Cuban Revisionism

Cuba: the Evaportion of a Myth – From Anti-Imperialist Revolution to Pawn of Social-Imperialism

CUBA: The Evaporation of a Myth was first published in the February 15, 1976 issue of Revolution, organ of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. It was first printed as a pamphlet March, 1976. Some slight editorial changes were made for greater clarity.


Cuba’s role in the world today makes it increasingly important to expose the class nature of its leaders and the real character of the society.

In words, Cuba is socialist. Its thousands of troops fighting in Africa under Soviet leadership are said to be there to advance the cause of proletarian internationalism. But the American paid-for mercenaries fighting there also wave banners of freedom and “anti-imperialism.” Obviously it is necessary to go beneath the appearance of things to understand what’s really going on in the world. To understand a country we have to ask what class is in power there. And to understand a country’s politics we have to ask what class these politics serve.

The revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959 was a tremendous leap forward for Cuba, clearing away the rule of the U.S. imperialists and the Cuban landlords, dependent capitalists and all their parasites, pimps and gangsters. Because of this, and because of the revolutionary goals that Castro and those around him proclaimed, many people all over the world looked to Cuba for inspiration and guidance in their struggles.

But the class outlook, political line and methods that the leadership promoted have led to nothing but setbacks and defeat everywhere in the world they’ve been taken up. They have proved wrong and harmful to the development of the revolutionary struggle.

In Cuba, the revolution has turned into its opposite. Cuba today is as much a colony of the Soviet Union as much as it once was of the U.S., its economy dominated by sugar, and its working people wage-slaves laboring to pay off an endless mortgage to the U.S.S.R. The leaders of the anti-imperialist revolution of 1959 have now themselves become a new dependent capitalist class.

The question of Cuba is particularly sharp right now for two reasons. Internationally, the Soviet Union, which is itself an imperialist country trying to upset the applecart of U.S. domination in order to grab up the apples for itself, is making increasing use of Cuba. It uses Cuba as both a carrot and a stick. In Angola, Cuban troops spearheaded the drive to conquer that country under the cover of opposing U.S. imperialism (which is trying to do the same under the cover of opposing the USSR), while the Soviets pointed to Cuba as an example of how Soviet “aid” has bought socialism for Cuba and offer the same deal to Angola and other countries. This combination of “anti-imperialist” rubles and and “anti-imperialist” tanks is key to the Soviet social-imperialists’ efforts to replace the U.S. as the world’s main imperialist power, and for that reason Cuba is invaluable to the Soviets.


Within Cuba, the first congress of the country’s revisionist “Communist” Party in December, 1975, marked the economic and political consolidation of Cuba into the Soviet bloc and the formal emergence of capitalist relations into the sunlight in Cuba, after years of being hidden under “revolutionary” rhetoric.

This congress ratified Cuba’s new “Economic Planning and Management System,” sanctifying “the profitability criterion” as the country’s highest principle. It also featured a long self-criticism by Castro for not coming around to the Soviet’s way of thinking sooner, a “self-criticism” in which he tries to justify Cuba’s present situation and bows down so low before the New Czars that it serves as an outstanding indication of Cuba’s present neocolonial status,

“Had we been humbler, had we not had excessive self-esteem,” Castro explained, “we would have been able to understand that revolutionary theory was not sufficiently developed in our country and that we actually lacked profound economists and scientists of Marxism to make really significant contributions to the theory and practice of building socialism…” (Castro’s speeches and other congress documents can be found in Granma, the official Cuban publication.) [1]

Humble words indeed from the Cuban leadership who, not that many years ago, were portraying themselves as the lighthouse of revolution for the Third World and elsewhere, in contrast to what they considered the “conservatism” of the revisionists, and what they slandered as the “dogmatism” of the genuine Marxist-Leninists.

In the 1960s the Cuban leadership had actually become very humble in serving as a Soviet political errand boy whenever it was necessary to pay the rent – for instance, by attacking China and Mao Tsetung in 1966, backing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and so on. But at that time the Cubans did try to maintain some distance between themselves and the Soviets, if only to maintain Cuba’s prestige and “ultra-revolutionary” image at a time when the new Soviet capitalist ruling class was beginning to smell worse and worse to a growing number of revolutionary-minded people.

But now the Soviet strings which hold up the Cuban regime have been pulled very tight, and the Cuban leadership is to be more “humble” than ever. Today, Castro says, Cuba’s foreign policy is based “in the first place, on staunch friendship with the Soviet Union, the bastion of world progress.”

The use to which the Soviets have put the “staunch friendship” of Cuba has changed over the years. In an earlier period the weaker Soviet imperialists’ relationship with the U.S. imperialists tended more towards surrender and collaboration. Now with their competition with the U.S. becoming sharper and more violent every day, the Soviets’ use of so-called “detente” is mainly as a cover for Soviet aggression and preperations for war – while the U.S. imperialists use it for the same purpose themselves. Times have changed. But it seems anything the Soviet rulers want is fine with Cuba.

Castro goes out of his way to make this point unmistakably clear by going back over th 1962 missile crisis, when the USSR rashly set up long-range missiles in Cuba, and then, when challenged by the U.S. imperialists, not only capitulated completely by taking the missiles out, but also promised the U.S. it could inspect Cuba to make sure that they were gone – without asking the Cuban government. At that time, Castro correctly denounced the Soviets for it.

Now, Castro says, he was wrong for “not understanding” that this cowardly use of Cuba as a bargaining chip with the U.S. was “objectively” a “victory for the socialist camp.”

But this is not the only crow Castro was forced to eat at the congress. Not only should the Cuban leadership have been “humbler” regarding Soviet foreign policy, they also should have been “applying correctly the main useful experiences in the sphere of economic management” in the Soviet Union.


What experience does he mean? That “economic laws” (especially the law of value) “govern socialist construction,” and that “money, prices, finances, budgets, taxes, credit, interest and other commodity categories should function as indispensable instruments…to decide on which investment is the most advantageous; to decide which enterprises, which units, which collective of workers performs best, and which performs worst, and so be able to take relevant measures.” (Speech at party congress)

This, Castro claims, is dictated by “reality,” but it’s not the reality of socialism. The working class must take these laws and categories into account so that it can consciously restrict and limit their sphere of operation and develop the conditions to do away with them once and for all. But socialism can’t be governed by the economic laws of capitalism or else there wouldn’t be any difference between the two systems! Castro’s words here are taken lock, stock and profit margin from recent Soviet economic textbooks – summing up the experience of restoring capitalism in the Soviet Union.

The “new economic system” Castro goes on to describe is based on the same principles that govern all capitalist countries, especially in the form of state capitalism: that prices be fixed according to the cost of production; that the factories and industries which produce the highest rate of return on their investment should be the areas of most expansion; that the managers of these units should be paid according to their social position and also the profitability of their enterprises; that the workers be paid according to the profitability of the enterprises they work for and lose their jobs if production would be cheaper without them; and furthermore, that workers be paid strictly according to their productivity as measured by piecework (which, Castro reported, now determines the wages of 20% of Cuban workers) or by whether or not they meet the production quota set for their jobs – in other words, whether they make rate (this is already in force for 48% of Cuba’s workers).

This is truly capitalism in its full glory. Nowhere is this more ugly than when Castro says that he’s sorry that there’s such a terrible housing shortage in Cuba, but “the revolution hasn’t been able to do much” about it – while later revealing that the government is building 14 new tourist hotels and expanding others. Clearly, the consideration isn’t what people need, but what’s most profitable. Of course, Castro doesn’t call this capitalism, any more than do the present capitalist rulers of the USSR. All the revisionists claim that this kind of thing is just a little more “realistic” version of socialism.


The irony of it is that for many years the Cuban leadership argued that Soviet aid and sugar purchases were allowing them to buy everything they needed to “build socialism and communism simultaneously in Cuba.” Now, with the island $5 billion in hock to the USSR [2] and more dependent on it economically than ever, it’s pretty clear that what really happened was exactly the opposite – the USSR was able to buy itself a neocolony. This development also makes it clearer than ever that the Cuban leadership’s strategy had nothing to do with the working class’ strategy for building socialism – that in fact Cuba was never a socialist country. It raises the question of what kind of revolution Cuba did have and why it was turned into its opposite, so that, far from being socialist, Cuba today has not even won its independence and national liberation.

Petty Bourgeois Radicals Come to Power

This isn’t the first time that an imperialist power has taken advantage of the Cuban people’s struggle for national liberation in order to take over the country for itself. The Soviet rulers’ present tricks are nothing new in the world – although painted red, they are fundamentally no different from what the U.S. imperialists have been doing for years.

In 1898, when the Cuban people were on the verge of winning their independence from Spain after many years of fighting, the U.S. stepped in under the pretext of helping Cuba against Spanish colonialism and thereby seized the island as a neocolony for the U.S. With monopoly capitalism only recently established in the U.S., this was the U.S.’s first imperialist war to open up new areas for the export of American capital and to seize sources of raw materials.

The flood of U.S. investment to. Cuba reenforced the colonial and semi-feudal nature of Cuban society that centuries of Spanish colonialism had created in Cuba. The U.S. imperialists propped up the rule of the landlowners in Cuba and created a handful of capitalists dependent on U.S. capital, thus transforming Cuba from a colony of Spain to a neocolony of the U.S., stifling all possibilities of progress. At the time of the 1959 revolution the system of the ownership of land in Cuba had remained almost unchanged since the days of the Spanish empire, and the country’s one-crop economy had long been stagnant.

This system laid the most crushing burden on the urban and rural working class and the landless and small peasants. At the same time, it also held back the fortunes of all but the richest landowners – the small and very weak national bourgeoisie (confined to manufacturing the few things not made by U.S. subsidiaries or imported) and the relatively large urban petty bourgeiosie.

Throughout most of these years, Cuba’s workers played a leading role in the country’s fight for independence and national liberation, as well as fighting bitterly for their own immediate interests. This reached a high point in the 1930s, when under the leadership of the then-existing Communist Party the working class and its allies unleashed a huge wave of strikes and demonstrations, including armed uprisings and the establishment of soviets (revolutionary workers’ councils) in the sugar mills.

The existing U.S. puppet government was overthrown, but it was soon replaced by an army coup led by Fulgencio Batista. Although though the struggle was very intense for the next several years, the working class was not able to consolidate its advances and eventually was driven back. As some of its previous errors came to the fore, the Communist Party became more and more revisionist. In the 1940s its leadership accepted a partnership in the Batista government, then, when Batista dropped them, crawled into the wood· work, where they remained until the eve of the 1959 revolution. This contributed greatly to the weakening of the workers’ movement as a conscious and organized force, although the workers never stopped fighting their conditions.


By the 1950s the petty bourgeoisie had become the most volatile class in Cuba. The political groups that arose from it were the best organized to fight for their interests. Castro’s 26th of July Movement came from the urban petty bourgeoisie, 25% of Cuba’s population – the tens of thousands of businessmen with no business, salesmen with no sales, teachers with no one to teach, lawyers and doctors with few patients and clients, architects and engineers for whom there was little work, and so on. In its 1956 “Program Manifesto,” it defined itself as “guided by the ideals of democracy, nationalism and social justice … [of] Jeffersonian democracy;” and declared, “democracy cannot be the government of a race, class or religion, it must be a government of all the people.” [3]

This certainly expressed the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie, with its hatred for the big bourgeoisie that held it down, its repugnance for the revolution of the working class, and its dreams of a “democracy” above classes. Its practical program aimed at restricting the U.S. and the landlords by ending the quota system under which the U.S. controlled Cuban sugar cane production, restricting the domination of the biggest landlords over the medium-sized growers, distributing unused and stolen farmland to the small peasants, and a profit-sharing scheme for urban workers to expand the market for domestic manufactures and new investment.

With this program, Castro and a small-group took up arms against the Batista government in the Sierra Maestra mountains, while other young intellectuals and professionals organized resistance in the cities. This war won support from nearly every other class except the tiny handful of people directly tied to the landlords and the U.S. Many workers supported it and joined in. In the fighting itself, the most decisive force was the rural petty bourgeoisie, especially the small peasants for whom armed struggle was the only way to defend their land from’ the landlords and the army. Made up largely of peasants itself, Batista’s army soon began to fall apart.

The Batista government disintegrated after two years of fighting involving only a few hundred armed rebels. In the last months, even the U.S. government dropped some of its support for the Batista government, believing that it was more likely that the July 26th Movement would agree to come to terms than that the Batista government could survive. [4]

Just after seizing power in 1959, Castro went-to the U.S. on a “goodwill tour,” declaring in New York, “I have clearly and definitely stated that we are not communists…The gates are open for private investment that contributes to the development of Cuba.” He even called for a massive U.S. foreign aid program for Latin America, “in order to avoid the danger of communism.” But these words weren’t enough to reassure the U.S. ruling class. [5]

Despite Castro’s proclaimed desire to get along with the U.S. government and the U.S imperialists’ desire to get Castro to support their interests, nothing could change in Cuba without seizing the sugar estates and mills and ending the monopoly American business held there. These were the pillars of the economic and political system that had given rise to the rebellion. To challenge them meant challening the whole colonial system and its master but to retreat in the face of them was not possible without abandoning everything.


When Castro proclaimed the first agrarian reform law which limited the size of the biggest estates (many of them owned by U.S. sugar companies), all hell broke loose. The U.S. began applying, economic and political pressure to topple the rebel army – which in effect now was the government – and in turn the Cubans began to take over the property of those forces whose interests were opposed to the island’s independence. By 1961, the government found itself in possession of key sections of the economy, while the U.S. had imposed an economic blockade. In April, the U.S. launched the futile Bay of Pigs invasion.

Early in that year the USSR had sent its first trade delegation to Cuba, and Khruschev had offered to protect Cuba with Soviet missiles. On May 1, Castro announced that henceforth Cuba would be a socialist country. Later that year he declared that he was and always had been a Marxist-Leninist, explaining, “Naturally If we had stood on the top of Pico Turquino [in the Sierras] when we were a handful of men, and said we were Marxist-Leninists, we might never have gotten down to the plain.” [6]

The U.S. imperialists used this development to say that the revolution’s leadership had hidden its real intentions all along and came to power under false pretenses – in other words, to find some excuse other than naked self-interest for why they had opposed the Cuban revolution the minute it had touched their property. And they also used Castro’s sudden announcement to slander communism by saying that this was how communists operate, by sneaking their system in through the back door without bothering to tell the masses what’s going on, and that communists don’t really rely on the masses but operate as “masters of deceit.”

The great majority of Cuban workers and peasants were strong supporters of the revolution, and very much in favor of the measures it had taken, such as taking over the estates and mills and guaranteeing small peasants the right to their land (and in many cases giving them more), reducing rent, electricity and other prices, putting thousands of unemployed workers to work constructing hospitals, roads, schools, etc., launching a tremendous literacy campaign, and other steps which removed some of the weight from the masses’ backs and allowed their enthusiasm for change to show itself in action. And many were enthusiastic about the idea of going on to socialism.

But socialism is not just an idea, nor a matter of words, nor just a government take-over. It’s a social revolution, a revolution in the relations of classes so that the working class is not just the owner of things in theory, but also in practice the actual master of production and society, through the leadership of its own Marxist-Leninist party, and the political rule of the working class – the dictatorship of the proletariat. On this basis the working class can lead repeated and successful struggles against the bourgeoisie and in the process it is able to transform material conditions and itself, so as to gradually do away with classes altogether.

This is not the road that Castro and those around him toot despite all their rhetoric to the contrary. They had rebelled against the neocolonial, semi-feudal conditions of old Cuba, but their petty bourgeois position and outlook which had given rise to the longing for a quick and radical change in their status also gave rise to the ambition to retain – and strengthen – their privileged position above the masses of workers and peasants. This only capitalism could give them. This same class outlook also caused them to hate and fear the difficult class struggle and long years of hard work that proletarian rule and the real transformation of Cuba would mean. While the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia did hate the ugly features of capitalism, especially as it had oppressed them, they didn’t want to change society’s division of labor, which had placed them above the masses, free to develop their careers instead of laboring as wage slaves.

In the early years following the revolution, their class position and outlook was manifested in an idealist political line. This line reflected the desire of the petty bourgeois revolutionary intellectuals to see a world without oppression. But it also reflected their contempt and fear for the only force in society that can lead the process of transforming the world, the working class.

This so-called “Cuban line” reflected the impetuosity of the petty-bourgeoisie in wanting their “ideal society” right away and without class struggle, especially without the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Cuban leaders talked as if communism was right around the comer and as if classes were eliminated simply by expropriation of individually owned property.

In fact the essence of utopian socialism, an early form that the idealist world outlook took among the Cuban leaders, is that the building of socialism depends on “enlightened” rulers with the interests of the masses at heart. The Cuban leaders, who viewed themselves as among the most enlightened “saviors” of the masses of all time, believed they could impose their wishes on society. In fact this whole line had great appeal for many revolutionary minded people from the petty-bourgeoisie in this country and around the world who wanted to see a better society but shared the Cuban leadership’s view of the working class.

The same “left” political line stemming from the idealism of the petty-bourgeoisie was manifested in the activities of the Cuban leadership in international affairs. They developed the so-called “foco theory” in struggle in the countryside; acting as the “detonator” to the masses, who are inspired by them to spontaneously rise up, overthrow the old regime and put the “heroic guerrilla” in power.

This is against the experience of every successful communist revolution, which is based on the conscious and organized struggle of the masses. In China, for example, this meant people’s war: mobilizing the peasantry, under the leadership of the working class, establishing base areas in the countryside, and waging a protracted war. When Che Guevara tried to put the “foco theory” into practice in Bolivia, he was killed, the whole operation a complete fiasco.


Underneath the petty-bourgeois “left” political line and coming more and more to the surface was undisguised revisionism. Instead of mobilizing and relying on the working class to change the actual class relationships. that existed in Cuba, to eliminate the warped economy that imperialist plunder had created in Cuba, and on this basis to develop the productive forces, the Cuban leaders looked for something that could substitute for the masses and class struggle. Despite the rhetoric of building the “new man,” they more and more based themselves on the line common to all revisionists, that things, not people, are decisive; that in order for their version of “socialism” to triumph in Cuba, productive capacity had to be obtained from abroad. Their class outlook insured they could never understand that revolutionizing the relations of production is the key to developing the productive forces. Still less could they understand that, in Marx’s words, the “greatest productive power is the revolutionary class itself.” In place of the conscious struggle of the masses the Cuban leaders sought to purchase socialism by mortgaging the economy to the Soviet Union.

Lenin said, “Clearly, in order to abolish classes completely, it is not enough to overthrow the exploiters, the landlords and capitalists, not enough to abolish their rights of ownership; it is necessary also to abolish all private ownership of the means of production, it is necessary to abolish the distinction between town and country, as well as the distinction between manual workers and brain workers. This requires a very long period of time.” (A Great Beginning)

This is the line of the working class in building socialism and carrying on the revolution for communism. In Cuba it certainly would have meant mobilizing the workers to break down the divisions of labor inherited from the old semicolonial society. This would especially mean changing the organization of the island, which served the almost single purpose of producing sugar for the imperialist world market. But the Cuban leaders, because of their petty bourgeois position and outlook, rejected this path.

Castro said that the main problem facing the revolution was how “to produce the abundance necessary for communism” – meaning, to him, trading sugar for the means of production and machinery that he felt the working class could never produce by relying on its own efforts. And to do this the Cuban leaders’ plan amounted to putting the substance of the old relations of production, in somewhat altered form – society’s division of labor and its sugar plantations – to work at top speed to produce the goods to sell to get this wealth. Now the buyer and “provider” was no longer to be the U.S., but the Soviet Union.

Once this line was adopted, the enthusiasm of the masses for changing the old society was increasingly perverted so that the role of the working class, rather than revolutionizing society, was reduced to working hard to produce the necessary cash. Thus the basic capitalist relation of production was preserved and strengthened the subordination of the working class to production for profit. Rather than a new socialist society, and still less communism, this was, in essence, the same old society with new masters. The workers’ role was to work hard. The Cuban leaders more and more became bureaucratic state capitalists dependent on a foreign imperialist power.

Even the revolutionary fervor and desire of the Cuban people to support anti-imperialist struggles, exemplified by their support for the people of Vietnam, was twisted to support Soviet adventures abroad against their U.S. rivals, as in Bangladesh and in Angola.

Once the basic political road was taken of buying “socialism” instead of relying on and mobilizing the class struggle of the working class and masses which alone could revolutionize society, the basic economic policy of the Cuban revisionists followed as surely as night follows day. The cash that Castro sought could only be obtained by preserving and strengthening the very lopsided and semicolonial economy that had led to the Cuban revolution in the first place. The production of sugar for sale to the Soviet Union became the basis of economic policy, which all the get-rich-quick schemes, “socialist” proclamations and gimmicks depended on and served. And this economic dependency, in turn, became the basis for the further development of the political line of the Cuban leadership.

Sugar Coated Road To Neo-Colonialism

Sugar had been a curse on Cuba. The U.S. had used its control of the sugar market to control Cuba. The American and Cuban sugar lords had tried to keep the people from growing food on the unused land in order to keep them impoverished and without property, with .no choice but to work in the sugar. The sugar lords tied the whole Island to producing sugar for export, while this fertile tropical country ended up importing much of its food. This was the most profitable arrangement for the landowners and imperialists, because food was so expensive, the majority of Cuban workers and peasants ate only rice, beans and roots.

In the first few years of the revolution, as the land and, above all, those who worked it, began to break free of this system, crops were diversified. WIth sugar production continuing where it had been planted in the past, while other land was used for other crops. These were the years of greatest improvement in the living standards of the masses, as working people and material resources that had been kept idle were freed up. The development of some industry was initiated and the construction of schools hospitals and other projects were begun. ‘

In the early ’60s the U.S. closed off Cuba’s former sugar market, so the purchases by the USSR and China helped Cuba out of a jam. In early 1963, as the economy’s advance began to falter and shortages appeared, Castro went to the Soviet Union for talks with Khruschev and other Soviet leaders. When he came back, he had a new plan. Instead of diversifying agriculture, Cuba would produce more sugar.


By then Cuba had borrowed quite a bit from other countries. The USSR offered to substantially increase its loans to Cuba and buy up to five million tons a year of Cuban sugar – more than the country was then producing – at higher than the world market price at that time, so that Cuba could buy goods from the Soviets. [7] The “aid” was the bait, and sugar the hook – and the Cuban leaders swallowed it.

For the rulers of the Soviet Union this was good business. Having overthrown the rule of the working class in the USSR, these new capitalists were increasingly driven oy the laws of imperialism: the need to monopolize sources of raw materials, to export capital for the purpose of extracting superprofits and to contend with imperialist rivals for world domination. They saw that in tying Cuba into their imperialist orbit they would be able to extract great wealth out of Cuba over the years and use Cuba as a political and military tool in their contention with their U.S. rivals.

Like any good dope pusher, the Soviets gave the first samples at a low price. The first couple of years of “aid” were loaned mterest-free. Later they began charging 2.5% interest. Their actual rate of profit was much higher than this. In the original agreement, 80% of the USSR’s credit and money had to be used for purchasing Soviet products at highly inflated prices. (As in the case of interest rates, once the dependency of Cuba has been established, the Soviets upped the ante, requiring all credit to be used on Soviet products.) According to an author with access to Cuban statistics, the USSR was charging 11% to 53% more for machinery than the price of comparable machines in the West. [8] And making this robbery even more outrageous, although at first the Soviets paid Cuba more for its sugar than the world market price at the time (you guessed it, they stopped this practice too), they turned around and resold much of this sugar at an even higher price to Eastern Europe.

This is standard Soviet practice throughout the world. “It is through unequal trade that the Soviet Union realizes the surplus value generated by the export of capital. In essence, it is little more than a bookkeeping arrangement as to whether the profit comes back to the USSR in the form of interest or in the form of superprofits from sales when the sales are tied by trade agreement to the export of capital.” (From Red Papers 7: How Capitalism Has Been Restored in the Soviet Union and What This Means for the World Struggle, emphasis in the original)

But the Soviet Union has much bigger ambitions than mere domination of Cuba. Like all imperialist powers their appetite continually grows and they seek world domination. For the Soviets Cuba represented tremendous political “capital” with which to penetrate other countries in Latin America and throughout the world, by hiding behind Cuba’s “revolutionary” image. Because of the tremendous importance of gaining a foothold in Latin America and in hopes of making even greater political (and eventually military) use of Cuba in their struggle with the U.S. for world hegemony, the Soviets were willing to give Cuba a better “deal” than other countries under their grip.


The reasoning of the Cuban leadership for mortgaging their countrv to the Soviets went like this: Cuba had extensive sugar fields and mills, and unused land besides. It had relatively few factories, low grade iron ore and little facilities for making steel. Sugar was very profitable to grow and sell on the international market, whereas diversifying agriculture and building industry would be slow and expensive.

As Castro explained in a speech, “To become self-sufficient in rice…we would have to use 330,000 more acres of irrigated land and invest in them our scarce water supply…Undoubtedly, it wouldn’t be convenient for our country to stop producing one and one half million tons of sugar, which is what we could produce on 330,000 acres of irrigated land planted to sugar cane, and which would increase our purchasing power abroad by more than $150 million, in order to produce on this land, with the same effort, rice valued at $25 million.” [9]

Why not take land out of rice production and plant cane, and use the money to buy rice with a good bit left over? This is the course the government followed with a vengeance. In 1964 Cuba decided to up its production of sugar cane from 3.9 million tons to 10 million tons a year by 1970.

All this made perfect economic sense – very “convenient” – according to capitalist economics.

Objectively, this was a decision to develop Cuba exactly as the U.S. imperialists had developed it-in a lopsided and forever dependent manner, according to what was most profitable. It was particularly disastrous because Cuba failed to produce the 10 million tons, but even if this goal had been surpassed the basic effect on the economy’s structure – its dependence on imperialism – would have remained the same. And in this situation it is definitely more profitable to grow cane than develop industry in Cuba – otherwise the U.S. imperialists would have industrialized Cuba long ago.

Even in the last few years, when very high market prices for sugar allowed Cuba to make some profit on its foreign trade for the first time, “economics” still dictated that it be plowed back into making the sugar industry even bigger and more profitable.*

[Footnote in original] In late 1976 the bottom dropped out of the sugar market and the world price fell from 65 1/2 cents a pound to 7 1/2 cents (the Soviets had contracted to buy it at 30 cents). Castro declared that this would mean that Cuba would have to grow still more sugar for sale abroad and Cubans would have to give up the four ounces of coffee they’d been allowed to buy under rationing, so that more coffee could be exported too.


At the 1975 party congress Castro spoke as though “the profitability criterion” had been unknown in Cuba for many years. In fact, the decision to expand sugar production showed that from the start his government’s strategy for building “socialism” was based on profitability. This was not a mistake – it was a class decision, a basic political step that decided what road Cuba was to take and what classes would benefit from it.

Even under socialism the working class must take into account “profitability,” but profit remains an economic category reflecting the old, capitalist relations of production. Put simply this means that the working class, through the state, must consider the cost, in money, that goes into the production of things (wages, the price of raw materials, etc.) and the price at which the goods produced are sold-generally prices are expected to cover costs and produce a surplus. But the aim of production under socialism is not profit.

Under socialism it is the political line of the working class – its conscious decisions through its party and its state – that determines economic policy, the plan for what will be produced and how. Fundamentally, the plan is based on taking account of the material things in society (the workers, available machinery, raw materials, etc.) to meet the needs of society – food, clothing, schools, new factories, etc. The basic purpose of the working class recognizing – the criterion of profit is so that it can wage a political struggle to restrict, to limit, and eventually to do away with it completely. To base an economy on “the profitability criterion” is capitalism, not socialism.

Neither can the working class build socialism by relying on foreign aid or trade, no matter how well intended. This is because its goal, communism and classless society, is not just. a matter of abundance. But that is exactly how Castro explained It to the masses, as if communism were just a pie in the sky promise of better times. For its own liberation the working class has to lead the masses of people in transforming conditions in each country, wiping out the material and social basis of class contradictions and training the masses in the outlook of the proletariat, so that everyone becomes a worker and the workers are conscious masters of production and every aspect of society. Only on that basis will classes disappear and communism be won.

Self reliance, unleashing, organizing and relying on the creative power of the masses within each country is the only way the working class can break the economic and social chains of capitalism.


Cuba couldn’t waste the sugar by letting it rot in the fields, or forget about using it to buy some imports if it could. But especially because not only Cuba’s agriculture but its whole economy was dominated by sugar, it had to diversify Its crops as the only possible basis for breaking out of its neocolonial structure.

In a system where the basic principle upon which all decisions are made is the needs of society and not profit, feeding the people and feeding them well is basic. The fact that the profitability of sugar has always pushed aside less profitable food crops made a lot of food staples very expensive and scarce for the masses.

Furthermore, unless agriculture was diversified and developed, Cuba would never have a basis for complete industrialization, either in raw materials from agriculture (for which Cuba still is largely dependent on imports) nor in terms of developing a market for machinery and consumer goods.

Castro argued that it was much cheaper to import tractors from the Soviet Union, where factories could churn them out by the millions, than to set up factories in Cuba, which didn’t need that many tractors. But again this is capitalist economics. If Cuba didn’t develop its industry, even though this might be more “efficient” in the short run, then in the long run it would always be dependent on imported manufactured goods.

In “generously” providing Cuba with “aid” and encouraging it to enormously increase its production of sugar, the USSR was doing exactly as the U.S. had done – strengthening the most backward aspect of the Cuban economy – its dependence on sugar production. This meant reproducing in a new form the old content – export of capital to the colony and colonial dependence on the imperialist “mother country.” It also meant that the Cuban leaders, by ruling Cuba under these conditions, were fast becoming sugar lords and dependent capitalists.

The decision on sugar was no mere misstep by the Cuban leadership. The example and experience of all socialist construction, including the experience in China and Albania at the time of the Cuban revolution, served as unmistakable examples of the difference between the socialist and capitalist road on the question of developing the economy.

Khruschev, who had led in the establishment of a new exploiter ruling class m the USSR after Stalin’s death, had tried to overthrow working class rule in China and Albania and bring those countries under the Soviet thumb, by ripping out Soviet technicians and blueprints and cutting off important supplies without warning. They even imposed an economic blockade around Albania, while threatening still more drastic action. Despite the fact that both countries were also very poor, and the fact that China is on the Soviet border and tiny Albania is surrounded by hostile states, the working class of these countries had done their best to develop them according to the principle of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and they were able to resist Khruschev’s offensive, although not without cost.

The Cuban leadership often claimed that the U.S. blockade, the threat of aggression, and Cuba’s short supply of some key natural resources forced them to hitch their wagon to the Soviet Union. But despite whatever real obstacles that did exist to building genuine socialism in Cuba, these were certainly no greater than the conditions faced in real socialist countries. Cuba’s most important resource, the working class itself, was much larger than in Albania, for example.

In fact, the blockade, far from being a justification for reliance on the Soviets,was itself yet another reason for self-reliance: to avoid the threat of strangulation the economy could not be based on the assumption that ships would always be able to reach Cuba.

The Soviet Union, for its part, did oppose the U.S. when it suited their interests and even used Cuba to shake a few more sabers in the U.S. imperialists’ faces, but as the Cuban missile crisis proved, they were quite willing to use Cuba as a pawn to be traded to the U.S. if that proved to be to their advantage. And as the development of things showed, Soviet military “protection,” like Soviet “aid” and trade, meant Soviet protection of its property and the end of Cuban independence.


An incident between the Cuban and Chinese governments in 1966 shows just how fast the Cuban leaders were going down the road of neocolonial dependence, and how much, despite all their revolutionary rhetoric, their politics were increasingly dictated by the laws of capitalism. China had doubled its shipment of rice to Cuba for the year of 1965, at the Cuban government’s request, but when the Cuban government demanded that China maintain that level permanently, the Chinese government responded by saying they were willing to talk about it but had some serious objections. [10]

China’s aid and trade is fundamentally different from that of the Soviet revisionists described earlier. China’s aid is not investment. Since China is ruled by the working class and not the bourgeoisie, China’s aid and trade doesn’t serve the “profitability criterion” – it serves proletarian politics and is based on equality and mutual benefit.

The Cuban government offered to pay for the increased rice shipments with sugar, and if the Chinese weren’t interested in that, with cash that China had loaned the Cubans to help them diversify their economy. [11] China answered that whatever the sugar might be worth in terms of money, they had no need for so much sugar, while they did need the rice. It was needed not only for their own consumption and to prepare a stockpile in case of war (China had recently been attacked by India, which was armed and backed by both the U.S. and the USSR), but also to supply Vietnam, then at war with the U.S. imperialists.

China’s own bitter experience before and after its liberation had taught it well that economic dependence is a condition that revolution must end, an obstacle and a burden to the people. The Cuban people’s rice ration had stayed the same even when China’s rice shipments doubled because the Cuban government was ripping up rice fields to plant sugar cane – since nee was not as “convenient” as sugar according to the profitability principle. Chinese aid had been meant to help Cuba break out of sugar’s chains. To buy rice with it would only make this situation worse.

Castro’s response was to use the occasion of a Havana conference of some revolutionaries from Africa, Asia and Latin America to publicly lash out at China for “economic aggression.” There he also made disgusting personal slanders on Mao Tsetung and called for his removal from office. [12] In the context of the USSR’s own attacks on China and the polemics then raging between the parties of the two countries over the general line for the international communist movement, this attack put Castro in particularly good standing with his Soviet creditors – a truly disgusting example of how the “profitability criterion” ruled Cuba’s politics.


Of course, this wasn’t the way Castro presented it. Every step, every measure that the government took was explained to the masses as a step towards “socialism,” better yet, towards “communism.” But every new nationalization, every new “revolutionary offensive,” every new opportunity presented to the masses to show their revolutionary enthusiasm, was in fact guided by “the criterion of profitability” and the class interests of Cuba’s rulers.

In 1963, a few months after Castro’s visit to the USSR and the signing of the sugar deal, Castro announced that in addition to the great estates and the property of the U.S. imperialists which had been seized before, now the land of the medium growers was to be confiscated. Those affected, growers with 160 to 990 acres – about 10,000 farmers and their families in all – were accused by Castro of “sabotaging sugar production” and aiding the CIA. [13]

These were certainly not poor peasants, and couldn’t be relied upon in the struggle to transform Cuba because they were exploiters themselves. Nevertheless, many of these farmers had supported the 1959 revolution because they had been severely restricted by the big sugar companies.

We cannot say exactly what would have been the correct policy toward these growers. The real point is not whether the particular policy toward them was a mistake or not. Mistakes need not be fatal and can be corrected, given an overall correct line. The important point is that, for the Cuban government, this policy was not at all based on how to develop socialist agriculture. It wasn’t even a matter of defense of the revolution. For them, this complete expropriation was a reflection of what had become their overall policy: sacrifice everything to subordinate the maximum amount of land to the sugar mills and make the cane grow as cheaply as possible.

This exact same line – all out to turn the country into an efficient sugar producing operation – came out differently when applied to the several hundred thousand poor farmers. As the people who grew so much of Cuba’s food, these peasants were potentially an important force in developing the economy along socialist lines. But the government’s general policy was not to lead them in the voluntary collectivization of their land and labor.


Basically they just let them sit. Some went out of business and some became part of the state farms, and a few grew rich. All this caused this part of the economy to stagnate in small private ownership, and Cuba still continued to have to spend 24% of its import money on food. [14] This was ignored by the Cuban leaders, who saw the motive force in their economy not as the masses, mobilized to break the old patterns of production and build socialism, but as the profit criterion and the “get rich quick” gimmick of pushing the sugar export section of the economy.

The failure to lead these peasants through cooperation, collectivization and socialization ensured that this section of the people would remain stuck in this method and outlook of small private ownership, and that Cuba’s agriculture would not develop in a socialist way.

The state farms formed from the old estates and the confiscated medium farms were in turn grouped together into giant agrupaciones, often totaling several hundred thousand acres. This was a more “efficient” – more profitable – way to grow sugar, especially with the market now expanding to include the Soviet Union. But it wasn’t a higher, more socialist form of ownership than before because the relations of production – especially the role of the producers in the whole setup – was unchanged. Instead of working for a sugar company under the eyes of a few managers, now the mill workers and field hands worked for the government under the eyes of 20 to 30 bureaucrats. And the purpose of their labor remained production and profit.

After a few years, when the state farms needed even more manpower for sugar, the state farm employees were forbidden from having even their private plots, on which many Cuban cane cutters grew small amounts of vegetables and other crops, principally for their own use.

Under socialism the working class strives to make the most efficient use of use of the resources of society. In the long run this means, of course, large-scale, mechanized, diversified agriculture, and at all times the working class must wage a political struggle against the capitalist tendencies that small-scale production engenders. But for a long period of time in many countries, certainly in Cuba, it is neither necessary nor desirable to eliminate all sideline agricultural production, even when some of the produce is sold. It can contribute to feeding people. And if the state farm workers could grow much of their own food in their spare time it would be a good thing, freeing up resources to be used elsewhere.

But for the Cuban government, these private plots took time away from the main business – sugar cane. In effect, the government had become the new landlords, subordinating the laborers’ needs and the needs of society to the demands of King Sugar just as before.


The shortage of manpower in the cane fields caused a mania of nationalization in the late ’60s. In the so-called “revolutionary offensive” of 1968, when the sugar harvest was way behind, Castro announced that “95.1 %” of all hot dog sellers, grocery store owners, barkeepers and other small proprietors had been discovered to be “counter-revolutionaries.” [15] Worse, these “able bodied men were loafing” while “women went to the fields.”

All of these establishments – 55 ,000 in all – were seized. They were either closed down permanently (without regard to whether, for instance, the workers might need a hot dog stand in front of a factory) or else run by bureaucrats, while the ex-proprietors were sent off to cut cane. Some turned out to be old and crippled, and many joined the almost 10% of Cuba’s population who had fled the country.

Castro justified this by saying that the revolution hadn’t been made just so “parasites” could run a business. But his approach to the question was the opposite of the proletariat’s. In revolutions led by the working class, it is an important political principle to win over the maximum number of forces against the enemy at each point in the struggle and to neutralize those who can’t be won over. The working class, having seized power from the big capitalists, has to gradually do away with the small proprietors in its midst who represent a capitalist element. But the working class’ method in this situation is to use persuasion, not force. The working class can win the vast majority of these people to building socialism and, in the course of this, transform both their political outlook and their economic position. But Castro’s capitalism turned them into wage slaves pure and simple. For the Cuban government, it was a simple matter of economics: 55,000 “able-bodied men” = 55,000 potential cane cutters.

This nationalization was the greatest fraud and had nothing to do with socialism, even though the government might pronounce it very “revolutionary” to do away with someone else’s business to serve its own. Nationalization is not necessarily socialization. Nationalization means simply control of a business by the state, which the bourgeois state does all the time, from the Post Office to Penn Central in the U.S., to the steel-industry and the mines in Britain.

The key difference is which class holds power. When the working class runs the state, it is able to plan society increasingly to serve its own interests and all of humanity. To do this requires the increasingly conscious and organized participation of the workers at all levels of society, including the enterprise level in management and administration.

The masses of workers and peasants have a great knowledge about production and about their overall and particular needs. With the leadership of the proletariat’s party, their knowledge can be summed up and used to formulate a plan to run the economy in order to fill those needs and advance revolution. And the masses of producers can be organized, educated and relied upon to increasingly control and participate in the carrying out of this plan and run society. Unless all this is done, there is only one other way to make decisions – according to profit.

This is the case in Cuba. There are periodic assemblies of workers in the factories all right. But as a top government official explained them, “It is not a question of discussing all the administrative decisions. The thing is that the enthusiasm of the workers must be obtained to support the principal measures of the administration.” [16] This isn’t very different from the kind of management pep talks the U.S. often hear.

The factories, state farms, hot dog stands, etc., weren’t run by a plan, in the working class sense of the word. Plans were made, but since the general lines of the economy were already decided by the production of sugar, the particular plans within that had to follow suit, to also be based on profit.

But there was one very important difference between the management of the economy in the ’60s and its present management. In the ’60s the managers and bureaucrats were subject to little control or discipline regarding their particular enterprise or industry. In the name of establishing “communism” all at once (and with the freedom they thought Soviet “aid” had bought them), there was no economic accounting for their performance, and little control except for their superior’s orders. This allowed the former intellectuals and professionals who were running the economy to trip out pretty much as they liked with “special projects” and so-called “miniplans,” free as birds, until the bills for this “freedom” quickly came due.

All this was in the name of “socialism,” of “eliminating the vile intermediary of money,” as Castro explained. [17] But in real socialist construction, when both the forces of production and the knowledge and conscious control of the producers are still relatively limited, the working class must use some economic accounting and controls over production in order to better understand what it is free to do and to help check up on its implementation. Again, this means subordinating economics to politics. Otherwise, if the plan doesn’t strictly reflect reality and if it isn’t strictly carried out, then the laws of capitalism will reassert themselves.

While the new managers and bureaucrats wanted to be free of the “vile intermediary of money,” they couldn’t be free of the laws of capitalism and the market. The uncontrolled nature of production under this system, which created very severe economic setbacks and contributed a lot to the failure of the sugar harvest, had to be brought under the discipline of profit.

At first profit commanded the economy through the direct intervention of Castro and other leaders, who ran around directing resources into sugar and other exports and industries that seemed to promise a quick return on investment. Then in the later 1960s the government tried to run everything with the aid of a giant Soviet computer and asset of mathematical tables prepared according to the instructions of a Harvard economist. [18] If Since these methods arranged things for maximum “efficiency” as measured in pesos and centavos, they were simply a disguised form of running things according to profit (and in fact are often used by capitalist management in the U.S. and USSR). By the early 1970s, however, even these methods turned out to be not efficient enough and piece by piece the government began reorganizing the economy according to the same principle, in form as well as content, followed by the dollar and especially the ruble.

The real relations of production, the real class relationships, were camouflaged by fast and loose use of Marxist words. And at the same time, the workers and peasants were expected to work doubletime in honor of this phoney “Marxism.”


In the name of “using conscience to create wealth” and “creating the New Man,” workers were increasingly called upon to do great amounts of voluntary labor. This was especially true in the late 1960s, as growing numbers of cane cutters streamed out of the countryside looking for better pay and conditions, leaving the all-important sugar harvests short of manpower.

The enormous numbers of workers, students and even sometimes bureaucrats bused into the cane fields, however, had little resemblance to real socialist voluntary work, which under working class rule is an important measure for developing society and transforming the working class.

Under socialism when the workers rule and are transforming society toward communism, there is a real basis for people to spend their spare time doing voluntary labor. But in Cuba, the “voluntary” labor was nothing like this. This was because the needs of sugar production meant that people’s “voluntary labor” was often at the expense of their regular work, and because, although many people did take part enthusiastically and selflessly, logging a certain number of hours of “voluntary” labor was the only way to become eligible to buy durable consumer goods such as refrigerators, etc. [19] Many workers resisted this scheme. Productivity in “voluntary” labor was often only 10% of paid labor – but it was still cheaper than paying wages. [20]

Just as Castro had claimed that the increasing concentration on sugar was necessary “so as to fully develop the productive forces necessary for communism,” he also claimed that the increasing emphasis on voluntary labor was also a communist measure. In fact, as many workers were becoming very sceptical about how things were going under “socialism,” throughout the ’60s Castro made increasing use of the promise that “communism” would come in the very near future (starting within ten years, he said) [21] and would put an end to Cuba’s growing problems.

This was a very convenient misuse of what communism really means, as well as pure pie in the sky, as developments quickly proved. No amount of labor, voluntary or otherwise, will change the capitalist class relations, which are the real cause of Cuba’s problems. And the Cuban government was using all sorts of devices – from perverting people’s real revolutionary enthusiasm, to material incentives, to outright wage cutting-to disguise this fact and squeeze more and more labor out of the people.

In industry and especially among skilled workers, wages for a great many jobs were cut, under the slogan “workers renounce gains which today constitute privileges.” Many times Castro has denounced the so-called “privileges” that some workers supposedly enjoyed under Batista (as well as those supposedly enjoyed by workers in the U.S. today). But it’s the capitalists who’ve caused inequalities among the working people, not fundamentally by favoring some, but by paying all as little as they can get away with. The socialist principle “to each according to its work” means that people do receive different pay for different work, because they contribute different amounts to society. Restricting these differences, and eventually doing away with them, must overwhelmingly be done by raising the general wage level-not by forced wagecutting.

It’s the capitalists’ idea of “equality” that all workers should be equally poor, and that some workers should pay for whatever advances others make. This, too, was the Cuban government’s idea of “building socialism and communism simultaneously.” Meanwhile, of course, class differences widened. While workers took a pay cut in the name of building a “pure, really pure society,” high school teachers, for instance, got a 60% wage hike. And on the new plan, managers will be paid for their profit performance. [22]

Even so, people’s wages were not what they seemed. Rent was cheap and even free for some, and many prices at that time were cheaper than before. But by the end of the ’60s consumer goods were so scarce that the amount of money in circulation was twice the value of goods available on the market. [23] Much of people’s pay was worthless because there was nothing to spend it on. (Since then this has been “solved” by raising prices.)


By the late 1960s the Cuban economy was in shambles: in 1964 after signing the sugar sales agreement with the Soviet Union, Castro had announced that by 1970 Cuba would harvest 10 million tons of sugar a year. This plan meant almost tripling sugar production.

A high 30% of the economy was being plowed back into capital investment [24] focusing on clearing land for cane, buying tractors for cane building new mills for cane, railroads for cane, ports for cane – as well as expanding other export crops and nickel mining for export. After the first two years, sugar production began to fall farther and farther behind the targeted goals. [25] And the more sugar fell behind, the more frantically other resources were thrown into sugar production, with workers drawn out of every other industry. Even housing was left standing half-built as the workers were snatched away to cut cane.

But this plan turned out to be a nightmare, and Cuba’s rulers were in deep trouble. In their frenzied efforts to make that goal upon which Castro had very publicly staked “the honor of the revolution,” they so burned out men, machines and fields that the 8.5 million tons that was achieved in 1970 came at such a cost that in the next two years cane production fell to a new low in recent Cuban history. And not only did they not get the 10 million tons, by 1970 they had fallen so far behind in sending sugar promised the Soviet Union that they owed the USSR 10 million tons. [26]

Cuba’s economic statistics for this period paint a picture of disaster. The country’s industrial production had risen somewhat until 1968, when sugar production began to reach a fever pitch. Then it fell sharply, according to Cuban figures. Steel and shoe production, for instance, dropped like a stone. Non-sugar agricultural production fell by a fifth. (Cuban statistics quoted by the UN). The number of cattle fell from 7 million to 5 million in three years. Cuba’s poultry andmany vegetables remained scarce. [27]

According to the American “experts” on the subject, their statistics show that the standard of living of the masses was slowly falling throughout the late 1960s. We don’t have to take their words for it, because according to the Cuban government the amount of goods people could get under rationing either stayed the same or decreased (as in the case of milk), and even the personal consumption of Cuba’s two most famous products, sugar and cigars, was drastically cut – to have more left over for export – while the prices of many consumer items rose sharply. [28] That the workers didn’t care for the way things were going is shown by the admission by the Cuban Minister of Labor that absenteeism from work was 20% on the average day in 1970. [29] He described this as “widespread passive resistance.” [30]

To the Cuban masses, the government had promised that the 10 million ton harvest would produce the abundance necessary for Cuba’s economic liberation. But this drive and its failure had further enslaved the Cuban people. By 1970 the Cuban government owed the USSR over $2 billion, and the Soviets were demanding more than a pound of flesh in return. [31]

Soviets Bark Orders, Castro Cracks Whip

The 1975 Cuban party congress was a consolidation and formal ratification of many of the changes that the Cuban government has been making since the early 1970s.

First and most important, there was a new crackdown on the working class. Along with the new wage policy described at the beginning of this article, there is now less emphasis on relying on the masses’ enthusiasm and more on plain old force. This was in line with a 1973 decision which revived a system of punishment familiar to workers throughout the capitalist world: for offenses ranging from absenteeism, lateness and negligence to lack of respect to supervisor, workers can be punished by docking their pay-check, being disqualified from certain posts, transferred to another Job, postponement of vacations, temporary suspensions and actual firing. [32]

Individual sugar enterprises started laying off workers several years ago to increase “productivity.” Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticos admited in a 1972 speech that there was some outright unemployment in two of the largest sugar growing provinces. [33] Now, according to the party congress, this practice is to become much more widespread in other industries.

The decisions of the congress established a formal system for running the Cuban economy along capitalist lines. Bureaucrats and managers won’t be so free to damage profit with their fantasies anymore since that is one freedom even the social-imperialists’ money can’t buy. The whole economy is to be run more “efficiently” now, with profit to be made at every step. Workers are to be paid according to the profitability of the enterprises they work for (to make them work harder – which won’t make them any less exploited). Managers are to be paid according to the profitability of the enterprises they manage (to make them work the workers harder), and those at the top are to be paid “rewards for results” [34] – after all, don’t they have the responsibility of running everything?


The Cuban government has learned from the experience of the Soviet revisionists in more than just the “socialist” version of capitalist economics. The decision to finally hold a first congress of the Communist Party of Cuba ten years after its founding is a good example of that.

When the Party was founded in 1965, its role was mainly formal. Since Cuba was supposedly a “socialist” country it had to have a “communist” party. This was cooked up by amalgamating Castro’s July 26th Movement, the Revolutionary Directorate (a student group which had taken up arms against Batista) and the Popular Socialist Party, the old revisionists who had long ago given up calling their party communist and opposed the armed struggle against Batista until the last minute, even going so far as to betray some of the student fighters to Batista’s police. This new Party’s leading bodies rarely met, few people joined it and in general it was mainly for show.

For the working class, its party is its key weapon in making revolution and building socialism. Only through the organized detachment of the most class conscious fighters can the knowledge and experience of the laboring people in their millions be summed up to formulate the line and policies that can lead the working class forward. The leaders of the Cuban revolution got a lot of support from the masses, but since they never based themselves on the working class, they had no need for such a party.

But the experience they’ve had as a new dependent capitalist class has made them more “realistic” about protecting and strengthening their rule. The party they have organized and brought to center stage was created by this class and is guided by its interests and outlook. Its leaders are the rulers of the state, the army, the factories and the farms. Castro reported to the congress that 40% of its members are administrators and full time party officials, 10% are teachers and health workers. As for the rest who belong to factory and farm units, we don’t know exactly how many are workers and peasants and bow many are technicians and managers. We do know from a previous speech that, at least in 1970, the manager and party leader in these units were almost always the same person [35] — and on state farms more often than not, an army officer as well. [36]

But the way we can tell what class a party represents is not mainly by the membership, but by the policies it carries out and what class interests these policies advance. Like the present revisionist party in the Soviet Union, this is not a party of the working class, to serve the working class’s rule. It is a party of the bourgeoisie, to protect and strengthen their rule over the masses.


Even Castro’s so-called “self-criticism” serves these class interests. “Perhaps our greatest idealism,” he said not too long ago, “has been to believe that a society that has scarcely left the shell of capitalism could enter, in one bound, into a society in which everyone could behave in an ethical and moral manner.” [37]

At the party congress, Castro continued this theme: “Revolutions usually have their utopian periods, in which their protagonists, dedicated to the noble tasks of turning their dreams into reality and putting their ideals into practice, assume that historical goals are much nearer and that man’s will, wishes and intentions can accomplish anything.”

These are truly reminiscences of a new bourgeoisie looking back on its early days. Their rise to power began with a petty bourgeois revolution. The policies of its leaders reflected the outlook of that class, with all its vacillation, subjectivism, idealism and wishful thinking, impatience for quick change and lack of patience for struggle, and all the get-rich-quick schemes and other characteristics that reflect the petty bourgeoisie’s unstable position between the working class and the capitalists. Their “left” line in the ’60s and its real, underlying conservatism, and their rapid changeover to open revisionism in the face of difficulties, is all testimony to that outlook.

The main idealist form that this took was certainly not, as Castro would have us believe, having too high an estimation of the masses of people. Their real idealism was that they expected that society could be changed just because they wanted it to, without the conscious and organized efforts of the masses in their millions. This was reflected in their theory that a “small handful of resolute men” alone could topple U.S. imperialism throughout Latin America, as well as by their theory that the combination of Soviet money and Castro’s ideas could bring socialism to Cuba, instead of the struggle of the masses themselves.

It wasn’t idealism that they wanted things to change, nor that they believed that things could change. What was most idealist what was furthest from reality – was the Cuban leaders’ conception that they could maintain capitalism’s division of labor with themselves on top, the thinkers and planners and administrators of all, while the working people would willingly carry out their plans without struggling against this exploitation and oppression.


What has changed in Cuba today, reflecting this transformation of these rebels into a new bourgeoisie, is that while they still maintain the appearances of “socialism,” their experience at running society in their bourgeois way has taught them the outlook and methods of all capitalist ruling classes. They haven’t exchanged their old petty bourgeois idealism for the outlook and struggle of the working class, but rather for that of the bourgeoisie itself. They still use rhetoric and illusions as a prop to their rule but now rely on the “discipline of the market” to make the workers work backed up by all the coercion and outright force at their disposal.

“They grabbed, now let me have a go, too.” This was how Lenin described the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie towards Russia’s overthrown rulers. This applies to Cuba’s petty bourgeois leaders. For them the victory over the imperialists and their Cuban overseers was not an opportunity to transform the conditions that gave rise to the neocolonial system. Instead they increasingly became replacements, in a new form, for those they had overthrown. On the basis of their own class outlook, and with the conditions so readily supplied by the Soviet revisionists, these once petty-bourgeois rebels have become a full-blown comprador bourgeoisie-dependent on the Soviet imperialists.

Cuba’s trade figures with the Soviet bloc for the last few years are almost the same as they once were with the U.S. Exports still make up a third of the island’s production (and most of that is sugar), with the bulk of these products going to the Soviet bloc. [38]

While fertile land is tied down in the production of sugar, food remains on the long list of things which Cuba must purchase from abroad. This fact is a constant drag on its development. The Cuban debt to the USSR is now over $5 billion, and to pay that back it is now planning to put even greater efforts into increasing sugar production. Recently the Cubans joined the CMEA,which has been the main vehicle for Soviet economic domination of East Europe. This endless cycle of dependency, debt and yet more dependency, and the one crop economy at its center, is identical to that which ties many other Latin American countries to the U.S.


These are the imperialist economics which dictate Cuba’s present political role in the world – its role as a tool, a puppet, used by Soviet social-imperialism to advance its interests everywhere.

For the Soviets, Cuba is a long-term investment with far greater profits expected than simply immediate economic benefit. It is even conceivable that the USSR could lose money, in the short run, on its investments. But this would not affect Cuba’s colonial dependence on the Soviet Union. Imperialist powers often subordinate their immediate profit in any particular country to their overall policies. A good example of this is Israel, where the U.S. has poured in billions of dollars, more than it could ever hope to squeeze out of control of the Israeli economy alone. Israel’s real value to the U.S. is primarily as a political and military tool with which to protect its vast holdings in the Middle East.

The Soviet imperialists certainly expect to return a monetary profit on their Cuban investment. But Cuba’s real value for them now is that, dressed in the revolutionary garb of anti-U.S. imperialism, it is a key tool in the Soviets’ drive to replace the world domination of U.S. imperialism with its own – all in the name of revolution and communism.


As a country which has made a revolution against the U.S. and has consistently tried to enhance its “revolutionary” credentials, Cuba is able to advance the Soviet imperialists’ cause in many areas where the USSR can’t act so openly in its own name.

Part of Cuba’s service is to provide a cover and to counterattack against exposure and denunciation of the Soviet imperialists: to call things their opposite and hide their real nature.

Cuba was particularly valuable for this at the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries in Algeria in 1973, when Cambodia’s Prince Sihanouk denounced the USSR as an accomplice in the U.S. aggression against Cambodia. Castro stood up and launched an attack on Sihanouk and others and spouted an embittered defense of the Soviets, whom he portrayed as the staunch and natural ally of the oppressed countries.

Today, the Cuban leaders are playing this theme still louder and more shamelessly than before. At the 1975 party congress, Castro said “no true revolutionary, in any part of the world, will ever regret that the USSR is powerful, because if that power did not exist … the people who fought for liberation in the last 30 years would have had no place from which to receive decisive help … and all the small, underdeveloped nations – of which there are many – would have been turned into colonies once more.”

The message behind this is loud and clear: underdeveloped countries cannot win liberation without depending on the Soviet Union. This call for the world to follow the “Cuban model” is a very important service to the Soviet rulers who are trying to pervert the struggles of the oppressed against U.S. imperialism to serve their own purpose of replacing the U.S. as the world’s biggest exploiters and oppressors.

But of course the Soviet rulers are not fundamentally counting on Castro’s speeches to advance their interests. More and more, like the U.S. imperialists, they are counting on guns. And, here too, the Cuban leaders have seen the light of Soviet “realism.”


These days instead of spreading the line of “guerrilla focos” to substitute for the masses’ own struggle for liberation, now Cuba is sending its soldiers riding in on Soviet tanks and planes.

The thousands of Cuban troops accompanying the Soviet tanks in Angola are only one of the many payments the Cuban ruling class will be expected to make to its Soviet masters on the practical front.

Not only do the social-imperialists use Cuban troops to try to bring Angola under their heel. They try to sell it all as “proletarian internationalism” and they go so far as to portray Cuba as an example of what great blessings are in store for other countries if only they tie their future to the Soviet Union and its “aid.” But the fact that thousands of Cuban soldiers are sent to fight and die as pawns in this counterrevolutionary crime is a tremendous exposure of Soviet imperialism, which no amount of words can hide.

The Soviet imperialists say that the working class and masses of people are destined to remain in chains unless they receive Soviet “aid” and submit to Soviet control. The U.S. imperialists, whose own economic and military aid has long been used to enslave and reenforce the bonds of oppression of many peoples, say the same thing from their angle-if the oppressed and exploited of a country dare rise up against U.S. “protection” and plunder they are sure to fall prey to the Soviet jackals.

But the most important lesson to be learned from the failure of the Cuban revolution is just the opposite of this imperialist logic. The masses of people in each country can free themselves, and advance the cause of freeing all humanity only by relying mainly on their own efforts and not the “aid”of the world’s exploiters – by taking the road of proletarian revolution.


[1] Granma. Jan. 4, 1976.

[2] John E. Cooney, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 16, 1974.

[3] “Program Manifesto of the 26th of July Movement,” in Cuba In Revolution, Rolando E. Bonachea and Nelson P.Valdes, Editors. New York, 1972.

[4] U.S. Ambassador to Cuba E, T. Smith, The Fourth Floor, New York, 1962,

[5] Hispanic-American Report, May 1959.

[6] Revolucion (organ of the 26th of July Movement), Dec, 22, 1961,

[7] Edward Boorstein, The Economic Transformation of Cuba, New York, 1968.

[8] Jaime Suchlicki, Cuba, Castro and Revolution. Coral Gables, 1972.

[9] Granma. Jan. 3, 1966.

[10] Peking Review, Jan. 14, 1966.

[11] Granma, Feb, 5, 1966.

[12] Speech of March 13, 1966, Quoted in Hugh Thomas, Cuba. New York, 1971.

[13] Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy, Socialism in Cuba, New York, 1969,

[14] Cuban government statistics cited by Erik N. Baklanoff, “International Economic Relations,” in Revolutionary Change in Cuba, Carmelo Meso-Lago, ed., Pittsburgh, 1971.

[15] Speech of March 13, 1968.

[16] Speech by Armando Hart, Organization Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. Granma,Oct. 5, 1969.

[17] Speech at ANAP Conference of May 1967, cited in Thomas, op. cit.

[18] W. Leontief, “Notes on a Visit to Cuba.” New York Review of Books, Aug. 21,1966.

[19] Roberto E. Hernandez and Carmelo Mesa-Lago , “Labor Organization and Wages,” in

Revolutionary Change in Cuba.

[20] Carmelo Mesa-Lago, “Economic Significance of Unpaid Labor,” in Cuba in Revolution.

[21] Speech of Sept. 28, 1966.

[22] Castro’s report to the 1975 Party Congress.

[23] “Let’s Fight Absenteeism and Fight It Completely,” Granma, Nov. 9, 1969.

[24] Figure given by Castro in speech of March 12, 1968.

[25] Carmelo Mesa-Lago and Luc Zephirin, “Central Planning,” in Revolutionary Change in Cuba.

[26] Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Cuba in the Seventies, Albuquerque, 1974.

[27] Statistics from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization taken from Cuban government reports,

and also from various Cuban government figures’ speeches. Cited by Mesa-Lago, Cuba in the Seventies.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Speech by Labor Minister Jorge Risquet, Granma, Sept. 20, 1970.

[30] 1970 speech by Risquet cited by Jaime Suchlicki, Cuba From Columbus to Castro, New York, 1974.

[31] Carmelo Mesa-Lago “Economic Policies and Growth,” in Revolutionary Change in Cuba. U.S. government figures are higher. See also U.S.Government Official Area Handbook on Cuba, 1973.

[32] These are the provisions of the labor law of 1965, which was not completely enforced until after the congress of the Cuba Trade Union Federation (CTC) in 1973. Law quoted by Hernandez and Mesa-Lago op. cit.

[33] Mesa-Lago, Cuba in the Seventies.

[34] Castro’s report to the Party Congress.

[35] Risquet, speech of July 31, 1970.

[36] Renee Dumont, Is Cuba Socialist? New York, 1974.

[37] Granma, Sept. 20, 1970.

[38] Castro’s report to the Party Congress.

Cuban Revisionism

Cuban Revisionism Continues: Raul Castro seeks 10-year term limits

Cuba says 310,000 people licensed to work in nascent private sector

Fidel Castro on Gorbachev

Che: A Marxist-Leninist

Che: If you were alive you’d be on our side

Burying the Myth: Che Guevara was NOT a Trotskyist

Cuban Exiles Wage War of Terror

Che Guevara’s Writings Against Soviet Revisionism

Nazi Murderer of Ernesto “Che” Guevara Klaus Barbie was German & CIA Agent


Cuba is the largest and most westerly of the Greater Antilles island chain. It has a total area of approximately 110,000 square kilometres (about half the size of Britain) and a population of some 15 million. It lies about 135 miles south off the tip of Florida Keys (USA). Its capital, Havana, has a population of about 2 million. The official language is Spanish, and its unit of currency is the peso.

After securing independence from Spain with United States assistance in 1902, Cuba remained until 1959 a semi-colony of United States imperialism, under the dictatorship of the Cuban comprador capitalist and landlord classes exercised in the last years under the puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista*.

“It was at the point of acquiring her independence that Cuba began to develop, and develop fast, all the characteristics of a colonial dependency Creole landowners, lacking economic resources to prevent massive American penetration, could not turn themselves into that class of entrepreneurs which presides over normal ‘capitalist development.’ Cuba was transformed into a paradise for compradores, speculators and other agents in the service of the new masters.” (K.S.Karol: Guerillas in Power: The Course of the Cuban Revolution; London; 1971; p. 61).

“The United States obtained the right to oversee Cuban foreign and internal affairs as well as to establish a naval base at Guantanamo Bay,” (New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 3: Micropaedia; Chicago; 1992; p. 773).

“Having at last established itself as a free republic (1902), Cuba became dependent upon the United States and remained so for half a century.” (Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8; Danbury (USA); 1981; p. 294).


On 26 July 1953 a band of guerillas led by Fidel Castro* made a raid upon an army post at Moncada in Santiago de Cuba.

The raid was not successful, and for his participation in it Castro was imprisoned from October 1953 to May 1955.

Following his release from prison, Castro went to Mexico where, in July 1955, he launched the “26th of July Movement.”

In December 1956 Castro led a small guerilla force of 82 men to “invade” Cuba from Mexico in a boat called the “Granma.” The guerillas set up a mobile base in the Sierra Maestra, a mountain range in southern Oriente province.

“By 1958 Castro had about 300 armed men in the Sierra Maestra” (Jaime Suchlicki: ‘Historical Dictionary of Cuba’; Metheun 1988; p. 259; (USA);

In May 1958 Batista launched a military offensive against Castro’s guerilla force, but this failed and by the onset of winter his army was disintegrating.

On 31 December 1958 Batista resigned and fled, with his principal accomplices, to the Dominican Republic, later to Madeira.

THE NEW STATE (1959-62)

On 1 January 1959 the victorious “26th of July Movement” formed a new administration, with Manuel Urrutia* as President of the Republic.

On 7 February a new Constitution was adopted:

“Legislative power was to be vested in the cabinet,” (Hugh Thomas: ‘The Cuban Revolution’; London; 1986; p. 416).

headed by Jose Miro* as Prime Minister.

On 13 February Miro resigned as Prime Minister following a dispute over gambling casinos:

“whereas Dr. Miro wanted them to be permanently suppressed, Dr. Castro advocated their reopening.” (Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume 12; p. 16,901).

On 16 February he was succeeded as Prime Minister by Castro.

On 17 July 1959, Urrutia resigned as President and was succeeded by lawyer Osvaldo Dortico’s*, previously Minister of the Laws of the Revolution.

In the autumn of 1960, >Committees for the Defence of the Revolution= (CDR) were formed throughout the country as an adjunct to the police

“essentially to ferret out counter-revolutionaries” (Boris Goldenberg: The Cuban Revolution and Latin America; London; 1965; p. 270).

By 1962: AThere were about 100,000 such committees=.(Boris Goldenberg: op. cit.; p. 270).


One of the myths of the Cuban Revolution is that a tiny guerilla group was able to overthrow a dictatorship backed by the United States imperialists.

In fact, the assault of Castro=s guerilla group was successful because it happened to coincide with a US coup against the Batista dictatorship. As Guevara expressed it in April 1961:

AThe monopolies, as is common in these cases, began to think of a successor to Batista, probably because they knew that the people were opposed to him. . . . What more intelligent stroke than to depose the unserviceable dictator and replace him with new >boys= who would, in good time, serve the interests of imperialism?@(Ernesto Guevara: >Cuba – Exception or Vanguard?=, in: John Gerassi (Ed.): >’Venceremos! Speechees and Writings of Che Guevara=; London; 1969; p. 198).

As early as June 1957, Robert Hill*, then responsible for the US State Department=s relations with Congress, told the newly-appointed US Ambassador to Cuba, Earl Smith:

AYou are assigned to Cuba to preside over the downfall of Batista. The decision has been made that Batista has to go@. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 165).

In the autumn of 1957:

AThe United States began to hold up Batista=s orders for military hardware. In March 1958 an embargo on the shipment of arms and ammunition to Cuba was declared@. (Philip Bonsal: >Cuba, Castro and the United States=; Pittsburgh; 1971; p.21).

The withdrawal of United States support from the Batista regime caused severe demoralisation among Batista=s officer corps:

ABatista=s soldiers, demoralised by the general repudiation of the government they served and by the accelerated corruption among their own officers and elsewhere… simply melted away as a fighting force after mid-1958. . .Batista now saw all the elements of his power eroded, his large army useless, his political support at home non-existent, his henchmen looking for exile, and the Washinton backing he had so long enjoyed withdrawn@. (Philip Bonsal: op. cit. p. 19, 23).

All this had

AA moral and psychological effect on the Cuban armed forces that was demoralising to the nth degree.@ (Philip Bonsal: op. cit.; p. 21).

ABatista=s commanders were beginning to despair.@ (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 234).

In May 1958 Batista attempted to launch an offensive against the guerillas, but by the end of June his High Command had become:

Aa demoralised gaggle of corrupt, cruel and lazy officers without combat experience@. (HughThomas; op. cit.; p. 215).

The final US moves to oust Batista were entrusted to William Pawley*, an American diplomat and business man who was close to President Dwight Eisenhower*:

ASince November the US government had been taking urgent steps to remove Batista from power…. William D. Pawley, the former Ambasssador to Peru and Brazil and a personal friend of President Eisenhower, was about to be sent as a secret emissary to negotiate with Batista, Pawley would be authorised to offer Batista the opportunity to live with his family in Daytona Beach, Florida, if the dictator would appoint a caretaker government. . . . The key aspect of the plan was* that Pawley would be authorised to speak to Batista for President Eisenhower@. (Ramon L. Bonachea & Marya San Martin: >The Cuban Insurrection: 1952-1959′; New Brunswick (USA); 1974; p. 304).

Pawley=s scheme was:

ATo get Batista to capitulate to a caretaker government satisfactory to us, whom we could immediately recognise and give military assistance to@. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 233)

It was felt that this caretaker government should be a military junta:

AEveryone thought that the best idea was for the US to support a military junta=. (Hugh Thomas; op. cit.; 235).

and that this junta should be led by an officer with a history of opposition to the Batista dictatorship. The choice fell on Colonel Ramon Barquin, then in prison for leading an unsuccessful revolt against Batista:

AOnly Colonel Ramon Barquin met those qualifications@, (Ramon L.Bonachea & Marya San Martin: op. cit.; p. 323).

On 17 December 1958, Barquin=s release was arranged by the CIA, after which he proclaimed himself chief of the armed forces in Havana:

AHe (Barquin – Ed.) owed his release to the somewhat delayed intervention of the CIA, who on 30 December had dispatched a man . . . to offer the head of the prison ,100,000 to release this prisoner (Hugh Thomas; op. cit.; p. 246).

But, unknown to the CIA, Barquin was a member of Castro=s >26 July= Movement, and he immediately subordinated himself to that movement:

ABeing himself at this time a member of the >26 July= Movement, he (Barquin — Ed.) . . . subordinated himself to the >26 July= Movement”. (Hugh Thomas; op. cit.; p. 246).

On 14 December:

AAmbassador Smith received instructions to the effect that it was time to tell Batista to leave. At long last, and for reasons other than the condemnation of Batista=s brutal regime, the US government was withdrawing its support from the Cuban dictator@. (Ramon L. Bonachea & Marya San Martin: op. cit.; p. 304),

Finally, on 17 December Smith met Batista and informed him that the State Department desired his resignation:

AOn 17 December Smith finally saw Batista and said on instructions that the State Department believed . . that it would avoid a great deal of bloodshed if he were to retire.@ (Hugh Thomas; op. cit.; p. 237).

Thus, Castro=s guerilla force:

Adid not defeat Batista=s army in any military sense@. (Theodore Draper: >Castro=s Revolution: Myths and Realities=; 1962 (hereafter listed as: >Draper (1962)=; p. 14).London;

AThe collapse of Batista=s army was far more a political and psychological phenomenon . . . than a defeat by a superior enemy force@.(Theodore Draper: >Castroism: Theory and Practice=; London; 1965′ (hereafter listed as >Draper (1965)=; p. 136).

In other words, Castro=s guerilla force was victorious because its attack on the Batista regime happened to coincide with a coup against that regime by US imperialism.


The Communist Party of Cuba:

Awas founded . . . in August 1925″‘. (K.S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 60).

In its early years, the party was Marxist-Leninist in its orientation or, as K. S. Karol expresses it:

ACuban Communism was Stalinist from the very outset. This did not at first prevent it from making spectactular advances, or from becoming the most important Communist Party in Latin America.@ (K.S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 60).

And it carried on a determined struggle against the Batista dictatorship. As Blas Roca*, the General Secretary of the Party, told the 6th Plenum of its Central Committee in the autumn of 1935:

ABatista, that national traitor in the pay of the imperialists, the faithful executioner of the orders of Caffery*, has drowned the March strike in blood, has turned the university into a barracks, has smashed the workers= trade unions and burned down their headquarters, has destroyed the Medical Federation of Cuba, has filled the prisons with more than 3,000 men, women and adolescent defenders of liberty and democracy, has unleashed a barbarous terror campaign of street murder against his adversaries, has banned all anti-imperialist parties (Blas Roca: Speech at 16th Plenum of CC, Communist Party of Cuba, in: K.S.Karol: op. cit.; p. 81).

Less than three years later, however, at the 10th Plenum of the Central Committee in July 1938, Blas Roca was hinting at the possibility of an agreement with Batista:

AAsked if we would come to an agreement with Batista, we reply quite openly . . . that it all depends on Batista=s attitude to the basic problems of democracy.@ (Blas Roca: ASpeech at 10th Plenum of CC, CPCU@ in: K. S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 84).

Batista took the hint, and as a result:

AThe Communist Party was legalised for the the first time in its 13-year history on September 25, 1938.@ (Robert J. Alexander: >Communism in Latin America=; New York; 1957; p. 279).

and the party was then given government assistance in return for its political support:

AThe rise of the Communists to influence . . . was due to their deal with Batista, whereby they were given complete freedom of action and positive government aid in the trade union field in return for political support for Batista=s presidential ambitions@. (Robert J. Alexander: ibid.; p. 69-70).

Reporting the 3rd National Congress of the party (January 1939), the

American Communist Party leader William Z. Foster* wrote:

ABatista . A . continues to carry through his progressive line. Freed from this repression by Batista=s progressive policy,. the Cuban people are experiencing a tremendous political upsurge@. W.Z. Foster: >The Congress of the CP of Cuba=, in: >World News and Views=, Volume 19, No. 7 (18 February 1939); p. 148).

AThe foreign policy of its (Cuba=s – Ed.) Government, inspired by Colonel Fulgencio Batista, Constitutional Head of the Army, acquires greater anti-fascist content and Latin American scope. Colonel Batista has become an integral part of the progressive forces. We must work openly for the support of the masses for Batista=s policies@. (R. A.Martinez: >The Latin American Significance of the Cuban Democratic Upsurge=, in:>World News and Views=, Volume 19, No. 18 (1 April 1939); p.367, 368).

The policy of the party at this time was to seek to form a national united front around Batista. As Blas Roca, expressed it:

AWe fight for a great national united front@. (W.Z. Foster: op. cit.; p. 148).

In 1944, Batista even:

ATook two CP Ministers into his Cabinet@. (Peter Taafe: >Cuba: Analysis of the Revolution=; London; 1975; p. 5).

and in the same year, for purely opportunist reasons, the revisionist Communist Party of Cuba changed its name to that of the >’Popular Socialist Party=:

AIn 1944, with a view to drawing into its ranks some people from the trade unions – an attempt which, however, did not produce results – it adopted its present name, >Popular Socialist Party= (Blas Roca: >Eighth National Congress of the Popular Socialist Party of Cuba=, in AWorld Marxist Review@, Volume 3, No. 11 (November 1960); p.35).


Barred constitutionaly from a further term as President, in March 1952, Batista seized dictatorial power in a second coup. In the new situation of >cold war=, there could be no further collaboration with the PSP, which was declared illegal in July1953:

ABatista outlawed the Party in 1953″. (Robert Scheer & Maurice Zeitlin: >Cuba:An American Tragedy=; Harmondsworth; 1964; p. 125).

The PSP criticised the Batista coup in words:

AThe Communist Party . . . roundly condemned Batista=s putsch@; (K.S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 129).

but opposed revolutionary struggle against the regime in favour of:

Aresisting the government with every peaceful expression of the popular will@.(Popular Socialist Party: Letter to the 26th of July Movement, 28 February 1957, in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 30).

As the Executive Committee of the party summed it up after the Revolution:

ADuring most of the years of the tyranny, the Party tried to avoid violence@. (Theses of the Executive Committee of the Popular Socialist Party, in: >World Marxist Review=, Volume 2, No. 4 (April 1959); p. 69).

Indeed, the PSP strongly repudiated the Castroists= attack on the Moncada barracks as

A a putschist attempt, a desperate form of adventurism, typical petty-bourgeois circles lacking in principle and implicated in gangsterism@. (Popular Socialist Party; Statement of August 1953: in: K. S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 139).

As an organisation, therefore, the PSP took no part in the Cuban Revolution. The first contacts with the 26th of July Movement by the PSP were not made until July 1959, when one of its leaders,

ACarlos Rafael Rodriguez*. . . went to the Sierra to confer with Castro, apparently unofficially@.(Robert Scheer & Maurice Zeitlin: op. Cit.; p.129).

In spite of this contact, no formal agreement was made by the PSP to assist the >26th of July Movement=. Conrado Bequer, General Secretary of the Federation of Sugar Workers of Cuba, testified in 1959:

AThe Communists never helped the 26 July Movement until 26 December -five days before the fall of the Batista regime@.(>New York Times=, 31 May 1959, Section 4; p. 4).

In fact,

ABy January 1, 1959, the guerilla movement had won, . without the PSP ever clearly defining its position with respect to Castro (Andres Suarez ACuba, Castro and Communism: 1959-1966″; Cambridge (USA); 1967; p. 29).

Thus, the Popular Socialist Party played no role as an organisation in the Cuban Revolution of 1952-59.

Or, as Blas Roca admitted apologetically at the National Congress of the PSP in August 1960:

AThe Party . . . failed to grasp the profound significance of Fidel Castro=s revolutionary strategy@. (Bias Roca: Speech at National Congress of PSP, August 1960, in: K. S.Karol:op. cit.; p. 149).


Marxism-Leninism maintains that only a revolution which places the working class

in political power can lead to the building of a stable socialist society:

“The proletariat . . . alone is able . . . to retain power sufficiently long to suppress completely all the exploiters as well as all the elements of disintegration”. (V.I. Lenin: ‘The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government’, (March-April 1918), in: ‘Collected Works’ Volume 27; Moscow; 1965; p. 265).

But the working class played virtually no role in the Cuban revolution:

“Neither in its first, nor in its second phase can the revolution be described as proletarian; the proletariat . . . had taken little part in the struggle”.(Boris Goldenberg: op.cit.; p. 295).

“The alleged role of the working class in this revolution is fanciful” (Theodore Draper (1952): op. cit.; p. 45).

“Working class action could not be the decisive factor owing to a number of circumstances”. (Blas Roca: ‘The Cuban Revolution in Action” in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 2, No. 8 (August 1959); p. 17).

“Labour had in no way participated (in the revolution — Ed.)”. (Jose R. Alvarez Diaz: ‘The Road to Nowhere: Castro’s Rise and Fall’; Miami; 1965; p. 5).

“Our revolution is not a revolution made by labour unions or wage workers in the city or by labour parties, or by anything like that”. (C. Wright Mills: ‘Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba’; New York; 1960; p. 46).

Nor was the revolution made by the peasantry:

“As for the ‘peasants’, most of them . . remained passive during the whole period (of the revolution – Ed.). .The revolution was not a peasant revolution”. (Boris Goldenberg: op. cit.; p. 145, 295),).

“The peasantry never had its hands on any of the levers of command of the revolution, before or after the victory”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 44).

The revolution was in fact made by petty bourgeois intellectuals.

Of the two pre-eminent leaders of the ’26th of July Movement’, Fidel Castro was

“A 32-year-old lawyer, the son of a wealthy sugar planter”; (‘Keesing ‘s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 16,631).

while Argentinian-born Ernesto Guevara* (known as ‘Che’, an Argentinian word

meaning ‘pal’) was: “A doctor of medicine”. (‘Webster’s Biograohical Dictionary’; Springfield (USA); 1974; p. 639).

“The armed struggle was initiated by the petty bourgeoisie. The political leadership of the armed struggle was in the hands of the petty bourgeoisie”. (Blas Roca: ‘The Cuban Revolution in Action , in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 2, No. 8 (August 1959); p. 17).

“Those who had started and directed the revolution belonged primarily to the middle class”. (Jose R. Alvarez Diaz: op. cit.; p, 5).

“The frustrated young intellectuals . . . played a leading role”. (Boris Goldenberg: op. cit.; p. 297).

“Its (the revolution’s -~ Ed.) leaders have been young intellectuals”: (C.Wright Mlills: op. cit.; p. 46).

“The Cuban revolution was exclusively a middle-class revolution. The character of an army is established by its leadership and cadres, which remained almost exclusively middle class throughout. Every one attended a university (some in the United States), came from an upper- or middle-class home, and became or aspired to become a professional or intellectual. The revolution was made and always controlled by declassed sons and daughters of the middle class. When I visited Cuba (in 1960– Ed.) . . . everyone I met in any position of authority was obviously petty bourgeois in origin”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 10, 13, 54, 44, 117).

But Marxism-Leninism teaches that the petty bourgeoisie is a social class which is incapable of holding political power or even of independent class action:

“The petty bourgeois democrats are incapable of holding power”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Theses for a Report on the Tactics of the RCP, 3rd Congress of Communist International (June 1921), in: Collected Works; Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; p. 461).

“Owing to the basi features of its economic position, the petty bourgeoisie is incapable of doing anything independently”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky’ (October-November 1918), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 28; Moscow; 1965; p.301).

“The petty bourgeoisie . . . cannot, by the very economic nature of things, be anything else than the expression of class impotence (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Tax in Kind’ (April 1921), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; p. 359).

The petty bourgeoisie is capable of class action only in the service of the bourgeoisie:

“The petty bourgeois democrats have always tailed after the bourgeoisie as a feeble appendage to them (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Lessons of the Revolution’ (July 1917), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 25; Moscow; 1964; p. 238).

“The petty bourgeois democrats . .always serve merely as a screen for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and a stepping stone to its undivided power”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Theses for a Report on the Tactics of the RCP, 3rd Congress of the Communist International (June 1921), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 32; Moscow; 1965; p. 461).

“The petty bourgeoisie are in real life dependent upon the bourgeoisie and follow the bourgeoisie in their outlook”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution” (September 1917), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 24; Moscow; 1964; p. 62),

In the myth which they created, the leaders of the revolution presented themselves as spiritual representatives of the peasantry:

According to Castro himself, the Cuban Revolution was:

“A peasant revolution”. (Fidel Castro, in: Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 7).

“The revolution was principally the work of the dispossessed peasantry of Cuba”. (Fidel Castro, in: Theodore Draper(1965): p. 124).

And Guevara was in agreement:

“The strength of the revolutionary movement centred around the peasants at first”. (Ernesto Guevara: ‘On Sacrifice and Dedication’, in: John Gerassi (Ed.): ‘Venceremos! The Speeches and Writings of Ernesto Che Guevara’; London; 1969; p. 146).

“The guerilla fighter is above all an agrarian revolutionary. He interprets the desires of the great peasant mass”. (Ernesto Guevara: ‘Guerrilla Warfare’; Harmondsworth; 1969; p. 126).

“”Fidel Castro is . ..the embodiment of the revolutionary will and energy of the peasantry”; (Leo Huberman & Paul M. Sweezy: ‘Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution’; London; 1960; p. 78).

Also, the Cuban guerilla force was not led by a Marxist-Leninist Party –or, indeed, by any party at all — nor guided by Marxist ideology:

“In Cuba it was not the party that was the directive nucleus of the popular army. The ideology of the Cuban Rebel Army was not Marxist”. (Regis Debray: ‘Revolution in the Revolution? Armed Struggle and Political Struggle in Latin America’ (hereafter listed as ‘Reigis Debray, (1968); New York; 1967; p. 106-07), Harmondsworth; 1968; p. 105).

In fact, prior to the autumn of 1959 Castro made no attempt to conceal his opposition to Communism. He was indeed:

“A radical middle-class democrat whose ideal was democratic capitalist America”. (Peter Taaffe: op. cit.; p. 5).

In February 1958 Castro told the American magazine ‘Coronet’:

“We have no plans for the expropriation or nationalisation of foreign investments here. Foreign investments will always be welcome and secure here”. (Fidel Castro: ‘Why we fight’, in ‘Coronet’, Volume 43, No. 4 (February 1958); p. 84, 85).

After the victory of the revolution, on 2 April 1959, just before he left for a visit to the United States at the invitation of the American Association of Newspaper Editors,

“Castro told a television audience . . . that he was going to the US to secure credits”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 425).

Minister of the Economy Regino Boti, who accompanied Castro to America, is on record as telling economist Felipe Pazos on their arrival:

“We have no intention of asking now, during Castro’s visit, for aid, but you, Pazos, will return in a fortnight to make a request (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 425).

During his visit to the United States, Castro assured his audiences his anti-Communist views and the safety of foreign investments in Cuba. said on American TV:

“I am not a Communist, nor do I agree with communism”. (Fidel Castro” ‘Meet the Press’ Programme, in: ‘Castro’; Paul Humphrey: Hove; 1981; p. 42-43).

“Dr. Castro . . . has stated repeatedly that his movement is not Communist and that if Cuba can obtain some degree of prosperity, Communism cannot grow there”. (‘Times’, 20 April 1959; p. 8).

“Dr.Fidel Castro . . . went before the National Press Club here today to repeat his assurances made so often during his visit to the capital that he means nothing but friendship to the United States, that there are no Communists in his Government, that he has no plans to expropriate any foreign holdings in Cuba”., (‘Times’, 21 April 1959; p. 11).

Castro had no difficulty in convincing the CIA of his anti-Communism:

“Even more bizarre, Castro was prevailed on to meet the CIA’s chief expert on Communism in Latin America, a Central European named Droller: the two talked privately for three hours, and afterwards Droller told Lopez Fresquet: ‘Castro is not only not a Communist, he is a strong anti-Communist fighter”‘ (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 431).

After leaving the USA, on 21 May 1959 Castro described Communism as a system

“Which suppresses liberties, the liberties which are so dear to man.” (Fidel Castro, in: ‘Revolucion, 21 May 1959, in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit,; p. 37).

He told an old friend:

“Communism is the dictatorship of a single class and I . . . have fought all my life against dictatorship”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 432).

On 21 May 1959, Castro said in a televised speech:

“Capitalism sacrifices man, the Communist state sacrifices man. . Our revolution is not red, but olive-green, the colour of the rebel army”. (‘Guia del Pensiamento politicoeconomico de Fidel’ (Guide to the Politico-economic Thought of Fidel); Havana; 1959; p. 48).

Writing in the ‘New York Times’ in July 1959, Herbert Matthews*, a senior editor on the newspaper, declared emphatically:

“Castro .. . is not only not a Communist, but decidedly anti-Communist”. (Herbert Matthews: ‘New York Times’, 16 July 1959; p. 2).

The US Ambassador to Cuba, Philip Bonsal*, was convinced

“That Castro was not a Communist (Jaime Suchlicki: op. cit.; p. 30).

And as late as November 1959, the Deputy Director-General of the CIA, Charles Cabell*, was assuring the Senate Internal Security Committee:

“The Cuban Communists do not consider him (Castro — Ed.) . . even a pro-Communist.”(Robert Scheer & Maurice Zeitlin: op. cit.; p. 120).


We have seen that) in the myth which they created, the leaders of the Cuban Revolution presented themselves as spiritual representatives of the peasantry. Accordingly, the first major piece of legislation adopted by the new Cuban government, in May 1959, was a land reform law.

Prior to the reform:

“Only 16% of the land was directly cultivated by its owners. Tenant farming, sharecropping and hired farm labour were the norm.” (Jaime Suchlicki: op. cit.; p. 8).

This position was radically altered by the agrarian reform, as a result of which

“It was estimated that about 8.3 million acres of expropriated land would be available for redistribution.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 16,902).

“The first Agrarian Reform Law was the fist major act of the new revolutionary government on coming to power. It expropriated the latifunda from the major landowners . . distributed part of them to such peasants as were landless, and set an upper limit to the amount of land which could remain in private property”. (John & Peter Griffiths (Ed.): ‘Cuba: The Second Decade’; London; 1979; p.84).

“The first Agrarian Reform Law. distributed land to the small. farmers who cultivated food and tobacco, and expropriated the large latifundios — turning the cattle ranches into granjas (state farms – Ed.)”. (Martin Kenner & James Petras (Eds.): ‘Fidel Castro Speaks’; London; 1970; p. 37).

“Tenants . . were the first to benefit from the land reform decree of May 17 1959. They were given the titles to the land they farmed, had their holdings increased to a total of 190 acres, and were granted subsidies to work them efficiently”. (K.S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 22).

“More than 5,500 poor peasants had benefited from the reform by the spring of 1961”. (K. S. Karol: op. cit.,; p. 30).

Expropriation of land and industrial enterprises (mainly sugar-mills) estates was subject to compensation in state bonds:

“Compensation for expropriated land or industrial installations would be in Cuban Government bonds bearing 4.5% interest per annum and repayable in 20 years”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 16,902).

The effecting of the agrarian reform was placed in the hands of a ‘National Institute of Agrarian Reform’ (NIAR):

“A National Institute of Agrarian Reform, headed by Dr. Castro, would decide which lands were to be expropriated and redistributed, provide financial help to new tenant-farmers (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 16,901).

One feature of the agrarian reform was that it included the expropriation of US-owned sugar mills and plantations:

“The agrarian reform law involved the expropriation of the American-owned sugar-mills and plantations in Cuba – covering 1.7 million acres of land, representing a total investment of about $275 million and accounting for 40% of Cuba’s sugar production.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 16,902).

Althou8h some of the large-scale farms established by the agrarian reform law were known at first as ‘cooperatives’, they were not true cooperatives. They did not have members who administered them and divided the profits among themselves; the workers were state employees who received a wage:

“The cooperatives from the start did not ever signify what that word usually means: NIAR appointed the manager of the enterprise. . . . The workers were paid about $2.50 a day’. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit. p. 438).

But the actual amount depended on the profits of the farm.

“The ‘cooperatives’ . . . were cooperatives in name only. In practice, as Rodriguez later admitted, they had been transformed into granjas del pueblo, or state farms. NIAR administered them from above without in the least taking their members’ wishes into account, giving them any voice in their affairs, or even holding pro forma meetings. The cooperatives had all the disadvantages of state farms and none of the advantages, the most important of the latter being a guaranteed wage”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p.140).

As a result, the ‘cooperatives’ quickly became very unpopular with the peasants:

“In November 1961, Castro himself remarked that the peasants had become so ‘allergic’ to the cooperatives that they ‘feared’ the very word. In June 1962, Rodriguez reported that the cooperatives had become ‘dead organisms’ and their members had been shifting to the granias (state farms – Ed.) and private farms”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 140).

In August 1962, the ‘cooperatives’:

“Were officially transformed into granjas (state farms –Ed . ) (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 140).


At first representatives of US imperialism were friendly and well disposed towards the new regime in Cuba. On 3 January 1959 it was reported that:

“US Department of State officials are . . . cautiously optimistic about the new Cuban government’s future economic and political policies”. (Robert Scheer & Maurice Zeitlin: op. cit.; p. 277).

On 8 January 1959 the United States recognised the new Cuban regime, Note of recognition expressing:

“The sincere goodwill of the Government and people of the United States towards the new Government and the people of Cuba”. (US Department of State: ‘Bulletin’, Volume 40, No. 1,022 (26 January 1959); p. 128).

This goodwill on the part of the US imperialists towards the new Cuban government continued in spite of the agrarian reform law of May 1959, which was no more radical than land reform laws adopted in other countries with US support. In the Cuban case, for example,

“The rates of interest proposed on the bonds were higher than the General MacArthur’s* Agrarian Reform in Japan… The law of Agrarian Reform, on analysis, turned out to be as modest as many other such laws in democracies..” (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 437, 442).

The only adverse US action on the law was an official Note to Cuba on 11 June 1959 expressing

“Serious concern”, (‘New York Times’, 12 June 1959; p. 10),

on the grounds that such:

“A widespread redistribution of land, which might have serious adverse effects on productivity, could prove harmful to the general economy”. (‘New York Times’, ibid.; p. 10).

and demanding:

“A prompt, adequate and effective compensation”. (‘New York Times’, ibid.; p. 10).

On 15 June:

“Cuba formally rejected the US Note of 11 June. The Cuban reply was, however, moderate in many ways”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 448).


In February 1960 Anastas Mikoyan*, First Deputy Prime Minister of the revisionist Soviet Union, paid an official visit to Cuba. Among the documents signed during his visit was one by which the Soviet Union:

“Agreed to grant Cuba a loan of $100 million . . . bearing a 2.5% interest”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,589).

and a trade agreement for the exchange of Soviet crude oil for Cuban sugar. This agreement was advantageous for the Cuban government, since it allowed Cuba:

“To import the cheaper Soviet crude — the Soviets chose to make it cheaper, and besides, Cuba would be paying for it with sugar, instead of dollars, under the Mikoyan accord”. (Tad Szulc: ‘Fidel: A Critical Portrait’; London; 1987; p. 417).

From the moment this trade agreement was published, the attitude of the United States government towards Cuba became one of undisguised hostility:

“The United States quickly interpreted Castro’s . . trade deal with the Soviet Union in 1960 as meaning that Cuba had become a Communist satellite”. (William A. Williams: ‘The United States, Cuba and Castro: An Essay on the Dynamics of Revolution and the Dissolution of Empire’; New York; 1962; p. 139).

“Beginning in March 1960 the United States began to work for the downfall of the Castro regime”. (Lilia Ferro-Clerico & Wayne S. Smith: ‘The US Trade Embargo’, in: Wayne S.Smith & Esteban Morales Dominguez (Eds.): ‘Subject to Solution: Problems in Cuban-US Relations’; Boulder (USA); 1988; p. 80).

“The new American policy – not announced as such, but implicit in the actions of the United States government — was one of overthrowing Castro by all the means available to the US short of the open employment of the American Armed Forces in Cuba”. (Philip Bonsai: op. cit.; p. 135).

Although he had been appointed in January, the arrival of the new American Ambassador for Cuba was delayed until 19 February to demonstrate US displeasure with the Castro government:

“The long delay in replacing Smith by Bonsai involved an official move to show displeasure with the new Cuban government”. (William A. Williams: op. cit.; p. 37).

By the beginning of March 1960, the US administration was making preparations to impose economic sanctions on Cuba by introducing legislation empowering the President to cut the Cuban sugar quota (the agreed amount of sugar to be imported into the USA each year). It:

“Introduced a bill into the Senate which gave President Eisenhower power authority to cut the Cuban sugar quota if there should be need”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 492).

It was in accordance with this political line that in March 1960:

“The formal American decision to arm and train an exile army was . . . made”. (William A. Williams: op. cit.; p. 139).

“President Eisenhower accepted a recommendation of the Central Intelligence Agency to begin to arm and train Cuban exiles”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 493).

On 23 May 1960:

“The three large oil refineries in Cuba — Texaco, Royal Dutch and Standard Oil – were told by the government that a large consignment of Russian oil, in pursuance of the accord of February, would soon arrive, and they would henceforth be asked to process 6,000 lbs. crude oil a day.” (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 506).

On the advice of the US government, the oil companies refused:

“The great oil companies in mid-June at last replied that they would not process Russian oil. . . . The Cubans’ case derived from a law of 1938 providing that foreign refineries were required to process Cuban crude oil. . . . The secretary of the US Treasury had strongly urged a refusal by the companies to process the oil”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 510).

“The three big oil companies (Jersey Standard, Texaco and Shell), under pressure from the US government, refused to refine the Russian oil”. (Peter Taaffe: op. cit.; p. 6).

“The US government had encouraged them not to refine the Soviet oil”. (Lilia Ferro~lerico & Wayne S. Smith: ‘The US Trade Embargo’, in: Wayne S.Smith & Morales Estaban Dominguez (Eds): op. cit.; p. 79).

On 27 May 1960 the USA terminated all economic ‘aid’ to Cuba as

“no longer in the national and hemispheric interests of the United States”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,541).

On 28 June 1960:

“Castro signed the order saying that the Texaco oil refinery in Santiago had to refine the Soviet crude oil or be expropriated. . . . On 30 June the Esso and Shell refineries were taken over in Havana.” (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 511).

“Castro seized all three refineries”. (Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 417).

“The Cuban government . . . ‘intervened’ (a form of supervision) and put the oil through. The companies retaliated by refusing to deliver oil from Venezuela. Cuba then agreed to take all its oil from Russia”. (Peter Taaffe: op. cit.; p. 6).

“When the imperialist enterprises refused to process the crude oil purchased by us from the Soviet Union . . . and threatened to cut off all our oil supplies, introduction of control over the oil refineries became a matter of life or death for the country. There was no alternative. Either we had to do this or surrender, to submit to the diktat of the imperialist companies and agree to the country’s economic life being paralysed”. (Blas Roca: ‘New Stage in the Cuban Revolution’, in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 4) No,. 10 (October 1961); p. 5).

On 5 July the Bill became law empowering the US President

“To determine Cuba’s sugar import quota in the USA for the remaining months of 1960 and the first three months of 1961”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Atchives’, Volume 12; p. 17,542).

Eisenhower immediately acted to cut the quota by 700,000 tons:

“Eisenhower decided to go the whole hog. On July 6 he reduced the quota for Cuba by 700,000 tons”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 511).

“Eisenhower stated that ‘this action amounts to economic sanctions against Cuba. Now we must look for to other moves — economic, diplomatic and strategic”‘. (Lilia Ferro-Clerico & Wayne S. Smith1 in: Wayne S. Smith & Esteban Morales Dominguez (Eds.): op. cit.; op. cit.; p. 79).

This move:

“Was calculated to bring the Castro regime to its knees. But immediately Russia stepped in and agreed to take the 700,000 tons of sugar”. (Peter Taaffe: op. cit.; p. 6).

“The Soviet Union immediately stepped in to announce that it would buy the 700,000 tons of sugar cut by the United States”. (Lilia Ferro-Clerico & Wayne S. Smith, in: Wayne S. Smith & Esteban Morales Dominguez (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 79).

Meanwhile, in retaliation for the US action on the sugar quota, on July, a Cuban decree was approved empowering the government to:

“Nationalise the property of all US companies and citizens in Cuba … whenever this was deemed necessary in the national interest… The nationalisation decree was obviously intended as a retaliatory .. action to the impending reduction in the Cuban sugar quota for the US market”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,541).

“On July 5, Cuba . . . retaliated for the Sugar Act by nationalising all US businesses and commercial property in Cuba”. (Lilia Ferro-Clerico & Wayne S. Smith, in: Wayne S. Smith & Estaban Morales Dominguez (Eds): op. cit.; p. 79).

“The Cubans expropriated all US-owned property”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 144).

On 6 July 1960 the US government sent to Havana a Note of protest at the seizure of the American oil refineries, charging that this was:

“a violation of accepted standards of ethics and morality in the free world”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,542).

On 19 August 1960 the US government made it illegal for:

“countries receiving US aid to use these funds to buy sugar from Cuba”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,629).

In the same month, plans were prepared in the CIA to assassinate Castro:

“In August 1960 Mr. Richard M. Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards to determine if the Office of Security had assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was the liquidation of Fidel Castro”. (CIA: Internal Memorandum, in: Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 422).

In October 1960 the Cuban government took measures of nationalisation measures against other foreign-owned enterprises, as well as against a number of Cuban enterprises:

“The response in Cuba was swift. During the weekend of 14-15 October… INRA took over 382 large private enterprises in Cuba, including all the banks (except two Canadian ones), all the remaining private sugar mills, 18 distilleries, 61 textile mills, 16 rice mills, 11 cinemas and 13 large stores”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 519).

“The Government nationalised all Cuban-owned banks and 382 other companies, including most of the large industrial, commercial and transport companies”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,787).

In this way:
“the Government acquired possession of all the 161 mills in Cuba. . . . The other enterprises affected included all textile factories, 8 railways1 47 commercial warehouses, 13 department stores, 11 coffee companies, 6 distilleries, 16 rice mills and 11 cinema circuits (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,787).

On 19 October 1960, the US government imposed an embargo:

“On all exports to Cuba, except medical supplies and unsubsidised foodstuffs”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,787).

“The United States retaliated with a trade embargo”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 144).

“The embargo . . . was intended to serve as a deterrent to other countries that might consider such nationalisations, that is, to thus protect the interests of US property owners (Lilia Ferro-Clerico & Wayne S. Smith1 in: Wayne S.Smith and Esteban-Morales Dominguez (Eds): op. cit.; p. 80).

On 29 October 1960:

“Ambassador Bonsal was withdrawn for an ‘extended period of consultation’. He never returned”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 519-20).

On 8 December 1960, the Royal Bank of Canada in Cuba was nationalised. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 12; p. 17,833). On 3 January 1961:

“President Eisenhower announced the severing of diplomatic ties with Cuba”. (Haynes B. Johnson: ‘The Bay of Pigs: The Invasion of Cuba by Brigade 2506’; London; 1964; p. 58).


On 17 April 1961, Cuban counter-revolutionaries in exile in the United States staged an attempt to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of the island. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 18,151). The operation had been planned by leading officials of US imperialism:

“Although the CIA was entrusted with the day-to-day operation of the Cuban counter-revolutionary force, the overall planning was debated in Washington at the highest level by what was called ‘the special group –a group of officials of the State Department, Pentagon, CIA and White House, who met periodically about Cuba”. (Haynes B. Johnson: op. cit.; p. 53).

“US journalists reported the existence of bases in Guatemala where US military instructors were training Cuban exiles in commando warfare and in the use of the most modern US weapons”. (Ivison Macadam (Ed.): ‘Annual Register of World Events: A Review of the Year 1961’; London; 1962; p. 192).

In view of its clear violation of international law, American participation in the operation was kept secret:

“It was vital for the American involvement to be kept both secret and at a minimum in the actual landing and fighting”. (Haynes B. Johnson: op.cit.; p. 66).

Nevertheless, the US President, John Kennedy*,

“Permitted the US navy to convoy the invaders to Cuban waters (‘Encyclopedia Americana’, Volume 8; Danbury (USA); 1981; p. 304).

The invasion failed, and :

“Over 1,200″ were captured. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 18,151).

On 26 April 1961 Cuba was excluded from the Inter-American Defence Board. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 18,716).

On 30 April 1961 the US government advised all US nationals living in Cuba to leave the island”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 18,154).


The Soviet revisionists were, of course, prepared to offer ‘aid’ to Cuba only at a price — and the price was the acceptance by Cuba of a semi-colonial status to the Soviet Union. Thus,

“by March 1962, Soviet bloc ‘advisers’ had become ubiquitous in the Cuban administrative apparatus”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit. p. 148).

Eventually, Cuba became:

“much more dependent on the Eastern countries than it had been on the United States’. (Boris Goldenberg: op. cit.; p. 200).

In 1986, Hugh Thomas* could write:

“Russia plays almost as great a part in Cuban politics as the US did in the past”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 701).,

For its part, the Cuban government:

“Aimed to increase their leverage over the Soviet Union by becoming its indispensable ally in the Third World”. (Sebastian Balfour: ‘Castro’; London; 1990; p. 120).

In April 1961 Guevara could still stress the necessity for Cuba to break with the semi-colonial pattern of dependence upon a single export crop, in favour of industrialisation and diversification:

“Under-development or distorted development, carries with it a dangerous specialisation in raw materials, containing a threat of hunger for all our people. We, ‘the underdeveloped’, are those of the single crop, the single product, and the single market. A single product whose uncertain sale depends upon a single market, which imposes and sets conditions. This is the great formula of imperial economic domination which is combined with the old and always useful Roman formula, ‘divide and conquer”. (Ernesto Guevara: ‘Cuba – Exception or Vanguard?’, in: John Gerassi (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 135).

“Once settled in the Ministry of Industries, Che began to speed up the industrialisation of Cuba. . Along with industrialisation went the companion aim of diversification (Daniel James: ‘Che’ Guevara’; London; 1970; p. 123).

“The regime in Cuba intended now to diversify her agriculture so that in a very short time. . . . she need no longer rely on sugar”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 512).

But diversification and industrialisation were not compatible with the desires of the Soviet revisionists that Cuba should take up a semi-colonial position to the Soviet Union. Under Soviet pressure, therefore, these plans were abandoned in favour of continued concentration upon the growing of sugar for export.

In August 1963:

“Castro announced . . . that his whole new economic policy was postulated on a spectacular increase in sugar production, aimed at reaching 10 million tons by 1970. Agricultural diversification went backward instead of forward. For example, rice production had advanced to a high point of 181,000 tons in 1957, two years before Castro, and plunged to 95,400 tons in 1962, after three years of Castro. Cuba had been forced to reorganise its entire economy’. (Theodore Draper (1965): pop. cit.; p. 172, 227, 230).

As Guevara had expressed the position earlier:

“We must change our entire system of production to adapt it to those countries that supply us with raw materials and spare parts (Ernesto Guevara, in: Boris Goldenberg: op. cit.; p. 20).

“Castro announced a reorientation of the Cuban economy towards agriculture, in particular the growing of sugar cane and cattle-raising”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives”, Volume 18; p. 24,524).

Alban Lataste, the Deputy Minister of the Economy, explained this to a Yugoslav correspondent in 1964 in typical revisionist double-talk:

“We are now aware that we can overcome monoculture solely by developing that same monoculture further”. (Alban Lataste, in: ‘Borba’ (Struggle), 28 December 1964; p. 3).

To the Cuban people, the increased dependence upon sugar exports was put in the pseudo-Marxist terms of the ‘international division of labour’:

“In his report on his Soviet tour on June 4 (1963– Ed.) Castro made known that an international division of labour’ was necessary, according to which Cuba should specialise in what she was best fitted for by nature, namely agriculture”. (Thedore Draper (1965): op. cit. p~ 169).


We have seen that the leaders of the Cuban Revolution, while claiming to represent the interests of the Cuban peasantry, objectively represented initially the interests of the Cuban national bourgeoisie, whose interests were served by national liberation from American imperialism. On the other hand, the leaders of the Popular Socialist Party, with their policy of ‘striving for national liberation from imperialism by peaceful means objectively represented the interests of the pro-imperialist Cuban comprador bourgeoisie.

Once the revolution had achieved victory, however, the Popular Socialist Party, although it had played no active role in the revolution, having claimed to stand for national liberation — had no alternative but to declare its support for the revolution:

“The Party . . . supports the new regime”. (Theses of the Executive Committee of the Popular Socialist Party of Cuba, in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 2, No. 4 (April 1959); p., 69).

Forced by circumstances to accept a semi-colonial position to Soviet imperialism the Cuban leaders sought to make this position as little onerous as possible and themselves as secure as possible from the ever-present threat of US imperialist intervention.

They calculated that these objectives were most likely to be achieved if they could present Cuba as a ‘fraternal socialist country’, morally entitled to the support and protection of the Soviet bloc.

This ploy required a party that could be presented as a ‘Marxist-Leninist Party’. As we have seen, those who had led the revolution had nothing that could be called a political party of any kind, and they were therefore compelled to turn to the only left-wing political party which did exist, the revisionist Popular Socialist Party which, although it had taken no active part in the revolution, declared its support for this revolution once it had been victorious:

“Fidel Castro . . . needed the help of the trained cadres of Cuba’s Communist Party (the PSP — Ed.) in carrying Out his ambitious programme” (‘Encylopedia Americana’, Volume 8; Danbury (USA); 1981;

“In a country without political organisation and without institutions, the attractions for Castro of turning to the Communist party (the PSP –Ed.) must have been strong”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 444).

But the revisionist PSP was severely:

“Tarnished by its previous association with Batista and by its refusal until almost the last moment to engage in armed struggle against him”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 205).

In these circumstances, it was clearly impossible for the Castroites to join the Popular Socialist Party.

What they needed was the help of the experienced cadres of the PSP in building a

new party under their:control

“Fidel could not simply join the PSP without losing face. . . . A new organisation, which did not have to bear the burden of the PSP’s long and chequered history, was obviously preferable”. (Theodore Draper (1962): Op. cit.; p. 122).

“Castro insisted from the outset that the ‘old’ Communist Communist Party be absorbed into a ‘new’ Communist Party under his leadership”. (Tad Szulc: Op. cit.; p. 377).

The PSP had little choice but to accept this position:

“The Communists (the PSP -Ed.) agreed to recognise Castro as the leader of the new party; Castro agreed to recognise the party as the leader of the revolution”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 142).

The first step in the programme was that:

“Classes began in Marxism-Leninism”, (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 536).

organised by the cadres of the PSP. Then, in March 1961, on Castro’s initiative, all existing political parties – the Castro’s ’26th of July Movement’, the students’ ‘Revolutionary Directorate’ and the ‘Popular Socialist Party’ — were merged into a single organisation, the ‘Integral Revolutionary Organisations’ (IRO):

“Castro . . . authorised the first stage in the development of single government party . . . in the form of the IRO”; (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 136).

This was a federal organisation, in which:

“Each party retained its identity and autonomy”. (Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 379).

For the first six months of its existence the IRO was under PSP control:

“The IRO had been functioning for at least six months on the basis of virtually complete PSP control”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 206).

having as organiser a PSP leader, Anibal Escalante*:

“Anibal Escalante . . . was given the task of organising the IRO”. (Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 462).

In July 1961 Castro announced that it was the government’s intention that Cuba should

“Eventually become a one-party State,” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 18,502).

On 1 December 1961 the ‘Integral Revolutionary Organisations’ was transformed into a unitary party, the ‘United Party of the Socialist Revolution ‘.


Continuing the process of presenting Cuba as a ‘socialist’ state deserving of fraternal support from the Soviet bloc, on 16 April 1961, in a speech by Castro,

“The revolution in Cuba was officially declared a socialist revolution”: (Blas Roca: ‘New Stage in the Cuban Revolution’, in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 4, No. 10 (October 1961); p. 2).

This propaganda was aimed at giving a measure of protection to Cuba against the threat from US imperialism:

“Castro soon saw . . . that the Soviets were not likely to provide the defence umbrella he wanted unless Cuba were a Marxist-Leninist state. Only then would there be a doctrinal imperative for them to come to his defence. Thus, the day before the Bay of Pigs invasion, in a transparent effort to force the Soviets to guarantee Cuba’s security, Castro declared his revolution to be socialist”. (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-Five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.):’Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution:1959-1984′ (hereafter listed as: ‘Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985)’; New York; 1985; p. 337).

And on 1 December 1961, Castro publicly declared:

“I am a Marxist-Leninist, and I will be one until the last day of my life”. (Fidel Castro: Speech of 1 December 1961, in: Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 147).


We have seen that the Castroites initially presented themselves as representing the interests of the Cuban peasantry, while in fact, objectively, they represented the interests of the Cuban national bourgeoisie. In the circumstances of liberated Cuba, where capital was now in extremely short supply, the Castroites took the view that the independent economic development of Cuba could be achieved only by using the state machinery to develop capitalism, that is, only by developing state capitalism.

As we have seen, the leaders of the Popular Socialist Party represented the interests of the Cuban comprador bourgeoisie. After the victory of the revolution, they could no longer do this directly. They therefore argued against state capitalism, against nationalisation of the enterprises of the national bourgeoisie and in favour of their encouragement as private entrerpreneurs, understanding that — in the post-Liberation conditions of Cuba — this would necessarily involve aid from, and therefore dependence upon, foreign imperialism.

At the 8th Congress of the PSP in August 1960, Blas Roca of the PSP insisted that:

“Private enterprise that is not imperialistic . . . is still necessary”. (Blas Roca in: Hugh Thomas: op. cit.: p. 513).

And he wrote in 1961:

“Another question of great import in this process is that of maintaining contact with the still-remaining private-capitalist sector. The procedure which we used in uprooting US imperialist domination, latifundism and big parasitic capital cannot be applied in extirpating the survivals of capitalism”. (Blas Roca: ‘New Stage in the Cuban Revolution’, in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 4, No. 10 (October 1961); p. 7).

In line with this strategy, the PSP insisted that the new revolutionary regime represented the interests of a coalition of classes, including the national bourgeoisie. It :

“Borrowed from Mao Tse-tung the concept of the ‘four-class’ bloc or alliance, made up of the middle class, peasants, workers and national bourgeoisie.” (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 82-83).

As the PSP said:

“Power has passed into the hands of the ‘Movement of July 26’, led by Fidel Castro . . . with the national and petty bourgoisie playing the leading role”. (Theses of the Executive Committee of the Popular Socialist Party of Cuba, in: ‘World Marxist Review’, Volume 2, No. 4 (April 1959); p. 68).

It insisted that the party would strive:

“To preserve and strengthen the alliance of all revolutionary and popular forces represented by the working class, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie (Theses of the Executive Committee of the Popular Socialist Party of Cuba, in: ibid.; p. 69).

“Anibal Escalante . . . opposed the confiscation of all private property, . . . adding that ‘we maintain the strategy of the alliance of classes with which the revolution originated’. (Anibal Escalante, in: Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 421).

This was the main factor which created contradictions within the unified party that included both Castroites and former PSP leaders.

In a televised speech on 26 March 1962, Castro denounced former PSP leader Anibal Escalante for attempting:

“To systematically purge from high posts members of Castro’s 26th of July Movement and substitute them with PSP cadres.” (Jaime Suchucki: op. cit.; p. 101).

And for:

“Converting the IRO into an instrument for personal ends, into a ‘tyranny’, a ‘strait jacket”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 204).

“Castro singled out Anibal Escalante for some of the most withering accusations in his formidable arsenal of sarcastic invective. lie informed Cubans that Escalante had created ‘a counter-revolutionary monstrosity’ in IRO, that he had built up his own machine to take over the party and the government’. (Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 463).


” had been despatched the day before to Prague, being succeeded in his job at IRO by President Dorticos”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit. ; p. 601).

Although the criticism was ostensibly directed against Escalante personally, Castro made it clear that a whole group of former leaders of the PSP were involved:

“Castro made it abundantly clear that he was striking through Escalante at many others. The red thread through the whole speech was the clash of interest that had developed between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Communists”. (Theodore Draper (1962): op. cit.; p. 205, 206).

Many of these former PSP leaders were demoted:

“Blas Roca, the theoretician of 1961, dropped back from the public eye in 1962, . . . Escalante being in exile. Carlos Rafael Rodriguez kept to agrarian reform in place of his wide-ranging lectures on general policy. Cesar Escalante, Anibal’s brother, remained as theorist and intellectual director of the IRO”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 602).

“Others in the party leadership quickly realised that they could not confront Castro, and were delighted to let Anibal Escalante be the principal sacrificial lamb (his brother Cesar Escalante joined in the rites and thus remained in the leadership.” (Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 464).

“Whereas previously the old-time Communists, headed by Bias Roca and Anibal Escalante, were the authorised interpreters of ‘Marxism-Leninism’, now they have been succeeded by Fidel Castro. He has stepped forward, as a result of Escalante’s downfall, as the final authority.” (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 210).

Once the resistance of the former PSP leaders had been overcome, in December 1962 the Castroites proceeded with their plans to complete the nationalisation of the enterprises of the national bourgeoisie and to build state capitalism. The government undertook:

“The nationalisation of all wholesale and retail clothing, footwear and hardware businesses”.; (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 19,170).

“In December of that year (1962– Ed.) most enterprises using hired labour were nationalised”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 669).

Nevertheless, behind the scenes the former PSP leaders continued to obstruct the elimination of the national bourgeoisie, and:

“in 1964 Escalante was allowed to re-enter Cuba as administrator of a small farm”. (Jaime Suchucki: op. cit.; p. 101).

The Castroite struggle against them then restarted.

In July 1964 former PSP leader Alberto Mora Becerra was dismissed as Minister Foreign Commerce and Regino Boti as Minister of the Economy. (Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,665).

In the same month former PSP Augusto Martinez Sanchez was dismissed as Minister of Labour, a post he had held since October 1959, for: “serious administrative errors”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,665).

Then, in February 1965 Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, who had succeeded Castro as head of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform in 1962:

“Was removed . . ., the post being taken over by Dr. Fidel Castro”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,665).

“The demotion of Dr. Rodriguez had been preceded in 1964 by that of the Ministers of Economy and Foreign Commerce, and by the attempted suicide of Dr. Augusto Martinez Sanchez after he had been replaced as Minister of Labour. . . . The leading ‘old Communists in the Government — Dr. Boti, Major Mora Becerra, Dr. Martinez and Dr. Rodriguez . were all replaced by Fidelistas between July 1964 and February 1965”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume 15; p. 20,665, 20,796).

On 6 January 1968 Castro publicly attacked the ‘microfaction’ in the party headed by Anibal Escalante:

“Anibal Escalante . . . was once more the main target of Castro’s purge”. (Tad Szulc: op. cit.; p. 501).

On 28 January Escalante and 10 other leading members of the unified party were expelled from the party:

“The Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, at an emergency session on January 26-28, 1968, expelled 11 of its leading members who were accused of intriguing against ‘the principal measures of the revolution. The leader of the group Senor Anibal Escalante, at whose farm they were said to have held conspiratorial meetings went into exile in Eastern Europe in 1962″. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume 16; p. 22,502).

The Central Committee also announced that 37members ‘microfaction’ would be tried as

” Rraitors to the revolution”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives;, Volume 16; p. 22,592).

On 3 February 1968 it was announced that

“Escalante had been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment’, (‘Keesing’ s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 16; p. 22,592).

The other defendants were sentenced to lesser terms of imprisonment. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume 16; p. 22,592).

Thus, by 1968 the Castroists had won a decisive victory over the PSP and in March of that year the Cuban government was able to undertake: a ‘Great Revolutionary Offensive’ which completed the nationalisation of the enterprises of the national bourgeoisie:

“In the spring of 1968, . . . the remainder of the non-agricultural private sector passed to state control –56,000 small businesses” (Carmelo Mesa-Lago: ‘The Economy of Socialist Cuba: A Two-Decade Appraisal’; Albuquerque (USA); 1981; p. 23).

“In March (1968 – Ed.), he (Castro — Ed.) launched a Revolutionary Offensive to mop up the last vestiges of the private sector, nationalising over 55,000 small businesses .” (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; 1990; p. 91).

“The government destroyed the last vestiges of private enterprise during the so-called ‘revolutionary offensive’ which closed without compensation 50,000 small businesses. . . . Since then, apart from fishermen and farmers, the only private undertakings in Cuba are a few medical practices.” (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 669).

“58,012 stalls, shops and private service establishments were nationalised”. (K.S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 442).

“The national bourgeoisie . . had been nationalised . . . in Cuba, against the strong recommendations of the communist PSP.” (William E. Ratliff: ‘Castroism and Communism in Latin America: 1959-1976: The Varieties of Marxist-Leninist Experience’; Stanford (USA); 1976; p. 49).

“The state . . . between 1967 and 1970 nationalised all remaining private production, except in agriculture.” (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Profile: Cuba’, 1987-88; p. 17).

This, of course, assisted the Castroites in falsely presenting their regime as ‘socialist’. As Peter Taaffe and Theodore Draper express this, by 1968

“Capitalism had been eliminated in Cuba”. (Peter Taaffe: op. cit.; p. 6).

“Castroism in power liquidated the national bourgeoisie.” (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 87).

In fact, of course, socialisation differs from nationalisation in that it is the taking over of a private enterprise by a state which represents the interests of the working class and is led by a party representing the interests of the working class. The post-revolutionary Cuban state was never such a (socialist) state and the leading party in Cuba was never such a (Marxist-Leninist) party.


On 22 October 1962 US President John Kennedy broadcast an ultimatum to the Cuban government alleging the presence of Soviet long-range missiles in Cuba and demanding their removal (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 19,060). On the same day the US government imposed a naval quarantine on Cuba:

“With the aim of preventing military shipments from reaching that country”. (Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 19,057).

Also on the same day, Soviet cargo ships en route for Cuba:

“Altered course or drew to a halt at sea”; (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 632).

A letter to Kennedy from First Secretary of the CPSU, Nikita Khrushchev*, on 26 October assured the former that the missiles:

“Were defensive, and a US pledge not to invade Cuba would remove the need for them,” (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.. p. 634).

As the President’s brother,. Robert Kennedy*, wrote later, the crisis ended when Khrushchev accepted the following American proposal for its settlement:

“1. You would agree to the removal of these weapons from Cuba under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision. .

2. We, on our part, would agree to… a) to remove promptly the quarantine measures now in effect, and b) to give assurances against an invasion of Cuba”. (Robert Kennedy, in: ‘Times’, 31 October 1968; p. 10).

On 29 October Khrushchev agreed:

“To dismantle the missile bases in Cuba”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 19,057).


“. . Was not consulted by Khrushchev”, (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 636).


“Fidel Castro never concealed his ‘irritation’ , as he put it, with the Soviet Union for having struck a deal with the United States to repatriate the missiles without consulting him. The rancour was still there when he was telling me the story 22 years later.” (Tad Szulc: op. cit. p. 477).


“The Cuban government . . . refused to permit any UN observation…Since the withdrawal of the missiles occurred without UN inspection, the government of the US (though withdrawing the quarantine) did not in the end give a public promise never to invade Cuba”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 637).

It is sometimes suggested that the Cuban missiles crisis demonstrates the existence of a fundamental antagonism between the US imperialists and the Khushchevite revisionists. In reality, the fact that the revisionists backed down as soon as they were faced with the American ultimatum demonstrates precisely the opposite.


In January 1962, the US imperialists persuaded the Organisation of American States to exclude Cuba from the Organisation and impose an arms embargo on that country:

“Upon his inauguration as President, in January of 1961, John F, Kennedy set out to gain the support of the Organisation of American States, which he saw as a prerequisite to an effective embargo. He succeeded. At the 8th Meeting of the OAS Foreign Ministers, held a year later in January of 1962 at Punta del Este (Uruguay). Cuba was excluded from the Inter-American system and an arms embargo was imposed”. (Lilia Ferro-Clerico & Wayne S. Smith: ‘The US Trade Embargo’, in: Wayne S. Smith & Esteban Morales Dominguez (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 80).

The official grounds for Cuba’s expulsion were:

“That the Marxist-Leninist system proclaimed by the Cuban Government was incompatible with the democratic principles of the American community”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’ Volume 13; p. 18,713).

In February 1962 the US government imposed

“An embargo on virtually all US trade with Cuba excluding only the export of certain foodstuffs and medical supplies”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 18,717).

In February 1963 the embargo was extended by a Presidential directive which laid down that

“No government financed cargoes could be shipped from US ports on any foreign-flag vessel engaged in trade with Cuba”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 19,913).

In July 1963 new currency regulations:

“Froze all Cuban assets in US banks . . . on the basis of the Trading with the Enemy Act passed during the First World War”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 20,139).

In February 1964, the US government ended ‘aid’ to Britain:

“Because the UK Government had refused to prevent British ships from engaging in trade with Cuba”, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 19,914).

In March 1964 the US Supreme Court ruled that the nationalisation of American property in Cuba had been legally valid (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 20,139).

On 6 May 1964 President Lyndon Johnson* complained of:

“Reluctance of certain allies, notably France and Britain, to join” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 20,139),

into the economic blockade of Cuba. This blockade was strengthened on 14 May, when it was announced that US exports to Cuba of food and medicines:

“Would henceforth be placed under licence control”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 20,139).

In July 1964, a meeting in Washington of American Foreign Ministers adopted a resolution:

“Providing for the mandatory application of sanctions against Cuba”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’ Volume 14; p. 20,336).

By September 1964 of Latin American countries only Mexico still maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 14; p. 20,336).


In October 1963 a Second Agrarian Reform extended the land redistribution carried out under the First, under which :

“The Second Agrarian Reform limited landholdings to a maximum of 168 acres per landholder. The Second Reform gave the state sector approximately 70% of the nation’s total land, with the private sector holding the remaining 30%”. (Martin Kenner & James Petras (Eds.): op. cit.; p. 37-38).

“The Second Agrarian Reform shifted the balance from 40-60 in favour of the private sector to 70-30 in favour of the state sector”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op.cit.; p. 169-70).


In May 1963, during a visit to the Soviet Union, Castro signed a neutral compromise agreement with Khrushchev declaring that the Cuban United Party of the Socialist Revolution and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union:

“Believe that the question of a peaceful or non-peaceful way to socialism, in one country or another, will be settled, at the final count by the struggling people themselves, in accordance with the concrete correlation of the class forces”. (Joint Soviet-Cuban Statement, 23 May 1963, in: ‘The USSR and Cuba’; London; 1963; p. 44).

Under this modus vivendi parties holding one view on this question refrained from making vowed or implied criticism of parties holding a different view.

For example, in December 1963 ‘World Marxist Review’ published an article by the leader of the Chilean.revisionist party, Luis Corvalan, entitled ‘The Peaceful Way – A Form of Revolution’:

“Whereas Guevara had made grudging admissions that the ‘peaceful road’ might be applicable in some circumstances, Corvalan made grudging admissions that the ‘violent road’ might be equally applicable. For Corvalan the important thing was the coming Chilean elections”. (Theodeore Draper (1965): op. cit. p. 45).

“This modus vivendi . . . lasted about six months”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit. p. 43).

By the end of 1963, however:

“It was quite clear that the Moscow formula of May had worn somewhat thin. Both sides were using the same language to mean different things. Still, as long as each party was permitted to make up its own mind without interference or reproach by other Parties, the formula avoided open clashes”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit. p. 46).

But then the Cuban leaders began insisting that the road applied to most countries of Latin America. In January 1964 Guevara told an Italian journalist:

“I maintain that the war of liberation will necessarily assume a violent form in almost every one of these (Latin American — Ed.) countries – in almost all I say. There is no other way”.(Ernesto Guevara, to: Gianni Corbi: ‘I ninos malos’ (The Naughty Children), in: L’Espresso’, 26 January 1964,. in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 46).

And in a speech in September 1964, Castro was speaking of:

“The inevitable road of armed revolutionary struggle”. (Fidel Castro: Speech of 10 September 1964, in: ‘Obra revolucionara’; (Revolutionary Work), No., 20, 1964; p. 24).

Despite Cuba’s increasing dependence upon the Soviet Union, between 1964 and 1967, therefore, the Cuban government began to criticise — at first by implication, then directly — Soviet foreign policy, especially on the questions of Cuban support for anti-imperialist guerilla warfare in Latin America and Soviet rapprochement with the United States and with the pro-imperialist oligarchies in Latin America. In other words, in the period 1964-67, therefore :

“Serious disagreeements had.. arisen between the Cuban and Soviet Communist Parties as a result of the Cuban Government’s support for guerilla movements in other Latin American countries and the Soviet Union’s policy of extending diplomatic and economic relations with Latin American countries irrespective of their political complexion. In this controversy the Soviet Union was supported by the leadership of many of the Latin American Communist parties, which rejected the guerilla tactics advocated by Cuba. The Cuban Prime Minister, Dr. Castro, on March 13, 1967, attacked the pro-Soviet faction in the Venezuelan Communist Party which had recently seized control of the party, . . . and on the following day denounced Soviet economic aid to other Latin American countries. He declared that ‘whoever helps those oligarchies which are fighting the guerillas is also helping to suppress the revolution.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 16; p. 22,501).

“From 1965, Castro began to distance himself from the Soviet Union and openly to criticise its foreign policy”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 88).

In January 1966, for example, on the initiative of the Cuban government a ‘Solidarity Conference of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America’ (the ‘Tricontinental Conference’) was held in Havana. Its main declared aim was

“To oppose the world-wide enterprises of imperialism with a global revolutionary strategy”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 21,219).

The conference set up a permanent ‘Tricontinental Solidarity Organisation’, with headquarters in Havana. It proclaimed:

“The people’s inalienable right . . . to have recourse to all forms of struggle, . . . including armed struggle.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 21,219).

And in a speech in March 1967, Castro:

“Attacked both the Venezuelan Government and the moderate Venezuelan Communists”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 16; p. 22,119).

In August 1967, on Castro’s initiative, the Latin American Solidarity Organisation (LASO) was formed, with headquarters in Havana, as:

“The Latin American branch of the Tricontinental organisation”. (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 296).

The Soviet-Cuban dispute:

” Reached its peak in 1967-68. Among the main points of contention were:

1) Cuba’s calls for immediate rural guerilla warfare on the Cuban model in most Latin American countries;

2) Cuban attacks on the pro-Soviet communist parties, in particular the Communist Party of Venezuela;

3) Soviet bloc contacts with what Castro termed the Latin American oligarchs”. (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 12-13).

The cool relations existing at this time between the Cuban and Soviet governments are illustrated by the fact that when, in June 1967, Soviet Deputy Premier Aleksey Kosygin* visited Cuba for talks with the Cuban leaders,

“Complete secrecy was maintained on these talks”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume 16; p,. 22,186).

“Although the Soviet Press abstained from direct criticism of Dr. Castro) ‘Pravda’ published on July 30 (1967– Ed.) an article by Senor Luis Corvalan (general secretary of the Chilean Communist party) declaring that Dr. Castrot 5 attempts to export the Chilean revolution could damage the entire communist movement.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 16; p. 22,502)

During the period 1965-67, despite its economic dependence upon Soviet Union the Cuban government still felt sufficiently self-confident oppose the foreign policy of the Soviet Union because it believed that

“A new revolutionary axis was taking shape, led by Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea, and soon embracing newly-liberated Latin American countries and several Third World nations; it was to be a new Communist front which would turn the tide of American imperialism to which Soviets and their orthodox followers seemed to have capitulated. This was the hidden agenda of the Tricontinental Conference.” (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 89-90).

At the same time, the Cuban government was careful not to show sympathy with the Communist Party of China, which was now declaring the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to be revisionist. At first, therefore:

“The Communist party of Cuba attempted a policy of neutrality in the Chinese dispute”. (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 537).

“Castro was careful · . . to keep his distance from the Chinese (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 89).

‘The Cubans neither wished, nor could they afford, an open break with Moscow”. (K.S. Karol: op. cit.; p. 307).

“The Cuban refusal to side with the Chinese seems to have been derived largely from the need for extensive economic and military aid, which the Chinese could not provide.” (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 45).


“In January 1966 . . Fidel Castro launched an attack on the Chinese during the TricontinentaConference in Havana”. (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 20).


In October 1965, Castro announced a further change in the party’s name –back to the ‘Communist Party of Cuba’, with Castro as General Secretary. At the same time, the newspaper Hoy (Today), which had been the newspaper of the Popular Socialist Party, was merged with Revolucion, which had been the newspaper of the 26th of July Movement, to form a new newspaper, Granma as the organ of the new Communist Party.


While Castro’s criticism of Soviet revisionism in the period 1963-67 was expressed obliquely, that of Guevara — now Minister of Industry — was open and direct.

For example, in February 1965, at a meeting of the Organisation of Afro-Asian Solidarity in Algiers, Guevara accused the Soviet government of being a

“Tacit accomplice of imperialism11 (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 131).

And in the Egyptian weekly Akher Saa:

“Che roundly castigated the Russians as “revisionists”. (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 134).

The Soviet Government, finding these public attacks intolerable, demanded that Guevara be removed from any position of influence:

“Che’s embrace of a kind of Maoism and his search for ideas that led him outside (the Soviet distortion of — Ed.) Marxism-Leninism could be, and were, construed in Moscow to be be anti-Soviet. Che had to go. His repeated public attacks upon the Soviet Union had finally become intolerable to the Kremlin, whose representatives had served notice of their displeasure on Premier Fidel Castro, leaving Castro with no real choice, since Moscow’s economic aid kept his government and economy afloat”. (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 131, 133, 149).

After a three months abroad, mainly in Africa, Guevara returned to Cuba in March 1965.

“Che himself was not seen anywhere in public after returning from Africa, excepting one appearance at a lecture he gave towards the end of March (1965 – Ed.). Che never turned up again at the Ministry of Industry following his March lecture there. . He . . . had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from public view.” (Daniel,James: op. cit.; p. 152-53).

“Guevara resigned in 1965 from his post as Minister of Industries after what seems to have been a quarrel with Castro.” (Hugh Thomas: op. cit.; p. 693).

In April 1965 Castro told the press:

“The only thing I can tell you is that Comandante Guevara is always where he will be most useful to the revolution”. (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 153).

In June 1965:

“Radio Havana confirmed the rumour that he (Guevara Ed.) had been succeeded in that post (of Minister of Industry — Ed.)” (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 154).

In October 1965 Castro told a rally that Guevara

“Had renounced his Cuban nationality and left the country to undertake revolutionary tasks elsewhere.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 21,050).

and read a letter to himself from Guevara which:

“Referred without elaboration to differences between them”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 21,050).

The letter said:

“I renounce formally my positions in the leadership of the party, my post as minister, my rank as Comandante, my status as Cuban citizen’. (Ernesto Guevara: Letter to Fidel Castro, in: Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 154)

In November 1966, Guevara:

” Arrived there (in Bolivia – Ed.) with four companions — the vanguard of his guerilla army”. (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 178).

Under Guevara’s leadership, guerillas began activity in Bolivia in March 1967. On 7October 1967, however, Guevara was captured by Bolivian government troops and executed on the following day. Castro confirmed his death on 15 October.

Guevara’s diary was published in Cuba in July 1968. In an introduction to the diary, Castro placed the main blame for Guevara’ s defeat on the right-revisionist Bolivian Communists and their:

“Treacherous leaders. . . . Their true purpose was to destroy guerilla movements in the bud, to slow down all revolutionary action, and to put in its place their own absurd and despicable political deals”. (Fidel Castro: ‘A Necessary Introduction’, in: Ernesto Che Guevara: ‘Bolivian Diary’; London; 1968; p. 10).

Guevara’s biographer, Daniel James*, endorses Castro’s charge

“The Bolivian Communists deserve all the criticism Castro gives them, for they did indeed play a ‘treacherous’ role which contributed mightily, perhaps decisively, to Che’s fracaso (failure — Ed.)”. (Daniel James: op. cit.; p. 284).

“By the end of October (1967 — Ed.) fighting was over” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 17; p. 23,111).


The position of the Cuban leaders vis-a-vis the Soviet imperialists was significantly weakened by the defeat of the Cuban guerillas in Bolivia -which was also a defeat for the Castroite strategy of seeking to foment successful revolutions in Latin America by means of the assault of a few Cuban guerillas.

“The failure of Castro’s guerilla activities in Latin America facilitated (Cuban-Soviet – Ed.) rapprochement (Jaime Suchlichki: op. cit.; p. 266).

In these circumstances, the Soviet imperialists naturally stepped up pressure to force the Cuban Government to adopt a foreign policy acceptable to them. Thus, after the formation of the Latin American Solidarity Organisation in 1967:

“Moscow reacted to its increasingly wayward and capricious protege by delaying the signing of trade agreements and eventually cutting back on urgent supplies of oil to Cuba. … By the beginning of 1968, . . . the Soviet Union was tightening the screw by drastically reducing its supply of fuel and gas oil to Cuba. It was above all economic pressures that drove Castro to seek a rapprochement with the Soviet Union. . . · Throughout the sixties Cuban exports of sugar to the Soviet Union had been well below its imports of Comecon goods and Moscow had so far been willing to finance these trade deficits. By 1969, Cuba was about 7.7 million tons in arrears. . . . Castro could no longer afford to antagonise the Soviet Union”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 90, 91, 94).

The new line of Cuban subservience to the foreign policy of the Soviet Union was evidenced in the support given by the Cuban government to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet, East German, Polish, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces in August 1968. Cuba

“Endorsed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968”. (Carmelo Mesa-Lago: op. cit.; p. 27).

“The Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia on 21 August 1968 gave him (Castro – Ed.) an unusual opportunity to begin rebuilding bridges with Moscow. Castro . . . insisted the intervention was a necessary evil. Castro had little option other than to support the Soviet action. Increasingly isolated abroad, its guerilla strategy in tatters, and saddled with a massive trade deficit, the Cuban regime could not afford to lose Soviet support”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 94-95, 96).

“In August 1968 . . . Castro began his re-entry into the pro-Soviet camp with his initial approval of the Soviet-led invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia”. (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 45).

Cuban subservience to Soviet policies continued through the 1970s and 1980s:

“Unequivocal Cuban alignment with pro-Soviet policies in Latin America came at the June 1975 conference of Communist Parties in Havana and in Fidel Castro’s address to the 25th CPSU Congress in Moscow in February 1976”. (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 38).

One aspect of this subservience was that the Cuban Government drastically reduced its ideological and practical support for Latin American guerillas:

“A slightly more flexible line began to emerge in 1968 and the glorification of the guerilla was modified”). (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 34).

“By 1970 Cuban assistance to guerilla groups . . . had been cut back to very low levels”. (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 339).

Indeed, in July 1969, Castro spoke of guerilla warfare in Latin America in quite a different way from his previous attitude:.

“We are in no hurry whatsoever. . . . We will wait as long as is necessary, 10, 20, 39 years if necessary”. (Fidel Castro, in: ‘Granma’, 20 July 1969, in: William E. Ratcliff: op. cit.; p. 36-37).

By 1971, the Cuban government was endorsing the Soviet view that in most countries, including those of Latin America, the ‘parliamentary road to socialism was valid:

“Although Cuban foreign policy in the 60s had taken its own revolutionary experience as a model for Latin America, . . . he (Castro- Ed.) . . . was now (1971 – Ed.) cautiously acknowledging that in certain circumstances elections could be the centrepiece of a revolutionary strategy”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.;. p. 123).

And during a visit to Chile in November 1971:

“He (Castro – Ed.) was asked repeatedly if he supported the Chilean path to socialism considering that it contradicted the Cuban experience. “We find no contradiction;” he said”. in: (Fidel Castro in: Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 124).

In 1972:

“Cuba became a fully integrated member of the Soviet bloc common market, COMECON (the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance-Ed.)”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p;. 103).

After 1973, Castro became:

“The main spokesman of the thesis that the Soviet Union was the natural ally of the Third World against Western imperialism, as against the argument put forward by China, among others, that the Soviet Union and the United States were both imperialist powers”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit. p. 133-34).

When in December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Cuban government supported the Soviet action:

“Cuba’s official support for Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, barely three months after the conference, deeply undermined Castro’s claim to the moral leadership of the Third World. . . . Cuba could not oppose the Soviet action without endangering its relationship with Moscow. When the Non-Aligned Movement came to vote on a UN resolution condemning the intervention, Cuba was among the 9 nations that backed the Soviet Union against 56 that supported the resolution’. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 133-34).

When First Secretary of the CPSU, Leonid Brezhnev* visited Cuba in January-February 1974, a joint declaration proclaimed:

“The complete identity of their views regarding the present world situation.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 20; p. 26,387).

After 1974, Cuban support for military forces abroad was confined to forces supported by the Soviet Union, e.g., in relation to Angola and Ethiopia. In 1975, for example, Cuba:

“Sent some 12,000 troops to Angola to assist the revolutionary struggle of the People’s Liberation Movement of Angola”. (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 41).

The Cuban government announced in the autumn of 1975:

“That Cuban soldiers were fighting in Angola against thePortuguese and on the side of the Soviet-supported Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola”. (Lester A. Sobel (Ed.): ‘Castro’s Cuba in the 1970s’; New York; 1978; p.115).

“In.May 1988, . . . Cuban forces, backed by Angolan troops, inflicted defeat on the South African army, forcing Pretoria to withdraw from Angola and negotiate the independence of Namibia”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 1).

“Over the past 13 years more than 300,000 Cubans have served there (in Angola – Ed.). Arguably the Cuban role in bringing about the UN-backed peace treaty for South-West Africa last December is President Castro’s most single important foreign achievement. Without the presence of 50,000 troops in Angola, willing to fight indefinitely against South African-backed forces, it is unlikely that Pretoria would ever have come to the negotiating table”. (‘Financial Times’, 17 February 1989; p. 33).

In line with its acceptance of a semi-colonial position to the Soviet Union, in December 1975, the 1st Congress of the (new) Communist Party of Cuba approved the guidelines of the 1976-80 Cuban five year plan:

“Which provided for . . . an increase in sugar production . . . by 35-40% to reach some 8.7 million tons by 1980”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 22; p. 27,595).

The Congress elected Fidel Castro as First Secretary and his brother Raul Castro* as Second Secretary. It approved the new draft constitution, modelled formally on that of the Soviet Union, under which::

“All Cubans over the age of 16 would be eligible to vote for a ‘National Assembly of Popular Power’, to be elected every five years. The Assembly would elect from among its members a 31-member State Council” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 21; p. 27,214).

“Cuba’s administrative structures were reorganised in 1976 to bring them into line with those of the Soviet bloc”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 110).

“A new constitution largely modelled on that of the Soviet Union was approved in a referendum in 1976. It established . . . elected assemblies on a municipal level . . . leading to a National Assembly and a Council of State to which the Council of Ministers is accountable”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 104).

The new Constitution characterised Cuba as:

“A socialist state. . . . and recognised the leading role of the Communist Party”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 22; p. 27,691).

In October 1976 municipal elections were held, and met in November to elect a 481-member National Assembly of Popular Power:

“At its inaugural session in December, it elected Castro (hitherto the Prime Minister) as President of the State Council. Castro thus held simultaneously the position of Head of State (previously held by Osvaldo Dorticos) and head of government (Chairman of the Council of Ministers), as well as First Secretary of the Communist Party. Blas Roca Calderio was elected President of the National Assembly”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 23; p. 28,214).

By this time:

“Cuban praise of the Soviet Union was uncommonly ardent”. (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 47).

In 1977-78:

“Cuba’s participation in the . . . war between Ethiopia and Somalia, . . . responded more to Soviet than Cuban interests. . The Somali forces, newly armed by the United States, invaded the Ogaden desert. In a move to legitimise its growing military support for Ethiopia, the Kremlin asked for Cuban troops to be involved in the campaign. . . . Strengthened by 15,000 Cuban soldiers and massive Soviet arms shipments, the Ethiopian forces . . . by February 1978 had driven the Somali army back across the frontier”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 131, 132).

As a result of Soviet support:

“Cuba was chosen as the host country for the 6th Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1979, with Castro as chairman for a four-year period… The ability of the Cuban regime to influence international events was due in great measure to the Soviet connections.” (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 119, 120).

By the early 1980s the question of the indebtedness of colonial-type countries had become acute:

“During the seventies, the West had lent millions of dollars indiscriminately to the Third World and in particular to Latin America…. The debt that had accumulated by the early eighties began to outstrip the capacity of many countries even to make interest payments…. The strain on their economies, exacerbated by the stringent conditions imposed on many governments by the IMF (International Monetary Fund — Ed.) in exchange for further loans, was borne above all by the millions of destitute people in the Third World. The first outward sign of the looming crisis was the announcement by Mexico in 1982 that it could no longer maintain its interest payments.” (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 139).

At this time, therefore, the Cuban government began to press the view that a ‘New Economic Order’ based on a cancellation of ‘Third World, debt was more important than revolution. In 1984,

“In a series of impassioned and closely argued speeches and interviews, Castro became the most articulate advocate of the cancellation of Third World debt. . . . He maintained that the debt was so high that it was no longer payable. . . . He calculated that in 1984, largely because of debt payments, Latin America had made a net : transfer of $26,700 million to the developed West.” (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 139-40).

And in July 1985 he went so far as to say:

“I believe that the cancellation of the debt and the establishment of the New International Economic Order is much more important than two, three or four isolated revolutions (Fidel Castro, in: P. O’Brien: ‘The Debt cannot be Paid: Castro and the Latin American Debt’, in: ‘Bulletin of Latin American Research’, Volume 5, No., 1 (1986); p. 56).

“Castro’s strategy on Third World debt . envisaged the formation of a cartel of several debtor nations that would use the threat of nonpayment or a moratorium in debt repayments as a bargaining tool . . . to negotiate new terms of trade between r~rth and South”; (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit. p. 141).


“Latin American . · . governments failed once again to agree on a debtors’ cartel”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 132).

To sum up,

“Since mid-1968 the Soviet-Cuban relationship has been one of collaboration and friendliness. .This realignment with Russia lasted into the decade of the 1980s”. (Jaime Suchlicki: op. cit.; p. 266, 216).

The rapprochement between the outlook of the Cuban Government and that of the Soviet revisionists was accompanied by a rapprochement between the outlook of the Castroites and that of the former Popular Socialist Party. By the 1970s there were no signs of the former split between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ communists:

“There is no evidence that the historic factional split has much relevance to Cuban politics in the 1980s. . . . Former PSP members accounted for . . . 20.5% of the full members of the 1975 Central Commnittee. .The old PSP share of the Political Bureau . is still 19%”. (Jorge I. Dominguez: ‘Revolutionary Politics: The New Demands for Orderliness’, in: Jorge I. Dominguez (Ed.): ‘Cuba: Internal and International Affairs’; Beverly Hills (USA); 1982; p.29, 30).


The Cuban Government has over the years consistently made it known that it wished for normal relations with the United States. For example, in January 1974 the Cuban Ministry of External Affairs emphasised:

“Iits desire to establish contacts with Washington”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 20; p. 26,387).

“Castro and the Cuban leaders . . · made repeated attempts to open a dialogue with Washington”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 123).

However, the US attitude towards Cuba fluctuated from freezing to cool, based on the principle of a:

“Continuing campaign to exert pressure on the Castro regime”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,119).

When the US government formed the impression that the Cuban government was responding positively to this pressure, its attitude became warmer; when it formed the impression that the Cuban government was responding negatively to this pressure, its attitude became colder. Thus:

“Just prior to John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he (Castro – Ed.) received a French newsman, Jean Daniel, who was acting as Kennedy’s emissary. . . . But even before Daniel could return with Castro’s reply, Kennedy was dead”. (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-Five Years of hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 338).

After the advent to the Presidency of Richard Nixon* in 1969, the US attitude became significantly less hostile:

“The thaw in US-Cuban relations began . . with an anti-hijacking agreement signed in 1973”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 128).

By this time, the American states had relaxed their previous US-sponsored blockade to the extent that in December 1974 Venezuela:

“Became the 10th country in the western hemisphere to establish relations with the Havana government, the others being Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Trinidad”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 21; p. 26,940).

“In 1975, the United States joined with the majority of the OAS states in voting to end sanctions against ‘Cuba.

The Soviet Union had been carrying out a cautious process of detente with the United States under the Brezhnev leadership”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit. p. 128, 130).

In August 1975 the US government relaxed the embargo against Cuba, so that:

“Foreign subsidiaries of US companies would in future be permitted to sell goods to Cuba”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 21; p. 27,450).

Not unnaturally, however, US-Cuban relations became frostier when, in September 1975, a conference was held in Cuba to:

“Increase world support for the movement for the independence of Puerto Rico”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 21; p. 27,450).

Furthermore, by November 1975 Cuba was giving military assistance to Angola and, in consequence:

“President Ford* put an end to the thaw in a surprise press conference on December 20. ‘The action of the Cuban government in sending combat forces to Angola destroys any opportunity for improvement in relations with the United States’, he stated heatedly. On February 28 1976 he called Castro an international outlaw.”‘ (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-Five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 341).

Thus, by the end of 1975:

“The Ford Administration had broken off all contact with the Cubans”. (Wayne S. Smith: 1U5-Cuba Relations: Twenty-Five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985); op. cit.; p. 343).

In January 1977, however, immediately after Jimmy Carter* assumed the Presidency, US

“Air reconnaissance missions over Cuba . . . had been halted’. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 25; p. 29,408).


“On February 3 1977 Secretary of State Cyrus Vance* emphasised US readiness to begin discussions (with the Cuban government – Ed.) on a wide range of issues (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-Five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985); op. cit.; p. 344).

The most momentous development took place in June 1977, when it was announced that Cuba and the USA had agreed to

“Exchange diplomats, to establish ‘interest sections’ in respectively, the Swiss and Czechoslovak embassies in Havana and Washington, thus ending the 16-year absence of links”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 23; p. 28,600).

“In the first two years of the Carter administration, the Cuban leaders had made strenuous attempts to improve relations with the United States; the result was an agreement to set up interest sections in Havana and Washington and a series of accords over fishing rights”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 135).

And in December 1977:

“Regular air charter flights between the USA and Cuba had resumed . . for the first time since the break in diplomatic relations in 1961”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 25; p. 29,408).

Following the invasion of Ethiopia by Somali troops in July 1977:

“By January 1978 . . . there were several thousand Cuban troops on the ground, supplied with tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons provided by the Soviet union.” (Wayne S. Smith: 1U5-Cuba Relations: Twenty-five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 345).

Consequently, the thaw in Cuban-US relations came to an end:

“The United States could only react adversely to the Soviet-Cuban intervention in Ethiopia.” (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-five Years of Hostility, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 345).

However, in December 1978, Castro announced:

” That an agreement had been signed authorising the release of 3,000 current political prisoners; . . . that 12,000 former prisoners and their families would also be allowed to leave Cuba for a place of their choice. In addition, it was agreed that Cubans living abroad should be allowed to visit the islands as tourists.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 25; p. 29,408).

The accession of Ronald Reagan* as US President in January 1981 coincided with:

“A new low in US-Cuban relations. Cuba was seen by the new US government as ‘a Soviet surrogate, and any reopening of negotiations between the two countries was made dependent upon the impossible demand that Cuba abandon its Soviet connection. Reagan further refused to renew the fishing agreement of 1977 and tightened the trade embargo on Cuba”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 137).

In February 1981, the US government accused Cuba:

“Of supplying Salvadorean guerillas with guns.” (Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’; Volume 28; p. 31,437).


“In spite of the new burst of Cold War rhetoric emanating from the White House, Castro and the Cuban leaders continued quietly to seek talks with the United States without making any preconditions. Partly in order to further this process, Cuba drastically cut down its military aid to Nicaragua and the Salvadorean rebels and began calling for a political solution in El Salvador.” (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit. p. 137).

However, when US marines invaded Grenada in October 1983, Castro denounced the operation as:

“An enormous political error.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’) Volume 30; p. 32,616).


“Cuban military advisers and construction workers were given orders to resist the marines and, indeed, fighting took place for the first time between regular troops on both sides. The outnumbered Cubans inflicted substantial casualties on the marines”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit. p. 138).

In May 1985 the Florida-based Radio Marti began broadcasting propaganda to Cuba:

“Attacking the Cuban regime”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 31; p. 33,917).

Later in the same month, the 1984 immigration accord was:

“Suspended . . . as a Cuban protest over the transmission of radio propaganda broadcasts by the newly established Radio Marti”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events1, Volume 33; p. 35,119).

In August 1986, Reagan declared:

“That the US trade embargo against Cuba, begun in 1963, was to be strengthened”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,120).

In November 1987, after secret talks, Cuba and the USA signed an agreement to revive the aborted 1984 immigration agreement, by which Cuba accepted:

“The return of over 2,500 criminal or mentally ill Cubans who had been in detention in the USA”. (‘Keesing’s Recor& of World Events’, Volume 34; p. 36,214).

The improvement in Soviet-US relations which came about in the late 1980s was welcomed by the Cuban leaders as possibly easing the US pressure upon Cuba:

“The growing convergence between Moscow and Washington in the late 80s was welcomed by Castro.” (‘Sebastian Balfour: op. cit1; p. 157).


“By 1987 Cuba had restored diplomatic relations with most of the continent and trade and credits were flowing between the island and the big economic powers of the region”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 138).

In March 1990 the Florida-based TV Marti began propaganda transmissions to Cuba by the:

“Illegal use of the frequency of an established Cuban television station in contravention of the ITU (International Telecommunication Union – Ed.) code and other international agreements (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 36; p.37,370).

In September 1990, Cuba voted against the US-sponsored UN Resolution imposing a trade embargo against Iraq: (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 37; p. 37,695).

And in November against UN Resolution 678 authorising the use of ‘all means’ necessary to ensure Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 36; p. 37,870).

In August 1991, the US government used the blockade to prevent ABC-TV from paying $8.7 million to the Cuban government for televising the 11th Pan-American Games in Havana. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,386).

Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American boycott of Cuba. has been not relaxed, but intensified. In April 1992, US President George Bush* issued an executive order

“Closing US ports to ships engaged in trade with Cuba (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,858).

While in May 1992:

“President Bush reportedly dropped his resistance to the embargo-stiffening Torricelli bill being debated in Congress under the title of the Cuban Democracy Act. This change of mind, announced after consultation with leading politicians of both parties and with the Cuban-American Foundation (a strong backer of the bill) may have been a bid to woo the Cuban-American vote in the US elections in November. The Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton, has also condemned Castro in strong terms. .Meanwhile, many countries, including Mexico, the UK, France and Canada have passed legislation designed to block enforcement of the bill’s provision on subsidiaries. The UK ambassador to Cuba, Leicester Coltman, called the bill an unjustifiable interference in international trade”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . .’, No. 3; 1992; p. 11-12).

Nevertheless, the boycott is arousing increased opposition from sections of US Big Business whose interests are adversely affected by it:

“Within the USA businessmen and even politicians see attempts to tighten the embargo as self-defeating. For many, preventing US companies doing business with Cuba simply gives the market to foreign companies (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . · ·’, No. 3, 1992; p. 12).

To sum up:

“The US approach to Cuba has changed little over the past 20 years”. (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 344).


From 1965 onwards the Soviet government instituted what were called ‘economic reforms’ ostensibly to make socialism function more efficiently but in fact to lay the basis for the abolition of socialism and the restoration of capitalism.

In the campaign leading up the to the institution of these ‘economic reforms’, centralised economic planning:

“Was denounced as ‘obsolete’, ‘restrictive’, ‘bureaucratic’ and, of course, ‘due to Stalin’s distortion of socialism”‘. (William B. Bland: ‘The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union’; Wembley; 1980; p. 2),

Thus, a key feature of the ‘reforms’ was the transformation of ‘economic indices’,

“From directives, binding on the enterprises, to ‘guidelines’, which the enterprises could follow or not as they chose”. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 9).

Soviet ‘economic planning’ was then restricted to:

“The use of the same kind of ‘economic levers’ that are used by the state in orthodox capitalist countries.” (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 14).

Under the ‘economic reform’, profit, is

“Presented as ‘the supreme criterion of the efficency of an enterprise’, . . . and replaced centralised economic planning as the regulator of social production.” (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 29-30).


“Regulation of social production by the profit motive means, in fact, regulation by the market”. (William B. Bland: op. cit,; p. 33).


“The forces of the socialist market are the economic forces of supply and ‘demand’ which operate in an orthodox capitalist country (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 35).

Legally, under the ‘economic reform, the director of an industrial enterprise had become:

“The effective owner of the means of production . . . of the enterprise, and had full legal responsibility for their operation. This responsibility is primarily to ensure that the enterprise his control makes the maximum possible rate of profit”. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 81).

But this aim of maximising the rate of profit is:

“An aim which frequently conflicts with the social need to minimise environmental pollution resulting from production (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 185).

Under the ‘economic reform’, the managements of enterprises were given:

“The relatively unhindered right to engage and dismiss workers”. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 89).

Since, by the ‘economic reform’, the enterprise director became the effective owner of the enterprise, Soviet workers had:

“No means of living except to sell their labour power to the new class of Soviet capitalists.” (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 94).

The restoration of the values of capitalist society created the position that the perpiheral Union Republics came to:

“Have a semi-colonial status in relation to the Russian Republic”, (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 209).

So reviving the national antagonisms which contributed to the later dissolution of the Soviet Union. The search by the new class of Soviet capitalists for maximum profits leads to a:

“Drive for the rationalisation of production’. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 243).

Leading to:

“The promotion of planned redundancy”. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 248).

And so to:

“Surpluses of labour’ (i.e, unemployment)”. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 254).

The ‘economic reform’ involved:

“The receipt by managerial personnel in Soviet industry of bonuses which are up to 100 times those received by shop floor workers. Such huge differentials . . . represent, in Marxist-Leninist terms, the exploitation of the working class.” (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 288).

While the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had become a political party which in fact represented:

“The political interests of the Soviet capitalist class”. (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 306).

and the Soviet state had become:

“The machinery of rule the most powerful monopoly capitalist groups”. (Wiliam B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 310).

Had become:

“Despite it’s trappings of red flags . . . a fascist-type state of a new type.” (William B. Bland: op. cit.; p. 312).

For a considerable number of years, a struggle went on between those revisionists in the CPSU leadership (the so-called ‘conservatives’ or ‘diehards’) who wished to preserve the nominal state ownership of the means of production (i.e. state capitalism) and so allow the fiction of ‘socialism’ to be maintained, and those who wished to privatise the means of production and establish a ‘free enterprise’ capitalist system (the so-called ‘reformers’).

Because of the opposition from the ‘conservatives” even under Yuri Andropov*, General Secretary of the CPSU from 1983 to 1984 — the offficial policy was one of :

“Cautious economic reform, including limited measures of decentralisation”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 30; p. 32,865).

It was principally under Mikhail Gorbachev*, General Secretary of the CPSU from March 1985 until the suppression of the party in 1991, that ‘free enterprise capitalism’ was finally restored. This later stage of the process of ‘economic reform’ was named perestroika (restructuring). (Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,614).

In November 1986 the Supreme Soviet enacted

“A law whereby from May 1 1987 individuals would be permitted to engage privately on a part-time basis in a total of 29 specified activities”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 32; p. 34,785).

The new law gave:

“Local authorities . . . responsibility for deciding what were the permissible forms of private enterprise”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 34; p. 35,~43).

In January 1987, the government adopted a resolution:

“Setting out the procedure for creating joint enterprises in the Soviet Union with the participation of organisations and firms from Western and developing countries.” (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,018).

In November-December 1988 the USSR Supreme Soviet amended the Soviet Constitution to create the USSR Congress of People’s Deputies as:

“The higher body of state authority”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 35; p. 36,485).

In March 1990, the Congress of People’s Deputies amended the Constitution of the USSR:

“To abolish the Communist Party’s guaranteed monopoly of political power.” (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,299).

In August 1990 USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin* agreed on the drafting of:

“A concept for the transition to a market economy”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’; Volume 36; p. 37,663).

A Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in July 1991 adopted a new party programme based on:

“Democracy in place of orthodox Marxism-Leninism (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 37,347).

In August 1991 a section of the ‘conservatives attempted –unsuccessfully — to stage a coup against President Gorbachev. After the defeat of the coup:

“The CPSU’s activity was suspended throughout the Soviet Union”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,372).

In September 1991, the Congress of People’s Deputies created a structure headed by a State Council, composed:

“Of the leaders of the republics prepared to sign the new Union treaty”.(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,414).

While the Congress of People’s Deputies was:

“Replaced by a new bicameral Supreme Soviet (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’; Volume 37; p. 38,414).

In December 1991, the Soviet Union was liquidated, and:

“Replaced by a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), grouping 11 of the former constituent republics of the Union . . . in a loose alliance.” (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,654).

Finally, in January 1992 came a decree of Russian President Boris Yeltsin* new state:
“accelerating privatisation . This elaborated temporary measures for implementing the planned sale of state-owned enterprises (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,772).


After 1968, the Cuban government gave way to Soviet pressure to adopt the type of so-called ‘economic reforms’ which were being carried out in the Soviet Union:

“The price of renewed Soviet support was a certain decentralisation of economic decision-making and the introduction of a limited range of market mechanisms…… From the beginning of the 70s, the Cuban leaders sought to reshape Cuba’s economic and political structures to accommodate them to the new … constraints. ……………The reforms that followed in the first half of the decade (the 1970s – Ed.) brought Cuba’s economic and political institutions into line with those of the Soviet Union. With the cooperation of numerous Soviet advisers, Cuba’s economic agencies and enterprises were restructured. A Soviet-Cuban Commission was set up in December 1970 to coordinate the use of Soviet aid, and two years later Cuba became a fully intregrated member of the Soviet bloc common market, CMEA (the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance — Ed.). A new system of economic management was gradually evolved in the 70s and was in operation by the end of the decade. It provided for a certain measure of financial accountability, profitability, . . . as well as the introduction of a wide range of material incentives …………………………………..Castro was not sparing in his attacks on excessive centralisation in economic planning… Enterprise managers were given greater powers of decision-making at the level of individual firms”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 86, 103-04, 105, 112).

In 1975:

“A new System of Economic Management was introduced. . . Under the new plan, economic enterprises should operate profitably; their deficits would no longer be covered by a central accounting system upon a centralised economy.” (Max Azicri: ‘The Cuban Rectification: Safeguarding the Revolution while building the Future’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.): ‘Transformation and Struggle: Cuba faces the 1990’s”. (Hereafter listed as: ‘Sandor Halebsky & John N. Kirk (Eds.): 1990’); New York; 1990; p.6).

“A new system of economic management was gradually evolved in the seventies and was in operation by the end of the decade. It provided for a certain measure of financial accountability, profitability, . . as well as the introduction of a wide range of material incentives. .Castro was not sparing in his attacks on excessive centralisation in economic planning”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.,; p. 103-04, 105).

“A new Soviet-style system of Economic Management and Planning was gradually introduced in the second half of the 1970s. . . . The new economic system uses market instruments. . . · State enterprises have been decentralised . . . and enjoy more independence to hire and dismiss labour, request loans and make investment decisions. Along with this, they are held responsible to . . . generate a profit. The efficiency of Cuban enterprises is measured by a set of indicators, with profit as the main one.” (Carmelo Mesa-Lago: op. cit.; p. 29-30).

The objectives of the first ‘reforms’:

“Were to decentralise to some extent the administration government and the management of the economy”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 108).

The adoption by the Cuban government of a political line acceptable to the Soviet revisionists was appropriately rewarded:

“The return of Cuba to the fold of loyal allies of Moscow after1968 renewed the flow of oil and capital goods from the Eastern bloc as well as military aid and training”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 120).

The second stage of the ‘economic reforms’ was known. as the ‘Rectification Process

‘The Rectification process launched by Fidel Castro in early 1986 at the 3rd Communist Party congress spotlighted a host of shortcomings’. (Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.): Introduction to: ‘Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.: (1990)’; op. cit.; p. xiii).

In 1987 a law on joint ventures with foreign capitalist firms:

“Was put into practice.” (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: CubaNo. 3, 1990; op. 20).

“Cuba had repeatedly stated its interest in attracting foreign investment and offers Western investors the chance to participate in joint ventures with the right to remit profits and with the attractionsof stable legislation and special guarantees against expropriation. The foreign investment law stipulates that the state retains a 51% controlling interest in any joint venture.” (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Profile: Cuba’, 1988-89; p. 28).

At the 8th Havana International Fair in November 1990:

“The Cuban Chamber of Commerce was actively promoting joint ventures with foreign firms and information on Cuba’s joint venture law was made available at the trade fair”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . .’, No. 1, 1991; p. 22).

“Despite strong US pressure not to attend, over 700 private companies, participated in the Havana Trade Fair”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. R36).

By 1990, Castro was hinting that the legal requirement that there should be 51% Cuban ownership in ‘joint ventures’ would be lifted:

“Joint ventures are being energetically encouraged. During his visit to Brazil, President Castro indicated that the restrictions on foreign investment and setting up of joint ventures might be relaxed to some extent. . . Government sources said in February (1990– Ed.) that a number of joint venture agreements with foreign investors had been reached in the areas of electronics, mechanical engineering, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and textiles”.(Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba no.2 1990, p. 19).

By mid-1991:

“According to Wayne Smith, former head of the US Interests Section in Havana, about 50 joint ventures are now in place, with another 100 or so being negotiated. There are now joint venture and production-sharing agreements with 29 countries.” (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba , N0. 31991; p. 20).

“Foreign investment is being sought ever more eagerly, mostly via joint ventures. . . . An estimated 50 joint ventures are now in place, with another 100 in the pipeline. Joint venture and product sharing agreements now exist with 29 countries, including several in Europe” (Economic Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Profile: Cuba’, 1991-91; p. 11).

“Julio Garcia Oliveqas, President of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce.. told the Mexican press agency Notimex that Cuba would not reject foreign investment of up to 100% in enterprises.” (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . .’, No. 3, 1991; p. 20).

The next step was to allow the setting up of free trade zones for foreign firms:

“According to Juan Escalone, the President of the Cuban National Assembly, the Cuban Constitution could be reformed to allow the establishment of free trade zones where private foreign investors could set up export-import businesses. Article 18 of the Constitution, which states that foreign trade is the exclusive function of the state’, is likely to be changed”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba’, No. 1, 1992; p. 17).

At a meeting of potential investors at the Mexican resort of Cancun in June 1992:

“It was made clear that almost all foreign investment was welcome, including in such areas as oil exploration, nickel, capital goods, textiles and agriculture, and that the current rules limiting foreign ownership to 49% of a company could be lifted”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,956).

Later in the same month, representatives of 130 foreign businesses attended a special conference in Havana on investment:

“80% of the participants were US firms, although investment in Cuba was forbidden by US law”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,956).

In July 1992, the National Assembly of People’s Power approved new laws affecting the economy:

“So that foreign ownership of property in joint ventures and private foreign investment in Cuban enterprises can be allowed. Individual Cuban companies will also be permitted to import and export without seeking permission from central government, thereby ending the state monopoly on foreign trade. .There are now 88 autonomous Cuban companies functioning independently and as many as 240 foreign companies operating in Cuba”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . . , No. 3, 1992’ p. 11, 14).

“In 1991 over 60 associations of one kind or another were made with foreign partners, and at least 100 more proposals are being negotiated. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . .’, No. 3, 1992′ p. 14).

THE CRISIS (1970-92)

By 1970 the semi-colonial status accepted by the Cuban leaders had brought the Cuban economy to a state of crisis, with absenteeism and declining productivity,

“The clearest indication that something was wrong was the epidemic of absenteeism throughout the country. Castro himself noted in August and September 1970, some 20% of the workforce was absent on any given day, while in Oriente in August 1970 52% of agricultural workers failed to show up for work. . . . The low levels of productivity indicated also that moral incentives were not working and that many workers no longer responded to constant appeals to patriotism. . . . Moreover, it appeared that the free services which the regime now provided in health care, education, transport, social security and even local telephone calls, were not enough to compensate for the lack of goods in the shops and the discomforts of everyday life. By 1970 . . . it was clear that this political model was not functioning well. The most obvious signs was the widespread absenteeism and the low levels of productivity registered”, (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 99-100, 105).

The debt crisis afflicting the semi-colonial world had also struck and Cuban dependence on the Soviet imperialism increased. In a speech in Havana in September 1976, Castro:

“Warned that it would be necessary to cut back on Western imports and depend increasingly on Soviet aid, mainly because of a decrease in sugar production . . ., and a sharp drop in the price of sugar on world markets”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 23; p. 28,215).

In November 1979, Raul Castro said in a speech that:

“Without Soviet assistance Cuba would be facing ‘economic disaster and bankruptcy’ with its ‘sequel of starving people and hundreds of thousands of unemployed”‘ (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 26; p. 30,540).

In December 1981, there were:

“Public protests at recent price increases brought by removal of subsidies from some foods, petrol and cigarettes . . together with the abolition of . . free entry into museums.” (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 28; p. 31,437).

In December 1984:

“The Cuban National Bank signed an agreement with a consortium of creditor banks rescheduling $100 million of its medium-term debt due to 110 commercial banks in 1984 over a 9-year period”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 31; p. 33,919).

And in July 1985:

“Following a meeting of the ‘Paris Club’ nations, it was confirmed . . . that the ten leading Western creditor nations (to which Cuba owed $3,400 million) had agreed to reschedule about $145 million of payments due in 1985, again over a 9-year period. Subsequently, on July 22, the Western creditor banks (excluding US banks) agreed to reschedule up to $85 million due in 1985”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’ Volume 31; p. 33,919).

“The major obstacle preventing Cuba from obtaining increased export credits from Western agencies was its foreign debt. . . In September 1982 the Cuban government had begun to renegotiate about one-third of its debt with the West. . . · According to the President of the Cuban National Bank, Senor Raul Leon Torras, in mid-1985, Cuba had rescheduled 53% of its debt servicing in 1983 and 40% in 1984, but was expected to reschedule only 29% in 1985”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 31; p. 33,919).

“By the mid-80s . . . a sharp decline (in global social product –Ed.) was evident. . . . By 1986 Cuba had a record deficit of over $199 million. . . . Furthermore, credit from the West fell because of Cuba’s inability to service its accumulated debt of over $6 billion. In the mid-80s a generalised feeling of disaffection had spread in particular among the urban population and was beginning to be reflected somewhat cautiously in sections of the press”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 146-149).

At the 3rd Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in February 1986:

“Castro was calling for more sacrifices on the part of the Cuban people”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit,; p. 146).

In April 1986 the Cuban government announced the unilateral suspension of:

“Repayments of principal falling due in 1986 for a 90-day ¾ period to allow for rescheduling of the country’s $3.5 billion foreign debt”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 33; p. 35,118).

In July 1986:

“Cuba failed to repay either $16 million of principal or $3 billion in interest which had fallen due”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’ Volume 33; p. 35,118).

In the same month:

“Rescheduling talks with representatives of commercial banks collapsed”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,118).

In September 1986, in a speech at the 3rd Congress of the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, Castro warned that:

“The gravity of the country’s economic situation demanded sacrifices from its citizens. Prices of non-essential items would be increased and the range of goods subject to rationing would be widened”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,118).

And in November 1986, at the final session of the Congress, Castro predicted that:

“The availability of convertible foreign exchange . . . would be less than half of the recent annual average of $1.2 billion. Imports from capitalist (Western — Ed.) countries would have to be reduced by at least 50%”. (Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,118).

In late 1986, in face of the deepening crisis:

“Austerity measures”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Eventst1 Volume 34; p. 36,213).

were introduced and in December:

“In order to reduce state subsidies, bus fares were raised by 100% and electricity charges by 40%”. (‘Keesing’s Record of Worrd Events’, Volume 33; p. 35,119).

In December 1987:

“The austerity measures which had been announced in late 1986 were retained”. (‘Kessing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 34; p. 36,213).

By 1987 the Cuban economy was actually contracting:

“The economy experienced severe contraction in 1987”. (ABRECOR Country Report: ‘Cuba’; July 1990; p. I).

And in 1987-88:

“Cuba had to spend about $400 million in buying sugar on the open market to fulfil its Soviet quotas.” (‘Financial Times’, 17 February 1989; p. 34).

In mid-1988:

“The state-owned National Bank of Cuba . . . reported that the country’s overall foreign debt had increased by $672 million during 1987 and . . totalled $5.57 billion”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 34; p. 26,213).

In February 1989, the ‘Financial Times’ reported:

“The economy is now in its fourth year of austerity; consumer goods are in short supply”. (‘Financial Times’, 17 February 1989; p. 33).

By January 1990 the economic situation in Cuba was being adversely affected by perestroika in the collapsing Soviet Union:

“Delays in Soviet grain deliveries had led to price rises and to tighter rationing of basic foodstuffs. It was reported that Cuban resales of Soviet oil had dropped from a

peak of almost $600 million in 1985 to $180 million in 1989. Difficulties with Polish and East German shipping companies had also hindered Cuba’s important citrus exports to other COMECON countries.” (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,814).

In April 1990, the Soviet government announced that subsidies to Cuba:

“Mainly involving the exchange of Soviet oil for Cuban sugar and worth up to an estimated $3 billion annually would be phased out gradually”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,813).

In July 1990, following a 2-million ton shortfall in Soviet oil deliveries, petrol rationing was introduced in Cuba. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,660).

In August 1990, the government announced:

“Drastic energy-saving measures to reduce fuel consumption. The move came after a 2 million ton shortfall in Soviet oil deliveries. . . The delay halted the start of production at the new Cienfuegos oil refinery. . . . Production at a new nickel plant in Moa was also halted”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,813-14).

In September 1990:

“Tight rationing was announced on basic items such as soap, matches, detergent and canned meat. Rationing of basic food products had been extended to cover 63 items. . . There were 180 items on the rationed list (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,814, 37,770).

And it was revealed that:

“Most construction projects will come to a halt; factories will operate one or two shifts instead of three, and work on Saturdays is suspended”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . . ‘, No. 4, 1990; p.17).

In what was officially designated as:

“The special period in peacetime (Eonomist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report Cuba . . .’, No. 4, ;1990; p. 17).

In November 1990, it was announced that:

“Aall foods would be rationed”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’;, Volume 37; p0. 38,229).

And Castro announced that Cuba was entering:

“The bicycle age’ in response to shortfalls (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Voltii~ 37; p. 38,229).

In December 1990, Cuba and the Soviet Union:

“Concluded a trade agreement for 1991 only, instead of for a 5-year period as in the past. The agreement was less favourable to Cuba than previous agreements, with the Soviet Union ending its commitment to preferential trade terms.” (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,229).

In the same month:

“Rationing was extended to all consumer goods, including foodstuffs”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba’, No., 1, 1991′ p. 17).

There was:

“An estimated 5% contraction in the economy during 1980”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,229).

In January 1991, a COMECON ruling came into effect:

“That trade between COMECON members was to be in freely convertible currencies and at world market prices (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,229).

And a few days later COMECON was dissolved. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 37,979). These factors combined to produce:

“An estimated 5% contraction of the economy during 1990”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,229).

In April 1991, Castro said in a speech that:

“A total of 85% of Cuba’s foreign trade had crumbled in a matter of months”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,141).

And Castro prepared the people for even more stringent austerity:

“President Castro has been exhorting Cubans to prepare for ‘zero option’ – a more or less total absence of any imports”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba’, No. 3, 1991; p.19).

“A special austerity programme had reduced the range of consumer goods and foodstuffs, with eggs and bread rationed for the first time”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,431).

In September 1991, vegetable oil, cigars, cigarettes and liquid gas were added to the list of rationed goods. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,431), and the crisis was further aggravated by a severe fall in world sugar prices:

“Sugar prices in 1990-91 fell to levels described by Castro as rubbish-dump prices (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,229).

Also in September 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced:

“That 12,000 Soviet troops were to be withdrawn from Cuba”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,430).

‘Granma’ asserted that the decision had been unilateral and was:

“The equivalent of giving a green light to the United States to carry out ‘aggressive plans against Cuba'”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,430).

In the same month, Gorbachev said that Soviet-Cuban relations would in future be ‘de-ideologised’, signalling:

“The eventual elimination of the estimated $2.5 billion effective Soviet subsidy to Cuba through the bartering of Soviet oil and grain in return for Cuban sugar and nickel exports overvalued by world market standards”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,431).

In December 1991, the government:

“Announced further emergency measures to deal with the deepening energy crisis… Television broadcasting was to be reduced, as were air conditioning, streetlighting, and floodlit sports events. Urban transport would be reduced by 40% and taxi services would be limited to taking people to hospitals or to funerals”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,669).

Also in December 1991, Russian Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev announced that all ‘aid’ to Cuba would be halted, and that the withdrawal of Russian troops would be speeded up. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 37; p. 38,669). It was estimated that gross domestic product had fallen in 1991 by 25%:

“The economic crisis in the wake of the collapse of trade former Soviet Union, leading to an estimated drop of 25-30% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1991, had increased the urgency of foreign capital”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,956).

With even worse to come:

“There is no sign that the Cuban economy is rising out of the deep trough into which it has sunk. Some Cuban economists, who put the contraction in the economy in 1991 as high as 25% predict a further contraction of 10% this year (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . . , No. 3, 1992; p.10).

The crisis was further aggravated by a disastrous sugar crop:

“The 1991/92 sugar crop . . . is now forecast at 5.5-6.5 mn tons, making it the lowest in 15 years”. (Economist Intelligence Unit’, ‘Country Report: Cuba . · ·, No. 3, 1992; p.15).

In May 1992:

“A member of the Cuban Communist Party Political Bureau, Carlos Lage Davila, stated that projected imports for 1992 were expected to be 58% down on 1991”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 38; p. 38,905).

As the Soviet Union took the final steps towards free enterprise capitalism and a multi-party state, the Cuban leaders hastened to dissociate themselves from perestroika and to assert that they ‘would always be loyal to socialist principles’.

In a speech in July l988, Castro (in words):

“Rejected any compromise to capitalist forms of organisation or Soviet-style perestroika”. (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba . . . ‘; No. 4, 1988; p.9).

In January 1989, he denounced perestroika as:

“‘Capitalist’ and ‘counter-revolutionary”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 35;. p. 37,068).

And in July 1990 he told a rally that:

“Cuba’s commitment to socialism was irreversible, in spite of changes which had occurred in Eastern Europe”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,813).

To demonstrate Cuba’s dissociation from perestroika, in August 1989 the Soviet magazines ‘Moscow News’ and ‘Sputnik’ were banned in Cuba. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 36; p. 37,814). In parallel, by March 1990 the Soviet media were depicting Cuba as:

“A degenerating police state”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 36; p. 37,814).

At the 26th (and last) Congress of the Soviet Communist Party Union in July 1990 Gorbachev assured’ the people that the Party was not “swerving from the road of socialism”:

“By moving towards a market, we are not swerving from the road of socialism. What had collapsed (in Eastern Europe — Ed.) was not socialism but Stalinism”. (Mikhail S. Gorbachev: Report to 26th Congress, CPSU, in: ‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 36; p. 37,615).

World capitalism was not deceived by this demagogy. The Economist Intelligence Unit commented:

“Cuba’s quiet assimilation of capitalist methods is most visible in tourism and in the priority projects.” (Economist Intelligence Unit: ‘Country Report: Cuba · . .’; No. 3; 1990; p 17).

As Castro’s biographer, Sebastian Balfour, sagely comments:

“For all their dissimilarities Perestroika and Rectification were closely bound together”.(Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 156).


The political philosophy known as ‘Castroism’ is an amalgam of the ideas of the Cuban Fidel Castro the Argentinian Ernesto Guevara and the Frenchman Regis Debray* pertaining to the revolutionary process in Latin America.

It claims to be based on the experience of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, to be

“An ex post facto rationalisation of an improvised response to events beyond Castro’s control”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; 25-26).

But it is, in fact, based on a misinterpretation of this revolution in that it completely ignores the key point that the revolution’s success — in the circumstances in which it occurred — was due to the fact (previously analysed on pages 5-7) that it happened to coincide with a coup staged by the US imperialists against the Batista dictatorship.

Castroism presents this misinterpreation of the Cuban revolution as model for Latin America:

“That something which speaks to them (Latin Americans — Ed.) in Spanish, in their own language . . own language . . . is called the Cuban revolution”. (Ernesto Che Guevara, in: ‘Revolucion’ 25 March 1963, in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 53).

Indeed, in the years immediately after the Cuban Revolution, Castro:

“Made nothing less than a bid to be recognised as the Communist leader of Latin America. . . . If a dozen men could start a revolution in Cuba, why should not little Cuba be able to set off the revolution in Latin America?”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 53).

“The Cuban Revolution . · constitutes the vanguard of the anti-imperialist movement of Latin America.” (Declaration and Resolutions of the Latin American Solidarity Organisation (LASO) Conference, in: ‘Granma’, 17 September 1967; p. 5).

Castroism is a unique form of revisionism in that it developed outside the Communist movement:

“Castroism is the only tendency within world Communism which came into the movement from the outside and did not develop organically from within, as did Maoism or Titoism”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 52).

According to the Castroite revisionists, while the revolutionary process in Latin America needs the leadership of an organised vanguard, this organised vanguard need not be a Marxist-Leninist Party; the revolution may be successfully led by a guerilla group composed of persons of differing ideologies:

“In every country where armed struggle exists, the guerilla movement is the vanguard, even though it be composed of men of different ideologies.” (Declaration and Resolutions of the LASO Conference, in: ‘Granma’, 17 September 1967; p. 3).

“Who will make the revolution in Latin America? Who? The people, the revolutionaries, with or without a party.” (Fidel Castro: in: Regis Debray (1968); op. cit.; p. 96).

“Fidel Castro says simply that there is no revolution without a vanguard; that this vanguard is not necessarily the Marxist-Leninist party; and that those who want to make the revolution have the right and the duty to constitute themselves a vanguard, irrespective of these parties. In Cuba it was not the party that was the directive nucleus of the popular army…. The guerilla force is the party in embryo…. The ideology of the Cuban Rebel Army was not Marxist…. The people’s army will be the nucleus of the party not vice versa”. (Regis Debray (1968): op.’ cit.; p. 96-97, 105, 115).

Thus, according to Castroism:

“At the present juncture, the principal stress must be laid on the development of guerilla warfare and not on the strengthening of existing parties or the creation of new parties. The setting up of military focos (foci — Ed.), not political focos, is decisive for the future”. (Regis Debray (1968): op. cit.; p. 115, 119).’

“The Cuban revolution has established that, in the insurrectionary period, . . . it is possible to do without a vanguard Marxist-Leninist party of the working class.” (Regis Debray: ‘Strategy for Revolution’ (henceforth listed as ‘Regis Debray (1970)’); London; 1970; p. 53).

Since, ideology According to Castroism, the revolution in Latin America may be carried through ‘successfully by guerillas without any common political ideology it is unnecessesary for the revolutionary forces to have political commissars:

“Nearly all these guerilla movements (in Latin America — Ed.) neither have nor want political commissars. . . . These are the first socialist guerilla forces that have not adopted the system of political commissars, a system which does not appear to correspond to the Latin American reality”. (Regis Debray (1968): op. cit.; p. 113-14).

According to Castroism, the guerilla group may create a revolutionary situation irrespective of the objective political situation:

“It is not necessary to wait until all the conditions or making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them”. (Ernesto Guevara: ‘Guerilla Warfare’ (henceforth -listed Guevara (1969)’; Harmondsworth; 1969; p. 11).

Castroism carries this non-Marxist-Leninist subjectivism further: It maintains that a society can move quickly to communism irrespective of the objective state of development of the productive forces. There was:

“The belief among Castro and his closest supporters that they could force the stages of development and create in a short while the conditions for a Communist society, one in which each person received according to his or her needs and gave according to his or her capacity. Orthodox Marxism insisted that without the development of the productive forces on a massive scale not even socialism was possible. . . . Che Guevara . . . argued on the contrary that Cuba’s alliance with the developed Soviet bloc made it possible to jump stages in the transition towards socialism”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 81.)

Castro himself admitted in 1985:

“At that time we had many ideas that were well-intentioned, but they were not very realistic; we wanted to jump stages”. (Fidel Castro, in: ‘Granma’, 12 February 1985, in Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 84).

This attempt to skip stages was seen in the attempt to do away with financial incentives — to substitute for the socialist principle of distribution (‘to each according to his work) the communist principle (‘to each according to his needs’). This was an important factor in causing low productivity. Castro told ‘K. S. Karol’ in September 1967:

“I am against material incentives because I regard them as incompatible with socialism. What we want to do is to de-mystify money. . . . We even propose to abolish it altogether.” (Fidel Castro, in: ‘Nouvel Observateur’ (New Observer), 17 September 1967; p. 13).

“Workers increasingly had had to forgo the wage benefits they had won at the beginning of the Revolution in exchange for a limited range of free state services. Unpaid overtime, or ‘voluntary labour’ had become compulsory, while material incentives were being replaced by moral incentives”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 97).

Castroism rejected the Marxist-Leninist conception of the necessity of two stages in the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries such as those in Latin America, in the first stage of which the national bourgeoisies could play a revolutionary role. It maintained the Trotskyist view that the national bourgeoisies in Latin America had all become agents of imperialism and incapable of revolutionary action, so that the revolutionary process in Latin America would consist of a single stage, that of socialist revolution:

“The national bourgeoisies are not capable, in general~ of sustaining a consequential struggle against imperialism”. (Ernesto Guevara:” ‘Cuba — Exception or Vanguard?’, in: John Gerassi (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 138).

“The real liberation of all peoples . . . will, in our America, almost certainly have the characteristics of becoming a socialist revolution”. (Rolando E. Bonachea & Nelson P. Valdes (Eds.): Ernesto Guevara: Che’: Selected Works’; Cambridge (USA); 1969; p. 178-79).

“Most of the national bourgeoisie have joined North American imperialism”. (Ernesto Guevara, in: Jay Mallin (Ed.): “‘Che” Guevara on Revolution’; Coral Gables (USA); 1969; p. 107).

“Castroism . . moved towards the position that the ‘national bourgeoisie’ in Latin America was hopelessly ‘under the tutelage of imperialism’. In Mao Tse-tung’s doctrine, not only is the ‘national bourgeoisie’ an essential element in the struggle for power, but it is given a role to play in the new revolutionary state”. (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 87).

Thus, according to Castroism, the revolutionary process in Latin America is and will be essentially an agrarian revolution, with the peasantry playing the leading role. Guevara held:

“That this (the Cuban revolution — Ed.) had been and was an agrarian revolution’ and that the peasantry had played the leading role in it.” (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 84).

“The revolution (in Cuba – Ed.,) was principally the work of the dispossessed peasants”. (Fidel Castro, in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 124).

“The possibility of the triumph of the popular masses of Latin America is clearly expressed by the road of guerilla struggle based on a peasant army.” (Ernesto Guevara, in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 91-92).

Consequently, according to Castroism the revolutionary process in Latin America is essentially a rural one:

“In underdeveloped America, the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting”. (Ernesto Guevara (1969): op. cit.; p. 13).

“Guevara’s theory . . strikingly resembles Mao’s on primacy of the countryside as the most favourable revolutionary terrain.” (Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 69).

“The terrain of armed struggle in underdeveloped America must be primarily the countryside”. (Ernesto Guevara, in: Regis Debray (1970): op. cit.; p. 44).

Castroism, like Maoism, therefore sees the revolutionary process as spreading to the urban areas from the rural areas:

“Localised insurrections . . . will gradually spread to the cities, with the rallying cry of Socialist Revolution”. (Regis Debray (1968): op. cit.; p. 36).

“The possibility of the triumph of the popular masses of Latin America is clearly expressed . . . in the taking of the cities by way of the countryside”. (Ernesto Guevara, in: Theodore Draper (1965): op. cit.; p. 91-92).

“Debray upholds the subordination of the city to the countryside as a logical consequence of the decisive role which he attributes to the guerilla force, which in turn is based on underestimation of the political and ideological struggle of the working class movement (Clea Silva: ‘The Errors of the Foco Theory’, in: Leo Huberman & Paul M. Sweezy (Eds): ‘Regis Debray and the Latin American Revolution’; New York; 1968; p. 27).

According to Castroism, such a guerilla force can defeat a regular army:

“Popular forces can win a war against the army”. (Ernesto Guevara (1969): op. cit.; p. 11).

Consequently, the concept of the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat — an essential feature of Marxism-Leninism — finds no place in Castroism:

“The Marxist notion of working class power is absent from Castro’s thinking. In Castro’s political theory, socialism became not so much a question of power, but one of distribution”. (Sebastian Balfour: op. cit.; p. 163, 164).

Castroism rejects the Marxist-Leninist concept that art and culture should be guided along the road of socialist realism:

“Why endeavour to seek in the frozen forms of socialist realism the only valid recipe? Let us not attempt to condemn all post-mid-l9th-century art forms from the pontifical throne of realism-at-all-costs. That would mean committing the Proudhonian* error of the return to the past, and straitjacketing the artistic expreession of the man who is born and being formed today”. (Ernesto Guevara: ‘Man and Socialism in Cuba’) in: John Gerassi (Ed.): op.cit.; p. 396).

Finally, despite Guevara’ s abortive attempt to export revolution to Bolivia, the situation remained that:

“Nowhere in Latin America did armed struggle succeed in duplicating the Cuban model.” (Wayne S. Smith: ‘US-Cuba Relations: Twenty-Five Years of Hostility’, in: Sandor Halebsky & John M. Kirk (Eds.) (1985): op. cit.; p. 339).


“In September 1963 Debray himself began to retreat from the more extreme positions taken in ‘Revolution in the Revolution?”‘ (William E. Ratliff: op. cit.; p. 35).

“The so-called foco theory in its simplest most skeletal form . . . is certainly a utopian notion.” (Regis Debray: ‘Reply to My Critics’, in: Regis Debray (1970): op. cit.; p.237).

In fact, Debray dismisses his book ‘Revolution in the Revolution?’ as:

“Simply review articles – rough sketches intended for European readers”. (Regis Debray (1970): op. cit.; p. 238).

And by 1970 Debray had modified his views to the extent of asserting that:

“It is only if the workers, allied with the revolutionary intellectuals, can play the leading role that the national interest can be fully defended”. (Regis Debray: ‘Notes sur la Situation politique en Bolivie’. (Notes on the Political Situation in Bolivia)’. in: ‘Nouvelle Critique’ (New Criticism); No. 35 (June 1970); p. 27).


Despite its failure throughout the rest of Latin America and the degeneration of Cuba itself, following the exposure of Soviet revisionism frantic attempts are now being made to revive the corpse of Castroism, as an alternative form of revisionism. As we said in ‘COMpass’ in July 1992:





Attempts are now being made to create one or more new revisionist internationals in an attempt to disrupt further the movement to create new Marxist-Leninist Parties where the old ones have succumbed to revisionism.

Revisionist parties in power which maintain state capitalism under the false facade of ‘socialism’ are being presented by the neo-revisionisms as parties which have ‘remained faithful to revolutionary traditions’, as parties which are striving for the reorganisation of the revolutionary forces

Thus, we find the neo-revisionist ‘Communist Party of Brazil’ declaring:

“Some countries where the revolution triumphed, like Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea and Peoplets China, have remained loyal to the cause they defend. The Marxist-Leninist parties, anti-revisionists, continue to strive for the reorganisation of the revolutionary forces.” (Central Committee, Communist Party of Brazil: Report to 8th Congress, Communist Party of Brazil; Brasilia; 1992; p. 14-15).

While the 1992 draft of the ‘British Road to Socialism. the programme of the ‘Communist Party of Britain’ (the revisionist group around the ‘Morning Star’) goes further in presenting these states unequivocally as ‘socialist’. It declares its aim to be:

“To preserve and develop those states which still constitute a socialist world system – China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and other countries of socialist orientation (‘British Road to Socialism’, in: ‘Communist Review’, No. 14; p. 22).



“I can’t say that Gorbachev played a conscious part in the destruction of the Soviet Union, because I have no doubt that Gorbachev’s aim was to struggle to perfect socialism.

Stalin committed enormous abuses of power. It seems to me that the attempt to socialise the land in a very brief historical period and through violence was very costly in economic and human terms.

He signed the famous Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact. I think, too, that the non-aggression pact, far from giving him time, reduced the time, because it definitely unleashed the war.

And there, in my opinion, was another big error: just as Poland was being attacked, he sent troops to occupy that territory that had been in dispute because its population was Russian or Ukrainian, I don’t know.

I think the little war against Finland was another monumental blunder both from the point of view of principle and from the point of view of international law. ·

Lastly, Stalin’s character, his terrible mistrust of everything , led him to commit other serious errors: one of them was . . . to carry out a terrible, bloody purge of the armed forces and practically decapitate the Soviet army on the eve of the war.” (Fidel Castro) in: ‘Guardian’, 30 May 1992; p. 25).


ANDROPOV1 Yuri V.1 Soviet revisionist diplomat and politician (1914-84);Ambassador to hungary (1953-57); Secretary, Central Committee, CPSU

(1962-67); Chairman, USSR State Security Committee (1967-82); Member,

Political Bureau, CC, CPSU (1973-84); General Secretary, CPSU (1982-84);

President (1983-84).

BATISTA y Zaldivar, Fulgencio, Cuban soldier and politician (1901-73); puppet dictator (1933-44, 1952-59); President (19490-45, 1952-59); overthrown by Castroites (1959); in exile (1959-73).

BONSAL, Philip W. , American diplomat (1903- ); Ambassador to Colombia (1955-57); Ambassador to Bolivia (1957-59); Ambassador to Cuba (1959-61); Ambassador to Morocco (1961-62).

BREZHNEV, Leonid I., Soviet revisionist politician (1906-82); USSR President (1960-64); 2nd Secretary, CPSU (1964); 1st (after 1966 — General) Secretary, CPSU (1964-82); Marshal (1976); President (1977-82).

BUSH, George H. W. American diplomat and politician (1924- ); Ambassador to UN (1971-72); Chairman, Republican National Committee (1973-76); chief, US Liaison Office, Peking (1974-75); Director, Central Intelligence. Agency (1981-89); President (1989-93).

CABELL, Charles P., American intelligence officer (1903-71); Director, Operations and Intelligence, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (1944~5); Director of Intelligence, United States Air Force (1948-51); Director, Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff (1951); Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency (1953-62).

CAFFERY, Jefferson , American diplomat (1986-1974); Minister to Salvadaor (1926-28), to Colombia (1928-33); Special Representative of the State Dept. in Salvador (1931-32); Assistant Secretary of State (1933); Personal Representative of the President to Cuba (1933); Ambassador to Cuba (1934-37), to Brazil (1937-44), to France (1944~9), to Egypt (1949-55).

CARTER, James E., junior, American farmer and politician (1924- ); Governor of Georgia (1971-75); President (1977-81).

CASTRO Ruz, Fidel, Cuban lawyer and politician (1926- ); Prime Minister (1959-76); 1st Secretary, Communist Party of Cuba (1965- ); President, Council of State (1976-).

CASTRO Ruz, Raul, Cuban revisionist politician (1931- ); Major (1958); Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (1959-72); Deputy Premier (1962-72); 1st Deputy Premier (1972-76); 2nd Secretary, Communist Party of Cuba (1965- ); 1st Vice-President, Council of State (1976- ).

DEBRAY, Regis, French journalist (1942- ); lecturer, University of Havana (1966); imprisoned in Bolivia (1967-70).

DORTICOS Torrado, Osvaldo, Cuban lawyer and revisionist politician (1919-83); Minister of Laws (1959); President (1~59-75); Minister of Economy (1964-76); committed suicide (1983).

DRAPER, Theodore , American historian (1912- ); Research Fellow, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University (1963-73).

EISENHOWER, Dwight T., American military officer and politician (1890-1969);general (1944); Allied Conmander-in-Chief, North Africa : (1942-43); Commander, Allied Powers, European Theatre (1943-45); Commander, US Occupation Forces in Germany (1945); Chief of Staff, US Army (1945-48); Supreme Commander, Allied Powers in Europe (1950-52); resigned from army (1952); President (1953-61).

ESCALANTE, Anibal, Cuban revisionist politician (1909- ); editor, ‘Hoy;’ (1938-59); National Organiser, Integrated Revolutionary Organisations and United Party of the Socialist Revolution (1961-62); exiled to Eastern Europe (1962-64); and imprisoned (1968- ).

FORD, Gerald R., junior, American lawyer and politician (1913- ·); Vice-President (1973-74); President (1974-77)

FOSTER, William Z., American revisionist politician (1881-1961); National Chairman Communist Party of the USA (1932-57); Chairman Emeritus1 CPUSA (1957-61).

GORBACHEV, Mikhail S., Soviet revisionist politician (1931- ); General Secretary, CPSU (1985-91; President (1988-91).

GUEVARA de la Serna, Ernesto, Argentinian physician and politician (1928-57); President, National Bank of Cuba (1959-61); Minister of Industry (1961-65); to Bolivia (1965); captured and executed by Bolivian army (1967).

HILL, Robert C, American business man and diplomat (1917-78); Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (1951-57); Ambassador to

Costa Rica (1953-54); Ambassador to El Salvador (1954-55); Ambassador to Mexico (1957-61); Ambassador to Spain (1969-72).

JAMES, Daniel L., American social worker and author (1911-88).

JOHNSON, Lyndon B., American politician (1908-73); Senator (1949-61); Vice-President (1961-63); President (1963-69).

KENNEDY, John F., American politician (1917-63); Senator (1953-61); President (1961-63); assassinated (1963).

KENNEDY, Robert F., American lawyer and politician (1925-68); Attorney-Genera1 (1961-64); Senator (1965-78); assassinated (1968).

KHRUSHChEV, Nikita S., Soviet revisionist politician (1894-1971); Moscow Secretary. CPSU (1932-34, 1935-37); Secretary, CP Ukraine (1938-48);

Member, Presidium, CPSU (1939-64); Premier, Ukraine (1947);: Secretary, CPSU (1949-53; 1st Secretary, CPSU (1953~64); Premier1 USSR (1958-64).

KOSYGIN, Aleksey N., Soviet revisionist politician (1904-80); Lawyer, Leningrad (1938-39); USSR Commissar of Textile Industry (1939-40); USSR Deputy Premier (1940-43); Russian Premier (1943-48); USSR Minister of Finance, (1948); USSR Minister of Light Industry (1948-53); USSR Minister of Light Industry (1848-54); USSR Minister of Industrial Consumer Goods (1953-54); USSR Deputy Premier (1957-60); USSR 1st Deputy Premier (1960-54); Minister of Light Industry (1948-53); Member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1948-53, 1960-80); USSR 1st Deputy Premier (1963-64); USSR Premier (1964-80).

MacARTHUR. Douglas, American military officer (1880-1964); Lieutenant-General (1941); C-in-C, US and Filipino Forces (1941-42); C-inC, US Armed Forces in Far East(1941-51); Supreme Commander, Allied Forces in South East Pacific (19~2); Commander, Occupation Forces, Japan (19~5-51); general of the Army (19~9); Supreme Commander, UN Forces, Korea (1950-51); dismissed and retired (1951).

MAO Tse-tung, Chinese revisionist politician (1893-1976); Chairman, Chinese Soviet Republic, Kiangsi (1931-3~); Chairman, Communist Party (19~9-76); Chairman, People’s Republic of China (19~9-59).

MATTHEWS, Herbert L., American journalist and author (1900-77); member, editorial staff, ‘New York Times; (18~9-67); chief, editorial burera, ‘New York Times’ (19~5-~9).

MIKOYAN, Anastas I., Soviet revisionist politician (1895-1978); USSR People’s Commissar of Supply (1930-3~), of Food Industry (193~-38); Deputy Chairman, USSR Council of People’s Commissars (1937-~6); USSR People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade (1938-~6); member, State Defence Committee (19~2-~5); member, State Committee for the Reconstruction of the Economy in the Liberated Areas (19~3-~6); USSR Deputy Premier (19~6-55); 1st Deputy Chairman, USSR Council of Ministers (1955-6.+); USSR Minister of Foreign Trade (1953-55); President (196~-65).

MIRO Cardona, Jose Cuban lawyer and politician (1902-7~); Prime Minister (1959); resigned 1950); went into exile (1960); joined counterrevolutionary exile forces (1961).

NIXON, Richard M., American lawyer and politician (1913- ); Senator (1950-53); President (1969-74); resigned (1974).

PAWLEY, William D., American business executive and diplomat (1896-1977); Ambassador to Peru (19~5-~6), to Brazil (19~6-~8); Special Assistant to Secretary of State (1951); Special Assistant to Secretary of Defence (1951-52).

PROUDHON, Pierre-Joseph, French anarchist political writer (1809-65).

REAGAN, Ronald, US actor and politician (1911- ); actor (1932-66); Governor, California (1967-7~); President (1981-89).

‘ROCA, Blas’ (pseudonym of CALDERIO, Francisco) Cuban revisionist politician (1908-87); Secretary-General, Communist Party of Cuba (193~-61); editor, ‘Hoy’ (1952-65); member, secretariat, Communist Party of Cuba (1965-80); President, National Assembly (1976-81); Vice-President, Council of State (1976-81); retired through ill-health (1976).

RODRIGUEZ Rodriguez, Carlos R., Cuban revisionist politician (1913- ); Minister without Portfolio (19~O-~~); Editor, ‘Hoyt (1959-62); President, National Institute of Agrarian Reform (1962-65); Deputy Premier (1972-76); Vice-President (1976- ).

THO~~S, Hugh S., British historian (1931- ); Professor of History, University of Reading (1966-76); Chairman, Centre for Policy Studies (1979- ).

URRUTIA, Manuel(1901-81).Cuban judge and politician(1901-81); President (1959); resigned and went into exile (1959).

VANCE, Cyrus R., American lawyer and politician (1917- ); Secretary of Army (196~-67); Deputy Secretary of Defence (196~-67); Special Representative of President in Cyprus (1967), in Korea (1968); US Negotiator, Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam1 (1968-69); Secretary of State (1977-80); UN Special Envoy to Yugoslavia (1991- ).

YELTSIN, Boris N., Soviet revisionist politician (1931- ); 1st Secretary, Moscow, CPSU (1985); Member, Political Bureau, CC, CPSU (1986-87); President, Russia (1990-).


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