Fidel Castro's illness – time to wake up to the real danger

Fidel Castro’s illness has posed what will come once he departs this world. The capitalist are looking at different ways of restoring capitalism. Within the state and party in Cuba there are clearly pro-capitalist elements. It is the duty of the workers and youth of the world to defend the Cuban revolution.

The news of Fidel's illness and the risky operation performed on him to stop an intestinal haemorrhage have provoked rumours about his medical condition and ability to return to his position of command of the Cuban revolution. The international bourgeoisie is now foaming at the mouth, like a rabid dog that sees a succulent bone.

The exile reptiles of Miami, using their slender cerebral capacities and in their characteristic Mafia style, have openly called for a coup d'etat. Jorge Mas Santos, president of the infamous Cuban American National Foundation, in a press conference on July 24 urged the army to stage a coup in the style of the one executed in Venezuela in April 2002.

Addressing his comments to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, he said, "You have an opportunity to give the highest and most noble service to our homeland through quick, patriotic and decisive action by establishing a transitional civilian-military government that brings an end to the dictatorship of the Castro brothers."

He later added. "On our part, we are firmly committed to promote international action, assistance, and recognition of the authority of the government that returns to Cuba its hopes and guarantees a peaceful transition to democracy, that protects the civil liberties of all, and a market economy that takes the country to prosperity."

In a statement issued on August 6, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, affirmed that "the United States are closely watching the events in Cuba" and, echoing Mr Mas's words, went on to say that, "All Cubans who desire peaceful democratic change can count on the support of the United States. We encourage the Cuban people to work at home for positive change, and we stand ready to provide you with humanitarian assistance." For humanitarian assistance we can only infer that she did not mean the sending of doctors in return for the offer that the Cuban president made to George W Bush in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

However, not all the forces of reaction are so out of touch with reality as the Mas family and the Bush administration. The Financial Times, in an editorial published on August 2 under the title of "Engaging Cuba", warns the US administration against the adventurist plans of the Miami exiles and offers an alternative plan for the reintroduction of capitalism in Cuba.

After recognising that "Cuba's economy is more resilient today than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union" and that the "Communist Party enjoys a degree of legitimacy that its counterparts in the Eastern Europe of the 1980's never did", what the voice of capital in Europe proposes is to approach those elements within the Party nomenclature who would be "more sympathetic to a market-oriented economic management" and hints at the Chinese path as the safest model for the reintroduction of capitalism in Cuba, facilitated by a more friendly approach to the island by the US administration. "It is, above all," says the FT, "time for the USA to reconsider the economic embargo. The US should take the same approach to trading with Cuba as it does with countries such as China and Vietnam", since "there is no immediate magic democratic and market-based alternative waiting to emerge". "Encouraging radical change", concludes the FT, "could dangerously destabilise not just Cuba but the whole of the western Caribbean".

A long month after Raúl Castro took the command of the Cuban State, a part of the international bourgeoisie is showing its disappointment at the lack of any movement on the Island and the calm that has surrounded the temporal transfer of power. An article published on Tuesday, August 22, in the Financial Times, under the title "Cuban bright stars hope to shine after Castro" gives expression to these feelings. It seems to them that the figure of Raúl Castro and the presence of those veterans of the Cuban revolution who are still active is too much of a hindrance for their plans to reintroduce capitalism in Cuba.

Therefore, they seem to have resigned themselves to waiting for a new, younger generation of state officials and politicians that, hopefully for them, would be more inclined to take the Cuban economy and society along a capitalist path or, as they put it, "will think differently from [Fidel and Raúl]".

"Too often we think of the troika [Alarcón, Lage, Pérez Roque] as Plan A", says Canadian historian and Cuba expert John Kirk in the above mentioned article. He goes on, "In fact there is also a clearly constituted Plan B made up of bright stars in the party, the government and military who have been groomed to participate actively in the succession."

The question they are asking themselves now is no longer what will happen when Castro dies, for the experience of the last month seems to indicate that it would be nothing that might suit their interests. Now the question hanging over their head like a sword of Damocles is: "what happens when the famous brothers and the few remaining ‘historicos' around them no longer influence events on the Caribbean island?"

The reintroduction of capitalism in Cuba is a real danger. As Fidel Castro himself stated last year in November at the University of Havana, the greatest danger for the Cuban revolution is not in the United States but on the island of Cuba itself, and he specifically mention the dangers of corruption and bureaucratism. (see a transcript of Castro's speech)

The introduction of market reforms following the collapse of the Soviet Union, although a necessary evil as they were, have given rise to a layer within Cuban society with vested interests in the re-establishment of capitalism. The harsh years of the "special period" have also sown illusions among some people that under capitalism they would enjoy a more comfortable existence. To a greater or lesser degree people with such ideas and aspirations can be found in every layer of Cuban society. To believe that the Communist Party is immune to this would be the utmost stupidity and naivety. These dangerous tendencies are in fact most obvious within some sectors of the state and the Communist Party.

The workers, peasants and youth of Cuba should not have any illusions in capitalism. Under capitalism the gains of the Revolution would be destroyed and with them the lives of the Cuban masses. Revolutionary Cubans must be alert and immediately oppose any movement towards capitalism, regardless of where it comes from.

The best way to strengthen the Cuban revolution is on the one hand for a full debate on these issues to take place, including the question of so-called "Chinese socialism". On the other hand, the future of the Cuban revolution also lies in the further development of the revolution in Latin America. The abolition of capitalism in Venezuela, Bolivia, or even Mexico, would break the isolation of the Cuban revolution in a decisive manner.

The workers, peasants and youth around the world must unite in support of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban Revolution is one link in the chain of the world socialist revolution and it has to be defended.

The forces of international reaction, with their different strategies which reflect their different views and interests, are ready to do battle for the reintroduction of capitalism in Cuba. The progressive forces of the revolution must combat these plans with all their strength and energy. The reintroduction of capitalism in Cuba would be a heavy blow for the unfolding Latin American revolution, of which Venezuela is only its most advanced expression.

On the Left, opportunists who like to praise the impressive social gains that the Venezuelan revolution has brought to the masses, such as a free and universal health care system or the enormous advances in education, remain silent about the role that Cuba has played in Venezuela in achieving these goals. As they do not want to be embarrassed by their Liberal colleagues and friends, they prefer to dismiss this Cuban help to the Venezuelan revolution and Venezuela's export of cheap oil to Cuba as some kind of a self-interested act on the part of both countries and portray it in the most simplistic commercial terms under the guise of what they call the oil-for-doctors-programme.

What they conveniently ignore is that even in purely commercial terms, all the money which comes from oil revenues could not pay for the assistance that 20,000 Cuban health workers are giving to the Venezuelan revolution; simply because no doctors from anywhere else in the world would be willing to go into the poor neighbourhoods of Venezuela and work and live there. Only the original internationalist vocation of the Cuban revolution can explain that.

There are also those sectarians on the Left who, because the Cuban reality does not match the ideal of what a socialist society should be, go around condemning as Stalinists and bureaucrats those who stand by the revolution or, even worse, they neither condemn nor act. For them the reintroduction of capitalism in Cuba would be neither a step forward nor a step backwards in the struggle for human emancipation, but a step sideways and that, shamefully, is what they do. They step to one side and cross their arms so as not to be splashed by the dirt of life.

It is time for these opportunist elements to put their prejudices to one side and see the general interests of the Cuban working class and of the world revolution. For the sectarians it is time to abandon their shadow games on the walls of their caves and come out into the light of life and reality.

The Cuban revolution must be defended!

For a socialist federation of Cuba and Venezuela!

For a socialist federation of Latin America!