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Hugo Oehler

The Cuban Challenge to U.S. Imperialism

(September 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 45, 30 September 1933, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Reports from Cuba, no matter from what political source, indicate that the revolution has passed beyond the stage of a simple political revolution and has entered the first stage of a social revolution. The ruling cliques and exploiting class are in confusion. The crisis and economic conditions had reached a breaking point. The American imperialists, facing the coming Pan American conference, pressed upon all sides by the new measures adopted to surmount the mounting world contradictions, was forced to delay open armed intervention. In place America uses a new form of intervention, a method of bottling up the island with the Atlantic fleet and secretly’ aiding counter-revolution within, and at the same time endeavoring to further worsen the economic and political situation to either force a surrender or hasten the downfall of the present petty-bourgeois revolutionary government, headed by Grau San Martin.

Communist Activity in Cuba

The New York Times of September the 20th, reports: “Communist seizure of mills approaching Havana with no government curb.” “Workers hold 15 mills.” “Communist leaders have been very active since Senor Machado’s fall.” “Cuba is now at the crossroad and must go right or left.” “The Cuban labor trouble began with the spontaneous seizure of sugar mills by syndicalist unions and is now taking the form of an organized Communist movement that is sweeping the interior of the island from end to end and is daily approaching closer to Havana. Other papers report Soviets are being set up.

The revolution in Cuba is the most important political event of the day. It overshadows the NRA in importance in spite of the profound effect the Blue Eagle will have on the lives of the American people and the class relations. The NRA in all its magnitude is a stopgap and capitalist attempt to stem the tide – while the revolution in Cuba is a wave of the social tide breaking through the world structure of American imperialism. This means that the Cuban revolution must be studied in detail, especially by the American revolutionists, because it foreshadows and confronts America with all that the capitalist defenders said was impossible. That is, the first steps toward a social revolution on American soil, in one of America’s most important colonies.

At Gates of U.S. Imperialism

Most significant is the fact that while American hegemony is spreading to a greater degree over the earth and desperate steps are being taken internally and internationally to hold the dominating position in the downward curve of decay capitalism – America finds that she is confronted with the menace of Soviets at the gates of her 48 states. Her world struggle since 1917 to prevent the spread of the October revolution can be revealed by the events in Cuba and its implications for America as a futile struggle in spite of Stalinism and its aid to capitalism as a leader of proletarian defeats.

The Cuban revolution comes at a most difficult period in world politics. The Cuban revolution as the first stage of a social revolution takes place on American soil, on the heels of the victory of Fascism in Germany and when the world proletariat has just passed through the most disastrous defeat, and in a period when reaction flows from it. It is logical to face world wide repercussions from the victorious October Revolution. And it is not a surprise, yet seemingly a contradiction, to be confronted with the Cuban situation after the German event.

Trotsky’s Prediction

It was almost ten years ago that comrade Trotsky startled many when he pointed out that the economic center of the world was shifting from Europe to America. Since then the forces making up the International Left Opposition and Its American section have pointed out that with the shifts in world relations goes increased class conflicts and revolutions. In this case Cuba, even at this stage, is a curtain raiser, informing the world that America will have its share of the red menace that haunts the capitalist world – the proletarian revolution. The NRA stop-gap, and the special struggles America is conducting a gigantic scale with Europe, Latin America and Japan (on three different fronts), all indicate that conditions and class relations within the United States are going to shift rapidly forward to struggles that will take on a revolutionary scope.

The Cuban revolution, under proper guidance and cooperation from the American Communists, could be the spark to start a more rapid shift of the American workers to the Left. Will that be its direction? This question will be answered within the next few months or sooner. However, at the very least, if we consider the worse variant – that reaction triumphs and American imperialism gains its objectives (as well as the fact that one must take into consideration the position of Stalinism) – nevertheless, the importance of Soviets on American soil, in Cuba, must not be underestimated.

Marxian Communist Party Vital

A significant fact is revealed when one studies the economic and social forces of Cuba. The objective conditions in Cuba are in favor of the task of carrying the revolution beyond the present stage. The spontaneous action of the workers in strike struggle and united front

developed to its highest stage – Soviets. A major shortcoming is the fact that we have a Stalinist Communist Party in Cuba and not a Marxian Communist Party. Without a leadership, without a program there can be no successful revolution regardless of the revolutionary struggles of the masses. Worse yet, we do not have a Marxian Communist Party in the United States. It is our task to hurry and build one. The revolutionary struggle in Cuba shows the importance and the speed required.

Must Abrogate Platt Amendment

The Cuban people must abrogate the Platt Amendment. The present petty-bourgeois government cannot carry out this task nor will it be able to stand the pressure of the class struggle between the national capitalists and the American imperialists against the workers and peasants. The workers must fight for a free and democratic constituent assembly. The workers must demand that the election be called while the revolution is still on the upgrade. This can only be accomplished if the organs of Soviets are functioning to protect workers’ democracy, to beat down the head of counter-revolution, to further develop the revolution, and to thereby confine the Constituent Assembly to its proper place.

In the United States united front mass meetings must be called throughout the country. The fact that the Stalinists with their huge apparatus have not started this shows how “seriously” they take the Cuban situation. The A.F. of L. unions must be drawn into this protest. Financial aid must be forwarded to Cuba. Petty bourgeois and anti-imperialist forces must be organized behind Cuba’s struggle against American imperialism. The workers and liberal forces in every Latin America country must bring pressure upon their governments to protest and demand that the United States withdraw the ships and Marines from Cuban waters. Cuba must have the right of self-determination. Such a move in all of the Latin American countries, connected with the struggle of the American workers against American imperialism, will have powerful pressure. It will also make a distinction between words and deeds of many so-called anti-imperialist forces in Latin America and expose the puppet governments to a greater degree before the eyes of the workers and peasants.

The argument that the Communists of Cuba cannot establish a Soviet Government at this stage and therefore must be satisfied with more modest demands has no place in the plans of the revolutionist and the Left Opposition. No doubt Soviets are very difficult to establish. But once the fires of the social revolution, are started in this decay stage of capitalism it can sweep beyond Cuba, providing there is a Communist party, and a leadership with a program. It is up to the American workers to come to the aid of the struggles of the Latin American workers just as it was the duty of the European workers to come to the aid of the Russian workers after the October days. The Cuban revolution must be used as a lever against American imperialism.

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