Τρίτη 31 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Celebrating 58 years of a living socialist revolution in Cuba

GM for the JMCA
At ASCLAYE, Athens, January 29, 2017

Eimaste Fidel - Somos Fidel
On January 2, hundreds of thousands poured in the streets of Havana in order to celebrate the anniversary of the Cuban revolution. They expressed with revolutionary defiance the slogan “Nosotros somos Fidel” (we are Fidel). This follows the mobilization of millions of workers, peasants and others who turned out with great dignity and discipline to pay homage to Fidel just a few weeks earlier.
These mobilizations are another further message to all those who hope for the fall of this revolution, or those who doubt its capacities, that Cuba’s working masses, its organizations and its communist leadership stand united and stand in revolutionary militant and disciplined battle formation in the fight for socialism.  Today we are here assembled for a triple celebration.

We celebrate Marti
We are celebrating the birthday of Jose Marti known in Cuba as the apostle of the revolution. Marti, a school teacher, led the revolutionary struggle against Spanish colonialism. He led a rag tag army of peasants, ex slaves, workers and others against superior Spanish troops. An army that eventually defeated the Spanish crown. He died in combat in 1895.
As importantly, he left behind a political legacy.
A legacy of uncompromising struggle against injustice, and an uncompromising perspective that placed the poor, the toilers, the peasant, the ex slave, the oppressed Black, the oppressed poor women, at the heart of his efforts. They would be the people that change society.
He coined the expression “that we are with the poor of the world”, an expression so often sung in the song Guantanamera.

He also clearly laid out a perspective that revolutionaries do not simply fight for the benefit of their group, he explained we fight “with all and for the good of all.”
He clearly explained that the revolutionary perspective cannot simply be for Cuba, because as Marti argued “la patria es la humanidad” (the homeland is humanity).
Marti showed in his words and in his deeds that the ends cannot justify the means. That in order to build a better, more humane society, we have to be ethical and always take the moral high ground – always. What is unethical is for revolutionaries to use unethical means.
Marti was the first to clearly identify the rising US as the new imperialist power that would try to subjugate all of Latin America and that Cuba would be at the front line.
All these have been among the guiding principles that Fidel Castro as a young revolutionary resurrected and combined with the perspectives of the modern working class as developed by Marx and Engels. That this humane society based on human solidarity without exploitation could only come into being through the actions and leadership of the working class and its poor allies in the countryside, and the taking of political and state power by the workers and peasants, through the overthrow of capitalist social relations which are based on private profit for a few capitalists and landlords, and the building of socialist relations based common ownership of the economy and on meeting the needs of the majority. Marti and Marx are the 2 fathers of the Cuban revolution.

We celebrate 58 years of a living revolution

Fidel helped lead the workers and peasants to power on January 1, 1959. That is the second celebration of today. For 58 years now the workers and peasants of Cuba have held power and have used it to advance the interests of the toilers and the oppressed of not only Cuba but worldwide as has been shown by Cuba’s internationalist missions – most recently in West Africa in the fight against Ebola – where Cuba had more medical personnel on the ground in Africa than all the other countries of the world combined. Thousands of lives were thus saved. In Venezuela tens of thousands of Cuban doctors, teachers and others continue to volunteer to provide much needed services to the country’s workers and farmers.
What the socialist revolution opened up in Cuba is the fight to build a society free of class exploitation, free of national and racial oppression. A society based of the right to full employment, land for all toilers who want to work it, the economy – production, banking, commerce- in the hands of the working class and organized to meet the needs of the majority and not of individual capitalist, free universal education, free universal health care, access to culture for all not as a privilege but as a right for all.
But even more importantly what Cuban toilers have conquered is the transformation of themselves into self-confident actors in resolving their society’s problems as human beings that put human solidarity ahead of immediate individual self interest. As people that confront challenges with the spirit of solidarity where no one is abandoned, no one is left behind to fend for themselves. They have conquered their humanity.
From the first days of the revolution the ruling rich in the USA, Latin America and elsewhere attacked these insolent people with the most aggressive hatred. US imperialism attacked Cuba with a war of internal counterrevolution in the Escambray Mountains, they organized a military invasion at the Bay of Pigs, they imposed a naval blockade and threatened nuclear annihilation in the Missile /October Crisis, they organized assassination attempts on the leaders of the revolution – no fewer than 600 attempts were made on Fidel’s life, they imposed a brutal economic, commercial, credit and banking embargo on Cuba which remains in place to this day.
But the Cuban people and its revolution – due to the conquests that I described earlier – have been able to beat back assault after assault. And, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost 85% of its trade. Imperialism tightened its embargo, including bringing the EU onboard. This period when Cuba literally faced hunger, was the gravest of all challenges. Yet the revolution still stands. Never in modern human history has such a long term resistance been seen.
It is all these achievements of this socialist revolution that we are celebrating this evening.

We celebrate the freedom of the Cuban Five

The third event that we are celebrating today is the 2nd anniversary of the liberation of the 5 Cuban revolutionaries who had been jailed for 16 years in the prisons of the US for their actions in defense of the Cuban revolution against terrorist attacks being organized from the US. I must add that we have the additional bonus of celebrating the imminent freeing in May of the Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera who has been in jail in the US for 35 years. Oscar was a cell mate of one of the Cuban Five. He stood by them with exemplary solidarity. We should have an evening event organized to celebrate Oscar’s freedom in the future weeks.
It is the militant working class unity and persistence of the Cuban people, it is the ethical and uncompromising stance of the five while in prison, it is the international campaign of solidarity, it is the isolation of the US throughout Latin America, that finally led to the liberation of the Cuban 5 in December of 2014.
You will hear more from companero Aleko about the life of the Cuban 5 while in the US jails as he reports on the book that is being translated “It is the poor that face the savagery of the US justice system” which will soon be published in Greek by Diethnes Vima in collaboration with the Jose Marti Cultural Association. We do have copies in the back in Spanish and English.
Since the liberation of the 5, embassies have been opened in Havana and Washington, some steps have been taken towards normalization of relations. These have included the loosening of the travel ban by the US authorities on US residents travelling to Cuba, the end to the immediate granting of refugee and resident status to Cubans arriving in the US which encouraged some people to try to cross the sea in rickety and dangerous boats, the resumption of airline flights between the 2 countries and other measures. Negotiations had been continuing between the 2 governments.
Even though Washington has not abandoned its ultimate goal of overthrowing the Cuban revolution, all of these mark historic victories for the Cuban revolution as Washington has had to recognize and negotiate with the revolutionary government. This too we celebrate tonight.

Lift the embargo now
However, we must stress that the US economic, commercial and trade embargo continues causing continuing and serious damage to the Cuban economy. This is forcing banks, companies and international commercial institutions to avoid dealing with Cuba. We must also stress that in violation of Cuba’s sovereignty, a part of Cuba’s national territory continues to be occupied by US forces: The Guantanamo naval base. Cuba’s revolutionary government insists that there can be no normalization of relations as long as the embargo stands and Guantanamo is occupied.
In addition Washington has been mounting growing attacks against Venezuela and other countries that do not toe the line demanded by the US's imperialist ruling class. These attacks are a dagger pointed at the people and governments of these countries and at the Cuban revolution as well.
A central task of the Jose Marti Association remains to campaign for the immediate end to the US embargo and to demand the immediate withdrawal of US forces from Guantanamo. Campaigning for these demands among working people, farmers, youth, intellectuals and others as part of an international effort will increase pressures on the US government. Cuba is part of the world and must trade with the capitalist world. The world economic crisis is impacting on its ability to export as prices and demand for its products drop – just as with all countries of the so called Third World. Our part is to fight for breathing space for the Cuban revolution as Cuba faces the challenges of the deepening world economic crisis. We demand “Lift the US imposed embargo!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba!”
We call on all to work together in order to advance this effort.

Example for working people worldwide
Throughout the Capitalist world working people are facing the dire consequences of the grinding capitalist economic depression. The boss class has told us that we must sacrifice: that we must face cutbacks in social benefits such as health care, education, social security – gains that our parents and grandparents had fought hard for. We are told that we must accept the new norm of low wages, part time and temporary employment. We are told that we must accept the foreclosures on homes in the cities and of farmland in the countryside. That we must accept increasing homelessness and hunger. That we must get used to the constant and ongoing wars and the resulting refugee crisis forcing millions of toilers from their homes.
The Cuban revolution, a revolution that has been standing for 58 years has shown humanity that another road is possible. A road that was first embarked on by the workers of Paris in 1871 during the Paris Commune, that was continued by the workers and peasants throughout the vast Czarist Empire of Russia in 1917 and raised once again in 1959 in Cuba. The example of Cuba teaches us that as the Declarations of Havana says “What does the Cuban revolution teach? That revolution is possible”. That workers and peasants can seize power, overthrow capitalist social relations, and reorganize production and society’s priorities to meet the needs of the vast majority, toiling humanity. That a road based on human solidarity is possible despite the relentless attacks by the world’s most powerful economic and military forces.

That is its relevance for us here today.

Si se puede! (Nai, mporoume!)


Forum Martiano GR