immigrant Workers, Cuban Communism, and the Sugar Insurgency, 1925-1934’, Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 78, No. 1, February 1998, pp. 106-107. (Back to text)
99. Commission on Cuban Affairs, op cit, p. 212. (Back to text)
100. Ibid, p. 213. (Back to text)
101. According to Carr, the Nationalisation of Labour Laws created havoc in the PCC’s work even among native-born Blacks who had little sympathy with other Black antillanos. Carr, B, (1998), op cit, pp. 107-108. (Back to text)
102. As Aguilar reported, “[w]hile the people parade in front of the Presidential Palace, while the Left wins on the high levels, the army is arresting labor leaders.” Cited in Aguilar, LE, (1972), op cit, p. 182. (Back to text)
103. Commission on Cuban Affairs, op cit, p. 184. According to a detailed report on communist activity in Cuba by the U.S. security services, this demonstration also marked the fist appearance of the PCC’s uniformed and armed shock troops. Hoover, JE, to Berle Jr., AA, Survey of Communist Activities in Cuba, 14 June 1943, p. 4. (USNA: RG59/837.00B/405.) (Back to text)
104. Batista did not win the confidence and support of the U.S. until he had clearly committed himself to the suppression of communism. Bowers, RE, ‘Hull, Russian Subversion in Cuba, and Recognition of the U.S.S.R.’, Journal of American History, Vol. 53, 1966, p. 548. (Back to text)
105. Thomson traces how Grau San Martín’s middle class constituency fragmented as one side criticised the government’s inability to establish peace and order while the other withdrew its support over the “apparent predominance of military influence in government.” Thomson, CA, (1936), op cit, p. 238. (Back to text)
106. Thomson, CA, (1936), op cit, p. 269. (Back to text)
107. Domínguez, JI, op cit, pp. 78-79; and Marconi Braga, M, op cit, pp. 37-38. (Back to text)
108. Suchlicki, J, University Students and Revolution in Cuba, 1920-1968, Florida, University of Miami Press, 1969, pp. 41-42. The PRC(A) became known popularly as the ‘Auténticos’, a term which was intended to denote “the genuine revolutionaries". Ibid, p. 145 n1. (Back to text)
109. See page 48 note 67 for an outline description of the thought of Sorel. (Back to text)
110. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 691. (Back to text)
111. Zeitlin, M, op cit, p. 43. (Back to text)
112. Sánchez Arango, A, ‘The Recent General Strike in Cuba’, Three Americas (Mexico D.F.), Vol. 1, No. 4, June 1935, pp. 10-15. (Back to text)
113. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, pp. 698-699; and Thomson, CA, (1936), op cit, pp. 273-274. (Back to text)
114. Zeitlin, M, op cit, p. 44. (Back to text)
115. Caballero, M, op cit, p. 49. (Back to text)
116. Carr, B, ‘From Caribbean Backwater to Revolutionary Opportunity: Cuba’s Evolving Relationship with the Comintern, 1925-34’, In: Rees, T, and Thorpe, A (eds), International Communism and the Communist International 1919-43, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1998, pp. 236-237. (Back to text)
117. Ibid, p. 236. (Back to text)
118. See PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, pp. 5, 8-9; and Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, nd, p. 7. (From internal evidence, dated shortly before the fall of the Machado government in August 1933.) (IHC(b): 972.91/Doc/C/t.1.) Carr has argued that the arrival of *Juan, a Profintern envoy from Mexico, in 1930 aided the process of establishing stronger international links. Carr, B, ‘From Caribbean Backwater to Revolutionary Opportunity: Cuba’s Evolving Relationship with the Comintern, 1925-34’, op cit, p. 238. (Back to text)
119. See Cabrera, O, ‘La Tercera Internacional y Su Influencia en Cuba (1919-1935)’, Sociedad/Estado (Mexico, Universidad de Guadalajara), No. 2, 1989, p. 53 for an outline of the PCC’s initial tactical orientation in the mid- to late 1920s. (Back to text)
120. For an account of the PCC’s programme and tactics which attempted to isolate what it termed “bourgeois-landlord groups and their reformist, anarchist, and Trotskyite agents” (Resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba as printed in ‘The Present Situation, Perspectives and Tasks in Cuba’, Part II, The Communist (New York), Vol. 13, No. 11, November 1934, p. 1159. (MML.)) up to the fall of the Grau San Martín government, see Blasier, SC, The Cuban and Chilean Communist Parties, Instruments of Soviet Policy, 1935-48, PhD Thesis, Columbia University, 1956, pp. 20-22. (Back to text)
121. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 7. (Back to text)
122. This characterisation was, for example, set out in Sinani, G, ‘The New Phase in the Revolutionary Events in Cuba’, The Communist (New York), Vol. 12, No. 12, December 1933, p. 1228. (MML.); and PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 5. (Back to text)
123. Ibid, p. 8. (Back to text)
124. Ibid, p. 8. (Back to text)
125. Ibid, p. 8. (Back to text)
126. Ibid, p. 14. (Back to text)
127. The policy decision that communists should turn to create trade unions across industries in Latin America in order to challenge anarcho-syndicalism and its tradition of limiting union organisation to individual units of production was part of the Third Period strategy developed in late 1928 and early 1929. See Losovsky, A, El Movimiento Sindical Latino Americano (Sus Virtudes y sus Defectos), Montevideo, Ediciones del Comité Pro Confederación Sindical Latino Americano, March 1929, pp. 18-19. That the implementation of this policy in Cuba was also delayed is further evidence of the relative autonomy the PCC enjoyed with respect to the Comintern and the weak links the international centre had with some of its smaller sections. (Back to text)
128. CC of the PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, pp. 8-9, 37; and Córdova, E, op cit, p. 201. (Back to text)
129. Kochanski, A, ‘El Sindicalismo Latinoamericano: Materiales del Archivo Moscovita de la Internacional Sindical Roja’, Estudios Latinoamericanos (Warsaw), No. 11, 1988, p. 284. (Back to text)
130. Resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba as printed in ‘The Present Situation, Perspectives and Tasks in Cuba’, The Communist (New York), Vol. 13, No. 9, September 1934, p. 878. (MML.) (Back to text)
131. Carr, B, ‘Identity, Class, and Nation: Black Immigrant Workers, Cuban Communism, and the Sugar Insurgency, 1925-1934’, op cit, pp. 98-99. (Back to text)
132. This was partially facilitated by the presence in the PCC’s of José A. Guerra, the son of Ramiro Guerra, the distinguished Cuban historian and private secretary to Machado. Carr, B, ‘From Caribbean Backwater to Revolutionary Opportunity: Cuba’s Evolving Relationship with the Comintern, 1925-1934’, op cit, p. 249. (Back to text)
133. See, for example, Sinani, G, ‘The New Phase in the Revolutionary Events in Cuba’, op cit, p. 1218. (Back to text)
134. Grobart, F, ‘The Cuban Working Class Movement from 1925 to 1933’, Science and Society, Vol. 39, Spring 1975, p. 99. The actual role of Fabio Grobart (born Yunger Semjovich) in Cuban communism is a matter of some controversy. He arrived in Cuba from Poland at the age of nineteen just before the PCC was founded. Anti-communists have insisted that he was Moscow’s man in Havana thereafter. While it is doubtful that Grobart was actually sent to Cuba by the Comintern, certainly by the early 1930s, he was in Moscow working in the Comintern’s Latin American Secretariat before returning to Cuba. (Back to text)
135. See Bychovsky, ‘On the Weaknesses of the Communist Party Press in Cuba’, International Press Correspondence, Vol. 14, No. 27, 4 May 1934, p. 707. (MML.) (Back to text)
136. ’Entrevista a Blas Castillo’, Pensamiento Crítico (Havana), No. 39, April 1970, pp. 197-199; and Carr, B, ‘From Caribbean Backwater to Revolutionary Opportunity: Cuba’s Evolving Relationship with the Comintern, 1925-1934’, op cit, p. 13. (Back to text)
137. ’Entrevista a Blas Castillo’, Pensamiento Crítico, op cit, p. 199. Vivó was eventually replaced in 1934 by Francisco Calderío, who under the name Blas Roca, remained the General Secretary of the official communist party until its agreed dissolution after the 1959 Revolution. (Back to text)
138. Kochanski, A, op cit, p. 284. (Back to text)
139. Letter from Juan to the Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern (Report on the Conference of the PCC in Oriente), Havana, 2 December 1933, p. 8. (RTsKhIDNI: f.495, op.105, d.68.) (Back to text)
140. Ibid, p. 2. (Back to text)
141. Ibid, p. 9. (Back to text)
142. Ibid, p. 6. (Back to text)
143. Ibid, p. 4. (Back to text)
144. As Córdova explains, the so-called ‘Fourth’ Congress was, in fact, the first since the two held in 1925 and the one in 1920 which expressed solidarity with the Russian October Revolution. Córdova, E, op cit, p. 197. (Back to text)
145. Ibid, p. 198. (Back to text)
146. Unsigned, ‘A Pesar de la Persecución el Partido Comunista Celebró Su II Congreso’, Bandera Roja (Havana), Year 2, No. 14, 1 May 1934, p. 1. (IHC(b).); and Valencia, M, ‘In the International: The Second Party Congress of the C.P. of Cuba’, International Press Correspondence, Vol. 14, No. 34, 15 June 1934, pp. 909-910. (MML.) (Back to text)
147. See Resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba as printed in ‘The Present Situation, Perspectives and Tasks in Cuba, Part II’, The Communist, op cit, p. 1157. (Back to text)
148. Ibid, p. 1157. (Back to text)
149. Ordoqui, J, ‘The Rise of the Revolutionary Movement in Cuba’, The Communist (New York), Vol. 13, No. 12, December 1934, pp. 1258-1259. (MML.) (Back to text)
150. See Roca, B, ‘Forward to the Cuban Anti-Imperialist People’s Front!’, The Communist (New York), Vol. 14, No. 10, October 1935, p. 958 (MML.); and Unsigned ‘Comrade Marin (Cuba)’, International Press Correspondence (Vienna), Vol. 15, No. 52, 10 October 1935, pp. 1301-1302. (MML.); and Unsigned, ‘Por el Frente Único Nacional en Cuba’, La Internacional Comunista (Paris), Year 1, No. 1, June 1935, p. 61. (IHC(b).) (Back to text)
151. Unsigned, ‘La Razón de Ser del Viraje del Partido Comunista’, Bandera Roja (Havana), Year 3, No. 65, 4 December 1936, p. 2. (IHC(b).) (Back to text)
152. See, for example, Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, pp. 699-700; and Goldenberg, B, op cit, p. 70. Stewart Cole Blasier also provides a useful outline of the course of events in the PCC’s repudiation of its ultra-leftist Third Period line. Blasier, SC, op cit, pp. 28-41. (Back to text)
153. Blas Roca stated that the “Cuban Party began to apply widely this new tactic only after the Conference of the Communist Parties of South and Caribbean America” held in summer 1934 but they did so with “certain timidity". Roca, B, ‘Forward to the Cuban Anti-Imperialist People’s Front!’, op cit, p. 957; and Unsigned, ‘Por el Frente Único Nacional en Cuba’, op cit, p. 49. (Back to text)
154. Roca, B, ‘Forward to the Cuban Anti-Imperialist People’s Front!’, op cit, p. 957. (Back to text)
155. Unsigned, ‘Comrade Bueno (Cuba)’, International Press Correspondence, Vol. 15, No. 62, 21 November 1935, p. 1540. (MML.) (Back to text)
156. ["posición equivocada frente al gobierno revolucionario de Grau San Martín".](My translation, GT.) Unsigned, ‘La Razón de Ser del Viraje del Partido Comunista’, Bandera Roja, op cit. (Back to text)
157. Ibid. (Back to text)
158. ["[l]a revolución cubana atraviesa actualmente la etapa nacional, y en esta etapa no puede desconocerse el rol revolucionario que juegan otras capas de la población que no son el proletariado ni el campesinado. La pequeña burguesía cubana por el carácter semicolonial de Cuba juega un papel importante, particularmente el estudiantado. Y aun la propia burguesía nacional, que tiene contradicciones con el imperialismo que la ahoga, almacena energias revolucionarias que no deben desaprovecharse. Por ésto, hermanada en el común interés de liberar a nuestro país, todas las capas de la población, desde el proletariado a la burguesía nacional, pueden y deben entrar en un amplio frente popular contra el opresor extranjero."](My translation, GT.) Ibid. (Back to text)
159. Roca, B, ‘Forward to the Cuban Anti-Imperialist People’s Front!’, op cit, p. 958. (Back to text)
160. Ibid, p. 958. (Back to text)
161. Unsigned, ‘Comrade Marin (Cuba)’, op cit, p. 1302. (Back to text)
162. Ibid, p. 1302. (Back to text)
163. Unsigned, ‘Por el Frente Único Nacional en Cuba’, op cit, p. 61. See also Apuntes Breves sobre la Reunión Celebrada el 16 de Noviembre de 1935 entre Delegados del Partido Comunista y la Joven Cuba, Guantánamo, 16 November 1935. (IHC(a): Fondo Primer Partido Marxista Leninista, Sig. 1/2:1/326/1.) (Back to text)
164. Roca, B, ‘Forward to the Cuban Anti-Imperialist People’s Front!’, op cit, p. 959. Carlos Aponte was a Venezuelan exile who was killed alongside Guiteras by the Cuban army as they both waited to depart for Mexico. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 700. (Back to text)
165. In a report of the Sixth Plenum of the PCC’s Central Committee, Blas Roca argued that the Popular Front should not limit itself to the anti-imperialist organisations and parties, but should include other groups such as the Asociación de Colonos, and religious and professional groups in one Nacional Liberation Alliance. Bandera Roja (Havana), Year 3, 15 August 1935, p. 3. (IHC(b).) (Back to text)
166. Roca, B, ‘Forward to the Cuban Anti-Imperialist People’s Front!’, op cit, p. 960. (Back to text)
167. See, for example, Ibarra, J, Prologue to Revolution: Cuba, 1998-1958, Boulder: CO, Lynne Reinner, 1998, p. 176. The alternative view that the 1940s and 50s constituted a period of economic growth is generally advanced by those scholars who oppose the Castro regime. See, for example, Domínguez, JI, op cit, p. 72; and Goldenberg, B, The Cuban Revolution and Latin America, London, George Allen and Unwin, 1965, p. 143. (Back to text)
168. See Farber, S, (1969), op cit, pp. 138-157; and Farber, S, (1976), op cit, pp. 78-84. (Back to text)
169. Farber, S, (1969), op cit, p. 146. (Back to text)
170. Casal, L, The Role of the Urban Working Class in the Cuban Revolution—Insurrectional Stage, Washington D.C., Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, February 1979, p. 7. (Back to text)
171. Reporter, J, ‘La Asamblea Auténtica’, Bohemia (Havana), Year 29, No. 33, 15 August 1937, pp. 36, 49, 52. (BNJM.) (Back to text)
172. Farber, S, (1969), op cit, p. 161. (Back to text)
173. Rivas, J, ‘Signs of Bankruptcy of the Cuban Military’, International Press Correspondence (Vienna), Vol. 16, No. 33, 18 July 1936, p. 883. (MML.) (Back to text)
174. Favio, P, ‘The Military Dictatorship in Cuba’, The Communist (New York), Vol. 16, No. 4, April 1937, p. 360. (MML.) (Back to text)
175. Rivas, J, op cit, p. 883; and Escobedo, A, ‘The Present Coup d’Etat in Cuba’, International Press Correspondence, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2 January 1937, p. 18. (MML.) (Back to text)
176. Goldenberg, B, (1970), op cit, p. 72; and Sims, HD, ‘Cuban Labor and the Communist Party, 1937-1958: An Interpretation’, Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos, Vol. 15, No. 1, Winter 1985, p. 44. (Back to text)
177. Goldenberg, B, (1970), op cit, p. 72. (Back to text)
178. Foster, WZ, ‘The Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba’, The Communist (New York), Vol. 18, No. 3, March 1939, p. 229. (MML.) (Back to text)
179. See, for example, Unión Revolucionaria Comunista, Por la Salvación de Cuba: Resoluciones de la Reunión Nacional de Agosto, Havana, 1940, p. 38. (IHC(b): 972.91/Doc/C/t.4.) (Back to text)
180. Zeitlin, M, op cit, pp. 52-53. (Back to text)
181. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 713. (Back to text)
182. Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, p. 36. (Back to text)
183. Sims, HD, op cit, p. 45; and Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, pp. 44-46. (Back to text)
184. Goldenberg, B, (1970), op cit, p. 73. (Back to text)
185. See, for example, José A. Guerra’s letter of resignation reproduced in Boletín de Información (New York), No. 7, November 1939, pp. 5-17. (Bulletin of the Pan-American Bureau of the Fourth International) (HI: SWP Collection, Box No. 4, Folder 9.) (Back to text)
186. Zeitlin has reported that in the URC’s first three months of legal existence, 18,000 new members joined to boost the total membership to 23,000. Zeitlin, M, op cit, pp. 54-55. (Back to text)
187. Binns, P, Callinicos, A, and Gonzalez, M, ‘Cuba, Socialism and the Third World: A Rejoinder to Robin Blackburn’, International Socialism, Series 2, No. 10, Winter 1980-81, p. 96. (Back to text)
188. 1942, III Congreso Nacional de la C.T.C., Resoluciones sobre Problemas Sociales, Conciliación y Arbitraje, pp. 223-225. (IHC(a): Fondo Primer Partido Marxista Leninista, Sig. 1/8:13/3.1/1-246.) (Back to text)
189. Letter from Nuffer, AF, to U.S. Secretary of State, Havana, 9 December 1942, p. 2. (USNA: RG59/837.00B/371.) (Back to text)
190. Page, CA, op cit, pp. 113-114. (Back to text)
191. Sims, HD, op cit, p. 48. (Back to text)
192. See Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 734; and Roca, B, ‘Estados Unidos, Teheran y la América Latina: Una Carta a Earl Browder’, In: Quintanilla Obregón, L (ed.), Lombardismo y Sindicatos en América Latina, Mexico D.F., Ediciones Nueva Sociología, 1982, pp. 271-302. (Back to text)
193. Marinello, J, ‘Carlos Saladrigas’, Hoy (Havana), Year 7, No. 115, 13 May 1944, pp. 1, 7. (IHC(b).) (Back to text)
194. Letter from Braden, S, to U.S. Secretary of State, Havana, 16 March 1944, p. 3. (USNA: RG59/837.00B/461.) (Back to text)
195. Sims, HD, op cit, p. 48. (Back to text)
196. See Blasier, SC, op cit, pp. 109-117. (Back to text)
197. While the Cuban communist party was singled out for criticism in the famous April 1945 Duclos letter which signalled the beginning of the end for the dissolutionist Browderist tendency, the leaders of the PSP at first responded by expelling the most vociferous members of the opposition group within its own ranks who supported the criticisms of the leading French Stalinist Jacques Duclos. It was only after additional pressure from Moscow that the PSP began to recognise the ‘errors’ of its ways in early 1946. See Carr, B, Marxism and Communism in Twentieth-Century Mexico, Lincoln: NE, University of Nebraska, 1992, pp. 134-135. See also Blasier, SC, op cit, pp. 96-99. (Back to text)
198. The two groups which came into existence during the power struggle in 1947 are referred to as the CTC(A), that is, the Auténtico-dominated body, and the CTC(C), the rival official communist labour organisation. The CTC split into two organisations at its 1947 Congress amidst bureaucratic wranglings, particularly over credentials. See Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, pp. 48-49. (Back to text)
199. Domínguez, JI, op cit, pp. 102-103. (Back to text)
200. Farber, S, (1969), op cit, p. 256. (Back to text)
201. See Bonachea, RL, and San Martín, M, The Cuban Insurrection 1952-1959, New Brunswick: NJ, Transaction Books, 1974, pp. 10-12. (Back to text)
202. Domínguez, JI, op cit, pp. 111-112. (Back to text)
203. See Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, p. 50; and Domínguez, JI, op cit, p. 103. (Back to text)
204. Ibid, pp. 112-113. (Back to text)
205. Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, pp. 52-53. (Back to text)
206. Jorge Ibarra has indicated that Cuba not only had the third highest rate of urbanisation in Latin America in the 1950s, but also the second highest rate of proletarianisation. Ibarra, J, op cit, pp. 177-178. (Back to text)
207. Farber has argued that the “almost complete organizational vacuum in the anti-Batista opposition” after the March 1952 coup was the result of the “virtual absence of ideological and political leadership and training” in both the Cuban middle and working classes. Farber, S, (1969), op cit, p. 261. See also Binns, P, Callinicos, A, and Gonzalez, M, op cit, p. 96. (Back to text)
208. Zeitlin, M, op cit, pp. 78-79. (Back to text)
209. See Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, pp. 54-55. (Back to text)
210. O’Connor, J, The Origins of Socialism in Cuba, Ithaca: NY, Cornell University Press, 1970, p. 32. (Back to text)
211. Ibarra, J, op cit, pp. 189, 200. (Back to text)
212. Draper, T, Castroism: Theory and Practice, London, Pall Mall, 1965, p. 10. (Back to text)
213. Blackburn, R, op cit, pp. 64-74. (Back to text)
214. While some authors claim that the Cuban state was smashed by two years of revolutionary warfare (See, for example, Löwy, M, (1981), op cit, p. 143.), more compelling studies suggest that the state instead collapsed. Pérez Jr., LA, (1976), op cit, pp. 153-165. (Back to text)
215. While the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the Batista regime in March 1958, contacts between U.S. businessmen and diplomats in December 1958 signalled the end of U.S. support for the Cuban dictator. See Smith, WS, The Closest of Enemies, New York, W.W. Norton, 1987, pp. 34-36. (Back to text)
216. See, for example, Rodríguez, CR, Cuba en el Tránsito al Socialismo, Havana, Ediciones Política, 1979. (Back to text)
217. The most coherent description of this ‘revolution betrayed’ thesis in which Castro supposedly imposed his hidden communism on an unsuspecting liberal, middle-class rebellion is contained in Draper, T, Castro’s Revolution: Myths and Realities, New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1962. (Back to text)
218. These more sympathetic interpretations include Wright Mills, C, Listen Yankee!, New York, Ballantine Books, 1960; and Huberman, L and Sweezy, P, Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1961. (Back to text)
219. Alfred Padula Jr. has argued that the fractured Cuban bourgeoisie proved unable to mount a determined co-ordinated response to the challenges posed by Castro, deciding instead to leave and wait for the U.S. to deal with the problem of the Revolution as they had done in the past. Padula Jr., AL, The Fall of the Bourgeoisie: Cuba, 1959-1961, PhD Thesis, University of New Mexico, 1974. (Back to text)
220. This interpretation which introduces the notion of Castro having Bonapartist characteristics is most succinctly outlined in Farber, S, (1969), op cit. See also Wohlforth, T, Teorías del Socialismo en el Siglo XX, Coyoacán, Ediciones Nueva Sociología, 1983, pp. 201-242. (Back to text)
221. Farber, S, (1969), op cit, p. 535. (Back to text)
222. According to Wayne Smith, while the arrest of Matos was cited as proof of the communist nature of Fidel Castro’s leadership by conservatives in the U.S., it was only in early 1960 that the U.S. government’s suspicions of Castro turned to outright hostility. U.S.-Cuban relations were relatively good in the first half of 1959 with the U.S. displaying a degree of openness to political changes. However, in March 1960 President Dwight Eisenhower formally approved the first plan of covert action to overthrow Castro. See Smith, WS, op cit, pp. 43-57. (Back to text)
223. See Woodward Jr., RL, ‘Urban Labor and Communism: Cuba’, Caribbean Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3, October 1963, pp. 34-38 for an account of how PSP members replaced the existing CTC leadership and gained positions in the Ministry of Labour. See Córdova, E, Clase Trabajadora y Movimiento Sindical en Cuba, (1959-1996), Vol. 2, Miami: FL, Ediciones Universal, 1996, pp. 65-97 and Spalding Jr., HA, ‘The Workers’ Struggle: 1850-1961’, Cuba Review (New York), Vol. 4, No. 1, July 1974, pp. 8-9 for summaries of events in the labour movement in this period from the different hostile and sympathetic political perspectives respectively. (Back to text)
224. For an outline of the plight of Cuban anarchists under the post-1959 Cuban regime and their attempts to convince the rest of the anarchist world that Fidel Castro headed a Stalinist dictatorship see Fernández, F, Cuba: The Anarchists and Liberty, Sydney, Monty Miller Press, 1987, pp. 16-19. For an illuminating anarchist account of the revolutionary process and the imposition of a repressive totalitarian dictatorship see Iglesias, A, Revolución y Dictadura en Cuba, Buenos Aires, Editorial Reconstruir, 1963. (Back to text)
225. Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, p. 102. (Back to text)
226. Tad Szulc describes this Bonapartist feature in Szulc, T, Fidel: A Critical Portrait, Sevenoaks, Hodder and Stoughton, 1989, p. 666. (Back to text)
227. See Kalfon, P, Che. Ernesto Guevara, una Leyenda de Nuestro Siglo, Barcelona, Plaza y Janés Editores, S.A., 1997, p. 375. (Back to text)
228. See ibid, p. 406. (Back to text)
229. See Pérez-Stable, M, (1993), op cit, pp. 95-96 for an account of the principal arguments in the Great Debate over the transition to socialism and the elimination of market relations. (Back to text)
230. Castañeda, JG, (1997), op cit, p. 304. (Back to text)
231. Ibid, p. 127. (Back to text)
232. Guevara, in fact, regarded the withdrawal of the bases as a betrayal by the Soviets and went so far as to argue that the nuclear missiles should have been used in an implacable fight against imperialism. See ibid, pp. 231-232. (Back to text)
233. The principal point of contention in the Sino-Soviet dispute was the Soviets’ emphasis on peace and disarmament as against the Chinese Communist Party’s continued emphasis on the struggle against imperialism. The Chinese argued the anti-imperialist struggle must be conducted at all levels and with all available methods, though should be particularly directed at the ‘weakest link’ in the imperialist chain, namely, the regimes in the under-developed countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. See Unsigned, ‘The Split in the Socialist World’, Monthly Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, May 1963, pp. 1-20. While Fidel Castro had initially attempted to play a mediating role in the Sino-Soviet conflict, from 1964 Cuba progressively aligned itself publicly with the Soviet Union. This culminated at the Tri-Continental Conference. See Castañeda, JG, (1997), op cit, pp. 285-286; and Domínguez, JI, To Make a World Safe for Revolution: Cuba’s Foreign Policy, Cambridge: MA, Harvard University Press, 1989, pp. 68-69. (Back to text)
234. Anderson, JL, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, London, Bantam Press, 1997, p. 587. (Back to text)
235. The coincidence of views between Guevara and various Trotskyists over revolutionary strategy and the revolutionary agent explains how leading intellectuals of the USec are able to suggest that Guevara in his criticisms of pro-Moscow official communism was in some way an ‘unconscious’ or ‘creeping’ Trotskyist. See, for example, Löwy, M, The Marxism of Che Guevara, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1973, particularly pp. 80-83; and Moscato, A, ‘Guevara Era Trotskista?’, Bandiera Rossa (Milan), No. 80, June-July 1998, pp. 30-31. In short, those who suggest that Guevara’s critique of the revolutionary process loosely paralleled that of Trotsky’s only demonstrate the concessions which they themselves have made to various aspects of the Comintern’s post-1924 revolutionary strategy. In Chapter Seven I develop the argument that the Posadist Fourth International, the only Trotskyist tendency to claim a Cuban section in the post-1959 period, similarly represented a return to a strategy which identified a multi-class bloc as the vehicle for revolution. (Back to text)
236. See Anderson, JL, op cit, pp. 623-625 for a summary of Guevara’s attack on the Moscow leadership. Guevara had taken a more public stance against the Soviet’s policy of peaceful coexistence after his November 1964 trip to the USSR. See, for example, the extract and commentary on his December 1964 speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations in Sinclair, A, Che Guevara, Stroud, Sutton Publishing, 1998, pp. 90-91. (Back to text)
237. Farber, S, ‘The Resurrection of Che Guevara’, New Politics, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Whole No. 25), Summer 1998, pp. 108-116. (Back to text)
238. Castañeda, JG, (1997), op cit, p. 305. (Back to text)
239. See Castañeda’s account of the stormy meetings which awaited Guevara in Havana on his return from Africa after delivering his Algiers speech. Ibid, pp. 295-296. Paco Ignacio Taibo II in his more ‘non-party Latin American Left’ biography of Guevara has also argued that Che’s sympathies lay with the Chinese in the Sino-Soviet dispute. See, for example, Taibo II, PA, Guevara, Also Known As Che, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1997, pp. 388, 402. (Back to text)
240. See Taibo II, PA, op cit, p. 474; and James, D (ed.), The Complete Bolivian Diaries of Ché Guevara and Other Captured Documents, New York, Stein and Day, 1968, p. 189. (Back to text)
241. Cited from ‘Message to the Peoples of the World from Commander Ernesto Guevara via the Tri-Continental Conference’ in Taibo II, PA, op cit, p. 509. (Back to text)
242. This point has been made by Castañeda. See Castañeda, JG, (1997), op cit, p. 295. (Back to text)
243. See, Farber, S, (1995), op cit, p. 118; and Junco, S, and Howard, N, ‘Yanqui No! Castro No! Cuba Si!’, International Socialism, Series 1, No. 7, Winter 1961-62, pp. 23-27. (Back to text)


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