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Dissident Cuban Communism
The Case of Trotskyism, 1932-1965
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Chapter Four

The Birth of Dissident Cuban Communism and the Oposición Comunista de Cuba, 1925-1933

This chapter traces the roots of dissension within the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) and describes the development of the Oposición Comunista de Cuba (OCC) in 1932-33. Though not a declared Trotskyist group at its foundation, the OCC was the first organised group in Cuba to establish links with the international Trotskyist movement. In addressing my central research questions I chart the theoretical and organisational development of the OCC, arguing that while its principal dispute with PCC leadership was over the nature of the Cuban revolution and the strategy to employ, the Oppositionists initially advocated a return to the PCC’s pre-November 1930 Second Period policy. That is, I develop the argument that the OCC at its founding largely favoured pursuing a strategy for a broad democratic anti-imperialist revolution, in effect rejecting Trotsky’s insistence that only a proletarian anti-imperialist revolution which led directly to an unambiguous dictatorship of the working class could achieve genuine national liberation. A turn towards a more identifiable Permanent Revolution strategy which aimed to place the proletarian vanguard in competition with petty bourgeois nationalism for the leadership of the urban and rural masses only developed, I argue, in mid-1933 under the influence of a group of members at the centre of the OCC who were intent on orientating the Cuban Communist Opposition towards the international Trotskyist movement.

This chapter is divided into three sections. I first discuss the question posed by other authors of whether or not Julio Antonio Mella in the late 1920s was a Trotskyist. After next considering the actual formation and composition of the OCC, I then analyse its defining characteristics in terms of its understanding of the nature of the revolution in Cuba and the strategy revolutionaries should adopt.

4.1 Julio Antonio Mella and the Roots of Dissension

The issue of whether or not Mella had become a Trotskyist, at least in his thinking, in the months or years before his assassination in Mexico City in January 1929, has been posed by Alexander and Alejandro Gálvez Cancino.(1) Alexander’s account concludes that although Mella had developed some sympathy for the positions of Trotsky, which may explain his assassination, it is probably too much to posit that Mella was actually recruited to the cause of Trotskyism.(2) Gálvez Cancino, however, confers importance on Mella as one of the most significant figures in the formation of a Trotskyist current in Mexico, his base in exile from 1926. He argues that Mella was considered by the Mexican Trotskyists as the pioneer of the current within the Partido Comunista de México (PCM) which went on to form the Mexican Left Opposition in late 1929 and early 1930.(3) While recognising that Mella was not a member of the any Left Opposition group, Gálvez Cancino details various episodes which suggest that at a personal level Mella had sympathy with the outcast Trotsky. According to Gálvez Cancino’s research, among the references Mella made to Trotsky was the dedication he wrote in the copy of The Platform of the Opposition(4) which he gave to a future member of the Mexican Oposición Comunista de Izquierda. It read: “For Alberto Martínez with the aim of rearming communism, Julio Antonio Mella.”(5)

Other historical studies have similarly stressed Mella’s latent Trotskyism. Olivia Gall, for example, has developed the argument that Mella was at the centre of the circle which after his death gave birth to the Mexican Left Opposition.(6) Bernardo Claraval, an activist in the Mexican communist milieu, has also opined that Mella’s involvement with those who were to go on to form the Mexican Left Opposition was of significance for the future development of Trotskyism in Mexico. With reference to Mella’s dissension in the Mexican Communist Party, Claraval, in the 1940s, wrote, “[t]he first shoot of opposition in Mexico was Mella [....] The second, Blackwell.”(7) Cuban Trotskyists themselves have also claimed that Mella upheld the essence of Trotskyism, namely opposition to class collaboration, in his disputes with official communism in Cuba and further afield in Latin America,(8) and that after his visit to Moscow in 1927 he left Russia identifying with the International Left Opposition (ILO).(9)

Although post-1959 Cuban accounts have rejected any notion that the ‘discrepancies’ between Mella and the PCC’s leadership were anything other than issues of style,(10) and did not constitute a challenge to the latter’s theory and practice, Mella’s political rivals in the international communist movement certainly attached the label of ‘Trotskyism’ to Mella at various points. This section examines these contending hypotheses regarding the essence of Mella’s dissent. I argue that any accusation of Trotskyism levelled at Mella in fact masked the real content of his opposition and was more a device used to attack and discredit him at a time when the rigid Third Period turn was in preparation and ideological homogeneity was of increasing importance. I specifically contend that Mella, rather than espousing a strategy of Permanent Revolution was wedded to a perspective which had more in common with the Cuban syndicalist and national liberation traditions, political traditions which the Comintern during its Second Period had been able to accommodate. That is, while he stressed the importance of independent working class organisation in the economic field, he did not insist on the political independence of the working class. Mella instead promoted the struggle for a democratic anti-imperialist revolution within multi-class anti-imperialist movements which tended to reduce the problem of the revolution to that of a technical, military matter.

Mella, initially an audacious and leftward moving student at the University of Havana in the early 1920s, was the Secretary of the Federación Estudiantil Universitaria,(11) which in 1923 condemned “all forms of imperialism, especially the intervention of Yankee imperialism in Cuban affairs”(12) and proclaimed its opposition to the private ownership of the means of production. Along with other university students and lecturers Mella also established a workers’ school, the Universidad Popular José Martí(13) and, under the influence of Marxist ideas, was in large part responsible for the rapprochement which took place between the students’ and the workers’ movement. Having joined a small communist circle, the Agrupación Comunista de La Habana in 1924,(14) Mella increasingly considered that the university reform movement transcended the academic walls, calling it “another battle of the class struggle.”(15)

In July 1925, at the time when he was organising the communist multi-class auxiliary organisations, the Liga Anticlerical and the Liga Anti-Imperialista de las Américas,(16) Mella outlined his thoughts on the nature of the revolutionary struggle and the socialist nature of the revolution. Distinguishing between democratic and socialist ideals and going beyond the democratic framework of Martí, Mella stated:

[t]he revolutionaries of the Americas who aspire to defeat the tyrannies of their respective countries [....] cannot live with the principles of 1789. Despite the mental backwardness of some, humanity has progressed and in making the revolutions in this century one should count on a new factor: the ideas of socialism in general, which in one shade or another takes root in every corner of the globe.”(17)

Mella’s inquisitive and independent thinking was evident at the founding congress of the PCC. According to Pedro Serviat,(18) Mella questioned Enrique Florés Magón of the Mexican Communist Party(19) on the nature of the party cell and democratic centralism. Influenced by the anarcho-syndicalist traditions of the Cuban labour and revolutionary movements, he also expressed his resolute opposition to any participation in elections in Cuba. It was apparently only with the greatest effort that Magón managed to gain acceptance of the Comintern’s views over some of Mella’s conceptions.

Mella’s passionate convictions led him to embark on some quite extraordinary individual acts of heroism and resistance. One such act, which proved to be a watershed, was the hunger strike which he undertook after having been arrested and imprisoned on 27 November 1925 on the charge of planting a bomb in the Payret Theatre in Havana. The hunger strike, begun on 6 December, provoked the formation of the Comité Pro-Libertad de Mella which organised demonstrations across Cuba and in exile centres from New York to Paris. In the face of mounting pressure, on 23 December, the charges against him were dropped and his release ordered.(20) The PCC, however, had opposed his hunger strike, and Mella faced the censure of the party. While post-1959 Cuban written sources only go so far as to indicate that “the Party did not view the hunger strike in a favourable light” and urged Mella to give it up,(21) historians who have had access to the Comintern’s archives in Moscow accept that Mella was ‘separated’ from the PCC as a result of this action in early to mid-January 1926. The PCC tribunal which dealt with the case accused Mella of indiscipline and tactical opportunism, and the party leadership apparently went to some lengths to convince the Mexican Communist Party and the Executive Committee of the Comintern that Mella had indeed abandoned the basic principles of the Cuban party. However, after the intervention of the Comintern and the leadership of the Mexican party, who both strongly opposed the PCC’s decision, Mella was eventually ‘re-incorporated’ into the Cuban Communist Party in May 1927.(22) According to Lazar and Victor Kheifets, the Comintern considered Mella’s de facto expulsion to be an act of stupidity which served to isolate the PCC from the petty bourgeois masses who followed the Anti-Imperialist League.(23)

In a situation in which Mella effectively found himself expelled from the PCC, he opted to go into exile when once again ordered to stand before a judge on 18 January 1926. Travelling to Central America, Mella was expelled from both Honduras and Guatemala before ending up in Mexico where he immediately joined the PCM, also becoming a member of the Executive Committee of the Mexican section of the broad bloc Liga Anti-Imperialista de las Américas.(24) The date of Mella’s arrival in Mexico, early 1926, coincided with a period of internal crisis in the PCM. Left-Right struggles were first emerging over the issue of the nature of the Mexican government and the support which the communist party should give to the presidential pretenders.(25) It was against this background that Mella’s dissension with both the PCM and PCC developed.

In Mexico, Mella’s criticism of communist policy centred on the trade union question. As Gálvez Cancino has described,(26) the reformist trade union centre in Mexico, the Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM), was facing collapse in the light of calls from supporters of the presidential candidate, Alvaro Obregón, to form autonomous trade unions.(27) Mella argued that the PCM should take advantage of the crisis to form a trade union centre uniting all autonomous unions, free from the influence of the national bourgeoisie and caudillos. For Mella, the independence of the working class in the trade union field was of paramount importance. The majority on the PCM Central Committee, however, condemned all activity which would hasten the destruction of the CROM, arguing that the communists’ task was to unite the existing trade union centre and win it from reformism.(28)

Mella’s position led him to be considered as a spokesman for Andrés Nin and Losovsky, the political Left and Centre respectively at the Fourth Congress of the Profintern held in Moscow in March-April 1928.(29) The root of this accusation apparently lay in Mella’s meetings with Nin, who was on the Executive Committee of the Profintern when Mella attended meetings of Latin American communists in Moscow in early to mid-1927 following the Brussels World Congress against Colonial Oppression and Imperialism. This was a Cuban’s first contact with Trotskyism and, according to Gálvez Cancino,(30) Nin and Mella went over the programme of the Russian Left Opposition and the struggle of what was becoming labelled ‘Trotskyism’ against the Right-Centrist leadership of the Bukharin-Stalin axis.

At these meetings in Moscow, Mella also displayed how his independent thought conflicted with the demands of the increasingly rigid international leadership of the communist movement over the issue of the internal struggle within the Russian Communist Party. Victorio Codovilla(31) circulated a document demanding the expulsion of Nin from the Profintern and the Russian Party on the grounds that he was a member of the Left Opposition, and asked the delegates to sign the document. According to Gálvez Cancino,(32) Mella and two Peruvians linked to the Peruvian Socialist Party headed by Mariátegui avoided and/or refused to sign. Codovilla subsequently refused to countenance the proposal that Mella be the Latin American delegate who would remain in Moscow to work at the centre of the Profintern on Latin American trade union issues. According to Eudocio Ravines,(33) Codovilla attacked Mella’s candidacy and quarrelled with the comrades who defended it. Amidst much underhand bureaucratic manoeuvring Codovilla ensured that Mella’s candidacy was defeated.(34) Mella returned to Mexico after an unauthorised stay in New York where, according to one account, he complained of the excessive meddling of Moscow in the internal affairs of individual parties.(35)

While Mella had demonstrated how his independent will clashed with the increasingly rigid demands for subordination to officially sanctioned methods of organisation imposed by the process of Bolshevisation, his writings and activity on his return to Mexico were rather contradictory. That is, although his most well-known pamphlet written in the months after his departure from Moscow embodied a Permanent Revolution strategy, his subsequent activity revealed how he had an essentially Second Period conception of the struggle for socialism. Mella’s pamphlet ¿Qué Es el ARPA?, in circulation in April 1928, was perhaps his major written contribution to the struggle for socialism. As a critique of the professed anti-imperialism of Haya de la Torre and the APRA movement, and broadly coinciding with Trotsky’s analysis, he asserted for the first time that although the proletariat could work with the organisations of representatives of the bourgeoisie in the national struggle against imperialism, the working class alone was ultimately the sole guarantor of genuine national revolution.

In ¿Qué Es el ARPA?, Mella contended that the Aprista interpretation of the Anti-Imperialist United Front was ambiguous and made political concessions to the petty-bourgeoisie.(36) At no point, Mella argued, did the APRA recognise that the fundamental principle in the social struggle was the hegemony of the working class.(37) On the role of the contending classes, he wrote:

“[t]he betrayals of the national bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie have a single cause that all the workers now understand. That is, they do not struggle against foreign imperialism in order to abolish private property, but instead to defend their property in the face of the robbery that the imperialists attempt to carry out.
“In their struggle against imperialism—the foreign thief—the bourgeoisies—the national thieves—are united against the proletariat, the good old cannon fodder. But they end up understanding that it is better to form an alliance with imperialism, which at the end of the day pursues similar interests. So-called progressives are converted into reactionaries. The concessions that they made to the proletariat in order to have it by its side at the outset are betrayed when, in its advance, the proletariat becomes a threat as much for the foreign thief as the national one. From here the cry would be against communism.”(38)

Echoing both Trotsky’s and Mariátegui’s characterisation of the APRA as a Latin American Guomindang, Mella, in analysing Chiang Kai-shek in China, argued that the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie of colonial countries will ultimately betray the working class during the course of an ostensibly anti-imperialist struggle, no matter how revolutionary the non-proletarian sectors appear to be. He wrote, “[t]he petty bourgeoisies [of the Americas] are not more loyal to the cause of definitive national emancipation than their class comrades in China or any other colonial country. They abandon the proletariat and pass over to imperialism before the final battle.”(39) With reference to the national liberation struggle he was unequivocal in his conclusion: “In short, only the proletariat can win absolute national liberation and it will be by way of the working class revolution.”(40)

While, then, Mella, unambiguously asserted that socialism and a proletarian revolution were the sole guarantors of national liberation, his ¿Qué Es el ARPA? pamphlet was published at a time when the turn away from the Second Period policy was being prepared. Haya de la Torre’s Aprista strategy of creating multi-class ‘progressive’ anti-imperialist blocs had already come into conflict with the Comintern’s shifting priorities, and after the debacle in China the Comintern was about to take steps towards implementing the Third Period tactical line which stressed the absolute independence of the working class from bourgeois nationalist forces.

More importantly, although there was much to suggest that Mella had taken on the essence of the Left Opposition’s theory after his visit to Moscow, his activity on his return to Mexico still largely fell within the traditions of the revolutionary national liberation and syndicalism of his native Cuba. That is, while Mella upheld independent working class organisation in the trade unions, evident in his contribution to the resurfacing trade union question, he also promoted a multi-class front in the Cuban exile revolutionary milieu in Mexico in 1928 without calling for the political independence of the communist fraction.

Within the Cuban exile community in Mexico in 1928, Mella founded and became the General Secretary of the Asociación Nacional de Nuevos Emigrados Revolucionarios de Cuba (ANERC). Outside the control of the PCC and PCM apparatuses, the ANERC aimed to unite the anti-Machado forces which were then in exile. One immediate aim was the organisation of an expedition of Cuban revolutionaries to depart for Cuba in 1928-29 to initiate an insurrection against the Machado regime.(41) Mella’s declared intention was largely one of igniting a democratic anti-imperialist revolution, and he subordinated the political and organisational independence of the communist fraction inside the ANERC to this project. According to an early edition of ¡Cuba Libre!, the ANERC’s newspaper, the task which the ANERC had set itself was to draw up “a united programme of the Cuban people for immediate action to restore democracy".(42) In the article ¿Hacia Dónde Va Cuba?, Mella himself spoke of “a necessary democratic, liberal, and nationalist revolution” and argued that only the socialist and the revolutionary nationalist movements, that is, those who were prepared to meet violence with violence “can give hope to the Nation.”(43) For Mella, while the proletariat in Cuba was of special significance, this was only to the extent that its relative size and concentration in Cuba favoured the development of a more effective revolutionary movement than had developed in other, less developed Latin American countries.(44) Rather than adopting the Permanent Revolution strategy of insisting on the political independence of the working class from an early stage in a struggle for an unambiguous anti-imperialist proletarian revolution, Mella argued that the proletariat had to take part in the insurrectionary movements only remaining aware that they could give rise to a Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Guomindang in China. For Mella, the pressure which the popular masses could exert would lead to a genuine democratic revolution, and he cited the case of the Mexican Revolution, rather than the Russian October Revolution, as the example of what was possible.(45) Indeed, as Cabrera has argued, while Mella referred to socialism elsewhere, inside the ANERC he did not allude to Lenin or communism. He instead emphasised the necessity of armed insurrection, unity with the revolutionary nationalist movement, the democratic programme of the ANERC and the stages in the revolution.(46)

In line with Mella’s broad democratic bloc approach, also participating in the ANERC alongside a nucleus of communists was the proscribed Partido Unión Nacionalista, a party of the bourgeois opposition to Machado. Their joint work was such that in 1929 a close colleague of Mella in Mexico recognised that it proved difficult to distinguish the activity of the PCC from that of the Partido Unión Nacionalista in the ANERC and preparation of the armed expedition.(47) This work and overall perspective, the same report noted, was relentlessly criticised by some comrades.(48) As Russell Blackwell, another comrade of Mella’s in Mexico, wrote, “[n]umerous differences arose between the comrades of the Communist fraction of the ANERC in Mexico and the C.E.C. [Central Executive Committee] of the C.P. of Mexico, and the relations between Mella and the party leadership became exceedingly tense towards the end of 1928.”(49) Again, this was at the time when the Comintern was preparing the ground for its turn towards the Third Period tactic of outright hostility towards all non-communist forces including the revolutionary nationalist sector.

Mella’s confrontation with the leadership of the PCM was also heightened by his renewed involvement in the polemic over the trade union question. This debate resurfaced while he was acting as the Interim National Secretary of the PCM in mid- to late 1928 due to the absence of two PCM delegates who were in Moscow for the Comintern’s Sixth Congress.(50) Mella again took the lead in arguing that continuing to promote a United Front with the CROM was unsustainable in a situation in which the working class was on the point of leaving the Confederation. He contended that the PCM should immediately form a new trade union centre.(51) As Blackwell has recounted:

[i]n September 1928, an emergency conference of the party was called to discuss the change in the political situation. At this conference, Martín demanded the expulsion of Mella for the crime of working against the party line in the direction of ‘dual unionism’. The Right wing proposed a united front with the reformists against the Obregonists (and Left wing CROM members) who were splitting the unions. But instead of Mella being expelled from the party at that time, he was successful, together with the Mexico city delegation, in rallying the whole conference, with one exception, to a struggle against the opportunist tail-endism of the Central Committee.”(52)

However, while awaiting the return of the delegates from Moscow, the Central Committee of the PCM took to sabotaging these decisions. According to Gálvez Cancino,(53) from September 1928 the leadership of the PCC and PCM blocked and confronted Mella on the trade union question and criticised his political activities in the ANERC. According to Blackwell’s account:

on the return of the delegation from Moscow after the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern, comrade Julio Antonio Mella was not only removed from his provisional post [as National Secretary] but was also summarily removed from the Central Committee upon the insistence of the right wing C.E.C. led by Martín (Stirner) and [Rafael] Carrillo. [...] Towards the end of 1928 relations between Mella and the Party leadership became exceedingly tense.”(54)

It was, then, against the background of criticism on the combined front of his activity within the ANERC and his position on the trade union question that Mella, expelled once already from the PCC, again faced a further round of accusations including that of being a Trotskyist. First, at a meeting of communists in Montevideo in April 1928, Codovilla and Ricardo Martínez argued that Mella held Trotskyist positions and that he did not respond to the discipline required by the PCM.(55) The leadership of the PCM examined the accusations, but found no evidence to prove that Mella was working with the Left Opposition. However, in the light of a rising international campaign against the so-called dangers of Trotskyism, the PCM called on Mella to openly declare himself against Trotskyism. He did so, presenting “a formal renunciation of the point of view of the Left Opposition.”(56)

Attempts by the leaderships of the PCC and PCM to discredit Mella continued. In a letter from Rafael Carrillo, the General Secretary of the PCM, to Bertram and Ella Wolfe, in which Carrillo argued that the “pest” of Trotskyism needed to be dealt with, he wrote:

[i]t is very much a danger which our enemies can exploit. Last week we had something similar here: Sormenti [Vittorio Vidali] and Ramírez [Manuel Díaz] on their return [from the Sixth Congress of the Comintern] passed through Cuba where, for a week they were with the CC of the PCC. The Cuban CC delivered a resolution to them in which they requested that the Cuban group in Mexico subordinate themselves to the CC of the PCM and that they do not write or work on their own account and at their own risk, compromising in a truly criminal fashion our comrades who work in Cuba. We let Mella and his supporters know of this resolution and he let loose with fury against the CC of the PCC. We are ready to publish a resolution about his case and circulate it right across Latin America and the U.S., but just yesterday I received a letter of regret from him in which he withdraws the resignation and promises to continue working in the Party. This very week we will sort out this issue. [....] Mella has always had Trotskyist ‘deviltries/weaknesses’.”(57)

Amidst the round of false accusations and confrontation with the PCM leadership, Mella was expelled from the party after he sent a rash letter to the leadership in which he declared his inability to work with them.(58) While he promptly requested a reconsideration of this statement, recognising the error on his part, and was reinstated in the party, this decision was taken “with the stipulation that he was to hold no posts of responsibility for a period of three years.”(59) However, on the night of 10 January 1929 Mella was shot in the streets of Mexico City. He died at dawn the following day. At the time, the Comintern and the PCM laid the blame at the door of Machado, the Cuban President.(60) Since then, though, a number of authors have questioned this version and suggested that agents of the Comintern, most notably Vittorio Vidali, were deeply involved in the assassination.(61) The motive, they have argued, was Mella’s ‘deviations’ and his presumed sympathy for the views of the Left Opposition. While these accusations concerning the authors of the assassination have never been either completely dispelled nor confirmed,(62) the circumstantial evidence supporting the hypothesis that there was Cuban government involvement in Mella’s murder is convincing. While the letter from Mella’s close friend and comrade, Leonardo Fernández Sánchez, warning Mella that Cubans had departed for Mexico “with drastic intentions towards you personally”,(63) indicates that there was Cuban government intent to murder him, the evidence cited by Daniela Spenser is even more suggestive. She argues that from April 1926 after Mella and other Cuban communists had found refuge in Mexico and openly began to plan an armed expedition to Cuba, Machado made repeated requests to the Mexican authorities to curb the Cuban exiles’ public activities. However, given the Comintern’s Second Period tactical line during the period 1926-28, the PCM maintained good relations with the Mexican government, even supporting it at various junctures. Spenser argues that the Mexican government, not wanting to complicate these relations, refused to take steps against Mella, even refusing to do so after the Cuban government had presented its Mexican counterpart with materials, which were almost certainly forged, suggesting that the PCM was involved in a secret plot to further destabilise the country in the wake of the assassination of Obregón, the president-elect, in mid-1928. Spenser’s convincing hypothesis is that in the light of the Mexicans’ unwillingness to act, the Cuban government took it upon itself to organise Mella’s assassination.(64)

Mella’s struggle in Mexico had principally been against the Rightists within the PCM who adhered to the trade union line advocated at the international level by Bukharin. However, in an article published in El Machete two days after his assassination, Mella made it clear that he similarly did not share the ultra-leftist conception of building a relatively small ‘red’ communist trade union centre with which the new trade union centre was eventually founded.(65) He wrote:

[w]e pose the question of trade union unity and not the unity of the Party. A party unites a certain number of people who profess to hold the same opinion. The trade unions bring together the working class in day-to-day struggles no matter the political points of view that exist within it. We are supporters of freedom of criticism and of the struggle of various political tendencies within the trade union organisations.”(66)

This insistence on independent trade union organisation, however, was as much an expression of the tradition of revolutionary syndicalism as it was of Trotskyism. Mella simply reasoned that under attack from central government, the reformist centre, the CROM, was on the point of disintegration and the proletariat as a whole needed a new class-based organisation to defend its economic interests.

While, then, Mella had concerns about what he perceived as certain dangerous developments within the communist movement, and had also been at the centre of a group of young PCM members who subsequently went on to found the Mexican Left Opposition, a group which claimed him as one of their pioneers, their overtly Trotskyist dissidence only took shape after Mella’s assassination. Although, as the Trotskyists in the first bulletin of the Mexican Oposición Comunista de Izquierda wrote, “[c]omrade Julio Mella and some others saw with certain alarm what was happening but, perhaps not understanding that the Mexican party was also directly threatened with suffering the consequences of the incorrect and opportunist line of the Comintern, they did not try to bring these problems to the attention of our comrades”,(67) Mella’s expressed concerns did not have an explicitly Trotskyist hue. As in the case of Mariátegui, Mella’s opposition within the official communist movement was contradictory and he died before being forced to question the roots of his dissidence and take sides in the more clearly defined disputes between the Left, Right and Centre. Indeed, the Mexican Oppositionists’ subsequent position would have also directly challenged Mella’s work in the ANERC.

In sum, most revealing in the debate around Mella’s supposed Trotskyism was his commitment to the activities of the ANERC. While he had belatedly joined Trotsky in warning of the dangers of subordinating the proletariat to the parties of bourgeois nationalism, such as the Guomindang, his commitment to preparing an insurrectionary movement alongside the forces of the liberal nationalist Partido Unión Nacionalista demonstrated that in no sense can his dissidence be regarded as the first manifestation of Trotskyism in the Cuban communist milieu. Unlike Trotsky and the early Comintern, at no point did Mella insist on the independence of the communist fraction within the ANERC, nor did he apply Trotsky’s perspective that only a proletarian anti-imperialist revolution could achieve genuine national liberation. Although, therefore, Mella was the first Cuban to come into contact with the ideas of Trotsky and, indeed, was the first Cuban to be accused of Trotskyism, this, I argue, was a false accusation which obscured his one-sided emphasis on the national liberation struggle and his commitment to developing an uncritical alliance with the socially conservative Partido Unión Nacionalista.

4.2 The Formation, Composition and Activity of the OCC

This section traces the development of dissent within the PCC in the early 1930s after the assassination of Mella and charts the formation, social and geographic composition, and activity of the OCC in 1932-33, the first dissident communist group in Cuba to establish formal relations with the international Trotskyist movement. The central argument which I develop is that the OCC was originally made up of a heterogeneous group of anti-Machado and anti-imperialist militants who having coalesced under the umbrella of the PCC and its auxiliary organisations during the Second Period, began to rebel against the new ultra-leftist Third Period tactical line sponsored by the PCC leadership from late 1930 which isolated the party from other groups on the Left. I further argue that it was only due to the decisive lead given by a core of central figures within the OCC, that the Cuban Oppositionists adopted a centralised structure and orientated themselves towards the International Left Opposition.

After Mella’s assassination in January 1929, relations between the PCM and the Cuban communists working in the ANERC continued to be tense. In June 1929, during the first Latin American Trade Union Conference in Buenos Aires, an exchange between David Alfaro Siqueiros (*Suárez), a Mexican delegate,(68) and Sandalio Junco (*Juárez), one of the Cuban delegates and a future leader of the OCC,(69) led the latter to accuse the PCM of doing all it could to sabotage the work of the Cuban communists in exile.(70) At this conference, Junco also brought to the attention of the delegates what he referred to as the issue which was of extraordinary importance in Cuba, namely that of a possible alliance with the Left-wing of the Cuban bourgeois nationalist movement in the struggle against Machado. While differences over this issue would later largely define the Opposition within the PCC, for the time being Junco noted that despite the very different ultimate goals of the nationalists and PCC, the imminent possibility that the former would initiate a revolution could not be ignored. Junco informed the conference that while the Partido Unión Nacionalista had turned to seek U.S. support to defeat Machado, and so made co-operation with it impossible, another nationalist wing could still mount a revolt. While ruling out co-operation inside such movements, Junco, without defining the form and content of any joint work or alliance, noted that the PCC continued to seek to address the crucial question of how to gain advantage from the Left-wing nationalist movement.(71)

Within the Cuban communist milieu, the issue of the role of the Left-nationalist movement in the revolution was the centre of further debate after October-November 1930, when the PCC adopted the Third Period tactical line. In terms of theory and practice in Cuba, the PCC abandoned its conspiratorial orientation alongside non-proletarian forces, considering the bourgeois nationalist opposition to be counter-revolutionary. The reformist and anarcho-syndicalist trade unions were similarly labelled social-fascist. All possibility of any type alliance with the revolutionary sector of the Cuban nationalist movement in the struggle against Machado was therefore ruled out and, as such, the views expressed by Junco on behalf of the party at the 1929 Latin American Trade Union Conference were formally rejected. Mella himself was also subsequently criticised by the Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern for intending to place the working class movement at the tail of the bourgeoisie.(72)

The PCC’s adoption of the Comintern’s Third Period tactical line initially provoked dissension within the PCC’s trade union and student milieu. The first co-ordinated internal opposition, organised in July 1931 under the leadership of Pedro Varela (*Magon), was an expression of the rejection of the PCC’s trade union line of the United Front only from below with rank and file workers.(73) The following month the PCC faced further internal dissent from the communist fraction of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil (AIE) over the official communists’ insistence on passive neutrality during the August 1931 Revolt initiated by the Partido Unión Nacionalista.(74)

It was at this point that, in small part, the ideas of Trotskyism probably became known to a limited number of the dissident communist activists in these organisations. The conduit for these ideas was Juan Ramón Breá, a Cuban in exile in Spain, who after making contact with Nin and other Spanish Trotskyists had himself adhered to the views of Trotsky.(75) He sent Trotskyist literature in Spanish to a number of militants in Cuba. According to Charles Simeón Ramírez,(76) the leader of the Partido Bolchevique Leninista (PBL) in the late 1930s, these newspapers and journals from the Spanish Trotskyist group, particularly the magazine Comunismo,(77) did much to stimulate Trotskyist influence within the relatively isolated Opposition group in Cuba.

As the repression directed against the revolutionary movement mounted in early 1932, increasing numbers of activists in the communist and student movement were imprisoned. It was, then, in the debates which took place among the jailed communists that the Oppositionists began to act as a group and the content of the dissension began to shape.(78) While Carlos González Palacios, Marcos García Villareal, Gastón Medina Escobar and Juan Pérez de la Riva were some of the principal movers in these events, Breá’s contribution to these debates, this time from within a Cuban prison, gave them a distinct Trotskyist content.(79) However, it seems that it was Junco who, after his return from the Soviet Union, acted as the catalyst in giving some structure to the original disagreements within the PCC.(80) Already well-known nationally,(81) Junco was the leader of the Sindicato de Obreros Panaderos, the Bakery Workers’ Union, and held a leading position in the PCC. While unsupported accounts argue that he “had been won over to the Left Opposition during [his] stay in Moscow by Andrés Nin himself, then the secretary of the Red International of Labour Unions [and that ....] no sooner had he been convinced than he used the occasion of an official reception to violently question Stalin regarding the persecution of Trotsky and his comrades”,(82) what is documented is that on his return from the Soviet Union in early 1932, Junco immediately took steps towards regrouping the various Oppositionist groups within the PCC.(83) Having been assigned various tasks in the Negro Department of the PCC, among the unemployed and for the newspaper of the National Labour Confederation (CNOC),(84) Junco “disconnected himself completely from the Party” from the end of March 1932.(85) Arrested by the police in Havana, after his release on 15 July 1932 Junco was only located by the PCC at the end of September. In a meeting with the PCC’s Central Committee, Junco informed them that the issue was not about the work he had been assigned as such, but disagreements with the line of the PCC which went back to 1930, the date when the party had adopted the Third Period tactical line.

It was, then, in August 1932 that the leading Oppositionists within the PCC moved to found the Cuban Communist Opposition as a distinct organisation within the ranks of the PCC.(86) According to Carlos M. Padrón Ferrer, who was soon to become one of its leaders, the OCC was actually organised at a meeting of four members of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil, Marcos García Villareal, Luis Busquet, Roberto Fontanilla and Charles Simeón and a number of members of the Federación Obrera de La Habana,(87) this doubtless including Junco and Gastón Medina.

The formation of the OCC also coincided with moves by the PCC leadership to expel the leading Oppositionists from the party’s ranks. It is, though, unclear whether the PCC’s Central Committee was actually aware that the OCC had been more formally constituted. Either way, when the leadership of the PCC met to expel the first Oppositionist from the party, García Villareal, on 24 August 1932, the resolution certainly made no mention of the founding of the OCC.(88) When the communist fraction in the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil refused to accept the decision to expel García Villareal, requesting instead that the question of the political and trade union line of the PCC be the subject of a national party conference or congress,(89) the Central Committee of the PCC also took further steps to exert more control over its auxiliary organisations. In an attempt to curb the autonomy of the Liga Juvenil Comunista (Young Communist League), its leaders, *Miró and *Reyes, were removed from their positions.(90)

Leaving my analysis of the Oppositionists’ theoretical and tactical development until the following section (4.3), I first trace the organisational development of the OCC. At this early stage, it was not easy for the PCC leadership to isolate the early Oppositionists. Crucially, this was because the party, after attracting a variety of activists to the Labour Federation of Havana (FOH), the Left-Wing Student movement and the PCC itself during the official communists’ broad Second Period, abruptly began to dismiss the national liberation movement exactly at a time when the demands for national liberation were being posed with increased vigour in the rising revolutionary situation. Thus, when the revolutionary tide was beginning to swell the ranks of oppositional groups across the political spectrum, the OCC initially acted as a pole of attraction for a variety of activists who had affiliated to the PCC and its front organisations prior to October-November 1930, and who now rejected the sectarian Third Period tactical line of the PCC believing that it kept the party on the margin of events.

Although the Oppositionists had supporters in all the auxiliary organisations of the PCC, they were initially strongest in the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil.(91) Under the leadership of Marcos García Villareal (*A. Gómez Villar), the editor of its journal Línea,(92) the Oppositionists managed to influence, if not control, the Left-Wing Students’ organisation in all its principal centres across Cuba. Ultimately, though, the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil did not break en masse from the PCC. Indeed, what the Trotskyists later termed the ‘capitulatory tendency’, incorporating those who remained with the PCC leadership, was strongest in the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil. According to Gastón Medina, “[w]ith the exception of the Matanzas section, a part of the Santiago de Cuba section, and of a very small minority in the institute of Havana, the major part of the organisation including the University Section passed into Stalinist influence.”(93)

The Opposition also drew its initial support from the Defensa Obrera Internacional (International Labour Defence—DOI). Having undergone a period of significant growth, especially in Havana, due to the influx of former Apristas,(94) the DOI was a heterogeneous organisation with origins very much in the multi-class anti-imperialist front politics of the Comintern’s Second Period. As the PBL conceded in hindsight, those who had swelled the ranks of the DOI largely constituted “a spontaneous current born of the popular struggle against the ferocious dictatorship".(95) Again, those who were in favour of breaking with the line of the PCC leadership followed two paths. In this case, one sector led by the old Apristas moved towards the petty bourgeoisie while the second joined the OCC and towards supporting the trade union struggles of the FOH.(96) The DOI’s principal leaders, however, including Gastón Medina, its National Secretary in 1931,(97) Busquet, Fontanilla, Juan Pérez de la Riva, José Antonio Díaz Ortega, and Andrés Vargas Gómez, the grandson of Máximo Gómez, the General-in-Chief of the Liberation Army during the 1895-98 War, all sided with and then joined the Opposition.(98) In so doing, they carried their arguments to the DOI’s National Executive Committee meeting in mid- to late 1932.(99)

The OCC also won majority support within the Federación Obrera de La Habana, the trade union centre in Havana which in 1932 had become a “rallying point for all the syndicalist currents running counter to the ‘line’ of the C.P.".(100) Most significantly, the largest union under the FOH’s umbrella, the Sindicato General de Empleados del Comercio de Cuba (General Commercial Workers’ Union of Cuba), fell under the Opposition’s control.(101) This trade union, founded in 1931, organised hotel, restaurant, bar, shop and print workers, and in January 1934 claimed to have 7,000 members in Havana,(102) a large percentage of whom were Spaniards. According to the PBL, while most of the trade unions in Havana were under its control by mid-1933,(103) the majority of PBL members in the city were employed in the commercial sector and as such belonged to the General Commercial Workers’ Union of Cuba.(104)

The grassroots’ heterogeneity of the OCC at its founding was also reflected in the Opposition’s early leadership which was made up from a variety of activists drawn from both the student and trade union movements. While a number of members had international experience, including Junco in Moscow, Breá in Spain and Padrón in the French Communist Party,(105) a PBL report revealed the mix in terms of the OCC leadership’s centres of activity, ages and experiences. Apart from Junco, an experienced trade union activist in his late 30s, and García Villareal, a student in his early 20s, the OCC’s initial leadership was made up by *Mario González, a college student in his late teens or early 20s who had no real political experience prior to the formation of the OCC; *Maurin, an old trade union activist who had joined the PCC with the decline of anarcho-syndicalism but was then expelled for opposing the party’s trade union line; *R. Gomez, also originating from the pre-PCC syndicalist current, who had been expelled from the PCC long before the OCC was organised; and *Marcial, a lawyer who had previously been active in Santiago de Cuba and the provinces outside Havana.(106)

This rather heterogeneous make-up of the OCC’s initial membership and leadership reflected the Opposition’s weak Trotskyist credentials at its founding. Unlike other Communist Opposition groups which surfaced in Latin America in the early 1930s, the Cuban Communist Opposition was a broad current which had been formed almost entirely on the basis of local arguments.(107) However, over time, the OCC, on the initiative of small group of leading members orientated itself towards Trotskyism and the International Left Opposition. While the principal conduit for explicit Trotskyist ideas had initially been Breá, the most prominent pro-Left Opposition Cuban during the course of 1932-33 was García Villareal.(108) The OCC’s organisational alignment with the ILO, as opposed to the more heterogeneous Right Opposition, was also facilitated by Junco’s hostile memories of the relations with representatives of the Right-wing in the PCM and Profintern.(109) Mella’s arguments in Moscow and his struggle within the PCM over the issue of the armed expedition to Cuba had also principally been against the Rightists.

Under the influence of the core group of members who had some sympathy with the positions defended by Trotsky in the international communist movement, the OCC made its first collective contact with the Left Opposition in Europe via a letter sent to Nin in Spain in March 1933.(110) Signalling that an Opposition existed within the PCC, the letter requested material of the Spanish Communist Opposition, and noted that the Cuban Communist Opposition, though not agreeing on an international line, “is not nor can be exclusively national.”(111) In the subsequent exchange of letters between the French and Spanish sections of the International Left Opposition and the OCC, the Cuban Oppositionists reiterated that they were isolated from the theoretical struggles which were going on at the international level, requested urgent consideration of their proposal for establishing links, and repeated their request for material.(112)

In terms of the Opposition’s geographical spread, the OCC initially formed District Committees in Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba in Oriente,(113) the places in which the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil had decided, in part or full, to break with the PCC. In Matanzas, a majority of the youth in the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil joined the OCC. It also won the Spaniard Miguel Busto García, the leader of the Bakery Workers’ Union, from the PCC and established the Federación Obrera de Matanzas with direct links to the FOH in Havana.(114) In Santiago de Cuba the original members of the OCC were also drawn from the ranks of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil, the Left-wing of the city’s strong student movement, as well as the Young Communist League, International Labour Defence and the PCC itself. Among its principal leaders were the lawyer Carlos Martínez Sánchez who had been a member of the PCC’s Executive Committee in Oriente,(115) another lawyer, Carlos González Palacios, and Padrón, Rubén Martí and Augustina Arce.(116) It was one of Augustina Arce’s daughters, América Lavadí Arce who, having joined the OCC through the International Labour Defence, became the Trotskyists’ first martyr, shot by police forces during a demonstration in Santiago de Cuba on 1 August 1933.(117)

The Oppositionists in Santiago de Cuba in turn initiated the formation of sections in other towns and cities in Oriente among those students and trade unionists who were discontented with the PCC’s tactical line. The principal centres in which these Sectional Committees were formed included Holguin, Puerto Padre, Victoria de las Tunas and Guantánamo. Smaller branches were also established in various rural centres of sugar production in Oriente such as Gibara, Bayamo and Palma Soriano.(118) In Victoria de las Tunas, the OCC attracted the Las Tunas district of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil in its entirety, as well as a number of other members of the official party. The General Secretary of the Las Tunas Sectional Committee of the OCC, Roberto Pérez Santiesteban (*Lassalle), for example, came directly from the PCC.(119)

The Oppositionists’ most notable success in terms of numerical strength and influence within the revolutionary movement was that of its Guantánamo Sectional Committee. Eusebio Mujal (*Chapovolov), who had been recruited to the PCC from the student movement in October 1932,(120) initially sowed the seeds of dissent against the PCC line in Guantánamo when a number of the sectional leaders of the party were in prison in 1932. When one of these imprisoned leaders, Manuel Tur Lambert, was released at the end of 1932 a meeting was called of the pro-OCC and pro-Central Committee factions of the party. Aníbal Escalante (*Cid) represented the PCC’s central leadership and Junco and Breá attended on behalf of the OCC’s national and regional leadership. According to Tur’s account, after almost two days of debate, 38 members voted for the OCC line while 8 remained with the PCC.(121) Among the PCC cadres who the Oppositionists initially attracted were various founding members of the branch. These included Rafael Sebastián who had been the PCC section’s first secretary for peasant affairs, Pedro Torres, Gustavo Fraga Jacomino, Ramón Cesar and Gilberto Goliat.(122)

Through 1933, the Oppositionists came to dominate the labour and revolutionary movement in the Guantánamo region. While the PCC’s policy of concluding a pact with Machado and its call for return to work during the August 1933 general strike, served as a useful recruiting sergeant for the OCC nationally, in Guantánamo the events surrounding the strike simply confirmed the leading role of the Oppositionists. The PCC was not represented on the local strike committee,(123) and according to Cuza, a member of the PCC who had joined the OCC, the official communist party “has lost prestige here in Cuba because of the poor tactics adopted by its leaders. The Opposition controls everything [and] is the only strong body!”(124) According to this same account, of the 48 members of the PCC section in Guantánamo, 42 had joined the OCC.(125) By this point, the OCC’s ranks included Isidro López Suárez, the first General Secretary of the PCC section in Guantánamo.(126)

As the OCC consolidated itself during 1933 as a distinct faction in the Cuban communist milieu and developed links with the international Trotskyist opposition, so its ‘Statutes’, published in June 1933, formally established the organisational principles and discipline codes which faithfully reflected those of the 1917 Leninist party model. Clearly stating that the OCC considered itself to be a faction of the PCC, the ‘Statutes’ underlined the fact that the OCC had the intention of regenerating the official party so as to prevent the destruction of the communist movement in Cuba.(127) The Estatutos also outlined the OCC’s intention to form fractions in all the organisations of the working class and peasantry, from the trade unions and student associations to the front organisations of the PCC.(128) However, in practice, given that relations between the OCC and PCC were largely limited to displays of mutual hostility, each accusing the other of inciting the police to attack their centres of organisation and break up their meetings,(129) where the Communist Oppositionists did not control the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil or International Labour Defence organisations they established parallel bodies.(130)

The OCC’s independent, rather than factional, character was further reinforced by the ‘Statutes’’ sketch of the Communist Opposition’s internal organisational principles. The basic units of the organisation were the local cells which, in turn, were welded together locally in Sectional Committees. These Sectional Committees were grouped together in the next tier of party organisation, the District Committee. While the highest authority in the Opposition was a National Congress, attended by delegates from the basic cells of the party, the Central Committee elected by such a congress was the supreme body between congresses. The ‘Statutes’ also provided for the holding of a National Conference in the event that a National Congress could not be held. The conference, rather than being made up of delegates from the cells, was to be attended by delegates of the Sectional Committees. A Political Bureau elected by the Central Committee was placed in charge of the Opposition’s activities between meetings of the Central Committee. While the ‘Statutes’ made no mention of the formation of factions to co-ordinate arguments for any particular internal political debate, in principle, the OCC also adhered to the principles of democratic centralism. That is, they insisted on the widest possible internal democracy while, at the same time, acting as a unit on the decision of the majority in any public work. This, the OCC argued, would guarantee the unity of the group.

Originally, then, the Cuban Communist Opposition was a heterogeneous group of anti-Machado and anti-imperialist militants who opposed the imposition of the Third Period sectarian directives of the Comintern within the PCC and its auxiliary organisations. On the initiative, though, of its principal leaders who were sympathetic to the struggle of the international Trotskyist movement, it orientated itself towards the International Left Opposition. While the OCC established branches across Cuba and had the intention of regenerating the PCC as a vanguard party capable of leading the socialist revolution, in practice it increasingly took on the character of a party outside the PCC. Indeed, just as the OCC organised opposition groups to parallel those of the PCC’s auxiliary organisations, so it had formally adopted a centralised party structure on the Bolshevik model by June 1933.

4.3 The OCC and Revolutionary Strategy: From a Democratic to Permanent Revolution Perspective

This section analyses the OCC’s theoretical development with particular reference to the Cuban Oppositionists’ assessment of the nature of the revolution and the strategy which revolutionaries should adopt. I develop the argument that although the OCC adopted Bolshevik principles of organisation and set itself the task of regenerating the official communist party, this intended regeneration initially took place along the lines of a return to the PCC’s pre-November 1930 Second Period policy. That is, despite the PCC’s accusation that the Opposition’s programme was similar to the “counter-revolutionary platform of ‘the Permanent Revolution’ of Trotskyism”,(131) the Oppositionists did not initially insist on the proletarian character of the anti-imperialist revolution. They instead largely adhered to the perspective of a multi-class democratic anti-imperialist revolution, which amounted to a de facto rejection of Trotsky’s contention that only a proletarian anti-imperialist revolution leading directly to working class power and socialism could achieve genuine national liberation. I further contend that the OCC only rejected its initial democratic anti-imperialist revolution perspective and committed itself to a Permanent Revolution strategy as late as early to mid-1933, eight months after its formal founding. This qualitative change of tack, I argue, was the result of the influence of a core of members in the OCC’s leadership who had developed an international perspective.

Discontent within the PCC and its auxiliary organisations over the Third Period line adopted after October 1930 centred on four inter-related issues. These four points of discord fell into the following categories: 1) the role of the working class in the revolution in Cuba, 2) the role of the bourgeois opposition in the revolutionary process, 3) the trade union line of the PCC, and 4) the question of participating in elections. Before I discuss how the OCC’s dissension developed in 1933 into a recognisable proletarian anti-imperialist revolution thesis, I outline how the OCC initially espoused an essentially Second Period critique of the PCC’s Third Period tactical line on the basis of disagreements over these four issues.

First of all, on the issue of the role of the working class in the revolution and the actual character of that revolution, the Oppositionists objected to the PCC’s characterisation of the Cuban revolution as anti-imperialist and anti-feudal whose primary motor was the working class. In essence, they resisted the PCC’s turn to the ‘proletarianisation’ of the struggle and, insisting on the revolutionary potential of the petty bourgeoisie in Cuba, openly agitated in favour of a democratic anti-imperialist revolution. For the early Oppositionists, the PCC had uncritically adopted an orientation which corresponded to a medium developed capitalist country where a solid, well-formed industrial proletariat existed. As a result, they argued, the Central Committee of the PCC over-estimated the role of the proletariat and under-estimated that of the peasantry and revolutionary petty bourgeoisie in the cities.(132) Both Junco, in El Obrero Panadero, the journal of the Bakery Workers’ Union, and García Villareal expressed the view that, in Cuba, there was only a very small industrial proletariat with a poorly developed class consciousness which was incapable by itself of developing a serious, independent movement. At the same time, they argued that there was a massive petty bourgeoisie both rural and urban which was willing to resort to violent, revolutionary methods of struggle.(133) García Villareal was quoted as writing in his letter to the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil after his expulsion from the PCC that because:

the industrial proletariat is at a very low level and possesses very little political class consciousness one cannot speak of a revolutionary proletarian movement as an immediate and applicable thing. Instead we must speak of a movement of the industrial and agricultural workers, of the poor and medium peasants, of the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie, that is, of all the exploited and oppressed sectors of the nation under the hegemony of the industrial proletariat.”(134)

Thus, while, like Trotsky, the initial voices of opposition within the PCC rejected the official communists’ ultra-radical dismissal of all non-communist forces of the Third Period, the Cuban Oppositionists were rather ambiguous on the actual nature of the revolution. They tended to discount the immediate potential of the working class and, like Mella, insisted on the validity of the Second Period multi-class revolutionary project. Paying scant regard to Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution, nowhere in their analysis did the Oppositionists explicitly embrace the need for the working class to be placed in competition with the bourgeois opposition in order to become the leader of the nation by way of developing a distinct proletarian anti-imperialist action programme. Instead, they equivocated, favouring a broader multi-class, democratic revolution.

On the question of the bourgeois opposition to Machado, the PCC leadership in the early 1930s began to argue that the attempts at armed insurrection against Machado were simply part of a struggle for power among two sectors of the bourgeoisie who were equally dependent on U.S. imperialism. The bourgeois nationalist struggle was therefore considered to be against the interests of the working masses and the PCC advocated abstaining from participating in any insurrection against Machado.(135) The Oppositionists within the PCC, however, initially labelled such a policy “infantile leftism”,(136) arguing that tarring all non-PCC opposition to Machado with the same brush was a mistake. The early Oppositionists contended that the bourgeois opposition movement was not one homogeneous entity which, along with Machado, served the interests of imperialism equally. Differentiating between a wing of the embryonic Cuban national bourgeoisie which was associated with North American finance capital and another which was more tied to the national market, the Oppositionists highlighted the different roots and trajectories of such groups as the ABC, on the one hand, and the Partido Unión Nacionalista, on the other.(137) As the Oppositionists within the PCC were quoted as writing, “[t]he Central Committee [of the PCC] considers that the ABC movement is the same as that of the bourgeois caudillos, disguised under this name in order to trick the masses. [.... However, we] say that the ABC is the radical wing of the bourgeois opposition factions, its base is made up of discontented elements who aspire to fight effectively against the Machado dictatorship".(138) Recognising the contradictory nature of the ABC’s early programme, the Oppositionists argued that the abecedarios attempted to take the struggle beyond a return to the constitutional legality of 1901:

they speak of the conditions of slavery in which the colony finds itself, they speak of the monopoly which some imperialist companies have, all of which shows the possibilities for development which this organisation has".(139)

On the basis of this analysis which differentiated between various currents within the bourgeois opposition movement, the Oppositionists argued that it was necessary to participate in any armed insurrection which the bourgeois nationalists initiated. However, very much a continuation of the line advocated by Mella with regard to the ANERC and the proposed expedition from Mexico, while rejecting the PCC’s ultra-leftist dismissal of all bourgeois nationalist plans for revolution, they took no heed of Trotsky’s insistence that the political independence of the working class be maintained in any work within an anti-imperialist front. This uncritical position with regard to an insurrection initiated by the bourgeois opposition to Machado was the line which the Oppositionists advocated during the August 1931 Revolt led by the Partido Unión Nacionalista. During this particular insurrection the PCC maintained a typically ultra-leftist position of passive neutrality and accused the Oppositionists of opportunist putschism,(140) of being in tow behind the bourgeoisie,(141) of converting themselves into “another shock brigade of the bourgeois-latifundist opposition, a ‘Left’ subsidiary of the ABC’s ‘Left-wing’.”(142) The Oppositionists, as represented by the communist fraction of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil, in an article entitled ‘Tiene la Palabra el Camarada Mauser’ (’Comrade Mauser Has the Floor’), called on the masses to swell the ranks of the revolution in support of the revolt.(143) The Oppositionists thereby counterposed the PCC’s ultra-leftist attitude towards petty bourgeois nationalism with an uncritical, opportunist one, similar to that which Trotsky had criticised during the Chinese Revolution in the mid-1920s.

The early Oppositionists also rejected the PCC’s trade union line which had been in place since November 1930. They viewed the policy of replacing the tactic of the United Front from above with that of the United Front from below as a sectarian turn.(144) They stood against the move to set up strictly communist ‘red’ unions and argued that the first congress of the national sugar workers’ union, the SNOIA, should include those unions which were already constituted.(145) The Oppositionists also contended that strikes and ‘attend and run’ (’pisa y corre’) street demonstrations which had been called by the PCC leadership since 1930 had left many unions destroyed and increasingly led the masses to reject the communists. The PCC, they argued, had consequently suffered a loss of prestige and influence.(146) According to the Oppositionists, the control which the communists did actually have in the trade union movement was very much at the surface, at a level where a communist policy did not permeate down through the rank and file. As the communist fraction in the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil wrote, the “so-called red trade unions, that is, those in which the Party has control because they follow our leadership, are in large part shattered unions, without members. In those unions in which there are masses of workers, the control obtained by the Party is not real and serious, won by systematic and conscientious work within the masses. It is rather a control at the top, of the leadership".(147)

The fourth issue over which the Oppositionists within the PCC initially disagreed with the Party’s leadership was the PCC’s participation in elections called by Machado. The essence of the Oppositionists’ argument was that the proposed elections only served to reinforce and consolidate the Machado government and that, as such, revolutionaries should not participate in them. They justified such a stance with reference to Russia in 1905 and Lenin’s position of not participating in elections in a situation in which revolution was an immediate possibility.(148) The Central Committee of the PCC, however, maintained that the Oppositionists confused the struggles in Russia in 1905, in which they saw the working class as the principal actor, with the situation in Cuba in the early 1930s where any immediate insurrection would be that of the bourgeois-latifundist opposition. According to the PCC’s leadership, abstentionism from elections was considered to be the ballast of some of the Opposition leaders’ anarchist roots and revealed how the latter did not address the issue of how to promote an independent class strategy and advance the struggle for the immediate demands of the working class and peasantry.(149)

These four points of disagreement which distinguished the Oppositionists from the leadership of the PCC in 1932 were brought together in the OCC’s first published document, the programmatic manifesto signed by the Buró de Oposición Comunista in Santiago de Cuba in January 1933.(150) On the one hand, this document of the now constituted Cuban Communist Opposition in Oriente refined and sharpened the Oppositionists’ critique of the PCC’s historical and political analysis. However, in line with Mella’s revolutionary strategy it also emphasised the OCC’s commitment to addressing the revolutionary potential of the radical nationalist movement from a standpoint which did not insist on the proletariat’s political independence in competition with the national bourgeoisie. That is, the document demonstrated the Cuban Oppositionists’ commitment to a struggle for what they now termed an ‘Agrarian Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution’, rather than to a perspective of an unequivocal proletarian anti-imperialist revolution as advocated by Trotsky.

With respect to elaborating their critique of the PCC’s historical analysis, the Oppositionists in Santiago de Cuba perceptively argued that there was no alliance between a traditional landlord oligarchy and imperialism, as the PCC posited, since the native land owning class had been destroyed in the Ten Years’ War of independence from 1868 to 1878.(151) The subsequent 1895-98 war, the OCC argued, took on a radical democratic bourgeois character with the impoverishment of native conservative elements and the rise of a new working class. However, the parallel rise of U.S. imperialism conquered the democratic ideology of the insurrection and the Cuban bourgeois democratic revolution had in effect been aborted.(152) With much insight the OCC contended that the penetration of U.S. finance capital had ensured that no strong, native class of capitalists emerged to take full control of the new state. They wrote:

the large-scale penetration of U.S. capital and consequent political interference, in other words, Yankee imperialism, cut off all autonomous development and the consolidation of the native bourgeois as the leading class. This has meant that in Cuba the leading class has not sufficiently developed its economic base in order to gain an absolute control of the state. The absence of control over the state by the native bourgeoisie explains the political and economic conduct of our governments. They are always obliged to act in the interests of the U.S. bankers even if this prejudices the interests of the native bourgeoisie.”(153)

Arguing that a historically weak national bourgeoisie would always favour imperialism, the Cuban Oppositionists, like Trotsky, stressed that the national bourgeoisie in the imperialist epoch was incapable of leading a bourgeois democratic revolution. They contended that the bourgeois opposition to Machado would ultimately betray the working masses with pseudo-democratic phrases about freedom and rights while not attacking the fundamental problem of imperialism.(154) As the early Oppositionists had done, the OCC, however, made a distinction between two sectors which expressed nationalist sentiments. While describing the historically compromised sector of the national bourgeoisie, represented by Mendieta and Menocal and the government bureaucrats who lived on the state budget and who in the economic depression at that time found themselves displaced,(155) the santiaguero Oppositionists also highlighted a more radical manifestation of national indignation. This sector was represented by the nationalist-orientated ABC, which, according to the OCC, demonstrated the impotence of the petty bourgeoisie in the sense that unable to carry out any type of revolution it had resorted to individual terrorism.(156) The OCC, however, did not dismiss the potential of this revolutionary nationalist sector and criticised the PCC for not making any attempt to group any of the ABC’s rank and file members under a definitively anti-imperialist programme.(157)

Basing their analysis of the current situation in Cuba on this understanding of the role of bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalist opposition to Machado, the Cuban Oppositionists in their first rounded programme focused their attention on what they termed the “Agrarian Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution”(158) as the only real and immediate solution for the oppressed masses. The conditions which favoured the denominated Agrarian Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution, according to the OCC, were the spontaneous struggles carried out by the colonos and petty bourgeoisie in the countryside against the imperialist expropriations, the struggles of the small traders and population in general against the imperialist electricity and telephone companies and their charges, as well as the struggles of the agricultural and industrial workers in defence of their salaries.(159) Criticising the PCC for ignoring these popular struggles, the OCC addressed the way in which these struggles could be taken forward given the three possible options that they considered were open to the bourgeois opposition. Insisting that the national bourgeoisie would ultimately betray the masses before the interests of imperialism, the Oppositionists argued that, firstly, if the bourgeois nationalist sector went so far as to initiate an armed revolt, the masses must take up arms in order to transform it into the Agrarian Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution. If, however, secondly, the bourgeoisie were to reach an accord with Machado, then “the agricultural and industrial workers, the small peasants, the massive army of unemployed, the students and those workers who face hunger must make a united front with which they can carry out the Agrarian Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution.”(160) If, in the third case, U.S. military intervention were precipitated, the insurrection, the OCC argued, could not be abandoned. In such an event, “once again the Sierra Maestra and comrade Mauser would take the floor.”(161)

Thus, although the OCC’s first programmatic statement clearly recognised that the national bourgeoisie was incapable of successfully leading any type of anti-imperialist revolution to realise the minimum tasks of bourgeois democracy, like the early Oppositionists’ pronouncements, it in effect identified a popular alliance to prosecute such a revolution. Trotsky’s contention that the revolution would be proletarian in character, albeit prosecuted in alliance with the poor peasantry, or be defeated, did not enter into their schema. They instead tended to limit the immediate goal to that of a democratic anti-imperialist revolution of the masses and, in so doing, linked the destiny of the workers’ movement to the fate of the petty bourgeoisie.

However, as the Oppositionists sought to establish formal contact with the International Left Opposition during the course of early to mid-1933, so it became evident that the OCC had refined its analysis and perspectives to broadly incorporate the essence of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution. That is, although the Oppositionists continued to advance the slogan of an Agrarian Popular Anti-Imperialist Revolution, they insisted that the revolution could only go forward on a proletarian basis and stressed that the central, immediate issue was for the proletariat to establish its political independence and win the leadership of the peasantry and revolutionary petty bourgeoisie in the cities.

The fact that the OCC had adopted a Permanent Revolution perspective in point of theory was evident in the pamphlet En el Camino de la Revolución published by the Opposition’s Central Committee in May 1933.(162) Published without recourse to a national congress or conference, and just at the time when the OCC’s leadership was attempting to make contact with the international Trotskyist movement, the Oppositionists formally revised the immediate insurrection perspective outlined in the programmatic manifesto signed by the Buró de Oposición Comunista in Santiago de Cuba in January 1933. The OCC based its new understanding on the perception that various factions of the national bourgeoisie had capitulated in the face of imperialism’s desire to replace peacefully the government of Machado with a “neutral provisional Government".(163) In terms of strategy and tactics in the light of this new situation, the OCC continued to reject the PCC’s line of advancing in an ultra-radical manner the slogan of a ‘Workers’ and Peasants’ Government’ should such a ‘neutral provisional government’ come to power.(164) However, in a formulation which approximated to that advocated by Lenin and Trotsky in 1917, the Oppositionists also argued that their task would be to expose the anti-democratic and anti-neutral character of what would be a ‘Provisional Government’. The objective was to transcend the temporary bourgeois democratic stage rapidly. According to the OCC, this particular struggle aimed at winning the leadership of the peasantry and other oppressed and discontented sectors of the country would constitute a preliminary phase to the coming to power of a distinct workers’ government.(165)

Indeed, in May 1933 the Cuban Oppositionists were unequivocal in terms of insisting on the need for the proletariat to lead the revolutionary movement. They argued that the immediate task was for the proletarian vanguard to unite behind it not only the heterogeneous sectors of the working class, but also the rural masses and other remaining social layers. For the OCC, the immediate issue was not a struggle for the seizure of power but rather this struggle to win the masses in which political compromises could not be permitted.(166) As they wrote, “[t]he firm and resolute central slogan must be the ‘intransigence of the proletarian vanguard, its independent political struggle, its well-defined and audacious action in the face of unfolding events’.”(167)

With the Oppositionists considering that the coming to power of a ‘neutral provisional government’ was probable in the near future, their struggle for the leadership of the masses did not include denominating all opposition groups as social-fascists and lackeys of imperialism. For the OCC, this PCC strategy only served to isolate the working class from all other sectors which felt oppressed.(168) The OCC instead contended that in order to confront the influence of the bourgeois opposition to Machado, which was essentially organised around the slogan ‘Down with Machado!’, it was necessary to advance what amounted to a programme of transitional demands which carried the masses behind the proletariat in a struggle to realise and pass beyond democratic tasks to those which were openly socialist.(169) Revising their previous objection to participating in elections to a Constituent Assembly organised by Machado, the Oppositionists called for universal suffrage for men and women over the age of eighteen. However, recognising that any assembly would be designed to conciliate and pacify, the OCC’s declared aim was to avoid isolating the proletarian vanguard from the masses who harboured illusions in such a democratic assembly. According to the OCC’s new perspective, they would achieve this by advancing a programme of their own wider demands designed to break the working class and rural poor from the influence of bourgeois liberalism while at the same time attracting women and the youth to the cause of the proletariat.(170)

In their action programme, which addressed Trotsky’s concern to place the proletariat in permanent competition with bourgeois nationalism for the leadership of the masses, the Oppositionists developed a series of demands directed at both the working class and rural poor. They proposed mounting a struggle against all the remnants of feudal contracts and against restrictions on the zafra in the countryside. The points which addressed the working class itself included demands for unemployment benefits, a seven-hour working day, the right to strike and, most importantly, the unity in action of the working class movement. The OCC also raised demands directed more overtly against imperialism such as calls for an end to the Platt Amendment and non-payment of the foreign debt. Beyond these minimum democratic demands, the Cuban Oppositionists also elaborated a series of more militant transitional demands designed to lead the struggle from the immediate democratic and anti-imperialist tasks to those of socialism and a proletarian government. These included confiscation without compensation of the agricultural land owned by large monopolies, the nationalisation of the railways and the public utilities, workers’ control of industry and the state regulation of the economy.(171)

Within this perspective the only remnant of the OCC’s original two-stage strategy which viewed the democratic anti-imperialist revolution as a distinct phase in the revolutionary process was reference to the “Agrarian Anti-Imperialist Revolution".(172) However, despite this denomination, the OCC’s formulation of revolutionary strategy in mid-1933 was remarkably similar to that which Trotsky defended. Unlike the January 1933 programmatic manifesto issued in Oriente, the OCC no longer tied the fate of the workers’ movement to that of the petty bourgeoisie by limiting its immediate goal to that of a democratic anti-imperialist revolution. Any democratic anti-imperialist revolution was instead considered to be merely a phase in the deeper proletarian revolution. Indeed, it was with respect to their programmatic document En el Camino de la Revolución, published in May 1933, that the International Secretariat of the International Left Opposition stated that the Cuban Opposition had given themselves “a platform at a national level in accordance with the general principles of the Left Opposition.”(173)

While the evidence is only circumstantial, the reason behind this qualitative change in the Cuban Oppositionists’ strategy appears to lie in the OCC leadership’s political evolution in the light of a deepening revolutionary situation. That is, although the OCC’s adoption of a discernible Permanent Revolution strategy was a decision which the Cuban Oppositionists themselves took without intervention or advice from an international body, it was very much a decision which came from the top of the organisation. That is, it was not one which originated in pressure for a change from the OCC’s rank and file, or indeed from the group’s various District or Sectional Committees. As I outline in Chapter Five, in the post-May 1933 period there were a series of inconsistencies in the Cuban Trotskyists’ practical application of their perspectives set out in the En el Camino de la Revolución pamphlet which suggests that the rank and file Oppositionists had not wholly abandoned the OCC’s original Second Period-like critique of the PCC and the revolutionary process.

4.4 Conclusion

In sum, the Oppositionists, initially composed of an assortment of radical rebels who were imbued with a spirit of revolutionary activism from the late 1920s, did not shirk from the prospect of rebelling against the discipline of the Comintern when the Caribbean Bureau directed the PCC away from working in the already constituted unions, away from non-participation in elections, and away from supporting an armed insurrection initiated by the parties and groups of petty bourgeois nationalism. These policies, very much a continuation of the line advocated by Mella, were features of anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary nationalism, which the PCC’s previous Second Period policy had been able to incorporate. In general terms, then, although Mella, Junco and Breá had come into contact with Trotskyists and Trotskyist ideas before the formation of the OCC in August 1932, the OCC in rejecting the sectarian turn of the PCC in the early 1930s originally developed as a Second Period critique of Third Period Stalinism. Crucially, the Oppositionists had not developed a critique of the PCC’s pre-October 1930 position of forming anti-imperialist blocs with bourgeois nationalist parties such as the Guomindang in China.

Although I argue that this birth mark of tending to compromise with petty bourgeois nationalism shaped the development of Trotskyism in Cuba in the 1930s and 40s, in mid-1933 under the influence of a number of leaders at the core of the Opposition who were committed to establishing links with the International Left Opposition, the OCC’s Central Committee adopted a strategy which largely coincided with Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution thesis. That is, while the OCC in Santiago de Cuba had displayed a tendency to pursue a policy of forming broad democratic anti-imperialist blocs with the forces of revolutionary nationalism in order to realise a democratic anti-imperialist revolution, the Central Committee located in Havana later demonstrated that, at least in point of theory, the OCC shared Trotsky’s insistence on the proletarian character of anti-imperialist revolution. As a result, the Cuban Oppositionists developed a programme which aimed to place the OCC, the proletarian vanguard, in competition with petty bourgeois nationalism for the leadership of the urban and rural masses. Although their principal programmatic document continued to make reference to an Agrarian Anti-Imperialist Revolution and developed no critique of the Soviet Union or international questions, they insisted on proletarian political independence in the Cuban revolution. In consequently not tying the destiny of the revolution to the fate of the radical petty bourgeoisie, in June 1933 the OCC received the general endorsement of the International Trotskyist movement’s leadership.


1. Alexander, RJ, (1973), op cit, pp. 217-218; and Gálvez Cancino, A, ‘Julio Antonio Mella: Un Marxista Revolucionario. (Debate en Torno a su Vida y Muerte)’, Críticas de la Economía Política (Mexico D.F., Ediciones El Caballito), No. 30, 1986, pp. 144-147. (Back to text)
2. Alexander, RJ, (1973), op cit, p. 218. (Back to text)
3. Gálvez Cancino, A, op cit, p. 147. (Back to text)
4. The Platform of the Opposition was the principal document of the United Opposition around Trotsky and Zinoviev in the years 1926-27. As with earlier programmatic statements made by Trotsky, it highlighted a link between the economic situation in the Soviet Union, the crushing of inner party democracy and the Comintern’s strategy for revolution. See ‘The Platform of the Opposition: The Party Crisis and How to Overcome It’, In: Allen, N, and Saunders, G (eds), The Challenge of the Left Opposition, (1926-27), New York, Pathfinder Press, 1980, pp. 301-394. (Back to text)
5. ["Para Alberto Martínez con el objecto de reamar al comunismo. Julio Antonio Mella."](My translation, GT.) Gálvez Cancino, A, op cit, p. 145. Mella also showed a certain sympathy with Trotsky in various references he made to Trotsky in his articles. See, for example, a quote from Trotsky which he left on his typewriter for Tina Modotti to photograph. Poniatowska, E, Tinisima, London, Faber and Faber, 1996, pp. 13-14. (Back to text)
6. Gall, O, op cit, pp. 46-50; and ‘Felix Ibarra Témoigne sur les Débuts du Mouvement’ in Gall, O, ‘Histoire Orale’, Cahiers Léon Trotsky (Paris), No. 26, June 1986, pp. 57-58. (Back to text)
7. ["[e]l primer brote de oposición en México fué Mella [....] El segundo, Blackwell."](My translation, GT.) Claraval, B, Cuando Fui Comunista, Mexico D.F., Ediciones Polis, 1944, p. 150. Russell Blackwell (*Rosalio Negrete), a member of the CPUSA, was sent to Mexico in the late 1920s where he worked with Mella in the PCM. One of the first to be expelled from the PCM as a result of the activities of the Opposition, he later returned to the U.S. where he became a leading member of the Trotskyist organisation, the Communist League of America. Unsigned, ‘Rosalio Negrete (1904-1969)’, Cahiers Léon Trotsky (Paris), No. 3, July-September 1979, p. 137. (Back to text)
8. See Unsigned, ‘Mella y el Marxismo Revolucionario en Cuba’, Voz Proletaria (Havana), March 1964, pp. 1-3. (BNJM: Colección Reserva.) (Back to text)
9. ’Editoriales: Julio Antonio Mella’, Revolución Proletaria (Havana), Year 2, No. 1, 31 January 1945, p. 4. (SWP(US).) (Back to text)
10. See, for example, Soto, L, op cit, p. 128. Other, more hagiographic Cuban biographies do not even mention any disputes Mella had with the PCC or Comintern leaderships. See, for example, Dumpierre, E, J.A. Mella: Biografía, Havana, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1977. (Back to text)
11. Thomas, H, (1971), op cit, p. 565. (Back to text)
12. Cited in Aguilar, LE, (1972), op cit, p. 73-74. (Back to text)
13. Ibid, p. 74. (Back to text)
14. Grobart, F, Prólogo, In: Mella, JA, Escritos Revolucionarios, Mexico D.F., Siglo Veintiuno, 1978, p. 23. The Agrupación Comunista de La Habana had been founded in 1923. (Back to text)
15. Cited in Suchlicki, J, op cit, p. 21. (Back to text)
16. The Pan-American Anti-Imperialist League sought to co-ordinate the national liberation movements across Latin America under communist hegemony. They included bourgeois nationalists alongside communists. Trotsky dismissed the Anti-Imperialist Leagues as a manifestation of the Second Period Guomindang policy on an international scale. See Trotsky, LD, ‘The Krestintern and Anti-Imperialist League’, In: Breitman, G, and Lovell, S (eds), Writings of Leon Trotsky (1930-31), op cit, pp. 34-35. (Back to text)
17. ["[l]os revolucionarios de la América que aspiren a derrocar los tiranías de sus respectivos países, [....] no se puede vivir con los principios de 1789; a pesar de la mente retardataria de algunos, la humanidad ha progresado y al hacer las revoluciones en este siglo hay que contar con un nuevo factor; las ideas socialistas en general, que con un matiz u otro, se arraigan en todos los rincones del globo."](My translation, GT.) See the article ‘Imperialismo, Tiranía, Soviet’ from Venezuela Libre 1 July 1925 as reprinted in Mella, JA, op cit, pp. 75-77. (Back to text)
18. Serviat, P, 40 Aniversario de la Fundación del Partido Comunista, Havana, Editora Popular, 1963, pp. 112-114. (Back to text)
19. Enrique Florés Magón was the emissary sent to Cuba by the Mexican Communist Party in 1925 to help weld together the various small communist groups into the PCC. Goldenberg, B, (1970), op cit, pp. 63-64. (Back to text)
20. Rubiera, CM, ‘La Huelga de Hambre de Julio Antonio Mella’, Bohemia (Havana), Year 45, No. 3, 18 January 1953, pp. 20-24, 84-87. (IHC(b)); and Declaración del Comité Pro-Libertad de Mella, 7 January 1926 in El Día, p. 3. (IHC(a): Fondo Leonardo Fernández Sánchez, Sig. 23/7/1:6.1/1-129, page 26.) (Back to text)
21. ["el Partido no vió bien la huelga de hambre"](My translation, GT.) Castillo, B, ‘Como Vieron A Mella. Fragmentos De Entrevistas’, Pensamiento Crítico (Havana), No. 39, April 1970, p. 49. See also Soto, L, op cit, pp. 145-146. (Back to text)
22. Kheifets, LS, ‘Komintern i Kompartiia Kuby: Pervye Gody’, Mezhdunarodnoe Levoe Dvizhenie 1918-1945: Tezisy Dokladov Nauchnoi Istoricheskoi Konferentsii, 1995, pp. 27-28; and Kheifets, LS, ‘Delo Khulio Antonio Mel’i i Komintern’, Problemy Otechestvennoi i Zarubezhnoi Istorii: Materialy Nauchnoi Konferentsii (St. Petersburg), 1997, pp. 21-26; and Jeifets, L, and Jeifets, V, ‘¿Quién Diablos Es Andrei?’, Memoria (Mexico D.F.), No. 121, March 1999, p. 23; and Interview given by Orlando Cruz Capote to Gary Tennant, Havana, 22 July 1997. See also a more detailed account in the E-mail message from Dr. Victor Jeifets posted to the H-Diplo Discussion Network, 22 January 1999. MELLA [Jeifets], Rubiera, CM, op cit; and Ravines, E, The Yenan Way, Westport: CT, Greenwood Press, 1972, p. 22 also argue that Mella was expelled from the PCC. (Back to text)
23. Jeifets, L, and Jeifets, V, op cit, p. 23; and E-mail message from Dr. Victor Jeifets posted to the H-Diplo Discussion Network, 27 January 1999. MELLA and Trotskyism in Cuba [Jeifets], (Back to text)
24. See ‘Carta A Barreiro, Pérez Escudero, Bernal Y Otros’ as reprinted in Mella, JA, op cit, pp. 91-92. (Back to text)
25. The resolutions adopted at the PCM’s Fourth Congress in May 1926 modified the decisions taken at the Third Congress “on all fundamental points". ["todos los asuntos fundamentales"](My translation, GT.) Cited in Gálvez Cancino, A, op cit, p. 124. This turn, which reflected changes at the international level initiated by Bukharin, viewed the Mexican government of Plutarco Elías Calles as the bastion of the anti-imperialist struggle, and considered that along with that of Chiang Kai-shek in China, it was carrying out the national revolution. Ibid, p. 125. See also Carr, B, (1992), op cit, p. 42. (Back to text)
26. Gálvez Cancino, A, ‘Le Mouvement Ouvrier Mexicain, les Communistes et Julio Antonio Mella’, Cahiers Leon Trotsky (Paris), No. 59, August 1997, pp. 41-43. (Back to text)
27. Alvaro Obregón (1880-1928) was the first president of Mexico after the fighting phase of the Mexican Revolution ended in 1920. He began a process of limited agrarian reform and launched an anti-clerical campaign. He won a second term in office after he pressured his successor, Plutarco Elías Calles, to remove the no re-election principle from the Constitution. However, before he could assume he was shot by a Right-wing seminary student. (Back to text)
28. When the PCM adopted the Second Period tactical line, it softened its line towards the CROM. The PCM sought to work with the CROM in order to build up communist fractions. Carr, B, (1992), op cit, p. 30. (Back to text)
29. Gálvez Cancino, A, (1997), op cit, p. 44. (Back to text)
30. Gálvez Cancino, A, (1986), op cit, p. 118. Unfortunately, Gálvez Cancino cites no evidence to support this affirmation. This is something which requires further investigation especially given the fact that he dates the Nin-Mella contact to the Profintern’s Fourth Congress. This Congress was held in March-April 1928, a time when Mella was no longer in Russia. (Back to text)
31. Victorio Codovilla, along with his fellow Italian Vittorio Vidali, was the most notorious and ruthless of the Comintern agents during the Spanish Civil War. This loyal Stalinist also spent much of his life trying to expand his control over al the Communist Parties in the Southern Cone of Latin America, although his actual control was limited to the Argentine Communist Party. Wingeate Pike, D, In The Service Of Stalin, The Spanish Communists In Exile, 1939-1948, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993, p. 50. (Back to text)
32. Gálvez Cancino, A, (1986), op cit, p. 118. (Back to text)
33. Ravines, E, op cit, p. 57. (Back to text)
34. See ibid, p. 58 for an account of these manoeuvres. (Back to text)
35. García Montes, J, and Alonso ávila, A, Historia del Partido Comunista de Cuba, Miami: FL, Ediciones Universal, 1970, p. 83. This particular tome written by Cuban exiles, while virulently anti-communist in its language, contains a great deal of detailed and well-sourced information and is the only book-length history of the official Cuban communist party to be published inside or outside Cuba to date. (Back to text)
36. Mella, JA, op cit, p. 9. (Back to text)
37. Ibid, p. 20. (Back to text)
38. ["[l]as traiciones de las burguesías y pequeñas burguesías nacionales tienen una causa que ya todo el proletariado comprende. Ellas no luchan contra el imperialismo extranjero para abolir la propiedad privada, sino para defender su propiedad frente el robo que ellas pretenden hacer los imperialistas. En su lucha contra el imperialismo—el ladrón extranjero—las burguesías—los ladrónes nacionales- se unen al proletariado, buena carne de cañón. Pero acaban por comprender que es mejor hacer alianza con el imperialismo, que al fin y al cabo persiquen un interés semejante. De progresistas se convierten en reaccionarios. Las concesiones que hacían al proletariado para tenerlo a su lado, las traicionan cuando éste, en su avance, se convierte en un peligro tanto para el ladrón extranjero como para el nacional. De aquí la gritería contra el comunismo."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 24. (Back to text)
39. ["[l]as pequeñas burguesías [.... n]o son más fieles a la causa de la emancipación nacional definitiva que sus compañeros de clase en China u otro país colonial. Ellas abandonan al proletariado y se pasan al imperialismo antes de la batalla final."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 38. (Back to text)
40. ["[p]ara hablar concretamente: liberación nacional absoluta, sólo la obtendrá el proletariado, y será por medio de la revolución obrera."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 25. (Back to text)
41. See Roa, R, op cit, pp. 290-297, 322-324, 350-351 for details of Mella’s activity in the ANERC and his preparations for an armed uprising in Cuba. (Back to text)
42. ["un programa de unificación del pueblo cubano para una acción inmediata por la restauración de la democracia".](My translation, GT.) Cited in ibid, pp. 292-293 from ¡Cuba Libre!, No. 2. (Back to text)
43. ["una necesaria revolución, democrática, liberal y nacionalista” “pueden surgir esperanzas para la Nación."](My translation, GT.) Mella, JA, ‘¿Hacia Dónde Va Cuba?’, In: Instituto de Historia del Movimiento Comunista y de la Revolución Socialista de Cuba (ed.), J.A. Mella: Documentos y Artículos, Havana, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1975, pp. 410 and 407. (Back to text)
44. Ibid, p. 408. (Back to text)
45. See ibid, p. 409. (Back to text)
46. Cabrera, O, (1989), op cit, p. 57. (Back to text)
47. El Movimiento Revolucionario Latinoamericano: Versiones de la Primera Conferencia Comunista Latino Americana, Junio de 1929, Buenos Aires, La Correspondencia Sudamericana, nd, pp. 126-127. (Back to text)
48. Broué has also argued that some leaders of the PCC viewed the ANERC’s armed project as a “provocation". Broué, P, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste, 1919-1943, Paris, Fayard, 1997, p. 501. (Back to text)
49. Blackwell, R, ‘Julio A. Mella’, The Militant (New York), Vol. 4, No. 2 (Whole No. 61), 15 January 1931, p. 3. (BLNL: M.misc.35.) (Back to text)
50. Martínez Verdugo, A, Historia del Comunismo en México, Mexico D.F., Editorial Grijalbo, 1985, p. 105. (Back to text)
51. Gálvez Cancino, A, (1997), op cit, p. 46; and Gálvez Cancino, A, (1986), op cit, p. 134. (Back to text)
52. Blackwell, R, op cit, p. 3. ‘Martín’, also known as *Alfredo Stirner (Edgar Woog), was one of the Comintern’s representatives in the PCM. (Back to text)
53. Gálvez Cancino, A, (1997), op cit, pp. 46-47. (Back to text)
54. Blackwell, R, op cit, p. 3. (Back to text)
55. Gálvez Cancino, A, (1986), op cit, p. 130; and Martínez Verdugo, A, op cit, p. 108. (Back to text)
56. Blackwell, R, op cit, p. 3. (Back to text)
57. ["bicho” “[e]s una un cuanto peligrosa, que pueden explotar nuestros enemigos. Nosotros la semana pasada tuvimos una cosa parecida aquí: el regreso de Sormenti [Vittorio Vidali] y Ramírez [Manuel Díaz] pasaron por Cuba [desde el sexto congreso de la IC]. Este les entregó una resolución por medio de la cual se pedía que el grupo cubano en México se subordinase al CC. del PCM y no escribiese y obrase por su cuenta y riesgo, comprometiendo de una manera verdaderamente criminal a nuestros compañeros que trabajan en Cuba. Nosotros le hicimos saber esa resolción a Mella secauces y el se desató con furia contra el CC. del PCC y contra nosotros enviándonos una renuncia insultante. Nosotros estamos listos a publicar una resolución sobre su caso y circularla por toda la América Latina y EE.UU. inclusive, pero ayer mismo me hizo llegar una carta, arrepentida donde retira la renuncia y promete seguir trabajando en el Partido. Esta misma semana resolveremos el asunto. [....] Mella ha tenido siempre ‘devilidades’ trotskistas."](My translation, GT.) Letter from Rafael Carrillo to Bertram D. and Ella Wolfe, Mexico, 4 December 1928, pp. 2-3. (HI: Bertram Wolfe Collection.) My use of the phrase ‘deviltries/weaknesses’ in the translation relates to Carrillo’s use of the word ‘devilidades’. By placing this word inside inverted commas in the original letter, Carrillo is evidently intending to make a play on words. Bertram Wolfe (1896-1977) was a leading supporter and theorist of the ‘Rightist’ Lovestone group in the United States. (Back to text)
58. Blackwell, R, op cit, p. 3. (Back to text)
59. Ibid, p. 3. (Back to text)
60. See, for example, Martínez, RA, ‘Assassination Of J.A. Mella By Agents Of Yankee Imperialism’, International Press Correspondence, Vol. 9, No. 6, 1 February 1929, p. 96. (MML.); and El Comité Pro CSLA, ‘Ante el Asesinato de Julio A. Mella’, El Trabajador Latino Americano (Montevideo), Year 1, No. 9, 15 January 1929, pp. 3-4. (NYPL.) (Back to text)
61. While the following works; Rienffer, K, Comunistas Españoles En América, Madrid, Editora Nacional, 1953, pp. 130-139; and Alba, V, Esquema Histórico Del Comunismo En Iberoamérica, Mexico D.F., Ediciones Occidentales, 1960, p. 61; and Gorkin, J, Cómo Asesinó Stalin A Trotski, Barcelona, Plaza Y Janés, 1961, p. 204, all make this accusation, it is the work of Gall, O, op cit, pp. 46-55, which presents the fullest and most coherent exposition of this thesis. (Back to text)
62. While the article Gálvez Cancino, A, ‘L’Auto-Absolution de Vidali et la Mort de Mella’, Cahiers Léon Trotsky (Paris), No. 26, June 1986, pp. 39-53 sets out evidence for both the prosecution and defence of Vidali and his involvement in Mella’s death, the partisan work of Cabrera constitutes the most complete attempt by a Cuban scholar to dispel official communist involvement in Mella’s assassination. Cabrera, O, ‘Un Crimen Político Que Cobra Actualidad’, Nueva Antropología (Mexico D.F.), Vol. 7, No. 27, July 1985, pp. 55-65. (Back to text)
63. ["con propósitos drásticos con respecto a ti personalmente"](My translation, GT.) Letter from Leonardo Fernández Sánchez to Mella, New York, 14 December 1928. (IHC(a): Fondo Leonardo Fernández Sánchez, Sig. 23/1/4:1.1/49-56.) Leonardo Fernández Sánchez was privy to information from Cuban government circles through family connections. (Back to text)
64. See Spenser, D, El Triángulo Imposible: México, Rusia Soviética y Estados Unidos en los Años Veinte, Mexico D.F., CIESAS, 1998, pp. 214-219. (Back to text)
65. Contrary to Mella’s project, the new Confederación Sindical Unitaria de México only grouped those unions which were already dominated by communists. (Back to text)
66. ["[n]osotros planteamos el problema de la unidad del movimiento sindical y no la unidad del partido. Un partido reúne cierto número de personas, las cuales profesan una misma opinión. Los sindicatos agrupan a la clase obrera en las cotidianas luchas e indiferentemente de los puntos de vista político que existen en su seno. Nosotros somos partidarios de la libertad de crítica y de la lucha de las varias tendencias políticas dentro de las organizaciones sindicales."](My translation, GT.) Mella, JA, ‘Proyecto de Tesis sobre la Unidad Sindical Latinoamericana’, Memoria (Mexico D.F.), Vol. 1, No. 6, February-March 1984, p. 137. (Back to text)
67. ["El Camarada Julio Mella y algunos otros veían con cierta alarma lo que sucedía pero, quizás no comprendiendo que el partido de México estaba amenazado también con sufrir directamente las consecuencias de la línea equivoca y oportunista de la Comintern, ellos no hicuieron por llamar la atención de nuestros miembros a estos problemas."](My translation, GT.) Unsigned, ‘Lo Que Propone la Oposición Comunista’, El Boletín de la Oposición Comunista (Mexico D.F.), No. 1, 5 January 1930, p. 1. (IISG: ZDK 28030.) (Back to text)
68. Siqueiros’ extreme anti-Trotskyism led him to play an important role in the last two attempts on Trotsky’s life in Mexico in 1940. (Back to text)
69. In April 1928, Junco represented the PCC at the meeting in Montevideo of the Preparatory Committee of the First Latin American Trade Union Conference. As a result of the publicity he received there, he was unable to return to Cuba at that time and went to Mexico to join the other Cuban exiles. During the latter half of 1928 he worked closely with Mella in the ANERC. In June 1929 he once again represented the PCC-controlled CNOC at the First Latin American Trade Union Conference held in Buenos Aires. Back in Mexico, Junco was among a group of foreign communist exiles who were expelled from Mexico in early 1930 in the drive against the PCM initiated by the government of Emilio Portes Gil. Expelled to Germany, he made his way to Moscow where he attended the Lenin School and participated in the international organisations of the communist movement. He returned to Cuba in early 1932. See PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit; and Herschel V. Johnson to Secretary of State, 24 January 1930. (USNA: File 800.00B Junco, Sandalio and Others/7.) (Back to text)
70. El Movimiento Revolucionario Latinoamericano: Versiones de la Primera Conferencia Comunista Latino Americana, op cit, p. 185. (Back to text)
71. Ibid, pp. 126-127. (Back to text)
72. See the letter from Rubén Martínez Villena to his wife, New York, 9 December 1932, In: Martínez Villena, R, Poesía y Prosa, Vol. 2, Havana, Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1978, pp. 512-514. (Back to text)
73. CC of the PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 8. (Back to text)
74. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 7. (Back to text)
75. Roche, G, ‘Préface’, In: Low, M, and Breá, J, Carnets de la Guerre d’Espagne, France, Editions Verticales, 1997, pp. 13-14. (Back to text)
76. Manuscript of the interview given by Charles Simeón to R.J. Alexander, op cit, p. 2. (Back to text)
77. Comunismo was the theoretical magazine of the Oposición Comunista Española. See Revista Comunismo (1931-1934): La Herencia Teórica del Marxismo Español, Barcelona, Editorial Fontamara, 1978. (Back to text)
78. CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 8. Another PCC document states that Junco, another central figure in the future OCC, was also imprisoned in mid-1932, and that together with other imprisoned oppositionists, reiterated their insistence on the importance of the petty bourgeoisie in the coming revolution in Cuba. (From internal evidence) Central Committee of the PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, nd, p. 3. (IHC(a): Fondo Primer Partido Marxista Leninista, Sig. 1/2:1/1.1/112-114.) Pelai Pagès has also noted that various Trotskyists rather than being imprisoned were deported to Spain before Machado fell from power in August 1933. Pagès, P, (1977), op cit, p. 83. (Back to text)
79. As Roberto Pérez Santiesteban, a long-serving, leading Cuban Trotskyist in the 1930s and 40s argued, “[w]e can state without danger of exaggeration that it was Breá who gave a Trotskyist shape and content to the struggle, which began in Cuba in 1932, against the dreadful politics of Stalinism". ["[s]in pecar de exageraciones podemos afirmar de que Breá dió fisonomía y contenido trotskistas a la lucha emprendido en Cuba, a partir de 1932, contra la política stalinista".](My translation, GT.) Pérez Santiesteban, R, ‘Introducción’, In: Breá, J and Low, M, La Verdad Contemporánea, Havana, 1943, p. 13. (Back to text)
80. Medina Escobar, M, Algunos Apuntes sobre la Vida de Gastón Medina Escobar, Havana, nd. (Unpublished); and CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 8. Certainly, the PCC considered Junco to be the leader of the Opposition. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 1. (Back to text)
81. Ibid, p. 1. (Back to text)
82. ["avait été gagné à l’Opposition de gauche au cours d’un séjour à Moscou par Andrés Nin lui-même, alors secrétaire de l’Internationale syndicale rouge [ .... et qu’] à peine convaincu, il ait mis à profit une réception officielle pour interpeller violemment Staline au sujet des persécutions contre Trotsky et ses camarades."](Translation by David Smith.) Trotsky, LD, ‘Questions du Mouvement’, Leon Trotsky, Oeuvres (March-July 1933), Paris, Publications de l’Institut Leon Trotsky, 1978, p. 161 n11. See also, for example, Gall, O op cit, pp. 357-358 n5. Sandalio Junco was formally expelled from the PCC in September 1932. (Back to text)
83. CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 8. (Back to text)
84. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 14. (Back to text)
85. ["se desconectó por completo del Partido".](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 14. (Back to text)
86. While the ‘Statutes’ of the OCC were not produced until June 1933, a later letter from the Partido Bolchevique Leninista to the International Secretariat of the International Communist League (ICL), stated that the Oposición Comunista was organised in August 1932. See Free translation of the letter from the Partido Bolchevique Leninista to the International Secretariat of the International Communist League, (signed by *G. Capablanca (Gastón Medina), the General Secretary of the PBL), Havana, 20 March 1935, p. 7. (HHL: Trotsky Archive, Fourth International, Cuba, 14052.) An extract from this letter was reproduced in Capablanca, G, ‘Cuba: Crise de Direction et Courant Liquidateur 1932-1935’, Cahiers Léon Trotsky (Paris), No. 11, September 1982, pp. 105-110. (Back to text)
87. Letter from Carlos M. Padrón Ferrer to Rafael Soler Martínez, Miami, 7 November 1996. (Back to text)
88. Central Control Commission of the Partido Comunista de Cuba, Resolución sobre el c. Gomez-Villar, Havana, 24 August 1932. (RTsKhIDNI: f.495, op.105, d.52, ll.2-2ob.) (Back to text)
89. Fracción Comunista del Ala Izquierda Estudiantil de Cuba, Al Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba, Havana, 5 October 1932, p. 2. (IHC(a): Fondo Vilaseca, D2S4 1932 Oct.) This letter was addressed to the Central Committee of the PCC in response to a letter García Villareal had sent to the AIE detailing the arguments of the Opposition after he had been expelled from the Party. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, pp. 5-6. (Back to text)
90. Political Bureau of the Partido Comunista de Cuba, Resolución del Buró Político del PCC sobre la Liga Juvenil Comunista, Havana, 9 September 1932. (RTsKhIDNI: f.495, op.105, d.52, ll.10-10ob.); and Resolución sobre el Trabajo de la Liga Juvenil Comunista y Sus Relaciones con el Partido, Partido Comunista de Cuba, Unsigned, nd. (RTsKhIDNI: f.495, op.105, d.52, ll.13-13ob.) (Back to text)
91. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 13. (Back to text)
92. The PCC maintained that García Villareal and his fellow oppositionists occupied the leading posts in the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil after its initial leadership had been imprisoned. CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, pp. 45-46. (Back to text)
93. Letter from the PBL to the International Secretariat of the ICL, 20 March 1935, op cit, pp. 8-9. In fact, the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil split into three groups. Apart from those who supported the OCC and those who remained with the PCC, there was a third group around Raúl Roa who joined neither the official or dissident communist group. See also González Carbajal, L, op cit, pp. 81-82 for details of how the PCC organised a Pro-Reorganisation Committee of the Ala Izquierda Estudiantil in Havana. (Back to text)
94. According to the PBL, the growth of the DOI reached “the point where it caused serious worry to the C.P. leadership which raised objections to ex-members of the A.P.R.A. joining the I.L.D. [i.e., DOI] and took steps for the limitation of the I.L.D. apparatus". See the letter from the PBL to the International Secretariat of the ICL, 20 March 1935, op cit, p. 7. (Back to text)
95. Ibid, p. 7. (Back to text)
96. Ibid, p. 9. (Back to text)
97. Unsigned, ‘Muerte Sentida’, Boletín de Información (New York), No. 3, October 1938, p. 13. (HI: SWP Collection, Box No. 4, Folder 8.) (Back to text)
98. CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 43. (Back to text)
99. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 13. (Back to text)
100. Letter from the PBL to the International Secretariat of the ICL, 20 March 1935, op cit, p. 9. (Back to text)
101. Just as the FOH was a coming together point for various political currents opposed to the excesses of the PCC trade union line in the CNOC, so this can also be said of the General Commercial Workers’ Union of Cuba. See, for example, the anarchist-orientated articles its monthly magazine Cultura Proletaria Year 1, No. 3 March 1933 and Year 1, No. 4, April 1933. (IISG: ZDK 28065.) With respect to the importance of the commercial workers’ union in the urban labour movement, the PCC highlighted the powerful role which the General Commercial Workers’ Union of Cuba, with 1,200 members, had played in the August 1931 strike movement. Unsigned, ‘Der Massenstreik in Kuba und die Angestellten’, Internationale Gewerkschafts Pressekorrespondenz, No. 70, 15 September 1931, p. 10. (Back to text)
102. Central Committee of the SGECC, El Sindicato General de Empleados del Comercio de Cuba Frente al IV Congreso Obrero Nacional, Havana, Federación Obrera de La Habana, 12 January 1934, p. 8. (IISG: Bro 422/3.) (Back to text)
103. Letter from the International Secretariat of the International Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninist) to the Cuban Communist Left Opposition, 29 June 1933. (IISG: Lev Trotsky and the ILO/ICL Collection, Cuba, 1208.) (Back to text)
104. Letter from PBL to International Secretariat of the ICL, 20 March 1935, op cit, pp. 5-6. (Back to text)
105. Manuscript of the interview given by Carlos Padrón [son of the OCC founding member, Carlos M. Padrón Ferrer] to Rafael Soler, Santiago de Cuba, 15 April 1994. (Back to text)
106. Letter from the PBL to the International Secretariat of the ICL, 20 March 1935, op cit, p. 3. (Back to text)
107. See, for example, the early bulletins of the Mexican Left Opposition which published articles by Trotsky on various international questions. Boletín de la Oposición Comunista (Mexico D.F.), Nos 1-3, January-February 1930. (IISG: ZDK 28030.) (Back to text)
108. Letter from PBL to the International Secretariat of the ICL, 20 March 1935, op cit, p. 9. This point is reiterated in ibid, p. 15 (Back to text)
109. Junco expressed this in Junco, S, ¡¡Fuera Caretas!! Contra la Demagogia, las Vilezas y a la Incapacidad de los Líderes de la C.N.O.C., Havana, January 1934, p. 7. (IHC(a): Fondo 1/Personalidad 1/13:Pe/291/1/1-10 RG 5/94; and IFA.) (Back to text)
110. Letter to Andrés Nin signed by Juan Lopez, Havana, 31 March 1933. (IISG: Lev Trotsky and the ILO/ICL Collection, Cuba, 1209.) (Back to text)
111. ["no es, no puede ser, exclusivamente nacional."](My translation, GT.) Ibid. (Back to text)
112. Letter from the General Secretary of the Cuban Communist Opposition to the French section of the International Left Opposition, signed by A. Gomez Villar, nd. (From internal evidence, June or July 1933.) (IISG: Lev Trotsky and the ILO/ICL Collection, Cuba, 1209.) In response to the Cubans’ request for material the International Secretariat of the ILO could only promise to ensure that French material was sent. They stated that the Spanish journal Comunismo came out only infrequently. See Letter from the International Secretariat of the ILO to the Cuban Communist Left Opposition, 29 June 1933, op cit. This explanation, however, leaves the International Secretariat open to the charge of acting as a censor, attempting to stifle the influence of the Spanish Left Opposition group through bureaucratic, undemocratic means. During the first half of 1933 relations between Nin and the Spanish Oppositionists inside the Izquierda Comunista de España (ICE), on the one hand, and the International Secretariat of the ILO, based in Paris, and Trotsky himself, on the other, were at an all time low. At the Pre-Conference of the ILO in February 1933, the ICE was condemned for “tail-ending the petit bourgeois nationalist and phrasemonger Maurín". Durgan, A, ‘The Spanish Trotskyists and the Foundation of the POUM’, Revolutionary History (London), Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2, Winter 1991-92, pp. 22-24. While Trotsky and the ILO immediately initiated a fierce polemic against the ICE leadership, Trotsky also recognised that Comunismo and other Spanish material had a real influence among the Latin American Oppositionists. Although the International Secretariat of the ILO only cited the supposed irregularity of Comunismo, Trotsky himself suggested that attention be drawn to the differences they had with the Spanish section and copies of all correspondence between Nin and himself be sent to the Latin American groups. Trotsky, LD, ‘Questions du Mouvement’, op cit, p. 161. (Back to text)
113. Letter from Carlos M. Padrón Ferrer to Rafael Soler Martínez, op cit. (Back to text)
114. Manuscript of the interview given by Manuel García Suárez to Rafael Soler Martínez, Matanzas, 31 January 1996. A Miguel Busto was the Deputy General Secretary of the FOH in 1929, becoming its Financial Secretary in 1930. See Letters from the FOH to the Provincial Governor, Havana, 25 June 1929 and 28 February 1930. (IHC(a): Fondo Registro General (RG), Exp. 35.59/75.) (Back to text)
115. Interview with José Soler Calvo and Roberto Mineto, ‘Cómo Se Constituyó el Partido Comunista en Guantánamo’, Sierra Maestra (Santiago de Cuba), Year 17, No. 191, 13 August 1975, p. 4. (Back to text)
116. Manuscript of the interview given by Luis Miyares to Rafael Soler Martínez, Santiago de Cuba, 31 March 1995, p. 1. (Back to text)
117. Díaz González, P, ‘América Lavadí Arce 1933-1941’, Cuba Obrera (Havana), Year 2, No. 6, August 1941, p. 6. (SWP(US).); and Roa, R, op cit, p. 481. (Back to text)
118. Manuscript of the interview given by Luis Miyares to Rafael Soler Martínez, op cit, p. 2. (Back to text)
119. Manuscript of the interview given by Pedro Verdecie Pérez to Rafael Soler Martínez, Victoria de las Tunas, 3 July 1996. (Back to text)
120. Partido Comunista de Cuba, Sección Local de Guantánamo, Solicitud de Ingreso de Eusebio Mujal, 23 October 1932. (IHC(a): Fondo Primer Partido Marxista Leninista, Sig. 1/2:1/279/1.) (Back to text)
121. This version of events is based on the account Tur Lambert, M, Esbozo Histórico de la Corriente Política Trotskista en Guantánamo, nd, pp. 4-10. (Unpublished) (Back to text)
122. Ibid, p. 7; and Sección de Historia del Comité Provincial del Partido en Guantánamo, Reseña Histórica de Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Editorial Oriente, 1985, p. 94. (Back to text)
123. Informe del Comité Seccional de Guantánamo al Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba, 3 November 1933. (IHC(a): Fondo Primer Partido Marxista Leninista, Sig. 1/2:1/278/1.) (Back to text)
124. ["ha desprestigiado aqui en Cuba por la mala tactica de sus directores aqui todo lo controla la oposicion [y] es el unico organismo fuerte!"](My translation, GT.) Cited in Letter from José Soler Calvo to the Caribbean Bureau of the Comintern, Panama, 12 November 1933. (RTsKhIDNI: f.495, op.105, d.66.) While Cuza was claiming to write about Cuba as a whole, his personal observations were more than likely limited to Guantánamo. As such, these cited observations should be taken as an eyewitness account of the situation in the Guantánamo region. (Back to text)
125. Ibid. According to Cuza, Manuel Tur Lambert and Hugo Cisneros were the only two members who remained active in the PCC in Guantánamo. (Back to text)
126. Sección de Historia del DOR del PCC de la Provincia Guantánamo, Guantánamo: Apuntes para una Cronologia Histórica, Santiago de Cuba, Editorial Oriente, 1985, p. 29; and Sección de Historia del Comité Provincial del Partido en Guantánamo, Reseña Histórica de Guantánamo, op cit, p. 94; and Tur Lambert, M, op cit, p. 7; and Manuscript of the interview given by Luciano García to Rafael Soler Martínez, Guantánamo, 25 February 1994. (Back to text)
127. Central Committee of the Oposición Comunista, Estatutos de la Oposición Comunista de Cuba, Havana, 30 June 1933, p. 1. (AHPSC: Fondo Audencia de Oriente. Tribunal de Defensa Nacional, 9 March 1923 to April 1934, Legajo 3, Expediente 30.) (Back to text)
128. Ibid, p. 6. (Back to text)
129. See, for example, the violent confrontations described in Manifesto de la Oposición Comunista, nd. (AHPSC: Fondo Audencia de Oriente. Tribunal de Defensa Nacional, 9 March 1923 to April 1934, Legajo 3, Expediente 30.) (Back to text)
130. In Santiago de Cuba a DOI Oposición was constituted for the province of Oriente. In Puerto Padre another parallel Opposition DOI was established under the leadership of Alberto González Palacios. Defensa Obrera (Puerto Padre), Year 1, No. 4, 27 August 1933. (Organ of the Oposición de Defensa Obrera Internacional) (AHPSC: Fondo Audencia de Oriente. Tribunal de Defensa Nacional, 9 March 1923 to April 1934, Legajo 3, Expediente 30.) (Back to text)
131. ["plataforma contrarrevolcionaria de ‘la revolución permanente’ del trotzkismo"](My translation, GT.) CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 22. (Back to text)
132. Fracción Comunista del AIE, Al CC del PCC, op cit, p. 1; and PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 6; and Manuscript of the interview given by Charles Simeón to R.J. Alexander, op cit, p. 1. (Back to text)
133. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, pp. 4-6; and Manuscript of the interview given by Charles Simeón to R.J. Alexander, op cit, p. 1. (Back to text)
134. ["el proletariado industrial es ínfimo y posee muy poca conciencia política de clase no puede hablarse de un movimiento revolucionario proletario como una cosa inmediata y vigente, sino de un movimiento de los obreros industriales y agrícolas, de los campesinos pobres y medios, de la pequeña burguesía rural y urbana, es decir, de todos los sectores explotados y oprimidos de la nación bajo la hegemonía del proletariado industrial."](My translation, GT.) Cited in Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 5. (Back to text)
135. Ibid, pp, 6-7. (Back to text)
136. ["izquierdismo infantil"](My translation, GT.) Cited in ibid, p. 6. (Back to text)
137. Fracción Comunista del AIE, Al CC del PCC, op cit, pp. 1-2; and PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, pp, 6. (Back to text)
138. ["[e]l C.C. aprecia el movimiento del ABC como el mismo movimiento de los caudillos de la burguesía de los caudillos de la burguesía enmascarados bajo este nombre para engañar una vez más a las masas. [.... Sin embargo], decimos que] el ABC es un Ala radical de las freacciones de la oposición burguesa; descontentos sus elementos de base, los que aspiran a luchar efectivamente contra la dictadura de Machado".](My translation, GT.) Cited in CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 29 from El Trabajador, September 1932. (Back to text)
139. ["hablan de las condiciones de esclavitud en que se encuentra el colono, hablan del monopolio que ejercen ciertas compañias imperialistas, lo que prueba las posibilidades de desarrollo que tiene esta organización".](My translation, GT.) Cited in ibid, p. 29. (Back to text)
140. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 11. (Back to text)
141. Ibid, p. 12. (Back to text)
142. ["otra brigada de choque de la oposición burguesa latifundista, una secursal de ‘izquierda’ de la ‘izquierda’ del ABC."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 11. (Back to text)
143. Ibid, p. 7. This article was actually attributed to Raúl Roa, someone who was to remain outside the OCC as well as official communist party until after the 1959 Revolution. See Roa, R, ‘Tiene la Palabra el Camarada Mauser’, Pensamiento Crítico (Havana), No. 39, April 1970, pp. 143-145. (Back to text)
144. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, p. 9. (Back to text)
145. CC del PCC, El Partido Comunista y los Problemas de la Revolución en Cuba, op cit, p. 39. (Back to text)
146. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, pp. 9-9a. Luis Miyares, a member of the OCC and then PBL in Santiago de Cuba, has described how the Oppositionists thought that the so-called ‘attend and run’ tactics of the PCC simply facilitated repression and produced unnecessary victims. Demonstrations, they argued, had to be mass movements and not just limited to the PCC milieu. Manuscript of the interview given by Luis Miyares to Rafael Soler Martínez, op cit, p. 1. Sandalio Junco also made the point that the ‘attend and run’ tactics only demonstrated the weakness of their organisations. Junco, S, ¡¡Fuera Caretas!! Contra la Demagogia, las Vilezas y a la Incapacidad de los Líderes de la C.N.O.C., op cit, p. 11. (Back to text)
147. ["denominados sindicatos rojos, es decir, aquellos en los cuales el P. dice tener control porque siguen nuestras direccciones, son en su gran mayoría sindicatos deshechos, sin miembros. En aquellos sindicatos en los cuales hay masas de trabajadores, el control obtenido por el P. no es un control efectivo y serio, logrado por trabajos sistematicos y conscientes en el seno de las masa, sino un control de cima, de dirección".](My translation, GT.) Fracción Comunista del AIE, Al CC del PCC, op cit, p. 2. (Back to text)
148. PCC, Draft ‘Resolución sobre la Oposición en el Partido’, op cit, pp. 11-12. (Back to text)
149. Ibid, pp. 11-12. (Back to text)
150. Manifesto Programa del Buró de Oposición Comunista de Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, January 1933. (ANC: Fondo Especial, Caja 1, Expediente 193.) This is the earliest dated document signed by the OCC which I have located. Another manifesto issued in January 1933, Buró de Oposición Comunista, ¿Que Significa el Congreso de la U.F.O.N.?, Santiago de Cuba, 15 January 1933. (ANC: Fondo Especial, Legajo 1, Expediente 194.) denounced the activities of Arévalo and the Unión Federativa Obrera Nacional, accusing them of being collaborators with the oppressors and demanding their expulsion from the workers’ organisations. The same manifesto also called for a United Front to struggle against the reduction in wages, against sackings, and for the introduction of an eight-hour working day and social security for the unemployed. (Back to text)
151. Manifesto Programa del Buró de Oposición Comunista de Santiago de Cuba, op cit, p. 2. Simeón has also argued that the destruction of an old feudal oligarchy was a fundamental tenet of Junco’s critique of the Comintern’s analysis of Cuba. Manuscript of the interview given by Charles Simeón to R.J. Alexander, op cit, p. 1. (Back to text)
152. Manifesto Programa del Buró de Oposición Comunista de Santiago de Cuba, op cit, p. 2. (Back to text)
153. ["la penetración de los grandes capitales norteamericanos en Cuba, con la consiguiente ingerencia política, o en otras palabras, el imperialismo yankee, vino a cortar todo ulterior desarrollo autónomo, y evitó la consolidación de la burguesía nativa como clase dirigente. Quiere decir esto que en Cuba la clase dirigente no han disenvuelto suficientemente su base económica para lograr un control absoluta del Estado; y la falta de ese control del Estado por la burguesía nativa explica la conducta política y económica de nuestros Gobiernos, siempre obligados a beneficiar los intereses de los banqueros del Norte aún con perjucio de los propios intereses de la burguesía nativa."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 3. (Back to text)
154. Ibid, pp. 4-6. (Back to text)
155. Ibid, pp. 4-5. (Back to text)
156. Ibid, p. 5. (Back to text)
157. Ibid, p. 5. (Back to text)
158. ["Revolución Popular Agraria Anti-imperialista"](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 6. (Back to text)
159. Ibid, p. 7. (Back to text)
160. ["los obreros industriales y agrícolas, los pequeños campesinos y el innumerable ejército de los desocupados, junto con los estudiantes y empleados en hambre deben hacer un frente único con que realizar la Revolución Popular Agraria Anti-Imperialista."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, pp. 7-8. (Back to text)
161. ["otra vez la Sierra Maestra y el camarada Mauser tendría la palabra."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 8. (Back to text)
162. Central Committee of the Oposición Comunista, En el Camino de la Revolución, Havana, 10 May 1933. (ANC: Fondo Especial (No. 63), Legajo 14, No. 141.) (Back to text)
163. ["Gobierno neutral provisional"](My translation, GT.) Ibid, pp. 2-3. (Back to text)
164. Ibid, p. 4. (Back to text)
165. Ibid, p. 4. (Back to text)
166. Ibid, pp. 5, 10. (Back to text)
167. ["[l]a consigna central, invariable y firme debe ser, la ‘intransigencia de la vanguardia proletaria; su lucha política independiente, su acción definida y audaz frente a los acontecimientos que se suceden’."](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 5. (Back to text)
168. Ibid, p. 7. (Back to text)
169. Ibid, pp. 12-13. (Back to text)
170. Ibid, pp. 13-14. (Back to text)
171. Ibid, pp. 14-15. (Back to text)
172. ["Revolución Agraria y Anti-Imperialista"](My translation, GT.) Ibid, p. 6. (Back to text)
173. ["une plateforme sur le terrain national en conformité avec les principes géneraux de l’Opposition de gauche."](Translation by David Smith.) See the letter from the International Secretariat of the ILO to the Cuban Communist Left Opposition, 29 June 1933, op cit. (Back to text)


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