Mar 3, 2008
The announcement that Fidel Castro would give up being Cuba’s president led Bush to say that there “ought to be a period of democratic transition for Cuba,” and what Castro did was “to ruin an island and to imprison people because of their beliefs.”
It’s obvious that the Cuban regime, which manifestly had the support of the entire poor population when it arrived in power, then evolved in a dictatorial direction. And it’s difficult to know what remains today of the immense popularity it had back then. But the U.S. has far from clean hands in this evolution. The U.S. may have given up direct military intervention after the failure of its invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961; it may have eventually given up trying to assassinate Castro when that failed too. But it did everything possible to try to strangle the island economically. The U.S. embargo still causes the Cuban people to suffer today.
But Castro didn’t give up. This is why the U.S. rulers continue to treat him as a pariah, while they protected so many dictators – bloody ones – in Latin America and continue to consider Uribe, the head of Colombia, as a great democrat.
Cuba is a dictatorial regime. But it is a regime which has made enormous efforts to install a health system that allows the entire population to have access to medical care, and Cuban doctors make up for the lack of locally trained doctors in Haiti and Venezuela. It is a regime which led a true campaign to wipe out illiteracy. It’s a country whose population doesn’t die of hunger. When one compares Cuba’s situation to that of Haiti, which has been under the “protection” of the U.S. for years, the difference is striking.
All the commentators who write about Cuba consider that Castroism is obsolete and hope that Castro’s successors will open a new page in the history of the island. Of course we would rejoice if the evolution of the Cuban regime goes in the direction of more freedom for workers, peasants and intellectuals. But if Cuba returns to the control of U.S. imperialism, like it experienced at the time of Batista, that’s certainly not progress.
There is no road to economic development for the island of Cuba, isolated in a hostile world. But the poor populations of Africa, Latin American and Asia – even in the so-called “emerging” countries – continue to live in misery. It isn’t Cuba that’s obsolete. It’s the entire global imperialist system.