Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Raul Castro speaks

This is the latest speech by Raul Castro, made in June this year. He discusses, in his capacity as head of the army, the view held by the Cuban government that in 2003 there was an increased danger of invasion by the USA, whose confidence was engorged by the ease of their onslaught on Iraq. That danger passed, but clearly the US government has its eye on intervening in Cuba should Fidel step down. Raul discusses this scenario.
(Raul pictured with Che and Fidel below)

“We should not forget that [the American government] have drawn up a so so-called transition to capitalism, banking on an end to the Revolution when its historical leadership is no longer here. For that reason they are maintaining the so-called Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba with a designated U.S. administrator and everyone to the front, like in the good old days of the Yankee cannons throughout Latin America.

“We are confronting an enemy whose obstinacy and arrogance frequently leads it to commit errors, but that does not mean that it is stupid. It knows that the special confidence given by the people to the founding leader of a Revolution, is not transmitted, as if it were an inheritance, to those who occupy the main leadership posts in the country in the future.

“I reiterate what I have affirmed on many occasions: the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution is solely and uniquely the Communist Party, as an institution that brings together the revolutionary vanguard and is a sure guarantee of Cuban unity in all times, can be the worthy inheritor of the confidence deposited by the people in its
leader. That is what we are working for and that is how it will be, the rest is pure speculation, not to call it by another name.

“Just as we have won all the battles, as much within Cuba as in fulfilling our internationalist duty, we shall overcome the enemy who tries to hide within our ranks, we shall further consolidate the Revolution and we shall make ourselves stronger on all fronts.”

The important point to note in this speech is that Raul stresses that Cuba has a collegiate leadership – via the Communist Party – not individual rule by Fidel. Furthermore, by stressing the role of the Communist Party, Raul is dispelling any idea that the Army (his army) might take over the government. Although Raul is tipped in some quarters as an automatic successor to Fidel, the constitution requires an election of the 601 deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power, which then elects the Council of State, who then elects the President.

Within the Party there are those who favour taking the Chinese or Vietnamese road of opening Cuba to international capital. The faction around Fidel, including Raul, are opposed to that policy. It is highly unlikely that any succession to Fidel would lead to an open debate between party factions, but behind the scenes there will be manoeuvring, and Raul’s succession cannot be guaranteed.

But he may be the best candidate. Although he lacks the personal charisma and diplomatic experience of Fidel, he does have the authority of participation in the revolution. He has also proven ability, having been chief of the army during its victorious war against the South African Apartheid forces in Angola. Under raul's leadership, the Cuban army were also the only non-Arab country to ever fight rifle in hand against israel - when 1500 Cubans fought on the Golan heights during the 1973 war. He is also the candidate who embodies continuity of economic policy.

But he is also 75 years old. Long term stability requires that the Castro supporters in the party reach out and encourage popular participation in defence of the revolution.


David Broder said...

I'm not sure to what extent socialists can argue about who is the "best" candidate. It's not as if any of the 'choices' (except there's no voting...) are anything but Stalinist despots.

Sunshine Stalinism isn't so great... although rolling back public services would be bad, I wouldn't shed any tears for the demise of the 'alternative' form of exploitation.

Not, of course, that I'd back a US coup. Agency counts.

AN said...

So the terible collapse of living standards in the former USSR is a matter of indifference to you Dave?

Surely it is not just a question of "agency" as you so quaintly put it, but whether what happens next is better or worse. Surely you cannot believe that the "alternative form of exploitation" is worse than the return of the Miami mafiosi.

Redaspie said...

AN - I seem to remember people queueing up in their hundreds for rotten sausages in the Soviet era. To what extent things have actually gotten worse in the USSR since the collapse of 'Communism' is I think something of a matter of debate.

AN said...

redaspie: > "To what extent things have actually gotten worse in the USSR since the collapse of 'Communism' is I think something of a matter of debate. "

no it isn't: see my arguments

As the US congress report in 2005 says: "Russia is also plagued by environmental degradation and
ecological catastrophes of staggering proportions; the near-collapse of the health system; sharp declines in life expectancy and the birth rate; and widespread organized crime and corruption"

U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration: "The country’s transformation to a more open economic system has created, temporarily at least, a large, new group of people in poverty"

David Broder said...

I don't "want" the return of the Miami crowd. I don't think capitalist restoration would mark progress.

However, I think there is extensive, miscued admiration for the Castro régime. Even groups who want a so-called "political revolution" seem to identify pretty closely with Castro, Guevara and the Communist Party themselves!

I don't think you can call for "defense of the régime" rather than calling for a workers' socialist democracy.

For example, the IBT wants the workers to overthrow the bureaucracy, but the constant US threat means the priority [and thus only demand] is to defend what exists now, leaving no space for working-class politics.

David Broder said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AN said...

but the call for workers socialist democracy, without recognising the need to defend the existing giovernment against capitalist resortaion, is ahistorical wishfull thining.

there is no third camp, there is only defence of the revolution - or capitalist restoration.

However, to defend the current state also need democrattic reform, and interantionalism.

David Broder said...

"However, to defend the current state also need democratic reform"

But by what agency will that be achieved?

AN said...

Broder: "by what agency will that be achieved"

the actually existing alternatives at the moment mean that the only way reform is likely to proceed is at the initiation of the bureaucracy.

But what happens then is anyone's guess

AN said...

To put it another way dave, were the bureucracy to encourage more democratic participation in defence of the revolution, would you welcome that or oppose it?

the scenario is not unlikely due to
i) a possible power struggle over strategic direction if Fidel's absence is permanent.
ii) the positive influence of venezuella

Redaspie said...

Its certainly possible. I would argeu that actually we should seek to defend the Cuban regime against US imperialism, while remaining clear about its political limitations. It's not socialist, and it's not a 'workers' state' but it is standing up to US domination, and that surely is our starting point.