From International Socialist Review, Vol.27 No.3, Summer 1966, pp.91-95.
In this issue of the International Socialist Review we are publishing two important documents in the development of the polemic which was initiated by Fidel Castro in his closing speech to the Tricontinental Conference, January 15, 1966. In that speech, Castro attacked “Trotskyism” in terms reminiscent of the frame-up charges in the infamous Moscow trials of the thirties. [For an online version of Castro’s speech denouncing Trotskyism see: http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/castro/1966/19660216]
The first document is an attempt to defend Fidel Castro by Blas Roca. Roca was the secretary general of the Cuban Communist Party in the thirties in the heyday of Stalinism and the secretary general in the continuation of that party in the form of the Partido Socialist Popular. Today Blas Roca is a member of the newly organized Communist Party of Cuba.
Roca’s article has been translated from the text published in the May 1 issue of the Mexico City semimonthly magazine Politica, which carried it under the name The Trotskyist Slanders Cannot Tarnish the Cuban Revolution.
The second document is an answer to Roca’s article by Joseph Hansen. Hansen is the editor of The Militant, the American socialist weekly which Roca attacks in the first article. The article is reprinted from World Outlook, Vol.4, No.17, May 27, 1966.
The vigorous and illuminating denunciation of the anti-Cuban propaganda of the Trotskyists which Compañero Fidel Castro made in his speech closing the Tricontinental Conference, was indispensable.
Not of course because of any significance ascribable to the Trotskyists in themselves, but because of the relation their propagandistic campaign has to the action Yankee imperialism is developing against the Cuban Revolution and because of the damage which, under the circumstances created by the differences involving various socialist states in the international Communist movement, their confusionist campaign could cause in some incipient sector of the rising revolutionary movement in Latin America.
Trotskyism is, in itself, in its politics and its theory, a corpse. Extended internationally in opposition to Leninism and the Leninist thesis of the possibility of the triumph of socialism in one country, historic experience defeated all its major theses and reduced it to small groups isolated from the masses, whose principal function remained limited to combating the Soviet Union and the Communist Parties.
The Yankee imperialists have found in the Trotskyists very active auxiliary forces in their efforts to destroy in the eyes of the Latin-American peoples the prestige of the Cuban Revolution by utilizing slanders and confusionist propaganda. These efforts are part of the imperialist campaign against Cuba: they complement the attacks by military means, the actions of infiltrated agents – sabotage, crime, espionage – the economic blockade, the breaking of diplomatic relations by the Latin-American countries, etc.
On the one hand, directly and in the name of its widely known agencies, the Yankee imperialists carry out an intense campaign in Latin America to convince the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois sectors that Cuba, and not the United States, constitutes a danger to the independence of their countries; that Cuba, and not the United States, is the interventionist power in the continent; that Cuba and not the conditions of national humiliation, underdevelopment, backwardness, unhealthy conditions, lack of culture, reactionary coups d’etat, repression and persecution, conditions created, reinforced or maintained through the intervention and domination of North American neocolonialism, is the cause of the uprisings, guerrillas, protests and struggles of the Latin-American peoples.
On the other hand, through channels that are not easily identifiable as imperialist and groups that employ a super-revolutionary language, they carry out a campaign to confuse the intellectual, student, worker and peasant sectors, spreading among them slanders such as that the Cuban Revolution is a failure, that it is not socialist, that it is not granting the aid or solidarity due the Latin-American peoples, that its leaders have been “purged” by tortuous means, that it is being consumed in internal quarrels between men and factions fighting for power, that Cuba has been converted into a satellite of the Soviet Union, that Cuba’s actions are determined by Soviet pressure, etc.
While the direct North American propaganda “justifies” its intervention in Santo Domingo with the pretended danger of a coup by “Communists trained in Cuba,” the indirect propaganda by way of the Trotskyists accuses Cuba of not having given active solidarity to the Dominican revolution. While the OAS condemns Cuba “for sending arms to the Venezuelan guerrillas,” supposedly revolutionary propaganda is circulated throughout the continent accusing Cuba of “turning its back to the Latin-American revolution.”
This is the dual aspect of the propaganda war which the Yankee imperialists are developing against Cuba. In this war, Johnson, Rusk, McNamara, the CIA, the counterrevolutionary groups and grouplets are given the task, with the help of the AP and the UPI, of presenting Cuba as a revolutionary danger to the continent which must be smashed; while the Trotskyists and other pseudo-revolutionary elements undertake the dirty task of promulgating that the revolutionary power in Cuba is not revolutionary nor undertaking its duties of solidarity with the peoples, etc.; that is, the task of promulgating those things that help the imperialists in their effort to destroy the prestige and authority of the Cuban Revolution. The firm and unconditional defense of the anti-imperialist and socialist revolution, triumphant in Cuba, is a duty for every honest revolutionary, whatever his party affiliation.
This defense must be mounted whether it involves a military attack, an economic attack or an ideological and political attack of the enemies of the Revolution. This defense is not only a duty of solidarity, but in the direct interest of the movement for the revolution, for the sovereignty and independence of every country, for progress and socialism. When Yankee imperialism seeks to destroy the prestige and authority of the Cuban Revolution in the eyes of the Latin-American peoples, it does not do so with the sole aim of weakening and isolating Cuba in preparation for a military attack. It does it also to weaken the resistance of any Latin-American country to its claims to domination and imposition of its will in order to weaken the revolutionary movement for national and social liberation in all the Latin-American countries, to weaken the faith of their peoples in revolution, in the final outcome of their combats and sacrifices.
The Trotskyists and other elements of like stripe, while they speak an ultra-revolutionary language, instead of conducting a struggle in honest defense of the revolution, collaborate with imperialism in the campaign to undermine its prestige and authority in the eyes of the masses.
All this is one more proof that, as Compañero Fidel said, Trotskyism became a vulgar instrument of imperialism and reaction. With citations from declarations and writings of Trotskyist individuals and publications he showed convincingly that the campaign they are conducting is that of agents of imperialism.
Well, are the individuals and publications Trotskyist as was said in the speech of the first secretary of our party before the delegates of the First Conference of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America?
Strange as it may seem, it is necessary to answer this question, since Trotskyism is a medley of such confusion, of groups and subgroups, that some Trotskyists deny that other Trotskyists are Trotskyists. This, for example, is what The Militant, the newspaper of the North American Trotskyists does, when it tries to puncture the denunciation of Trotskyism made by Compañero Fidel Castro through the very simple device of claiming that the Trotskyists cited by him are not Trotskyist. According to this newspaper, neither the review Marcha of Montevideo, nor Il Nuovo Mondo of Rome, nor the Monthly Review of New York are Trotskyists, so that it considers that “the proofs cited by Castro to prove his assertions (against the Trotskyists) are flimsy.”
The Newsletter, on the other hand, says that the review Marcha is an organ of the Posadas group, although it considers the latter not to be genuinely Trotskyist.
Independently of what The Newsletter, organ of the English Trotskyists, says, the allegation of The Militant is pure sophistry, since in the first place, Compañero Fidel did not say that the reviews mentioned were Trotskyist, but that they had published articles and reports of known Trotskyists and, in the second place, it is more than evident that the said publications systematically diffuse Trotskyist propaganda.
The English Trotskyists, as well as the North Americans, deny that Felipe Albaguante is Trotskyist. On J. Posadas, who is the head of the Latin-American Bureau of the Fourth International (Trotskyist) The Newsletter says the following:
“The Posadas group, in particular, is ’Trotskyist’ only in name. In Great Britain, its most prominent leader when the group was founded has openly supported the right-wing witch-hunt against Young Socialists and councillors, while calling for world revolution! (such political chameleons, it seems can only be found in Posadas’ menagerie.)”
And The Militant itself, although it accuses Posadas and his groups of holding to stupidities like nuclear war being inevitable and that the atomic bombing of Moscow will signify the rebirth of the world proletariat, asserts that “to say that they constitute a vulgar instrument of imperialism and reaction is, however, a slander.”
What the Trotskyist groups – including those of The Militant and The Newsletter – are spreading with respect to the Cuban Revolution are slanders, and very obvious ones. And that these slanders serve only the Yankee imperialists in their propaganda war against Cuba there is not the slightest doubt. And this labor did not begin now, but from the time they became convinced that they could not infiltrate into the Cuban Revolution, as they tried, in order to carry out from within their work of provocation, confusionism and conspiracy in favor of the aggressive plans of North American imperialism.
In the mimeographed newspaper which was printed in Cuba by an organized Trotskyist group after the triumph of the Revolution with the assistance of Posadas and Adolfo Gilly – the latter was in Cuba in 1963 advising this Trotskyist group – the direct and open attacks on the Cuban Revolution and its leadership became general beginning in 1963. For example, in number 34 of the said newspaper, corresponding to the first part of September 1963, in an editorial entitled: Cuba must support the Chinese line of world revolution, it is brazenly asserted:
“There is an enormous contradiction between the critical and alert revolutionary consciousness of the masses and the ‘sea wave’ which the leadership of the Revolutionary Government has been following between these pressures, from the international to the economic line.”
And in number 43, corresponding to the first part of February 1964, they likewise posed editorially things like this:
“In spite of the conciliatory and counterrevolutionary line of peaceful coexistence with imperialism which the Fidel Castro leadership has posed, the masses continue pressing against this line and go much beyond it.”
In other words, as before, at the same time as the United States was giving a new impulsion to its aggressive policy against Cuba, with the piratical action of seizing the four Cuban fishing boats and detaining their crews, the Trotskyists carried out their counterrevolutionary mission of trying, with their slanders, to undermine the prestige and authority of the Cuban Revolution.
In the newspaper Frente Obrero, organ of the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Trotskyist) of Uruguay, corresponding to September 11, 1963, in a long, extremely confused and at times incomprehensible article or report by J. Posadas entitled The discussions on architecture in Cuba, based on the development of the present social struggles and preparation of the atomic war which imperialism is preparing, systematic defamation of the Cuban Revolution is carried on.
The article or report refers to the position which the Trotskyists had to take at the Seventh International Congress of Architects held in Cuba from September 29 to October 3 in that year. The fundamental point in this position seems to be to object to constructing homes or to subordinate constructing homes due to the fact that “when war comes it will destroy them” as can be seen in this confused paragraph which we have transcribed as follows:
“No congress of architecture can be posed without posing the war. It is insanity. It is an effort that is going to ask the Cuban population and the rest of Latin America and the world to do something that is going to be knocked down a few years later.” The position, however, is the least of it. What is important is that throughout the whole article or report, slanders are inserted as baseless as this one which, by way of example, we have transcribed as follows:
“The congresses which they (the Cubans) hold are genuinely shameful. For example, many youth are attracted to them with women and dances. It was this way in ’60. The meetings are simply an excuse. They will do the same with the architects and teachers.”
And as always, these attacks of Trotskyist propaganda coincide with the intensification of the attacks of the imperialists, who in the month of September 1963 had, with their pirate planes, dropped bombs on the Brazil sugar mill and near the city of Santa Clara, and the month before, in August, with their pirate launches, had machine-gunned Puerto de Casilda and the sulfametal plant in Santa Lucia.
We could multiply the quotations and show, with them, how on the basis of slanders and sophistry, the Trotskyists have oriented their propaganda, from the beginning, to pit the masses against the leadership of our socialist state, to pit Che against Fidel, to sow division and disunity among the revolutionary forces united firmly in our country under the guidance of Compañero Fidel Castro. This is the campaign which they are continuing today, to the profit of imperialism, as vulgar instruments of imperialism and reaction, since more than ever this expression arouses the ire of the Trotskyists of The Militant and The Newsletter. The Newsletter, the organ of the English Trotskyists, which denies that Posadas or Albaguante are Trotskyist, hurls epithets and slanders against the Cuban Revolution not less venomous and false than theirs. They go to the extreme of brazenly calling for the overthrow of the revolutionary power in Cuba. With the typical phraseology of Trotskyism, they call Compañero Fidel Castro “head of a capitalist state machine” and “prime minister of a Bonapartist government.”
“So long as the Cuban state,” they write, “rests on capitalist foundations, our opposition to Castro will remain fundamental and implacable. We shall support every attempt, successful or abortive, to replace the Bonapartist dictatorship of Castro with the power of the working class, with democratically elected Soviets led by a revolutionary Trotskyist party.”
This is clear. The slander of the revolution, the denial of the socialist character of the Cuban state, is followed by the proclamation that they will support every attempt to overturn the revolutionary government. ’he bit about replacing it with Soviets led by a Trotskyist party is a laughable excuse. The whole world knows that the only attempts – frustrated by the heroism and the will of the Cuban people closely united around their revolutionary government – to replace the socialist power in Cuba are those of the Yankee imperialists.
“This does not,” they add, “in any way, cut across the principled defense of Cuba from imperialist attack. On the contrary, the best defence we can provide to Cuba is to assist the Cuban workers to defend themselves militarily and politically from the attacks of their own ruling class.”
This is even clearer ... and more repugnant. The principled “defense” of Cuba against the imperialist attacks consists in organizing political and military attacks against the revolutionary power. This explains the coincidence between the most brazen attacks of Trotskyist propaganda with the piratical aggressions of the Yankee imperialists against Cuba. That is, the propaganda attacks against Cuba is the “defense” of Cuba carried out by the Trotskyists. The Yankee imperialists and their mercenaries likewise say that their crimes against the people of Cuba have the objective of “freeing them” from the Communist tyranny. In cynicism, the Trotskyists do not concede an inch to the imperialists.
The Newsletter and The Militant defend Adolfo Malvagni Gilly and are enraged, like him, over what Compañero Fidel Castro said concerning Yon Sosa and the labor of the Trotskyist in Guatemala. It seems strange that they should defend Gilly, a coreligionist and subordinate of J. Posadas, while they denigrate him and his group, considered by The Newsletter to be a “menagerie” and by The Militant as upholding “stupidities.” But this is in perfect harmony with the fundamental confusionist and provocative role of Trotskyism.
Nevertheless, The Militant is compelled to confess that: “A complicating factor in the Guatemala situation is the role of representatives of the Posadas group. This is a split-off from the Fourth International, the world party of socialist revolution founded by Leon Trotsky. The Posadas group calls itself ’Trotskyist’ and even makes out that it constitutes the ’Fourth International’ ... Posadas happens to have a few followers in both Cuba and Guatemala whose ultra-left stupidities do isolate them from the masses.” Precisely this is the crime of the Trotskyist who infiltrated the guerrilla front of Yon Sosa in Guatemala.
With ultra-left slogans and calls for the immediate realization of the socialist revolution, they isolate this movement from the masses, they cut their road of development. With no little frequency they point to socialist Cuba; but in 1958 the Rebel Army did not proclaim the socialist revolution, but united the people in the practical struggle to overthrow Batista’s tyranny and to destroy his mercenary army which served to support him and which was the instrument of neocolonialism and all the reactionary social forces.
The Trotskyists like to say that the measures of socialist transformation were taken in Cuba under the pressure of the masses; what they are not even capable of understanding is that the revolutionary leadership under the guidance of Compañero Fidel Castro prepared each step and took it in consonance with the same state of consciousness which they had created in the masses. In 1959 the proclamation of socialism would have divided the country; in April 1961 the masses unanimously supported the declaration of Compañero Fidel Castro on the socialist character of our revolution and carried it to victory, with their blood, on the beaches of Playa Girón.
In Guatemala, on infiltrating into Yon Sosa’s movement, the Trotskyist elements, if with regard to program they do something like put the cart before the horse, politically they promote disunity and antagonisms among the revolutionary forces and isolate the guerrilla fighters, imposing the program of the Fourth International on them.
“What the Fourth International thus committed,” said Compañero Fidel, “was a true crime against the revolutionary movement, to isolate it from the rest of the people, to isolate it from the masses, by corrupting it with stupidities, the discredited and repugnant and nauseating thing that is Trotskyism today within the field of politics.”
In replies attempted by the Trotskyists to the denunciation by Compañero Fidel of their venomous activity, they once more repeat the slanderous speculations on the absence from Cuba of Compañero Ernesto Che Guevara. This is logical if one keeps in mind the interest of the Yankee imperialists in the question. The Yankee imperialists were, naturally, the first to speculate over the absence of Compañero Guevara from Cuba. They, above all, wanted to know where he was to be found. No sooner did they kill him in Santo Domingo, than they had him traveling through Central America, gravely ill in a hospital bed or they put him in the heart of the Peruvian jungles.
At the same time, as was already their custom, they made up and spread all kinds of macabre stories of their own pure invention: Castro had killed Guevara; Che was a prisoner or proscribed; there was a division among the Cuban leaders around the Chinese-Soviet differences; the Soviet Union had demanded Guevara’s retirement, etc., etc. The letter from Compañero Ernesto Che Guevara to Fidel, written at the time of his leaving Cuba and read by the latter on presenting to the people the recently constituted Central Committee of the Communist Party, the first of October last year, was a crushing blow to all the tales woven by imperialism.
For the genuine revolutionaries, the words that Fidel said on the subject on that occasion, and the moving and profoundly revolutionary letter from Che, were definitive: They explained the absence of the stout and beloved comandante of our revolutionary war until it became necessary and possible to explain it. For the Yankee imperialists and for the Trotskyists, no. They needed to continue the tales about “the mysterious disappearance,” in order to continue the campaign to discredit the Cuban Revolution.
It is by no means accidental that the declarations of the Trotskyist elements and newspapers which Fidel mentioned in his speech, were made after the first of October; that is, when the letter from Che was fully known throughout the world. The Militant, in replying now, dwells on the theme and holds that what Castro ought to have done in face of the Trotskyist slanders is send a message to Che so that he, in a letter, might quash the rumor of his death. But in view of the facts, of what use would it have been? If before, with the last letter from Che, read by Fidel himself, the slanders and malicious speculations of these elements not only did not cease but multiplied, wouldn’t they have responded in the same way to a new letter?
The Newsletter, with greater cynicism, repeats the slanders. “Guevara,” it says, “was killed or incarcerated in a special prison in Cuba or, and this seems more likely, he was exiled and his wife and children held as hostages in case he decided to do something rash-like speaking to the press or writing his memoirs. That Castro’s fear of Guevara is real,” it adds “was demonstrated recently when the Cuban government decided to disarm the militia on the flimsy pretext that the guns were not being maintained properly.”
The slanders of The Newsletter are repeated by Gilly:
“The vertiginous political evolution of the Cuban leadership in recent months,” he writes, “confirms the opinion that it is true that they have either assassinated Guevara or that they are restraining him by some means or other from expressing himself politically.”
For them the Tricontinental Conference was prepared bureaucratically, it was only a rostrum for Cheddi Jagan and Allende or it was a failure. In all their slanders against Cuba their innate hatred for the Soviet Union stands out.
All the Trotskyist slanders now being repeated have as one of their aims to discover, for the benefit of the North American imperialists, the place where Compañero Ernesto Che Guevara is and, therefore, the concrete revolutionary activities which he is carrying on in accordance with his unshakable revolutionary vocation and his conviction as an anti-imperialist and socialist combatant. Along with this is the aim of serving, once more, the imperialist campaign to discredit the Cuban Revolution. Today this is one of their principal tasks inasmuch as Cuba represents the example, stimulus and support of peoples orienting toward a revolution against imperialism and its lackeys, servants and puppets.
Of course, their slanders will not get very far. Their tricks and divisionism intrigues can cause damage in countries like Guatemala and confuse sectors like those under the command of Marco Antonio Yon Sosa. But neither will they prosper there for very long. The practical results of their tricks will show the masses and honest revolutionaries what they really are.
There is no slander, whether from the imperialists or from the Trotskyists or anyone else that can change the facts or destroy the prestige of a Revolution like the one in Cuba, made by dint of heroism and carried forward to its ultimate and necessary consequences.
The dignity, the firmness and the honesty of the leadership of the Cuban Revolution stand above any miserable slanderer. Faithfulness to proletarian internationalism, unlimited solidarity with the peoples struggling against imperialism, repeated a thousand and one times, have been proved by Cuba under all circumstances and before all the revolutionaries.
National sovereignty, seized in a revolutionary way from the Yankee neocolonialist who pre-empted it, has been maintained in a dignified way by Cuba, as the very reason for its struggle, as a banner for the peoples still subjugated, as the beginning of relations in the rising world of the new society without exploiters or exploited, in which countries, holding equal rights, are related fraternally with mutual respect and mutual collaboration.
There is no slander against the reality of our socialist revolution, which stands at the very doors of Yankee imperialism, of the reality of our successes and advances in the construction of socialism, of the reality of the unity of our people around the working class and the unbreakable confidence which it has in our successes and advances in the Central Committee and in its chief and guide, Compañero Fidel Castro. There is no slander that can tarnish the revolutionary call of the Second Declaration of Havana nor diminish the revolutionary importance of the resolutions of the First Conference of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In one word, there is no slander that can extinguish in the eyes of the masses of Latin America the burning flame of the inspiring example of the Cuban Revolution, victorious in face of all the aggressions, attacks and difficulties.
Last updated on 9 June 2009