Sunday, June 25, 2006

THE HISTORY OF CUBA 1868-1980

THE HISTORY OF THE CUBAN PEOPLE 1868-1980
1868 The Cuban people bring about their first war of liberation against Spanish domination in The 10 Years War. 1868 marks the beginning of the independence process that continues up to the present time. Colonial domination affects all the inhabitants of the island. Nevertheless, among the big landholders of the East and those of the West there are marked economic differences. In the East is where the largest capital is found, the center of the Metropolis (Spanish control), the army and the largest number of slaves and creoles (Spaniards born in Cuba). The economic crisis affects the East more, where some landowners are ruined. Cuba, with a population of 1,200,000, has 400,000 slaves--30% of the population. The slaves cannot start the war of independence by virtue of being locked up in barracks, subject to oppression, without education nor access to ideas and political culture, with no social prerogatives. The slaves revolt, but they are repressed. There are three sectors- the annexionists, the reformists, and those who fight for independence. The objectives of the war are; to win national independence, and the abolition of slavery. The fundamental contradiction is that of Metropolis-Colony.
1871 Spanish repression acquires greater criminality and injustice with the shooting of 8 students and the jailing of 30 more, all students at Habana University. Nevertheless, the struggle continues. Guantánamo is the stronghold of the Spanish army. Máximo Gómez reorganizes his columns to spread out through the area, a strategic point in the war.
1873 Calixto García, Antonio Maceo and Ignacio Agramonte rapidly defeat the Spanish troops. There are also serious losses on the Independence side.
1876 The Spanish general proposes peace without independence, without having to militarily defeat the Mambises (Cuban soldiers). Some representatives of the Mambí government agree to the reforms. The government of the Republic in Arms calls together a meeting to sign the Zanjón Pact, a reformist document. This agreement is arrived at through a series of factors; disputes with the armed government, civil-military arguments, regional manifestations, competition between leaders, lack of discipline in the insurrectionist camp, which aborts the Western invasion, and the divisions among the emigrés who are lending support from outside the country. Antonio Maceo, when he learns of the Pact, rejects it.
1878 There is an interview between the Spaniard Arsenio Martínez Campos and Maceo, in Mangos de Baraguá. The Cubans swear not to accept peace, but rather independence and the abolition of slavery. Hostilities are resumed within 8 days. The Baraguá oath represents the defense of Revolutionary principles and confidence in the Revolution. It demonstrates that Spain needs peace more than Cuba does, and proves that the future of the struggle has to lie in radical hands. For ten years they fight barefoot, half-naked, without munitions nor food. Even so, Maceo’s stature is increased with the decision to continue the fight. If Cuba one day becomes independent, it is thanks to Baraguá, not to Zanjón.
1880 North American capital begins to be invested in sugar, mining, tobacco and the railroads.
1886 Slavery is abolished. Economic, political and social structures require a transformation adjusted to the new internal and external conditions. The growth in production and the consciousness of the people show the need for an organization capable of answering the demands of this growth. As a result of the Big War, with the popular movement frustrated, the Liberal Autonomist Party is born. Within the working class movement, reformist ideas develop, then anarchist ideas, which are against the organization of the working class and the existence of the proletarian state. In spite of this, the anarchists show great combative power in the worker’s struggles, under the leadership of Enrique Roig de San Martín. A revolutionary committee is organized in New York, directed by Calixto García, with branches in different US cities, Jamaica and Santo Domingo. There are constant ideological struggles against the autonomist and annexionist currents that are opposed to national emancipation
1892 José Martí convenes the Cuban Revolutionary Party, which represents the first Latin American political organization formed to bring about emancipation. Precursor of the Cuban Communist Party, which was founded in 1925, it is a manifestation of the continuity of the revolutionary process in Cuba. Economic development in the Colony is obstructed by an overwhelming burden of taxes. Massive firings after the fall in sugar prices, corrupt administrations, and the arbitrary electoral system allow the Spaniards to continue occupying key posts.
1895 The War of 95. The Revolutionaries led by José Martí have the double duty of emancipating Cuba from colonial power and keeping Latin America from falling into the hands of the US imperialists. The new war is brought about by radicals sectors of the middle strata, whose patriotic ideals coincide with the interests of the nation and of the working class. The cry of Independence (February 24) heralds the renewal of the conflict. The demands of the movement are; victory over colonialism, abolition of discrimination, the right to work, education and social welfare. In May Maceo wages his campaign in the East, and Máximo Gómez in Camagüey. The invasion of the West is under the two leaders with 4,500 men facing the 182,000 Spanish forces. The West contains the greatest wealth of the island, and this sustains the colonial power. It is necessary to destroy the economic base of the enemy, to force the exporting bourgeoisie to abandon its support of Spain and to make it pay taxes to the Revolution. The Revolution means the unification of all the social elements in the country. Provincial and racial borders are destroyed, and all the disaffected elements of the Cuban nation are placed on equal footing. The invasion proposes to extend the war, disconnect the enemy by redoubling initiatives against it, demoralizing its will to fight, and to bring this phase forward to Liberation. The army sustains 27 battles, and reaches the desired results.
1896 There are battles in Pinar del Río and Habana. In December Maceo loses his life in the battle of Punta Brava.
1898 Once Spain loses the war, the United States seizes the moment to intervene. There are 50 million dollars invested in Cuba and Yankee companies seek to protect their interests. McKinley sends an ultimatum to Madrid in favor of Cuban autonomy, otherwise he will intervene "to save the lives of American citizens". The explosion of the warship Maine in Habana harbor is the pretext that opens the way for Yankee intervention. The Marines disembark and are able to survive thanks to the support of the Mambises. Other battles are also supported by the Mambises, with Spanish losses. All that remains is to surround the city and for the Spanish squadron to surrender. In July the Americans and Spaniards meet to discuss the surrender without the participation of the Cubans. The Americans do not allow the Cuban liberation army to enter Santiago, as is their right after 30 years of struggle. Calixto García sends a letter of protest. In December the peace treaty is signed in Paris, where all Cubans are excluded from the discussions. Cuba remains under the control of a new foreign power, that of the United States. Puerto Rico, Filipinas and Guam likewise pass to Yankee control. The US imposes its conditions showing its imperialism and opportunism, contradicting its previous declarations.
1899 The Cuban Revolutionary Party is dissolved. The House of Representatives impeaches Máximo Gómez, an action which allows the interventionists to liquidate the only force capable of standing up to them. One of the first measures taken by the occupying force is to lower trade barriers in favor of US products. Cuba is invaded by American products. Schools are built with the aim of Americanizing Cuban culture.
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1898 The Platt Amendment is approved., which steals Cuba's hard-won independence.
This unleashes a huge demonstration in Habana against it. There are numerous meetings condemning the annexionist efforts of the imperialists. Martí and Maceo, the most prestigious leaders of the people have been killed in the war, the Cubans are disarmed and lack genuine organizations, some end up leaning toward the regime, others end up supporting it. The North American military writes; "We think it is a very desirable acquisition for the United States. The island will gradually become Americanized and in time we will have one of the richest and desirable possessions in the world." Elections are called, through which the imperialist government, with electoral fraud and other dirty tricks, imposes its candidate. Tomás Estrada Palma, who has lived in the US for 20 years and has openly expressed his admiration for that country, its institutions and its way of life. Almost 57 years of the Colonial Republic are initiated, where the US has control of economic, political and cultural life, penetrates the educational system, dominates the media, and initiates a campaign designed to uproot patriotic feelings among the Cuban people, to sow the false idea that the Yankees are liberators, superior beings, and to create a consciousness soaked through with individualism, racism, chasing after money and other ideas belonging to bourgeois ideology. Capitalist relations of production are developed, subordinated to the interests of the monopolies, a single agriculture, and the sharpening of underdevelopment. The US establishes commercial control, invading the island with cheap US goods, and stagnating Cuban agrarian and industrial development. The imperialists enjoy the support of certain Cuban classes, the big landowners, the great sugar bourgeoisie, the great commercial import bourgeoisie. This explains the anti-national character of almost all the implanted regimes, which exercise power on the backs of the people's interests, whom they divide by several means, and whom they repress constantly. One of the mechanisms of imperialist domination is the use of loans which further sink the country into debt to the extent that a good portion of the gross national product is destined to service the debt.
1902 A series of worker's strikes begins to take place.
1903 An agreement to lease the lands of Guantánamo to the US is ratified. Guantánamo becomes a center of pressure and military intervention against Cuba. The Club of Socialist propaganda is founded.
1903 1904 A constant intervention is unleashed from the hated Marines, or with the interference of Yankee diplomats who exercise political domination. A permanent army formed ideologically and militarily by instructors and North American institutions is created, as an instrument to crush any manifestation of discontent or rebellion among the masses. The mechanisms of domination are; "reciprocal" commercial treaties, economic investment, a policy of loans, permanent treaties, intervention, landing of Marines, advisement and instruction of repressive forces, and diplomacy. The fundamental contradiction is that of a neo-colony and a national-imperialist oligarchy. This group sinks the country into debt to the North America financiers, with high-interest loans which are in very few cases used to benefit the people. The fraudulent dredging of the Zapata swamp is denounced, as well as the dredging of the ports, the control of the National Lottery, and the sale of the Convent of Santa Clara, all resulting in the swelling of the coffers of the oligarchy. To this is added electoral fraud, where even the dead appear as voters. The country is characterized by a monoagriculture, economic backwardness, chronic unemployment, illiteracy, lack of health, the proliferation of gaming, prostitution, beggary, and racism, the legacy of slavery which is reinforced by the Yankee intervention which reflects practices in the US. The Socialist Party of Cuba is founded. The working class at this time is influenced by anarchism and anarcosyndicalism.
1908 The Independents of Color are constituted, with the aim of trying to achieve a political and social space for the Blacks, who lack the most elemental civil rights.
1912 An uprising of The Independents of Color, without the support of the rest of the poor, is put down with a body count of 3,000 Black and Mulatto Cubans assassinated.
1912 1913 The triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution suggests 3 fundamental directions for the Worker's Movement; The struggle for basic demands, the struggle for organization and unity, and the political-ideological struggle.
1920 Sugar prices have reached 22 cents a pound in New York, but they begin to fall to 3 cents a pound toward the end of the year, and even below that. This results in unpaid debts, and the crisis overwhelms the country. The Menocal government tries to better the situation, but his imperialist masters block every attempt, taking profits out of the low buying prices. Cuban banks are ruined, sugar refineries and lands are lost, food becomes scarce, salaries are lowered.
1923 The Protest of the 13 is enacted, along with the Falange for Cuban Action, of Martínez Villena, Marinello, Carpentier and Roig, among the most advanced intellectuals. New generations of University students come out of the petty and median bourgeoisie. There are close ties between the student movement and the worker’s movement, thanks to the Córdova movement, Marxist-Leninist literature, and the Mexican Revolution. Alfredo López and Julio Antonio Mella join forces with the old Marxist fighter Carlos Baliño to create the University Students Federation (FEU), the celebration of the First National Student Congress, and the José Martí People’s University.
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1925 Along with the National Workers Confederation of Cuba is formed the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), with Baliño and Mella as founders, giving the working class an organized political vanguard which disseminates Marxism-Leninism among the most conscious workers, uniting the aims of national liberation with social emancipation, and converting the working class potentially into a class for itself.
Gerardo Machado y Morales becomes president, financed by US monopolies that contribute more than a million pesos. He promises to uphold the Constitution, defend civil liberties, govern respecting public opinion, raise salaries, create industry, persecute corruption, build new schools, and highways, etc. He makes some attempts at new construction. To finance public works, the government creates new taxes and asks for a million dollar loan. He contracts a US company for the work, in which most of the stocks belong to Machado himself. The Cuban Communist Party fights to displace anarchism and anarco-syndicalism, at the same time it grapples with reformism. Machado represses all opposition, especially among the students and communists. He persecutes, jails, murders militants, expels foreign workers, attacks unions, develops judicial proceedings against the PCC, puts down strikes by force, limits rights and democratic freedoms, arrests Mella and dissolves the DEU.
1926 Julio Antonio Mella is forced to leave the country. Alfredo López is assassinated. Carlos Baliño dies. Martinez Villena assumes the defense of the student movement. Student leaders engage in open struggle with the Machado tyranny. The University is closed down. Many of the leaders are expelled, while others are forced to leave the country. The work of the PCC enables the working class to begin to come out of their inertia.
1928 The reduction in sugar exports makes it impossible for Cuba to import large quantities of food and other goods. This leads to an import-export duty reform, to reduce the import of basic products and allow Cuban industry to develop in the area of egg production, meats, fowl, shoes and others. Imports are reduced.
1929 The crisis is made worse under the effects of the capitalist economic crash. Mella is murdered January 10th in México City. From exile he had continued to fight ferociously against the tyranny and was preparing an insurrection against the Machado government.
1930 The US raises the duty on sugar imports to protect its own production. The production of sugar drops to 197 million tons in 1925 to 43 million in 1933. Cuban exports less tobacco and other goods. Factories and shops are closed, and the national budget cannot be covered. Unemployment rises. Salaries go down and exploitation is intensified. People are unable to get food, pay for housing, educate their children, buy medicines. Slums increase. Illiteracy is intensified, and the mortality index goes up.
There is a call for a General Strike. The demands are; to legalize the worker’s Central, to protect the unemployed, to insure job security by outlawing layoffs and lower salaries, and for civil and democratic liberties. The struggle intensifies, and spreads to other social strata. Repression is also intensified.
1932 The National Reform Student Movement begins anew. Students distribute manifestos and proclamations in and out of the University. There are many protest meetings. The university Student Directory (DEU) is formed to coordinate the students. Their tactics are to demonstrate, hold meetings, strikes, and engage in terrorism. The Student Left Wing (AIE) has a strong anti-imperialist program. The Machado government hires thugs and censors the press. The bourgeoisie itself comes to realize that it is impossible to have a normal society with Machado in power. After the failure of Río Verde, Antonio Guiteras Holmes unfolds a plan for a general insurrection from Oriente. In spite of this second failure, the taking of San Luís shows that armed struggle is the right path to follow.
After the failed attempt, the ABC is formed, headed by Martínez Saenz as head of a cellular terrorist network. This petty-bourgeois group is never revolutionary, but rather reactionary. It has a reformist content, pro-imperialist and fascistoid. In its anti-Machado position, it attracts many revolutionaries at first. The PCC has to unfold an intense ideological struggle to incorporate the masses into the insurrection, and show the way to something other than a simple change in government. It sends out a directive to fight under the banner of "Agrarian Revolution and Anti-Imperialism".
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1933 Opposition grows daily, and the US is forced to intervene in Cuban affairs. The Yankee ambassador is sent to mediate between the bourgeois opposition and the tyrant to prevent a popular triumph. Welles is supported by ABC against the PCC, the DEU, the AIE the CNOC and the Revolutionary Union. There is a General Strike with the slogan "Down With Machado". Welles pressures Machado to resign. The Machado regime is overthrown.
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes becomes president. Since he doesn’t face up to the problems, nor does he take measures against the Machado thugs, the revolutionary struggle continues. The masses take justice into their own hands, at the same time that strikes become the order of the day. The PCC creates local soviets as a means to take political power. Guiteras calls for armed struggle. There is much discontent in the army, where the soldiers want to end the abuse and better conditions in the encampments. There is a military uprising. The military chiefs are suspended, and their functions are taken over by sergeants. The DEU establishes relations with the soldiers and constitute a parallel government headed by Grau San Martín. This is know as the 100-day government. In this new government there are three currents; one reactionary and pro-imperialist (Batista), another reformist (Grau), and the third left and anti-imperialist (Guiteras). New measures are adopted, such as the 8 hour work day, the minimum wage, the legalization of the unions, the confiscation of Machado’s property, the reduction in the electric bills. All this happens concurrently with repression of strikes. The PCC mistakenly considers that this government is the same as all the others, and does not take into account the progressive role of Guiteras, weakening his support. This error is taken advantage of by the Empire, who threatens to manoeuver with Batista to execute a counterrevolutionary coup.
1934 Batista’s coup against the Grau government is successful. Guiteras goes into hiding. The new government subordinates the popular and worker’s movement to Imperialist interests. It transforms the army into the masters of the country. (Militarism). Blas Roca, secretary of the PCC issues a call to intensify the struggle against the government, strengthening ties with workers, peasants, and radical students. Another revolutionary group is Cuban Youth of Guiteras, which proposes armed anti imperialist struggle for national, agrarian and democratic liberation.
1934 A wave of counterrevolutionary terror is unleashed at the hands on the Medieta-Caffrey-Batista government, characterized by the creation of tribunals that sentence without previous hearing. All opposition parties are outlawed. Cuba daily becomes more dependent upon Washington. The sugar industry stagnates, making way for US investments to the detriment of the country. The US gives preferential treatment for export to 35 Cuban products, while Cuba is forced to give preferential treatment for import to 400 US products. The imports are goods that can be produced on the island, such as grains, oils, cured meats, fish, candies and candied fruit.
1935 Strikes increase. Teachers go on strike demanding back pay and an increase in salary. The strike spreads to all educational centers. The strike committee issues a call for a general strike, but it fails, due to government repression, lack of arms and resources, and lack of unity of action among the different revolutionary forces. Guiteras is murdered.
The 1930-33 Revolution introduces changes in Cuban life. The Platt amendment is abolished, the 8-hours day is established, certain workers’ rights are respected, peasants invade and take over lands, there is a struggle against racial discrimination and in favor of democratizing political processes.
Communists propose a united front based on amnesty for political prisoners, University autonomy, political freedoms, and a new Constitutional Congress. Grau in Miami, nevertheless, refuses to cooperate with the Front.
1936 There is a fascist uprising by Franco against the elected government of Republican Spain. The PCC heads an intense internationalist movement, and creates the National Antifascist Front.
1937 Under the banner of "Unity against Fascism", almost a thousand Cubans join the International Brigades to defend the Republic. Pressured by the democratic movement, and by President Roosevelt, Batista frees 3,000 political prisoners. The PCC is legalized.
1939 A National Congress is celebrated in Habana, where the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC) is created, which allows the creation of a united worker’s front. Elections are held where the majority are those who follow Grau. The Party receives 97,000 votes, which allows to take 6 delegates to the Congress; Blas Roca, Juan Marinello, Salvador García Agüero, Romárico Cordero, César Vilar and Esperanza Sánchez Mastrapa.
1940 A new Constitution is written, in which racism is abolished. Cuban education is to be done by Cubans. The 8 hour day is guaranteed. Large landed estates are made illegal. Batista gains power as head of the Socialist Democratic Coalition.
1941 Hitler’s army attacks the Soviet Union.
1942 Cuba establishes diplomatic relations with the USSR.
1944 Batistas’s government is corrupt, benefitting from speculation of basic foodstuffs. Cuba sends cheap sugar to the US to help in the antifascist cause, which turns out to be a lucrative business for the Yankee monopolies. The Authentic Program takes advantage of popular discontent and sends Grau again to the presidency in June elections. The program considers the intervention of the State in private affairs, the exploitation of new sources of wealth, securing work and honesty in public service, which during this government’s term never becomes a reality. Quite the opposite, functionaries become millionaires, pay out bribes, kill their political enemies, become mafia members or serve as sell-out union leaders.
1945 The World War ends with a victory over Fascism, which opens the way for Socialism and the rise of Movements of National Liberation. The US starts the Cold War, characterized by atomic and nuclear blackmail, a ferocious anti-communism and anti-sovietism and the repression of popular and democratic movements in Latin America. The Cuban government is completely servile to these policies.
1947 The sugar worker’s leader, Jesús Menéndez is assassinated in Manzanillo. Menéndez had fought for important gains in the introduction of hygiene in the sugar refineries, the raising of salaries, and the creation of a clinic for the workers. His greatest achievement is the sugar differential, by which the US is obligated to pay for the price of sugar it imports at the same rate as the price increase of Yankees goods that enter the island. The difference brings into Cuba almost 37 million dollars in 1946 and more than 100 million in 1947. The funeral of Menéndez becomes a national day of mourning.
` Senator Eduardo Chibás forms the Party of the Cuban People with the intention of criticizing government corruption and for popular demands, albeit with the participation of landed gentry and big business. Chibás defends Cuban sovereignty, the end to a one crop economy and large landed estates, agricultural diversity, the development of industry, the nationalizing of public services and utilities, the clean management of public funds and workers’ guarantees.
1948 The government supports gangsterism. The gangs profit from gambling and houses of prostitution. Gangsterism is also used to assassinate political figures. Carlos Prío Socarrás is elected. Scandals and corruption rise, along with transportation fares and utilities. Student followers of Chibás propose Socialism as the only way out to the situation in the country.
1950 The criticisms Chibás levels at the government hit their target, when Education Minister Sánchez Arango is accused of profiting from the breakfast program. Chibás is shot, and dies after 11 days. The university students, among them Fidel Castro Ruz, plan a eulogy in his memory and vow to carry on his ideas.
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1952 Batista, full of ambition, with the backing of the army and taking advantage of the lack of prestige of Prío Socarrás, takes over the old camp of Columbia (Ciudad Escolar Libertad) in a move to overthrow the constitutional government. The US recognizes the military coup. The Batista dictatorship begins, and with it the struggle for national and social liberation.
New insurrectionist groups develop, but are unable to do more than store arms and justify further repression by the dictatorship. People’s silence, their unwillingness to assume their revolutionary duties, their splitting off into fractions, their political opportunism, all prevent the development of policies at a level demanded by the situation. The militant youth forms a nucleus around the figure of Fidel Castro. In March, as a lawyer, he makes a formal denunciation before the Courts against Batista and the coup, asking for 100 years of prison for the dictator. The Peoples’ Socialist Party (PSP) issues a call to the masses to continue and intensify the struggle for a national democratic front. It proposes to fight for a democratic front, to reestablish the Constitution of 1940, the immediate holding of general elections, and the substitution of the repressive regime by one representative of the people. It pronounces itself against putschism, and considers that it is not the moment for armed struggle. The government intensifies the repression against the PSP and its members quickly move underground. The Communist Party is repressed. The University students issue a manifesto to the people "Not to allow themselves to be dragged by provocateurs into a useless massacre and to continue the fight against the dictatorship, because the time does not allow for vacillations and backtracking." The Martí Women’s Civic Front is created, which brings together radical women in the country.
Defeatist myths abound in the bosom of the people. The worker’s movement is disorganized, its leaders are gangsters bought by the imperialists and the bosses. The Marxist-Leninist Party is isolated and repressed, the bourgeois parties are disunited and disoriented.. The people are unarmed and without military experience, cynical about the sham of politics. The tyranny is all-powerful with the full backing of Washington. The coup eliminates democratic rights, such as the right to strike, and the most important civil rights. They raise the requirement of signatures needed to form a political party, with the aim of excluding the PSP. They dissolve the Congress, substituting it with a Congress made up of landowners, sections of the bourgeoisie, including the sell-out labor leader Mujal. As an instrument of imperialism, they break relations with the USSR, and raise the salaries of the armed forces. Unemployment increases, real income decreases, as well as the State fiscal income. Added to this situation are the worsening concessions by the tyrannical government owed the imperialist monopolies, which take a 50% slice of the pie in the form of stocks and bonds.
1953 Revolutionary martyrs begin to appear. Sergio Reina, Rubén Batista Rubio are assassinated. The Martí Congress for the Defense of Youth Rights is organized under the leadership of Lester Rodríguez, with the presence of Abel and Haydée Santamaría, Raúl Castro, Ñico López, Flavio Bravo and Lionel Soto. Outstanding is the candlelight march, with 500 young people and Fidel at the head of it. In the political positions the young lawyer takes one can see Marxist-Leninist ideas. Rejecting the "don’t rock the boat" and reformist attitudes of the established left leaders, Fidel and his companions begin to recruit people who come out of the Orthodox Party, and he separates himself from it before the end of the year, forming an independent group. This organization eventually has 1,500 members structured in 150 cells. Each cell has a head who mediates between it and the leadership. The sacrifices made by the members can be seen in the example of Elpidio Sosa, who sells his job and turns in 300 dollars for the cause. Others give many month’s salaries, sell the dining room set, the living room furniture, the refrigerator, the car.
June 26. The plan is to attack the Moncada Garrison in Santiago to arm the people and begin the general uprising. The leaders are Raúl Castro, Abel Santamaría, Dr. Mario Muñoz. Melba Hernández, Haydée Santamaría and Fidel. At the same time 40 combatants led by Raúl Martínez Ararás attack the garrison at Bayamo. The Moncada attack fails because of the lack of tactical surprise. Later Fidel reunites a dozen men in Siboney, from where they head for the mountains. Worn down by hunger and lack of sleep, they are surprised by a military patrol headed by Lieutenant Sarría, who refuses to turn them over to his commanding officer, Chaviano, thus saving their lives. In response to the failed action of the 26th, Batista orders 10 prisoners to be assassinated for each soldier that died. If 10 moncadistas fell, 70 more die after being caught and tortured. The Santiago population hides the moncadista leaders in their homes, who are able to avoid arrest. The ideology behind the attack is owed to Martí but the Moncada leaders identify with Marxism-Leninism. The old problem of the revolutionary movement is brought to light again--that of the relation between objective conditions and the subjective factor in making the Revolution. Moncada opens the way for armed struggle by the new Revolutionary vanguard, which will fight for six more years to victory. For Fidel, the people are not a static element, but rather "a dynamic mass, a motor force of the Revolution, to which one does not say ‘we are going to give to you’ but instead to which one puts a rifle in their hands and says ‘take this and fight for what is rightfully yours’". The six main problems at this time are; unemployment, lack of industrialization, the agrarian problem, housing, health and education.
The brave young people in the Isla de Pinos penitentiary turn their imprisonment into a productive force for the advancement of the Revolution.
1954 Typed by Melba Hernández and Haydée Santamaría, "History Will Absolve Me" is published clandestinely. Batista announce new elections, the opposition party is headed by Grau, and Fidel calls the charade "a battle between thieves". The bourgeoisie tries to legitimize its administration. The student movement undergoes a radical change, where tactics and strategy are specifically outlined to overthrow the Batista regime.
1955 The popular movement is successful is pressuring the government to a general amnesty, that allows the MR 26-7 (Movimiento Revolucionary 26 de julio) to be freed from jail. The combatants leave with a well developed strategy. They understand that there is no political solution possible, that is, that armed struggle is the only way. They establish under a single centralized authority a wide distribution of functions by fronts, such as, that of armed and active combat, finances, propaganda, worker’s issues, youth and students, projecting a willingness to work with different sectors and using varied forms of struggle, which guarantees the close ties with the masses who agree with the tactical and strategic objectives of the movement. In other words, a political and military Revolucionary organization. The social base of the movement is made up of working class youth, representatives of the industrial and agricultural workers, and radical sectors of the petty bourgeoisie. Among them are Frank País, Pepito Rey, Vilma Espín, Armando Hart and Faustino Pérez. The political-strategic objectives of the movement are national and social liberation. The tactical objectives are armed insurrection and a general revolutionary strike. Due to persecution by Batista, the conclusion is reached that the head of the movement, Fidel and several other members go to México to train future combatants, buy armaments, clothing and provisions. Those who remain in Cuba need to prepare others who will support the revolutionary movement. In the meantime, Fidel embarks on an intensive political and ideological activity publicizing in the US, Mexico and Cuba the aims of the Revolution. Fidel travels through the US bringing together the Cuban Civic Action, the Orthodox Committee of New York, and the Democratic Worker’s Committee of Exiled Cubans. Alberto Bayo Girond, exiled in México, and ex-officer of the Spanish Republican army, teams up to help form and train the nascent guerrilla army. Ernesto Che Guevara promotes among the combatants issues leading to ideological clarity. El Che has arrived in México from Guatemala, where he has befriended Ñico López, exiled there after the MR-26-7. The center of attention of the Communist Party at this time is taken up by the unified worker’s movement. Thus we have the Committee for the Defense of Worker’s Demands, (CDDO) and by issues of democracy. The Party works in the sugar strike, whose main demand is the payment of the sugar differential, which the government wants to manipulate for its own ends. . There are actions in a dozen cities throughout the island. The Communist leader Flavio Bravo goes to México to interview Fidel and to coordinate actions against the dictatorship. There are University student demonstrations connected to other sectors in mass actions, with José A. Echeverría at the head. The beaten and arrested demonstrators provoke a new wave of protest. At a baseball game, the students unfurl a banner that says "free political prisoners". In spite of the fact that the repressive forces react immediately, the television transmission is not cut off, and the people can see first hand the violence unleashed by the police against unarmed students.
1956 60% of families live in shacks with dirt floor and guano roofing.
85% have no beds
30% have no electricity
43% is illiterate
14% has tuberculosis
11% have milk to drink
4% eat meat
Great social expenditures are a cover for double-dealing, allowing the bureaucratic bourgeoisie to flourish along with army officers. Tourism is a source of great wealth for those who traffic in gambling, prostitution and drugs. Profits wind up in the pockets of government functionaries and the police. The most dynamic political element of this time lies with the University, which is a scene of constant meetings and demonstrations by different sectors of the population. The government forbids the first of May demonstration of the workers. Nevertheless, there are demonstrations where many demonstrators are beaten and arrested.
Frank País and Celia Sánchez continue organizing support in readiness for the landing of the yacht "Granma", which is supposed to land on the 5th day after setting out from Veracruz. A broad united action is planned in Santiago, one which includes arresting of the maritime police, the police station, the airport, preventing the use of reinforcements from Moncada, the freeing of some prisoners from the Boniato jail, and other actions. Unfortunately, the Granma is nowhere to be seen, and the plans fail. Nevertheless, they serve to show the reality of the struggle. The PSP supports and helps Fidel and the others.
The tactic and strategy of the Revolutionary Command (DR) are based on urban struggle, combining mass action with armed action. The FEU, through the DR, sparks Revolutionary comradeship among all the civil elements; the embattled student, the militant worker, the unsubmissive woman, the just owner, the soldier who refuses to commit crimes, the forgotten peasant.
Finally, Granma arrives. A group of men headed by Fidel thrusts itself into the mountains of Oriente. Granma had landed in Las Coloradas and had been stuck in the mud a few meters from the shore. After days of wading in the mud of a mangrove swamp and walking among sugar cane fields, the expedition camps at Alegría de Pío. Surprised by Captain Moreno Bravo of the enemy troops, who demands their surrender, Juan Almeida retorts "No one here surrenders!" Even so, enemy superiority forces the combatants to retreat in a disorganized manner when they are set upon by the army. El Che later says, "That was our baptism of fire. That was the beginning of the forge that was to be the Rebel Army." Three groups march to the Sierra Maestra, the first one made up of Juan Almeida, Ernesto Guevara, Ramiro Valdéz, Rafael Chao and Reinaldo Benítez, Camilo Cienfuegos, Francisco González and Pablo Hurtado. The second group has Raúl Castro, Ciro Redondo, Efigenio Emejiras, René Rodríguez and César Gómez, and the third group had Fidel Castro, Universo Sanchez and Faustino Pérez.
1957 The first combat in the Sierra Maestra takes place with the attack at the command post at La Plata, which turns out to be a resounding victory. The guerrilla increases in number to 70 combatants ready for action. It includes action and sabotage, propaganda and the collection of war materiel, food, money and other resources. The underground struggle in the cities goes on under difficult conditions, since that is where the repression is most intense. March 13 there is a plan to physically eliminate Batista, take over a radio station and call for a general strike. The combatants open their way amidst a fierce crossfire within the Presidential palace to kill Batista, but they are unable to achieve their objective. This action moves the people. In the meantime there is a rebel attack at the post in El Uvero. This is another resounding victory. The small military posts in the outskirts of the main enemy garrisons are wiped out, which means that the rebel territory is broadened. El Che writes, "Uvero was the coming of age of the guerrillas". In Santiago, Frank País engages in various actions of sabotage, the buying and capture of arms, the sending of resources to the combatants in the Sierra Maestra, the editing of underground publications, the control of telephone communications through militant employees at the plant, the constitution of urban militias, and the organization of worker’s sections. Under these difficult conditions, evading the enemy over and over, he is finally identified by a snitch and is assassinated with his comrade Raúl Pujols. His burial becomes a popular demonstration of mourning and a general strike is declared that extends throughout Santiago and Camagüey. The success of the guerrillas influences the PSP, who supports them in every way. At the end of the years there is a meeting in Miami of the National Liberation Junta, the PRC, Authentic Organization, the PPC, the Revolutionary Worker’s Command (Angel Cofiño) DR-13-M and the Democratic Party. Its main figures are Felipe Pazos, Carlos Prío, and Roberto Agramonte. They do not discuss the matter of foreign intervention nor very strongly the issue of a military body to replace Batista. Fidel ends the existence of the Junta by pointing out that "what is important is not the Revolution in itself, but rather the bases of unity, the forms in which it becomes viable, and the intentions which give it life". The Revolutionary Movement affirms its position that (1) Armed struggle is the basic form of struggle (2) the participation of the people is the subjective factor (3) the growing role belongs to the Revolutionary forces (4) the level of development of the subjective factor, its inefficiency and its use of brutal acts are what results in rebellion (5) there is an absolute need for the creation and development of the rebel army.
1958 Radio Rebelde takes to the air to break the monopoly on information. At the same time it becomes a means of communication among the guerrillas. The second front "Frank País" is formed under the orders of Raúl Castro and the third front headed by Camilo Cienfuegos. A general strike is called. National broadcasting stations are attacked to give publicity to the strike, power stations are blown up, the munitions dump in Old Habana is attacked, sabotage is carried out at transportation points, gas stations and automobiles are set on fire, traffic is interrupted, etc.
The strike does not achieve the expected results and the tyranny drowns the movement in blood. In the Sierra Maestra Fidel is named General Secretary and Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary forces, and the national command passes from the city to the Sierra. The failure of the strike is readily taken advantage of by Batista to bring in US military advisors. 10,000 men with 14 infantry battalions, 7 independent companies, supported by Navy aviation, are sent to fight the 1st José Martí Front, which is defended by 300 rebels headed by Fidel. Batista receives US military aid, the turning over of secret arms, airplane fuel, including napalm bombs for the population which murder children, women and old people. The guerrillas proposes to pass over to the offensive to expel the enemy from the Sierra Maestra. With the rallying cry "They shall not pass" the combatants defend their positions with actions like Operation Anti-air force, where they are able to bring in 50 US citizens so that they may witness the savage bombing of the civilian population by the tyranny, with airplanes outfitted with US bombs and machine guns, fueled by the very Naval Base at Guantánamo. The operation is a success and has repercussions all over the world. The rebel army strikes a crushing blow to the enemy in the battle of Santo Domingo. Later the battle at El Jigüe, the change of direction of the war solidifies and the forces of the tyranny begin to retreat in confusion. The enemy loses the military initiative. Besides the strategic victory, the rebels capture a valuable arsenal which includes tanks, 450 prisoners, 500 enemy dead, wounded and deserters. The rebel forces only have 26 dead and 50 wounded. The rebel command reorganizes its forces and decides to extend the war throughout the length and breadth of the country. Fidel orders Camilo to Pinar del Río and El Che to Las Villas. One must bear in mind that they are persecuted by land, they are ambushed and they are hunted by air. Violent clashes take place along the way, traps and other dangers are skirted, hurricanes, swamps and rivers must be dealt with. They fight hunger and thirst, with their feet in bad condition, some with illnesses. Even so, the combatants are able to organize liberated territories for education, health and agrarian reform. There is agreement also on a leading organization by the peasants. At the end of the year the country is in a state of total war and the dictatorship begins to crumble. Thanks to the calls issued by Radio Rebelde, the elections are boycotted. Fidel issues a call for the final battle. In Oriente, Guisa directs the action. There are battles in Jiguaní, Banes, Palma Soriano, La Maya, Songo and Sagua de Tánamo. After the battle at Las Villas, El Che lays siege to Santa Clara. Camilo lays siege to Yaguajay. The US sells arms to Somoza so that he may send them to Cuba while the US maintains an apparently neutral position To mature the subjective factor, unity of action of the political forces is achieved. When the objective and subjective forces are in congruence, the tyranny falls. . Batista is helped to flee on January 1st 1959. The Civilian and Military Junta is formed in Columbia where Camilo and Carlos M. Piedra are named provisional presidents of the Republic. In view of the flight of the tyrant and the attempt of a coup d’etat supported by the US, Fidel orders Camilo and Che to advance towards Habana. The Commander in Chief calls for a general strike to prevent the counterrevolution, as happened in 1898, from snatching victory away from the rebels. . On January 8, 1959, Fidel arrives in Habana after a historic run through from Santiago and is received ecstatically. At long last the people, who have shed so much blood for the cause of freedom, joyfully celebrate their victory. Revolutionary triumph is the result of Rebel Army operations in agreement with the underground movement and the masses in the cities, strikes, student demonstrations, people’s protests, sabotage, attempts on the life of the regime’s cohorts, boycotts of elections, etc
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1959 The revolutionary process wipes out the connection between capitalism and feudal vestiges
that had perpetuated themselves since Colonial times and had been taken advantage of by the Imperialists to turn Cuba into a source of cheap raw materials and to submit the nation to a process of deformation and backwardness based on the stagnation of sugar production, unemployment, perpetual maladjustment in the balance of payments and the increase of contradictions between the development of productive forces and the social relations of capitalist production, which prevented the attainment of social progress by reformist means.
Dr Manuel Urrutia takes over the presidency of the Republic. The first cabinet is made of various personalities with diverse ideological, social and political positions, conservative and reactionary some, and revolutionary others.
The permanent status of the judges of the Supreme Court is eliminated, Batista’s thugs, torturers and snitches are put on trial for their crimes during the dictatorship. Batista’s property and that of his collaborators is confiscated. The Ministry for the Recovery of Ill-gotten Property is created to carry out confiscation of property and transfer it to the power of the Cuban State, obeying an elementary sense of justice in returning to the Nation the wealth that had been stolen by Batista and his collaborators. 318 construction companies are recovered, as well as sugar refineries, 3.7% of the land, 50 land, air and water transport companies, 400 million pesos, etc. Corruption, inherited from the Batista dictatorship, is eliminated, and the participation of the workers in power sharing is guaranteed, as a future seed of the socialist sector in the economy.
Prime Minister José Miró Cardona resigns. Fidel takes over the post of Prime Minister and announces his program for the government. The ministry proposes Law 87 against irresponsible land holdings, takes over the Cuban Telephone Company, a US monopoly
that was involved in shady dealings with the Batista tyranny, and there is an immediate lowering of telephone and electric fees. The department of reforestation is created, allowing credit of 5 million pesos for tree planting. The Council of Ministers reduces housing rents by 50% in the whole country. Construction is given new impetus. The National Printing Press, the National Institute for Agrarian Reform, The Cuban Institute for the Arts and Cinematography, the National Tourist Industry, the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) are created. Barracks are turned into schools. 200 rural schools and 9000 urban classrooms are created, text books prices are lowered between 25 and 30%. The Oriente University City is founded. The price of medicines is reduced between 15% and 20%. The Council approves credits for the protection of infants, the rehabilitation of minors and the fight against hoodlums, and imposes a tax on liquor. These measures elicit the protest of sections of the bourgeoisie who see their class interests threatened. Some ministers who object to these measures resign from the government.
The Law of Agrarian Reform counters the critical situation in the countryside, that is, where 15% of the landowners control half of arable lands, there are large land holdings of up to 18,000 caballerías (each caballería equals 134,300 square meters). Peasants pay rents in money or up to half their crop for the use of the land. There is a large number of unemployed worsened by "dead time’ since harvesting only takes between 76 to 131 days of the year. Agricultural salaries are a miserable 50 cents a day. US companies control a high percentage of the best lands. Health in the countryside is precarious. There are few means of communication, as well as unreliable electrical power. Housing and education are a disaster. The Law proscribes large land holdings (there are exceptions which allow up to 100 caballerías). Lands are distributed, rents, sharecropping and insufficiency are mitigated, the land is nationalized, a minimum of 2 caballerías is established as a minimum living parcel for a family of five. Scientific and technical advances are applied, cooperatives are established. Under the guidance of El Che, departments of Industry, Commerce and Fishing are created, among others. People’s Militia units are created, the literacy campaign is supported, antitank and antiair schools are created. The Law of Agrarian Reform is the first measure taken to wipe out underdevelopment and economic dependency. It is a revolutionary law because it initiates profound economic and political transformations, and weakens the bourgeoisie. It substitutes state property over private property. It strengthens the alliance between peasants and workers.
Urrutia takes an openly reactionary position and joins the propaganda of the enemies of the Revolution. Fidel prefers to resign his post as Prime Minister, as a matter of principle, rather than continue in his government. He appears on television to explain the reasons for his resignation. The people take to the streets demonstrating their support of Fidel, demanding that Urrutia resign instead. Oswaldo Dorticós Torrado is named president of the Republic. The class struggle is unleashed at the heart of the Revolution, characterized on the one hand by Yankee imperialism and the social classes displaced by political power, and the acceleration of the Revolutionary process on the other.
At this time the imperialists fiercely support the monopolies, the landowners and bourgeois that are still the owners of the media, radio, televison, movies, press, and the economy of the country. Cuba is infested with reactionary ideology. The media have succeed in putting forth a great anti-communist campaign to confuse the people, to divide them and to even affect the Rebel Army. The offensive on the part of the US comprises an ideological offensive (anti-Cuban and anti-communist campaigns), military, (infiltration, sabotage, organization of counterrevolutionary bands, Bay of Pigs invasion) political (breaking of diplomatic relations, imposing a condemnation of Cuba), and economic (elimination of the sugar quota, suspension of replacement parts, denial of oil refining, economic blockade, encouragement of the brain drain so that thousands of professionals and technicians leave the country). Classes are polarized in the same measure that the Revolution deepens and develops. The Revolution answers the aggression with a firm backing, with the suppression of counterrevolutionary strikes, with the raising of salaries by 4%, with the creation of worker’s militias arm in arm with the Rebel Army to guarantee the defense of the motherland, with the purge of the worker’s movement, and with a vote of censure of the reactionary press at the service of the Revolution’s enemies. The rights of women are instituted, along with child care centers for working mothers. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) are created. Their main objective is revolutionary vigilance, as an auxiliary to State security. Their tasks are related to education, public health, savings and volunteer work. These measures are feared and hated by the imperialists and the reactionaries.
1960 El Che officially represents a new organization, the Association of Young Rebels, (AJR) who dedicate themselves to study, work and the defense against subversion. Fidel declares, referring to the aggressive politics of the US Americans;
"They have 800,000,000 dollars in investments in Cuba. If they take away the sugar
differential, they can lose their investments. We will exchange the quota for the investments. We are waiting for them to finish the US law on sugar quotas so we can make the Cuban law on US investments".
That is how forced nationalization of companies and real property of Cuban citizens or others who are judicially US Americans begins, as a defensive measure to protect the Revolution. Telephones, electricity, oil refineries, 36 sugar refineries and all the US banks are nationalized. The Cuban bourgeoisie is not able to adopt a position contrary to Yankee imperialism, and accelerates its own destruction as a class. The Urban Reform law is passed, rescuing housing as a means of exploitation, benefitting large sectors of the population. The functions of worker’s control are; to watch over the safety of the industries, prevent the paralyzation of production, guard raw materials, and send out production orders. All these measures signify the culmination of the democratic-popular-agrarian-antiimperialist stage and the beginnings of the socialist stage. International solidarity materializes in economic, military technical and educational terms, on the part of the USSR, progressive governments and the peoples of the world, especially of Latin America, and this prevents the Revolution from being thwarted. Fidel makes another trip to the US, presiding over a United Nations delegation. In his speech before the body he analyzes how Cuba had become a colony of the US, denounces US government schemes against Cuba, and puts forth the need to work out an economic development program for all the peoples of Latin America. The Habana Declaration, which condemns the imperialist policies of the US against Cuba, and the betrayal of the puppet governments of the Continent, the exploitation of man by man and the exploitation that finance capital exercises over underdeveloped countries, proclaims the rights of people to work, to the land, to education, to health, to social assistance, to equality, to the rights of peoples to free trade, to full sovereignty, to defense of their rights by the use of arms, and expresses the humanist thought of Martí and the Cuban Revolution in international relations.
The State exercises growing control over foreign trade, and commercial relations in the country are reorganized. The Ministry of Foreign Trade is founded. Distribution of consumer goods to the population are guaranteed, State commercial companies are administered, commercial activity of private companies is regulated, the Law of Nationalization of Education is passed, making it completely public and free of charge, the Ministry of Health and welfare is dissolved, replaced by free medical services.
Cultural, sports, and recreational organizations are created, for mass participation and the rescue of Cuban values and traditions, without, however, ignoring universal culture. People’s tribunals are created which are competent to judge cases that do not exceed 180 days of arrest. These tribunals are made up of judges who are elected in mass assemblies. These measures involve a greater centralization of the state apparatus, and the leaders promote measures to achieve an adequate equivalency between centralism and democracy, tying the masses in directly with People’s Power, through representation in mass organizations, and the right of every citizen to address them and give his/her criteria and viewpoints.
Banditry becomes a problem, with vigilantes and traitors who seek refuge in the mountainous and undeveloped areas of the country. The Escambray Sierra is the center of banditry in the country, thanks to the pseudo-revolutionary Escambray National Front, which mistreats the peasants, gives a false idea of the Revolution where there is political and ideological weakness in Revolutionary work, and where there exists support for imperialism among the declassé elements. Using the lowest type of persons, ex-military members of Batistas army, traitors to the Revolution, pseudo revolutionaries, lumpens, foremen of the old landed estates and malcontents of all classes, the CIA organizes and gives money and equipment to several bands, who engage in terrorism, sabotage, attacks on populations, and assassinations of innocent people. There are eventually 179 bands with a total of 3,591 members in 6 provinces. The first cleansing of Escambray is initiated, liquidating more than 1,000 bandits, cutting off any internal support to the US invasion, which is being planned in Washington.
The AJR becomes more active, with multiple areas of work, such as the constitution of youth work brigades, the mobilization of thousands of young people in activities such as the harvest, sugar cane cutting, beautification projects, the construction of the José Antonio Echeverría University, the incorporation of the young in the militias, their greater participation in cultural and sports activities, support of education, University reform and the literacy campaign. The AJR is destined to become the youth wing of the Party, so that it ceases to become a mass organization and becomes a selective organization made up of the most capable. The functioning of the base committees is guided by the principles of democratic centralism, selection of membership, criticism and self-criticism and the obligation to carry out an active life in the organization, do ideological work, and to fight evils such as bureaucracy, routine attitudes and sectarianism.
The Federation of Cuban Women is founded, which dedicates itself to the reeducation of prostitutes and their reintroduction into the work force, to participation in the literacy campaign, to massive support of scholarships, the construction of preschool centers, attention to school lunchrooms, the incorporation of women into work in the fields, support for health issues, raising the cultural level of women, encouraging their studies in advanced fields.
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1961 Fidel proclaims the socialist character of the Revolution. He states;
"What the imperialists cannot forgive is that we are here, what they cannot forgive is that the dignity, the integrity, bravery, ideological firmness, spirit of sacrifice and revolutionary spirit of the people of Cuba".
The Yankee government breaks relations with Cuba. The tasks corresponding to the democratic, popular, agrarian and anti-imperialist stage had been fulfilled. This involves a superior stage, that of socialist construction. The masses are ready not only to embrace socialism, but to defend it with all their strength, a situation which contributes to weeding out anticommunist prejudices that had been inculcated through bourgeois propaganda. Solidarity with the USSR contributes to this defense. Cubans know who their enemies and friends are. From Nicaragua, 8 B-26 bombers attack 3 Cuban airports. Their victims are buried in a gigantic demonstration of popular mourning. The plan has been worked out by the CIA, who creates 20 bases for instruction and training in the US, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, eventually training more than 7,000 counterrevolutionary emigrés.
The mercenary invasion begins, coded "Operation Pluto", made up of 1,500 men who land at the Bay of Pigs. The plan includes Playa Girón, Playa Larga and Caleta Buena. The fundamental objective is to establish a beach head, occupy a part of the national territory as a base for future operations, and install a provisionary government with José Miró Cardona at the head, who would immediately be recognized by the US. The Revolution distributes its main military cadres as follows; Commander Raúl Castro in Oriente, Commander Juan Almeida in Santa Clara as chief of the Central Army, Commander Ernesto Che Guevara in Pinar del Río, Commander Ramiro Valdés at the head of Intelligence, Commander Guillermo García heading the tactical corps in Managua. The CDR are mobilized to arrest 2,500 malcontents disaffected with the Revolution or collaborators with the CIA. Militia battalions are mobilized, as well as the Revolutionary Army. Weapons from the USSR and Czechoslovakia, welded to the fearlessness and bravery of the men who carry them, make possible the defeat of the invaders in less than 72 hours, with a count of 89 dead, 250 wounded and 197 prisoners. Among the mercenaries there are 100 landed gentry, 67 property owners of estates, 112 businessmen, 37 capitalists and 194 Batista war criminals. Cuban losses number 157 dead, who will always be considered "Eternal Heroes of the Motherland". The USSR, ready to lend all necessary help to Cuba, the quick defeat, the message sent to Kennedy demanding an immediate end to hostilities, all force the US government to refrain from a direct military intervention. Girón is the first defeat of Yankee Imperialism in America, and socialism is definitely established therein on the continent. Not for nothing does the US try to counter the force of this example, promoting an aggressive social and reformist alternative called "Alliance for Progress", which contemplates an annual donation to other Latin American states of 2 billion dollars, 1,1 billion given through government channels and the rest through investments. The result of this "progress" is shown in the crushing foreign debt, the decrease in the gross national product and the per capita income, the increase in social ills and underdevelopment.
The second cleansing of Escambray takes place, provoked by the need of Imperialism to continue encouraging banditry after the Girón defeat.
The Plan for Peasants is installed, with 150,000 young female peasants participating. In the literacy campaign there are teachers, professors, workers and students who teach 707,000 adults. At the same time there are created peasant-worker opportunities for entrance into the University. Education is nationalized and private schools are closed. There is a massive plan for scholarships, with 40,000 children of workers and peasants as the first contingent of recipients. Scientific investigation is developed and numerous specialties are created. Study and work are combined with the Martí idea of School to the Countryside. Rural medical service is established for two years, in which Cuban doctors have to practice in the remote regions of the country upon graduation. Rural hospitals, polyclinics and other health centers are built. Of the 6,000 doctors that existed in Cuba before the Revolution, 3,000 abandon the country. Prices of medicines are lowered and the pharmaceutical industry is modernized. Poliomyelitis, malaria, diphtheria, tetanus, tuberculosis, whooping cough, gastroenteritis and infant mortality are reduced or wiped out with the free medical services. The ministry of public health and education engage in a massive vaccination campaign. The Worker Protection Act is instituted, guaranteeing female workers 12 paid weeks for childbirth up to their release from the hospital.
The need for the Party is necessary for the following reasons; the existence of a revolutionary vanguard, constituted by Fidel and the nucleus of leadership, by the ideals of José Martí, and by the lack of ideological differences among the various organizations, which results in a joining of forces to the detriment of the rightist and anticommunist ones which try to brake the Revolution or sidetrack it into reformism. Added to this is the radicalization of revolutionary consciousness among the masses, who incorporate themselves evermore into the Revolutionary process, and the defense of its conquests in the face of class struggle stimulated by the aggressive policies of US imperialism. This situation allows the masses to free themselves of anticommunist prejudices fomented by imperialist propaganda and its servants, and with the existence of a large combative working class allows it to be transformed into a class for itself. Blas Roca, who for 27 years has led the Party founded by Mella and Baliño, proclaim the leadership of Fidel Castro, and the PSP, the MR-26-7 and the DR-13-M are dissolved to form the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations, (ORI) which are the embryo of what is to be the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (PURSC).
Sectarianism manifests itself in the lack of confidence in others by those who have had an old communist militant trajectory, believing that only the old militants can have political and administrative responsibilities. There are even those who install themselves in certain administrative posts to obtain the highest pay and benefits. The politics of "the leadership nucleus gives the orders" is established, of those who hire and fire administrators.
Its obvious that the ORI are not adequately fulfilling their mission. The members of the Party of a New Type struggle to retain the principles of selection, democratic centralism and the ties of the Party with the masses.
The Law of Labor Organization is approved, restructuring the union movement, placing a section in each work place, and a national union in each industrial branch. The unions actively support the nationalization process, their participation as part of the MNR, the fight against the Girón aggression, and the literacy campaign. The unions also support the Economic Plan, the development of emulation, the strengthening of the worker peasant alliance, and the elevation of the cultural and technical level other workers.
The ANAP is constituted as a representative of the small and middle agriculture producers, uniting and orienting them in the application of the agrarian and economic-social programs of the Revolution, the push for production in the private sector, and the contribution to sugar cane cutting activities. Work is directed to the use of technical innovations and credits, the support for the tasks of economic and social development in the countryside, the elevation of cultural and technical level of the peasants, the mobilization of peasant masses in the face of imperialist aggression and internal counterrevolution, and the spread of revolutionary ideas among private agricultural workers.
1962 Fidel declares; "The danger of direct aggression has become strong again". There is an anti-Cuban campaign in the US press, alleging that Cuba is trying to export revolution to other countries. The US Congress adopts a resolution to continue the fight against Cuba, and 150,000 reservists are mobilized. Cuba is expelled from the OAS, with México, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay opposing. (México is the only country in the Américas that never severs diplomatic relations with Cuba.) A million and a half Cubans attend the Second Habana Declaration, in which imperialism is denounced, the Alliance for Progress is unmasked as Latin America’s policeman, giving the answer to the lie accusing Cuba of subversion by declaring that "revolutions are not exported, they are made by the people".
Cuba and the USSR sign an accord to install 42 nuclear missiles, medium IL28 bombers are sent with a military contingent of 43,000 Soviet soldiers. The US steps up its aggressive actions, promoting pirate attacks against Cuban boats, kidnaping fishermen, flying over Cuban airspace with the intention of imposing a naval blockade. When the nuclear installations are detected on Cuban territory, the US mobilizes a giant military force of 250,000 marine and land troops, and 1,000 airplanes and 750 warships. US troops are put on alert in Europe and the Far East, US atomic submarines are positioned toward socialist countries and the NATO allies prepare for war. In response the USSR puts its own troops on alert, declaring that if the aggressors unleash the war, the USSR will strike the most potent blow. Fidel says on television: "if they install a blockade they will make our country greater, because our motherland knows how to resist. If there is a direct attack, we will strike back!" Fidel reaffirms the right of Cuba to have the armaments it wants without having to give explanations to the imperialists. The warning is clear, to break Cuban sovereignty, they will have to wipe Cuba off the face of the earth. The FAR and the People’s Defense are put on alert. Thousands of workplaces of militias are occupied by women and retirees. Trenches are built. And aerial defense weapons are installed. Revolutionary vigilance is intensified by the CDR.
At the same time the Cuban government tries to enter into diplomatic talks. There are two difficult moments from this time; (1) When Premier Khruschëv orders the Soviet ships to evade the naval blockade and President Kennedy responds by ordering to open fire if they try to do so, and (2) when the leadership of the Revolution tells Washington of its intention of repelling with defensive fire any airship that violates Cuban airspace. That same night a US spy plane is brought down by a battery of projectiles under the command of lieutenant general G. A. Vornkov. The body of the pilot is turned over to the International Red Cross. In the following days and agreement is reached. The US will lift the naval blockade against Cuba and Cuba will promise to not interevene militarily in the country, and its example will be followed by other countries. The USSR promises to withdraw the rockets, which in any case are not Cuban property, and continue being Soviet property. This is why the decision is agreed to by the Cubans, although the Soviets make the error of not consulting them on the agreement. Nor is the Cuban delegation called to participate in the resolution adopted by the two powers. In the United Nations, Fidel outlines the guarantees against aggression: Stop the blockade, stop subversive activities which originate in the US and complicit nations, stop pirate attacks. Stop violations of Cuban naval and airspace, withdraw from the naval base at Guantánamo, and return the occupied territory. Fidel stands firm against any attempt of a unilateral inspection aimed at verifying the dismantling and withdrawal of the soviet arms.
Several factors complicate the situation. (1) The disproportionate reaction of the US in the face of nuclear weapons, because it feels that its exclusive nuclear arsenal may be affected, (2) The tactics of the USSR that said the weapons were defensive, instead of declaring that it is the right of both countries, based on their sovereignty, to choose its allies, (3) the talks that tried to find a way out of the crisis, which did not have a multilateral framework based on international law. (4) The acceptance of US terms without Cuban participation. It is true that the negotiations permitted to keep world peace, avoiding nuclear war and its catastrophic consequences, but the compromise does not protect the Revolution from other types of aggression.
The Corps Against Banditry is organized, incorporating peasants from the region.
The second stage of reorganization and restructuring of the ORI is initiated. Sectarianism is condemned, and the National Leadership is formed by Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara, Osvaldo Dorticós, Blas Roca, Emilio Araguiones, Manuel Luzardo, Augusto Matrtínez Sánchez and Faure Chomón. The quality of the members is assured choosing model workers who accept the ideology of the Revolution, wish to belong to the Party, accept its responsibilities, and lead a clean life. In different work centers there are conferences where the masses are consulted on their opinion of the comrades that can be elected as model workers, and those who have sufficient merits to become a part of the vanguard of the working class are selected.
The name of the AJR is changed for that of the Union of Young Communists (UJC), an organization made up of workers, peasants, students, employees and intellectuals. The Union of Cuban Pioneers is organized (UPC), as a mass organization for Cuban children, developing their love of learning, work habits, social responsibility and love of the motherland and of all the peoples of the world, contributing to Communist education among the youngest generation.
1963 The operations against the bandits constitute a valuable experience for the FAR. Special schools are opened and their combative force is increased. Gustavo Castellion, known as the "Horse of Mayaguara" stands out as a legend. There is also "The Man of Mainsinicú" who manages to convince, as an infiltrator, several counter revolutionary leaders to board a ship which, disguised as a US ship is in reality one at the service of the Cuban navy. His contribution costs him his life without his ever revealing his identity.
Problems of this period are; the heavy influence of external factors in the economy, Cuba’s dependency on getting raw materials and equipment, the low level of training of the work force, the absence of an infrastructure for industrialization, the effects of the economic blockade, the unfavorable weather conditions, and the sharpening of the military struggle in defense of the Revolution. An important role was played by the agrarian sector and the sugar industry. The Agrarian Reform Law is promulgated. The counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie in the countryside, which owns 30% of the land, is each day more active supporting uprising sabotage, and the black market. Landownership is reduced to the limit of 67 hectares, the rest is nationalized. Voluntary cooperatives spring up. Private capitalist property owners are liquidated as a social class. Agricultural workers remain tied to state enterprises, and the peasants are either small property owners or cooperativists. The growth of the State sector, (property of all the people), guarantees production relations in the countryside, which in turn creates favorable conditions for a planned economy. At this time the Revolution controls 70% of agriculture, 95% of industry, 98% in construction, 100% of the banks and 100% of wholesale foreign trade. Electric energy is developed, as well as the merchant marine, the highway system, the construction materials industry, hydraulic works, the mechanization of the farming and fishing industries, and the training of technical cadres. These policies express the humanist essence of the Revolutionary process and the possibility of success in development.
The State apparatus at this time has the following characteristics; the need to have an efficient structure, which can operate dynamically and make rapid decisions without delays, to be able to successfully face imperialist and internal counterrevolutionary aggressions, and to achieve the main transformation. The Party is organized as the leading force in the society and of the political system, which strengthens mass and social organizations. The negative experiences with "representative democracy", with its trail of cheap politics, theft, corruption, fraud, racketeering, misappropriation of funds, and renouncing of principles, is not to be copied. Many of the laws passed are throughly discussed by the people, such as the Social Welfare Law, the Worker’s Justice Project, the Military Draft Law, all of which show democratic forms that the Cuban Revolution is taking. Unions mobilize dozens of thousands of voluntary macheteros to cut the sugar cane, keep up production in the face of the US blockade, keep a militant stance in the face of the October crisis, encourage socialist emulation among the people at a nationwide level, and mobilize to mitigate the harm caused by Hurricane Flora. Many workers further advance their studies as technicians, to the tune of 800,000 workers enrolled in higher level courses, including University. The CDRs engage in work that includes, the literacy campaign, the sponsoring of schools, participation in massive vaccination campaigns, the raising of hygiene awareness and the beautifying of housing and neighborhoods, the massive donating of blood, the encouragement of saving and recycling of raw materials, the collaborating on the delivery of supplies, the contining work on the ideological formation of the masses, and the promotion of solidarity with all peoples in defense of peace and disarmament.
1964 Private health institutions disappear completely, replaced by the Single Public Health System.
1965 Section 5 is organized in large sections, A, B, C, D, E, F and G to fight against the revolutionary bands in Escambray, to finally liquidate the bandits. Victory is assured with the participation of 50,000 workers and 50,000 peasants, who fight against the bandits. These include children of 13 to 20 years, who go down in history as the "Heroic Children of Escambray". Revolutionary instructors stand out as they combine military work with the support of the peasants in the coffee harvest, the unmasking of the subversive work done by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the explanation to the population of Revolutionary principles. Upon announcing the defeat of banditry, Fidel says,
"Guerrilla war is a formidable revolutionary weapon, but it will never be a useful weapon in the hands of counter revolutionaries who try to fight against the people."
The PURSC meets, where members agree to change the name to The Cuban Communist Party, to constitute the Central Committee and Political Bureau, the Secretariat and the Labor Commissions, and to fuse the newspapers Hoy and Revolución into one; Granma. Local administrations are ruled by an Executive Committee, made up of one president and the secretaries of the mass organizations. Presidents are elected by Party members, and in the provinces by their representatives. Local administrations achieve greater ties with the masses during popular elections of municipal delegates and their participation in mass organizations, as well as the people’s participation at the accountability meetings which occur every six months. Leaders who do not do their work properly can be recalled. Slowly the organs of power start to take on a bureaucratic-administrative character, as a result of using methods of electing local presidents that do not have direct participation of the masses. Party militants are not the whole population, yet they do not allow the masses to really choose their representatives. Resources are lacking to face and resolve certain problems, the cadres lack experience and there is a distancing among the 3 levels of province, region and municipality. It’s a fact that the Party has taken on State functions, thus distorting the reality of both.
Important advances in fishing, rice, citrus, electric energy, nickel, steel and the planning of micro enterprises are achieved.
1967 Idealist errors present obstacles to the planned strategy. Concrete conditions and the existence of objective economic laws to which one must submit are forgotten. True possibilities are overestimated. Administrative cadres lack enough experience, economic and social consciousness and a lack of knowledge of socialist monetary and mercantile relations to carry out their work properly. Cadres stop worrying about the costs of production as long as they fulfill their goals, without paying attention to quality control. Other mistakes involve, for example, the elimination of interests on credit and taxes to the peasants, receiving undeserved gratuities, not paying for the use of public telephones, exercising free access to worker’s lunchrooms and free use of child care centers, or free acquisition of work clothes, all of which imply greater costs to the Revolutionary State.
1968 Salaries become disconnected from the average, by stimulating volunteer hours worked and the refusal to pay for overtime. Material incentives are abandoned, considering that there is a relationship between individual and collective interests. The Socialist principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his work" is not longer paid attention to. Its violation is translated to an indifference to material and production growth and the development of technical and cultural levels. Production is affected more in the area of scarce goods and services. These mistakes result in an oversupply of money in the country, with greater absenteeism and lack of labor discipline. Resolution 270 is passed, to recognize those work centers that have outstanding merits. Those workers gain advantages, such as no reduction in pay for unjustified absences and the right to retire with 100% of their salary. Even so, the application of the Resolution proliferates indiscriminately, increasing State costs. Politically, Marxist studies fall off, there is a confusion between Party and State functions, the Unions stop collaborating with the vanguard, which in practice replaces the union movement. Advanced workers inevitably disconnect from the working masses, losing the defense of the legitimate interests of the whole class. Fidel denounces these parasitical delinquent and anti-worker practices which are often developed in the midst of private commercial centers where genuine exploiters exist who hope to live by the sweat of others. These centers are refuge to the "people without a motherland" who wait in hopes of leaving the country, lumpens and antisocial elements who have contempt for the Revolution and engage in counterrevolutionary activities. A large part of small enterprises is nationalized, thanks to the work of the CDRs, many of whom go on to become administrators of the nationalized companies. The Revolutionary Offensive engages in the following measures; to uproot vestiges of bourgeois ideology, fighting selfishness, individualism, superficiality, parasitism and exploitation, to encourage economic, cultural and social development so that each member can know what he or she has to do, how to do it, what difficulties must be overcome, to combat subjectivism, calling for an objective analysis of problems and solutions, to redouble efforts in production, raising production, savings, work discipline and control of the economy, to guarantee effective control by the State, political and mass organizations, to inform the people of the Revolutionary plans, and to fight for cultural and educational advancement of children develop cooperation and communist spirit in all things.
These are the objectives of the Revolutionary Offensive, making the mistake of underestimating the role of the mercantile-monetary and material incentives, placing emphasis on ideological and moral factors, which in spite of their intrinsic virtues, do not have the expected results. These objectives are by no means incorrect in themselves, and are necessary, but the problem is that the objective laws of socialist development have not been taken into account.
Efforts to massively introduce School to Countryside programs materialize. Illnesses such as malaria, diphtheria, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis and tetanus are eradicated or mitigated.
1970 Large assemblies are held with workers and administrative centers representatives to analyze problems and solutions. Classic accounting is once more adopted. Salaries are normalized and tied to production results. Illicit gratuities are reduced. Production of goods and services reduces liquidity. There are more appliances and other goods made available, and non-essential goods, such as tobacco and liquor become more expensive. Conditions for five-year planning are created.
Coercion against absenteeism is adopted, as well against other manifestations of social and work noncompliance, such as the Law against Vagrancy. The Party is made stronger when its functions are detailed in relation to the State and to mass organizations.
1973 The Law of Judicial System is approved, after a popular discussion, on which 3 million citizens take part. This law creates a single system of courts in the whole country, ruled by the Peoples Supreme Court. All tribunals are collegiate, made up of professional judges and lay judges, elected, renewable and periodically revokable. All decisions are appealable to the next level. The Socialist State thus is shown to be the most direct instrument of proletarian dictatorship, whose directives at variance with those emitted by the Party and other organizations nevertheless have the force of law for all citizens. Unions are strengthened as representatives and organizers of workers, as educators in the struggle for socialism and communism, as a spur to technical, cultural and professional advancement. Socialist measures are adopted, such as "from each according to his capacity, to each according to his work", salaries are tied to the norm, workers are paid for overtime, double shifts, and no "historic salaries" are created. Voluntary work is kept as an expression of revolutionary consciousness to defeat underdevelopment and as a contribution to socialist emulation. The unions actively participate in administrative and State matters, in the discussion of plans for production, in the leadership councils, and in the discussion of important laws.
1975 18,589 young communists become members of the UJC. Almost 40% of the Party’s income originates among the youth. Salaries tied to the norm. are extended, including to 571,000 workers in 8,549 work sites. Micro brigades in construction are formed, totaling 1,150 with more than 27,000 workers incorporated into their ranks. Housing, schools, industries, child care centers, supermarkets, and others are constructed. The most important result of the work is the flowering of the Revolutionary consciousness among the working class, in the collectivist attitude toward work, toward social property, toward the defense of the motherland, and toward cultural and technical advancement. The II Congress of the Federation of Cuban Women yields the following data; more than 95,000 are women newly incorporated into salaried work, 20,000 female comrades are incorporated into construction, 7 million additional workdays support different sectors of the economy, more than 110,000 female peasants are in worker’s brigades, more than 50,000 are sanitary brigade workers and 13,000 are social workers.
The Movement of Model Parents in Education is developed. (3,900,000 are selected) There are 1,181,000 blood donations, more than 2 million cytologic cancer tests, and 18 and a half million vaccinations against polio are administered.
The PCC works actively to strengthen relations with communist and workers movements in Latin America and the rest of the world, with the example of the First Conference in Habana of Communist Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean.
1976 Revolutionary tasks of this period include the ideological, political and educational struggles, national scientific policies, development of childhood and youth, full equality for women, the agrarian question and the peasants, policies in relation to religion, the church and believers, artistic and literary culture, and Marxist-Leninist studies. Many industries are constructed and extended, sugar cane refineries, battery factories, irrigation machinery, steel, wheat mills, bakeries, candies, sodas, towels, corrugated cardboard and the Textile combine in Santa Clara. Four hospitals are finished, others are enlarged, 26 internal medicine clinics and 50 polyclinics are built. Infant mortality drops to 19.3 for every 1,000 live births, the life expectancy reaches 74 for women and 71 for men, international cooperation of Cuban medicine is extended to 27 countries, mainly in Africa.
The new Constitution is approved, with 98% of the population voting, including those over 16 years old. The Republic of Cuba is defined as a Socialist worker and peasant state, with other working sectors, united in close alliance under the leadership of the working class with the Cuban Communist Party at the helm. It details the functions of each of the components of the political system, emphasizing the leading role of the Party. It recognizes the different forms of property that exist in the country and reaffirms the predominant role of socialist State property (property of all the people). It refers to the equality of all citizens without distinction of race, color, sex or national origin, outlining their fundamental rights, duties and guarantees, such as the right to have a job, rest periods and annual paid vacations, the right for all workers to have social assistance due to old age, disability or illness, as well as of old people without resources nor family, and of anyone able to work who lacks family members who cannot help him/her, the right to free medical care and protection of public health, the right to free education, sports and recreation. Freedom of speech and thought consistent with the aims of Socialism are recognized, as well as freedom of assembly, demonstration and association, and the right of all citizens to profess any religious belief and to practice, according to the law, any form of worship.
In elections, delegate candidates must reside in the area from which they are nominated, and they can only be nominated by the area. A minimum of 2 candidates and a maximum of 8 can be postulated, to insure choice. The candidates do not self-nominate, but are named by the electorate who take into account their Revolutionary merits and their capacity to represent their interests and solve community problems. This is an genuinely democratic electoral system. The delegates are held periodically accountable and can be recalled by the electorate.
The rapid fall of sugar on the world market had a negative effect on the rate of exchange. Products from the capitalist sector that Cuba needs to buy become more expensive, a situation that results in a 53% reduction in monetary exchange, added to the rise in interest rates on the foreign debt and credits that have been obtained for equipment and industrial plants, in addition to the rise in freight charges and duties charged on rented ships used to transport merchandise. The economic collaboration with the USSR and other countries eases the difficulties, with the result that the gross national product grows by 22%. There are plans to increase exports and reduce imports to diminish dependency on other countries, direct priorities toward industry in the productive sphere and build housing in the non-productive sphere. There are other tasks related to economic efficiency; the extension of cooperatives, the broadening of international economic relations, the deepening of the multilateral education of the people and the elevation of their standard of living, all of which demand the consolidation and perfecting of socialist institutions. Accordingly, there is a move to resist the weakening of the spirit of austerity by attitudes of softening, conformity, accommodation and other negative traits. The difficulties of this period are; the incongruency between the efficiency of results and the available resources in the economy, problems related to the organization of labor and salaries, difficulties in coordinating salaries to the norm and deficiencies in labor discipline, the still insufficient level of economic consciousness between the cadres and workers, the instability in quality of services, problems with discipline and care of social and personal property in some educational centers, especially among those interned at the school site and deficiencies in the function of People’s Power.
1979 More than 20,000 university students are graduated. The Internationalist Pedagogical Department "Ernesto Che Guevara" is created along with the primary contingents "Frank País" and "Augusto César Sandino", who work cooperatively in Angola and Nicaragua. Internationalist services extend to 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Culture is strengthened with 117 houses of culture and other institutions like The Higher Institute of Art, the Center for José Martí studies,and the Center for the investigation and Development of Cuban Music. The Editorial house "Juan Marinello" is put into production with an annual publishing potential of 30 million books.
1980 The Day of Cuban Culture is instituted, social security is given impetus, the Law of Protection and Hygiene at the Workplace is approved, and the General Salary Reform is approved.
Enemy activity increases when small groups of delinquents and lumpens break into the embassies of Perú and Venezuela with the aim of traveling to the US. The Peruvian embassy becomes an inferno ruled by the strongest, and there are frequent fights between gangs. The Revolutionary government supplies them with food and water, and other medical-sanitary measures to take care of their needs. Imperialism unleashes a campaign to flatter the "dissidents", ignoring their low moral character and tries to show them off as evidence of the "increasing discontent in the country". Quite the contrary, there are meetings, demonstrations and declarations in support of the Revolution, made up of gigantic marches and the readiness of Cubans to defend Socialist principles. A million Cubans troop past the Peruvian embassy to show their rejection of the scourge inside, demonstrate against the economic blockade, against the spy planes over Cuba, and the persistence of the Naval Base. With these slogans the people file for 10 hours past the US Interests Section. The second congress of the PCC defines this event as one of the political, ideological and moral victories in the history of Cuba, which also indicates rejection of the lack of discipline, parasitism, negligence and other negatives that persist in the bosom of Cuban society. The urgent tasks of the movement are to increase the study of Marxism-Leninism, the study of Politics and the Party, the efforts to make history accessible to all, to show how the Cuban Revolutionary process unites the purest patriotic traditions with the universal principles of Socialism, and how the Cuban Revolution is part of the world revolutionary movement. Attention is paid to the intensification of economic education among workers and the participation of workers of all sectors in state and social issues. A new generation is formed, which is entrusted with higher duties and greater responsibilities so that it may build character, forge its will and strengthen its patriotic and revolutionary convictions, strengthen the communist and international consciousness among all the people, and eradicate prejudices against women.
Fidel says; "among the cadres, the militants and the people there should exist the narrowest of indissoluble bonds, based mainly on example and in the assurance that a Revolutionary lives and dies for the people. Cuba may be wiped out physically, but will never be humbled, will never again be subjugated, will never surrender. It is our most firm conviction that our people will be immortal".
1990 THE SPECIAL PERIOD
The nation has confronted difficult years as a consequence of the collapse of the socialist bloc, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the intensification of the blockade mounted by the United States, which emerged in the ’90s as the sole superpower in a unipolar world.The island, 85% of whose trade had been with the Soviet Union, found itself at the mercy of unequal terms of trade and the protectionist policies of other powerful nations; in other words, under the same market laws which have the underdeveloped nations in their grip. In order to reorientate its economy it had no option but to insert itself in the world market.In just two years (1990-1992), Cuba saw its purchasing power abroad reduced by 50%, and was obliged to sell its sugar for the first time at non-preferential prices, and to find new market sources for supplies. In order to maintain its technology, it had to adapt in some cases and manufacture parts in others, and even to make virtually new investments.An economy that consumed 13 million tons of oil in 1989 was unable to aspire to more than six million tons in 1992. A major organizational effort was necessary to move forward. Measures were drawn up. The Revolution concentrated its resources on development plans that would give the nation some purchasing power and, as distinct from implementing the neoliberal policies being applied to health and educational programs by many governments in the region, ensured their maintenance, albeit with certain modifications. Moreover, available fuel was utilized to produce and transport food to the population.The food program was a real challenge, but agriculture was not exempted from a savings plan. Textured soy was used in the manufacture of meat products and cereal processed with milk was used in the place of fresh milk.Within the internal order, one of the most important measures applied was the restriction on fuel supplies, given their repercussion on all other activities. Lengthy power cuts
, the massive use of bicycles as a means of transportation, and an increase in animal traction in agriculture have characterized what has been known as the special period in peacetime. Other measures taken to revitalize the economy were the island’s opening to foreign capital investment through joint ventures, principally in the tourism sector; the impulse given to productive and service activities generating a hard currency income; the depenalization of dollar possession; and an acceleration in the marketing and export of products from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.As yet another way of reinforcing the blockade, and in parallel with the initiation of this stage in 1990, the United States employed pressure and blackmail to impose a resolution condemning the island at the UN Human Rights Commission. Similar resolutions were passed annually, until April ’98, when the United States suffered a severe setback: 19 nations voted against the censure motion, 18 abstained, and just 16 voted in favor. In 1999, the US.-sponsored resolution won again in a close vote obtained by using carrot-and-stick tactics.The blockade deprives Cuba of essential supplies from abroad, markets for its products to offset import costs, and indispensable commercial credits, in violation of the most basic agreements and international human rights conventions. Moreover, as the American Association for World Health recognized, this unfounded genocidal act is depriving the Cuban people of foodstuffs and medicines in peacetime. As such, it is provoking growing protest, including within the United States itself. Finally, the following events all speak for themselves: the Pope’s successful visit to the island in January ’98, when His Holiness described "the restrictive economic measures imposed from outside of the country" as "unjust and ethically unacceptable"; the eighth successive defeat suffered by Washington at the 54th session of the UN General Assembly in No
vember ’99, when 158 nations condemned the blockade and only the United States and Israel voted in favor of that resolution; the 9th Ibero-American Summit in Havana, which successfully went ahead despite a campaign to sabotage it; the economy’s 6.2% growth in 1999; the success ofthe Havana Trade Fair, attended by 1504 companies from 59 countries; the creation of 20 new economic associations in the first few months of ’99, bringing the total to 360; and the arrival of 1.7 million visitors during the first quarter of that year.


Source; Historia de la Revolución Cubana, Editorial Pueblo y Educación, Ciudad de la Habana, 1994.

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