No: 3

Autumn 2002

Victory for people's Cuba

It has been 43 years since Fidel Castro led the revolutionary liberation of the Cuban people from US imperialism, and 41 since he proclaimed Cuba a socialist republic. It is truly amazing that he is still in power after the many attempts on his life. Attempts by the American Government to assassinate Castro have ranged from poisoning his cigars to planting a bomb in his diving equipment. What has made the supposedly "democratic" USA commit these very un-democratic acts?

Before the liberation of Cuba the island nation was one of the most corrupt, poor and economically backward countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The infant mortality rate, child malnutrition and poverty rates were despicable.

Although the country had plentiful cash crops like tobacco and sugar, 80 per cent of plantations were US-owned meaning almost all of the profits flowed out of the country.

The US continually claims Castro is a suppressor of human rights, but has never commented on the state of human rights in Cuba when the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista ruled with the help of US-trained and equipped secret police, until he was finally overthrown.

After Castro's rag-tag guerrilla army took Havana in July 1959, one of his first actions was to nationalise all sugar and tobacco plantations.

This of course displeased the USA. Another act of Castro was to crack the Mafia which had practically ruled Cuba under Batista.

These actions of course left him with many enemies. The Miami Mob, furious over the confiscation of their Havana casinos would later conspire with the CIA to assassinate him.

Castro's next step was to set about finding help from other countries after the USA offered to purchase their sugar and tobacco at ridiculously low prices. So Castro turned the US's arch enemy, the Soviet Union (USSR).

The US saw this new relationship as a threat and began almost daily surveillance missions, violating Cuban airspace.

In April 1961, the US backed a counter-revolutionary coup attempt made by the Batista mafia in Miami. The US and Batista expected that a popular uprising against Castro would sweep them back into power.

Instead, the infamous "Bay of Pigs Invasion" was a spectacular flop, as the people rallied around Castro and the invasion was defeated in just 72 hours. This began the big freeze on Cuba-US relations that has continued to this day.

Up until its collapse in 1991 The USSR provided an enormous amount of aid, some times up to a million dollars per day.

The USSR offered over 3000 scholarships to Cuban students, helping to supply the developing country with technical workers and teachers.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the capitalist world was holding its breath to see what would happen in Cuba.

Commentators believed that Castro's Government would fall, he would be forced to embrace capitalism, or that he would cut his nation off from the world completely.

Although the following years were very tough on the people of Cuba, none of the three scenarios ever happened.

Cuba restructured its economy to meet the change in circumstances and once again sought out new allies. Recently this has included oil-rich Venezuela, with whom Cuba is trading medical and technical expertise and agricultural products.

Castro has also recently been nominated for the Nobel Prize for the humanitarian aid offered by Cuba to impoverished African and South American countries.

The capitalist world is now waiting for Castro's death, believing once again that communism will collapse. The Cuban exiles in Miami are poised to move back into their positions of power and exploit the Cuban workers.

But the Cubans have a deep mistrust for their exiled exploiters, and a great love for Cuba and the socialist nation they have built together.

When we see the millions of people who regularly rally on the streets of Cuba to protest against the US, or to celebrate their own achievements, we can only believe that after Castro's death that very little will change.

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