The following article was published in Proletarian Revolution No. 39 (Spring 1991).
Three decades after the revolution, the Cuban people face a perilous future. With the end of the Cold War and the onset of George Bush’s “New World Order,” Cuba now confronts a more aggressive U.S. imperialism. The loss of Soviet aid endangers its underdeveloped, beleaguered economy. The collapse of Stalinism in Europe threatens to leave Cuba as an isolated outpost of “socialism."
George Bush’s smashing of Iraq was meant to intimidate every “third-world” country, especially one that has challenged its powerful neighbor for so long. Even before the Gulf War, the end of Sandinista rule in Nicaragua had whetted imperialist appetites. While the U.S. recognizes the USSR’s interests in its own diminishing empire, it expects reciprocation in Latin America. Clearly there is little room in the American orbit for an independent Cuba.
Cuba’s stand against imperialism has won it many admirers. So have its domestic achievements in mass education and health care, especially among the poor of the Caribbean and Latin America. As well, the East Europeans’ overthrow of hated Stalinism, along with the Beijing Massacre in China, make Cuba’s reputation shine in comparison. But Cuba’s working-class gains and anti-imperialist actions will now be tightly restricted, not only because of imperialism but because of Castroism’s own policies and contradictions.
We will show here that the Castro regime has no claim to authentic socialism in the Marxist, working-class sense. Nevertheless, it is the Cuban people, not U.S. imperialism or its agents, who have the right to decide the future of their country. The working class, in the imperialist countries especially, must defend Cuba’s right to self-determination. That means fighting the U.S.’s continuing efforts to strangle Cuba and any attempt at military intervention.
Fidel Castro’s initial policies following the overthrow of the hated Batista regime in 1959 were radical nationalist in character. His government abolished the largest estates and redistributed about a quarter of the country’s cultivable land; it also agreed to trade sugar to the USSR for oil. Both actions antagonized U.S. capitalists, who owned substantial acreage in Cuba and the oil refineries. The confiscation of the properties of the rich mainstays of Batista were widely popular; they also meant a historical jump in the living standards of poor, landless peasants.
When the refineries refused to handle Soviet oil in 1960, they were nationalized. U.S. President Eisenhower canceled Cuba’s sugar trade quota, and Castro replied by seizing other holdings. The U.S. retaliated with a devastating trade embargo. And in 1961, President Kennedy sponsored the Bay of Pigs invasion, which Cuba easily defeated.
Having defied U.S. domination, Castro led his country out of the American imperialist orbit and turned to the Soviet Union and its allies for survival. Cuba’s current crisis is rooted in the decisions made in the early 1960’s: the Bonapartist transformation of a U.S.-dependent capitalist country into a system of state ownership resting not on working-class power but on the Soviet alliance.
After brief attempts to industrialize, diversify its economy and go it alone, Cuba became heavily dependent on the Stalinist states. It benefited from preferential trade practices with Comecon and adopted Stalinist economic planning methods. The USSR alone purchased 70 percent of Cuba’s exports and accounted for 60 percent of its imports. Its loans and subsidies amounted to many billions of dollars per year (many times the per capita aid from East and West to the rest of Latin America).
During the Cold War, the USSR found it useful to sustain Cuba for several reasons. Allowing a “socialist” country to be strangled by imperialism would have been a humiliating defeat. Subsidizing Cuba provided a showcase for the Stalinist system and good will for the USSR in the third world; and it could be done relatively cheaply, given Cuba’s small population. It also gave the USSR a surrogate for intervention in Africa and Latin America, where the use of Soviet troops or agents would have provoked a U.S. response. Cuba was no pawn but still very reliable.
In sum, Cuba adopted Stalinist statified capitalism. It is important to note that the statification of property, which underlies all claims that Cuba is socialist, was done at a time when the working class had been deactivated and subordinated to the regime. In late 1959, the national trade union congress elected as its leadership the “Humanistas” led by David Salvador, made up of Castro’s initial supporters in the July 26th Movement. But in the process of fusing the Movement with the pro-Moscow Communists, Salvador and his team were purged, and the unions turned into instruments of management and the state.
In the Stalinist CP (which had proved its opportunism and contempt for the working class by supporting Batista for years), Castro found a force that could hold the workers in check. The CP’s ties to the seemingly powerful USSR plus its Stalinist training and tradition enabled it to discipline working-class militancy. As in East Europe, where extensive nationalization had to await the violent crushing of the working classes, an undecapitated working class would have been too volatile for the regime to risk statification. In contrast to East Europe, the Castro leadership’s popularity and anti-imperialist credentials made it easier to restrain the working class’s self-activity.
With East Europe shifting to “free market” economies and Comecon winding down, the Cubans today face the loss of their safety net. The USSR will now pay for the four million tons of sugar it imports at the world price rather than at higher subsidized prices. The Cubans will be hard pressed to pay for the fuel, raw materials and equipment they need to import to keep their economy functioning.
Given Cuba’s vulnerability, these international changes have a major impact. Economic chaos is already under way. Time and again, the Cuban economy suffers from shortages resulting from the failed delivery of raw materials and parts from abroad. One Cuban economist claims that, due to slow deliveries from the Soviet Union, some Cuban industries are operating at only 40 to 50 percent of their normal capacity. (NACLA Report, Aug. 1990.)
Heavily dependent on sugar exports to keep its economy afloat, Cuba saw world prices plummet in the 1980’s. It has also lost hard currency through the drop in oil prices, since Cuba had re-exported Soviet petroleum at a profit. (This accounted for 40 percent of hard currency earnings in the 1980’s.) Cuba’s most pressing problem is its huge foreign debt, on the order of billions of dollars.
To earn hard currency to service its debt, Cuba has turned to austerity measures. Rationing and domestic price increases on textiles, kerosene, sugar, and imported goods have lowered the standard of living. Household electricity has been cut by 10 percent and petroleum rationing introduced. Water and electric services are interrupted. Services take months to deliver. Long lines to obtain basic goods are the norm. Virtually all Cubans rely on the black market to obtain what they need.
Nor is the situation expected to improve. Actions by the Castro regime suggest that it is acutely aware of this. Castro has taken the lead in preparing the nation for a kind of “war communism,” based on even harsher austerity measures. He has warned of the possibility of a “special period” where Cuba would cut back all social development programs for a number of years. Since the Soviet subsidy had allowed Cuba a relative looseness as compared, say, to Romania, its termination means tighter political as well as economic control from the center.
It would appear that Castro is engaging in the same kind of austerity measures we see in Eastern Europe and the USSR. The picture of rising prices, shortages of consumer goods, and the queues to obtain almost all goods and services, seems all too familiar. But whereas the other Stalinist societies couple austerity with elements of an open market economy, Castro calls for “rectification,” a return to the “socialist morality” of equal sacrifice. Thus, despite these attacks on the Cuban workers, Castro and his leftist admirers continue to assert that Cuba remains true to a socialist course now abandoned by other Stalinist states.
Rather than a reaffirmation of socialism, however, Castro’s rectification campaign is only the latest zigzag by the statist regime. In the late 1960’s, Cuba carried out a harsh, military-style austerity program inspired by Che Guevara’s notion of moral incentives. Popular among anti-Marxist New Leftists, the Cuban approach was an attempt to raise labor productivity while denying material gains ("incentives") to the workers. Workers’ demands for higher wages and better living standards were dismissed as bourgeois and counterrevolutionary—a common idealist tendency of “revolutionaries” of affluent background.
In the drive for the illusory goal of 10 million tons of sugar, the workers were pushed to their limits. The results were disastrous. As material incentives were cut, labor productivity declined and absenteeism soared. In 1970, it was estimated that 20 percent of the labor force registered absent; in Oriente province, the figure reached 50 percent. When moral incentives failed to inspire the masses to work harder, the regime resorted to labor militarization. Mass mobilizations, although they attracted many volunteers, were carried out under military discipline. This was made easier by the virtual disappearance of the trade unions and the absence of any institutions to defend the working class.
But the government could not abolish the class struggle. Workers’ resistance to the regime’s economic policies forced Castro to change course. During the 1970’s, Cuba underwent changes that, in part, anticipated some of Gorbachev’s reforms in the USSR. Pragmatic policies replaced the “idealistic mistakes” of the 1960’s. More material incentives were introduced, even elements of a free market. In part, this was an acknowledgment of the widespread black market. In 1976 a sort of profit-sharing by industrial managers was introduced, and enterprises acquired forms of legal autonomy. As in East Europe, the statified capitalist bureaucracy was becoming bourgeoisified.
These changes created new problems. Corruption and lopsided income distribution led to increased dissatisfaction among the less privileged. The reforms whetted the appetite of the working class for more, at a time when the regime couldn’t deliver the goods. And once more tied to its one-crop economy, Cuba was just as economically dependent as it had been before the revolution, still caught in the trap of world imperialism. In 1982-83 the economic recession hit third-world nations, and they haven’t recovered since. As the prices for their exports fell, countries like Cuba found themselves unable to pay for needed imports. The resulting debt crisis meant that the masses had to be squeezed.
Castro’s response was a turn back to “communist values” as a distraction from material gains. Economic austerity is coupled with appeals to revolutionary consciousness—moral incentives again. Once more the focus is on labor productivity, especially in export production needed to earn hard currency. Under the new policy, the regime has raised transportation fares, utility costs and market prices, while it has halted moves toward decentralization and free markets.
One area being “rectified” is workers’ wages. Complaining that the level of wages and the social wage (free public services) were not supported by actual production, the regime has tried to revise production norms upwards. The average wage decreased in the latter half of 1986 when rectification was introduced. Not surprisingly, many workers saw rectification as a drive to curb wages.
Enthusiasts of the Castro regime argue that Cuba’s economic difficulties are to be blamed on the immense pressure of U.S. imperialism. Largely so, but that is not the sole reason. The Stalinist methods Cuba adopted have been exposed as backward and exploitative in East Europe, the USSR and China—wherever workers have found means to express their class interests. In Cuba, independent working-class activity is still tightly prohibited. Undoubtedly the Cuban workers will eventually recover their voice—and then we will see what happened to the gains they once won and what they think of the conditions they live under.
The argument that Cuba’s problems are all the fault of imperialism defeats itself. Imperialist hostility toward radical change in the countries it subjects is inevitable. The measure of a rebel leadership, therefore, is whether its struggle and the system it builds point to a successful escape from imperialism—or to a blind alley. The only hope for an anti-imperialist revolution in an economically backward country like Cuba is revolutionary internationalism. That means working to spread the revolution from country to country to win power for the working classes and thereby undermine imperialism.
Success cannot be guaranteed. The Bolsheviks were inspired by internationalist goals; the Russian revolution was meant to be the spark for proletarian revolution in Europe. As the Soviet state degenerated, its leaders sought an illusory refuge from imperialism by opting for “socialism in one country,” and it was ultimately defeated. But capitalism’s triumph required the Stalinist counterrevolution.
In Cuba, in contrast, the Stalinization of the revolution coincided with its turn to “socialism.” Externally, the Cuban regime—along with its military, economic and professional support for several third-world countries—has a long record of conciliation with non-revolutionary forces. Examples: Castro maintained a friendly alliance with the Mexican bourgeois regime even after its savage repression of mass strikes and protests in 1968. He endorsed the reformist “road to socialism” of Salvador Allende in Chile, which disarmed the workers, both politically and militarily, and led to the Pinochet dictatorship and the massacre of thousands. He flirted with the Peruvian military rulers, the Panamanian regime of General Torrijos and even the fascistic dictatorship of the Argentinian generals.
These alliances exhibit Castro’s idea of “internationalism": supporting national leaders who claim some independence from imperialism, at whatever cost to the masses of the country. In 1985 he explicitly denied that social revolution was the solution for third-world countries. Faced with the massive international debt crisis, he proposed a “new international economic order” based on reconciliation with imperialism: not a revolutionary repudiation of the debts but a gracious imperial cancellation. The Wall Street Journal was astonished: “Mr. Castro sounded less like a subversive than a worried banker.” (See Proletarian Revolution No. 24.)
Even when Cuba defended Angola against South Africa in the 1970’s, it enforced imperialist stability—for example, by shielding Western-owned oil installations in Cabinda from attack by Congolese rebels. Castro’s worst betrayal was in Ethiopia, where he turned against the Eritrean liberation movement and sent arms and troops to the bloody Mengistu regime when it became the USSR’s ally.
With his long anti-worker record and service to Stalinism, why do many on the left look to Castro as an alternative to East European bureaucratism? The fundamental difference is that the Cuban revolution was a popular (although not a mass) struggle that defeated a brutal dictator as well as imperialism at the outset. Castro was not another bureaucrat imposed by Moscow.
This fact has led some leftists to exaggerate Castroism’s achievements and regard it as genuine socialism. Such views were given theoretical cover by pseudo-Trotskyists, led by the U.S. Socialist Workers Party in the 1960’s. A recent version comes from Malik Miah of Socialist Action (an SWP split-off), who contrasts Cuba with Nicaragua. Addressing leftists shocked by the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas, Miah claims that the “Cuban road to socialism” was the “path not taken” in Nicaragua. (Socialist Action, Nov. 1990.)
Why did Nicaragua fail to become another Cuba? Miah blames a failure of leadership. Specifically, he charges the FSLN with defending a “mixed economy” and not expropriating the capitalists. In contrast, the Cuban leaders “refused to compromise with imperialism” and local capitalism.
Miah goes on to link the Castro strategy in Cuba with the Bolshevik leadership of Lenin.
For the first time since the Russian Revolution a revolution succeeded because of the actions of its leadership. (This stands in sharp contrast to the overturns of capitalism in Eastern Europe and China after World War II.)”
That is, while it is supposedly possible to create “deformed workers’ states” as in China and East Europe without revolutionary leaderships, Cuba’s leadership was revolutionary and therefore achieved even more: a genuine, not deformed, workers’ state on the road to socialism. Of course, as we have often pointed out, the notion that workers’ states can be created by non-proletarian forces violates the basic conception of Marxism; socialist revolution means proletarian leadership. To deal with this blatant contradiction, the Castro boosters have to go farther. They stretch the bounds of Marxism and reality to argue that Cuba’s was a working-class socialist revolution.
Miah makes this case by first explaining, correctly, that the July 26 Movement had been led by petty-bourgeois elements, with enthusiastic support among the masses. The Castro leadership consisted of “genuine democrats” who sought to implement an anti-imperialist, bourgeois-democratic program. How then did they transform themselves into working-class Bolsheviks? Just as in East Europe, they nationalized capitalist property, statified foreign trade and began economic planning. Still, this all took place without a proletarian revolutionary party, without workers’ councils, even without action by the Cuban trade unions. The key for Miah appears to be that these steps had mass support:
“They were not administrative actions. Each expropriation and other acts were explained to the masses. The workers and peasants understood them. They were mobilized to carry them out and consolidate the political and economic expropriation of the old ruling class.”
Some of this is true. The masses were indeed mobilized to hear Castro explain his policies to them, and they undoubtedly did approve the expropriation of their old bosses. But the workers did not make the decisions themselves. They have always been denied the opportunity to “fit themselves for power,” in Marx’s words, by exercising power in the course of making and running their so-called workers’ state. Explanatory, plebiscitarian “socialism” means that their all-wise bosses do it for them.
Similar explanations were given for the Stalinist takeovers in China and East Europe. Mass support for eliminating hated bourgeois exploiters through statification of property does not distinguish working-class socialism from petty-bourgeois nationalism.
One argument sometimes given is that the 1959 revolution was accompanied by a general strike of the working class. So it was, but the strike was far more symbolic than decisive: it occurred after Batista & Co. had already fled the country, and it was quickly called off by Castro. The strike did, however, impress on the new coalition government (of Castroists and traditional liberal capitalists) the need to offer concessions to the working class.
The case that Cuban Stalinism is qualitatively different from discredited East European and Chinese Stalinism rests on the leadership’s supposed revolutionary consciousness. But this case is belied by Cuba’s relation with the Nicaraguan revolution. Indeed, as an article in the same issue of Socialist Action points out, Cuba advised Nicaragua against taking the Cuban “road to socialism.” It cites Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez in 1984: “We don’t believe that the Cuban model is to be exported either to Central America or to the rest of the world."
Castro was even clearer on his support for the mixed economy. The top priority for Nicaragua was economic development, not the construction of socialism, since Nicaragua was much less developed than Cuba had been.
“I think the Nicaraguan plan—and I have no disagreements with it, neither theoretical nor practical, and I say that sincerely—is perfect, given the conditions in their country and in Central America.”
Socialist Action attacks these views for obstructing the course toward socialist revolution in Nicaragua. (Of course, the Sandinistas could not have taken such a course, since they were no more working-class than the Castroists.) Yet Castro’s advice to Nicaragua was essentially the same petty-bourgeois nationalist view that shaped the Cuban revolution at the start. And his assumption that Cuba was sufficiently developed for socialism is pure Stalinist idealism. The only difference is that Cuba dealt with imperialism’s attacks by nationalizing its property, whereas the Sandinistas tried to be more accommodating. In the 1980’s, Castro feared that if Nicaragua challenged the U.S. in its own hemisphere, that would also bring down imperialist wrath on his island.
Cuba had followed the East European model of “socialism” via top-down nationalization, which leads to statified capitalism. By 1979, however, Stalinism’s economic decay was already sharply felt, and the Soviets knew they could not subsidize another client in the U.S.’s sphere of domination. So Castro was carrying out the Soviet line when he urged the Sandinistas not to “go socialist."
As well, a radical measure like full nationalization was dangerous without discipline over the workers. It would have tempted the revolutionary Nicaraguan proletariat to run industry itself and create its own state. The Nicaraguan Stalinists (like Stalinists everywhere by that time) had lost the power to control the working class. Cubanization was therefore not a possibility.
By encouraging the Sandinistas’ accommodations, Castro aided the defeat of the Nicaraguan revolution and helped keep Nicaragua’s workers and peasants under the gun of imperialism and the counterrevolution. Castro’s internationalism turned out to be little different from Stalin’s “socialism in one country."
Castro has positioned himself as the orthodox defender of communism in opposition to Gorbachev’s reforms. While Gorbachev has moved the USSR towards traditional market capitalism and seeks to promote the image of a responsible imperialist power, Castro champions more centralized statified capitalism. He still goes heavy on the anti-imperialist rhetoric. Given Washington’s absolute rejection of Cuba’s post-Cold War overtures, he has little alternative.
Despite these differences, Castro and Gorbachev continue to face the same task, keeping the working class in check. Gorbachev deepens the workers’ exploitation by promoting openly bourgeois policies. Castro’s method is to maintain bureaucratically “planned” austerity and to accommodate with imperialism in the international arena.
Leftists who attempt to counterpose Castro to Gorbachev are only grasping at straws; there is no principled difference between them. Castro still needs the Soviets, so his criticisms are carefully worded to avoid an open break. As he said in 1989:
“We must continue to develop our ties with the socialist countries, regardless of their style or model of building socialism. We have our own ideas, but we start by proclaiming our absolute respect for the right of each socialist country to try to build socialism in the manner and with the methods it sees fit. What they do does not involve us.” (From the SWP’s compilation of Castro speeches, In Defense of Socialism, p. 135.)
This proclamation was false from every angle. Even from that of Castro’s self-interest: the pro-Western course of the East European regimes led to governments that halted aid to Cuba. Thus what they do indeed does “involve us,” as any internationalist would have known. Moreover, Fidel was lying: his “respect” for fellow “socialists” did not extend to allowing Cubans to read the reformist Soviet press. The idea of many roads to socialism really means little but mutual non-interference: you Europeans may have to make concessions to your workers and intellectuals, but not we. Whatever you do, it is bourgeois and counterrevolutionary for Cuban workers to demand their rights of class independence. So keep your glasnost to yourself.
Castro’s supporters on the left can hardly take much comfort from his criticisms of Gorbachev, since Castro has to line himself up with the right wing of the Stalinist bureaucracy (linked in turn to various ultra-nationalist, racist and even Czarist forces). In this Castro is true to his past. He has been a consistent opponent of every mass struggle against the Stalinist regimes. He defended the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia—conveniently overlooking his “essential” principles of non-interference. He has never been a left challenge to Stalinism; his opposition to marketizing “reforms” is not a revolutionary alternative but rather an attempt to preserve the bureaucracy’s monopoly on power.
The Cuban revolution was a tremendous blow against imperialism. But petty-bourgeois nationalism, including the Stalinist variant, offers no way out of the imperial stranglehold. Castro has spent three decades propping up the carcass of Stalinism. Rather than a genuine international revolution, he has always promoted the illusion that real independence can be won without overthrowing imperialism.
Castroism represents not a way out of the imperialist grip but, in Trotsky’s words, the “reactionary utopia” of a nationally isolated “socialist” society doomed to backwardness. Cynicism abounds in the third world today; antediluvian ideologies like Islamic and Christian fundamentalism bloom because the masses, still hating imperialism, learned to distrust the “Marxist” secular alternatives. For this Castro bears much responsibility.
Cuba is in grave danger. Only the international working-class struggle can save it from imperialist encirclement. The workers of all countries must learn to overcome imperialist patriotism and “law and order"; in this they will get no aid from Castro and his diplomats. That task requires the re-creation of an internationalist revolutionary party—the Fourth International. And that means confronting Stalinism in both its Gorbachev and Castro forms.
Recent events expose Cuba’s debatable internationalism. In the build-up to the war against Iraq, Cuba played an ambiguous role in the U.N. Security Council, voting against some decisions endorsing the U.S.-led war effort. In a Havana speech last September, Castro boasted:
"We had the honor of being the only country to vote ’No.’! [Prolonged applause] History will record the honor, the dignity and the courage with which Cuba acted during that moment of such importance to the life of humanity. It was necessary to take a firm position and we did not abstain—we voted ’No.’ And we will vote against everything we do not agree with, even if we are the only ones. [Applause]” (Quotes here are from the SWP’s book, U.S. Hands Off the Middle East!)
Very noble, but that vote was on one subsidiary resolution (No. 670, to embargo Iraqi aircraft). On more decisive questions Cuba had already failed to stand firm: it endorsed the imperialist rationale for war. Cuba voted for the U.N.’s demand that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait (Resolution 660), and for the restoration of the “legitimate government” of the emirs (Resolution 662). It shamefully abstained on the key resolution (661) ordering an all-out economic boycott of Iraq, itself an act of war against the Iraqi people. It also abstained on Resolution 665 authorizing the use of naval force to halt shipping into and from Iraq. And in an August 25 speech, U.N. representative Ricardo Alarcón boasted that Cuba was cooperating with the boycott of Iraq even though it had abstained on the vote.
Alarcón explained his government’s overall position:
“To Cuba, the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, no matter what the reason may be; of the non-use of force in international relations; of the peaceful settlement of disputes between states; and of respect for the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of all nations are essential principles of our international order. It is in defense of those principles that we have expressed our disapproval and condemnation of the entry of Iraqi forces into the territory of Kuwait a few days ago, and have declared that this state of affairs must be ended with the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwaiti territory and the full restoration of Kuwait’s sovereignty.”
Thus, while Cuba opposed the extreme measure of war to force Iraq to withdraw, it nevertheless positioned itself with the rest of the cutthroats in the U.N. The idea that small states like Cuba can defend themselves by promoting bourgeois nationalist “principles of international order” has nothing to do with revolutionary internationalism; it is a legalistic, not a revolutionary, strategy. In this case the abstract principle ("non-interference… no matter what the reason may be") placed Cuba alongside imperialism, not against it. Rather than expose the lie that the U.N. or any imperialist institution can defend the oppressed nations, Cuba disoriented oppressed masses throughout the world.
Moreover, Cuba endorsed the dubious notion that Kuwait is a nation entitled to self-determination. In fact it is an imperialist enclave whose rulers operate in Europe more than “at home.” In a message from Fidel Castro to all the Arab heads of state, cited by Ambassador Alarcón on August 9, Castro endorsed the restoration of Kuwait’s “legitimate” emir. He added:
“Let me share with you, Your Excellency, the certainty that inspires me of the wisdom and courage of the leaders of the Arab nation, and the vitality of its institutions.”
These wise and courageous leaders include not only the emir but also the Saudi king, the Syrian butcher and the Iraqi dictator himself. More:
“Nothing and no one can replace this strength, this authority and this morale in the immediate search for a negotiated solution to a conflict between two Arab peoples.”
Here Castro asserts the rights of the nationalist leaders as opposed to imperialism. But he overlooks how much their “strength and authority” derives from imperialism. Any revolutionary with the slightest regard for the masses of the Arab world would insist that it is the Arab working people who can and must replace the killers and slaveowners installed by imperialism. But Castroist nationalism requires support for and non-interference with every nationalism, even the most retrograde. Revolutionary opponents to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hafez al-Assad in Syria, etc., can expect no help from Fidel. Remember the Eritreans.