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Labor Action, 5 May 1947


Gaston Bruyere

A Story of Lost Independence

How American Imperialism Dominates the Island of Cuba – II


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 19, 12 May 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


ON the basis of the old guild spirit of mutual defense and the anarcho-syndicalist concept of non-political action, the Cuban working class gave its best energies to the creation of a solid organizational basis for itself. But its forces, vitiated by this anarcho-syndicalism, at best became dispersed along the path of non-political action, while at worst they were dragged along in the wake of the wretched demagogy of police leaders. The struggle for better economic conditions in the trade union field and for freedom of action in the political field, produced the mixed result that while the Cuban workers were solidly united as a class, as individuals they were easily managed by the traditional parties. The first twenty years of the Republic are highly instructive as to what such an attitude will do to trade-unionism. The economic battles, with their repeatedly unsatisfied demands, lit the sparks of a class-policy in our workers when imperialist pressure sharpened class antagonism to an extreme degree.

The Russian Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 pointed the way to the Cuban workers, and they made’ ready to form a class political apparatus which would embrace the whole of the workers’ vanguard together with all such groups and individuals as base themselves on a revolutionary Marxist standpoint. These efforts lasted for several years, until the Communist Party of Cuba was organized in 1925 with the participation of a small number of workers and a group of University professors and students who had been won to the cause of the revolution.

The Communist Party of Cuba

Education on the old texts of Marx and Lenin, and thanks to the incontestable rightness of their political program, the first Cuban communist groups soon won over the best elements in the trade union organization. The more advanced workers rapidly joined the ranks of the Communist Party, and the great majority of workers and peasants followed their leadership. The masses were drawn to it by its capacity for work and action, and because of the influence and dazzling attractive power of the workers’ state in Russia.

The heroic stage of the first years coincided with the death of Lenin, the expulsion of Trotsky and Stalinist bureaucratization. Thus, throughout the “Third Period,” the Cuban revolutionary movement was put to the hard test of having to form its leading cadres with workers who had no tradition of revolutionary class policy.

The bloody years of Machado’s tyranny cost our working class dear. Stalinist bureaucracy, by dint of the influence which its international organization had over the leaders of the Cuban Communist Party, violently extirpated every trace of Marxist spirit from this leadership. As the dictatorship accentuated its repressions against the workers’ movement in general, the Communist Party, already Stalinized in its leadership, used the trades unions – which had been forced into illegality – in its street demonstrations against the war, in favor of the USSR, and for the exclusive defense of its own political schemes. The trade unions eventually became red fictions, ghostly creations in the Stalinists’ hands, since the real masses of the workers had been dispersed by Machado’s terrorist tactics. Once the trade union movement had been disrupted and broken up, the Stalinists kept their pocket-trades-unions in the archives of their bureaucracy, without worrying much about the political-social struggle of the Cuban workers against native tyranny and foreign imperialism.

The whole course of the prostitution and debasement of the Stalinist movement on a world-wide scale, was rapidly mirrored and grossly manifested in Cuba. When Machado’s tyranny was at its last stage in 1933 and the workers had come out in a general political strike against the dictator, the Cuban Stalinists gave their support to the tyrant in exchange for the miserable promise of recognizing the Communist Party. The workers, however, refused the Stalinists’ summons to return to work and the dictator fell. After his fall, when the petty bourgeoisie took power, the CP carried out a stupid policy against the radical petty bourgeois with the creation of soviets by decree. This, because of the maturity of the national movement and the co-relation of international forces, not only failed to form a basis for the workers’ power but also stirred up the military, who threw out the liberal petty bourgeois government by a coup d’etat, unleashed a brutal military-police repression against the workers’ movement in particular, and against all democratic manifestations in general. They set up a frightful military dictatorship which kept its boot pressed down on the neck of the Cuban people for the space of ten years. This was openly supported by the Communist Party during the last four of these ten years.

The same judgment which led the Stalinists to uphold the dying Machadist tyranny in 1933 was again observed in 1940 when Batista’s military dictatorship sought to legalize its regime with their help. They lent their support to both tyrannies in exchange for the advantages which their alliance with those in power gave them in dominating the workers’ movement. Thus the fictitious trade unions which they had kept in their hands grew into legal life.

The Workers’ Confederation of Cuba (C.T.C.)

The Stalinists, whose present political strength was acquired by means of systematic betrayals, capitulations and blackmail, carried out in secret agreements with bosses’ organizations and in concubinage with Batista’s’ military-police dictatorship in electoral politics, have used all the most repulsive traditional means to dominate the workers’ movement. Last month, when the Fifth National Workers Congress of the CTC was about to convene, the Stalinists prepared to participate in it with all measures already taken for keeping it under their leadership, as previously, in alliance with the militarists.

The main base of the trade unions adheres to the Cuban Revolutionary Party (the “Autenticos,” now in power) but thanks to the trickery and illegal tactics exercised by the Stalinists in the CTC the latter have been able to keep the key positions in their own hands, in spite of rank and file protests. Batista’s dictatorship – in return for the guarantee of social peace offered by the Stalinists – allowed them to organize a claque made up of police leaders, reformists and Stalinists, which little by little, sanctioned by the Ministry of Labor’s official support, enabled them to impose themselves on the whole mass of the workers. After a long process of murders, violence of every kind, and systematic persecution of the revolutionary vanguard, they got themselves acknowledged as the real-leadership of the organized workers in the CTC.

It is from these antecedents that springs the Communist Party’s control of the Cuban workers’ movement and their recognition as an official party with millions of members and a huge pocketbook – a pocketbook well stuffed by their present positions. And in this way they have dominated the other National Workers’ Congresses of the CTC held during the last ten years. They have been the blood-thirsty masters of the trade union movement, just as their allies were the blood-thirsty masters of the whole island.

In 1944, free elections put the .democratic petty bourgeois forces into power by an overwhelming majority, under the presidency of the “Autentico” leader, Ramon Grau San Martin. In these elections, the Stalinists were on the other side of the fence: they played the role of vanguard for the opposite candidacy, composed of the military dictatorship backed by the most discredited parties of the native capitalists and foreign imperialism. No sooner was the present government in power, however, than the Stalinists played their usual trick: executing a brisk volte-face, they went to the presidential palace and handed over their trade union organization, and guaranteed the new regime social peace on the island. In return for this, Grau San Martin has given the Stalinists more than a million dollars and many lucrative positions in the state bureaucracy.

As the time for the Fifth National Workers’ Congress drew near, the trade union and political forces which oppose Stalinism began to resist the latter’s customary dominance and maneuvers. During the last two months there have been bloody clashes between the Communist Party and the “Autenticos” (P.R.C.) to which most of the trade union base adheres. The Stalinists assassinated the loader of the sugar workers in Oriente Province, Felix Palu, who represented the chief menace to Stalinism in the Sugar Workers’ Union which he was rescuing from corrupt Stalinist politics. The political groups in tune with Palu’s tendency, have on various occasions since, then shot up the locals of the Popular Socialist Party (née Communist), wounding a certain number of Stalinists.

Faced with this violent situation, the government suspended the convocation of the CTC Congress and decreed governmental intervention to look into and examine the credentials’ commission. This credentials’ commission was harboring about 300 false trade unions, whose votes, together with those of the real unions controlled by the Stalinists, would have given the latter an assured majority in the Congress and dominance over the CTC. Although the key to the development of a revolutionary working class policy with broad perspectives is not to be found in this bloody struggle for leadership, as many Cubans believe, still the fundamental question of Stalinism’s absolute control over the workers’ organizations is being aired to good effect. The Cuban workers, already struggling free of Stalinism’s despotic yoke, will find their own path. This path can only be followed through the creation of a solid revolutionary workers’ party, under the guidance of our comrades of the Cuban Section of the Fourth International, who for more than a decade have been marking out the way with concrete aims and correct slogans.

Ever since 1932, when the CP’s falseness was unmasked and made plain to the Cuban conscience, a large group of Marxists has been raising a movement against the Stalinist leadership and this group has heroically sustained its condemnation of the criminal politics of the Communist Party in Cuba. This group, beginning as opponents of the Stalinists’ bureaucratic violence and their leadership of the Communist International, inside the party itself, later created their own organization outside of it, and for 15 years have been persecuted, informed against and murdered. Today they are the vanguard of the struggle against Communist Party degeneration, and with their clear Marxist vision have considerable influence over the advanced sections of the Cuban working class.

On the basis of the work of these cadres, the fight against Stalinism in Cuba has sharpened and deepened. And they, sustaining the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky, will be the legitimate guides of the Cuban workers’ movement toward the full realization of their historic objectives in the national and social liberation of Cuba.

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