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Cuba on Playa Girón


John Dolva
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Interesting, Granma has an article on Cuban Cigars. I haven't read it but it's still listed on the front page of the english online version.

This is just for a bit of flavour. Women have always played a very significant role in progressive social change, particularly so in Cuba where the impetus of the Womens movement has a leading role.

While this is a tribute to Che it is also an acknowledgement of his wish that when he died someone would pick up his rifle. Someone does, she gathers a large group of women and this group in turn gather the rest of the people in carrying the 'torch' of Che. Which ultimately is not a rifle but an idea. It is this idea, not Che, Fidel or any particular person, that the Yankee Imperialists strive so to eradicate.

Hasta Siempre:

Nathalie Cardone - Che Guevara

further on this: (from Granma)

Women under-represented in decision-making positions

Anneris Ivette Leyva

WE are not born women, we become women, Simone de Beauvoir's existentialist philosophy told us, a long time ago. Since that poorly understood warning, we have continued leaning a few things… wrong.

How many women feel the weight of conservative judgments disqualifying us as good mothers and loving wives, when we attempt to assume these roles along with others, in some kind of proportion?

How many women report that they can manage positions of significant responsibility and visibility thanks to those who at home "understand and help," as if it were a great favor?

Expectations of women have not changed much since the French author wrote her book The Second Sex, denouncing the subordinate position of women with this title. At the time, her contemporaries learned that the meaning of life lay in being a good mother and better wife, learning to carry out household chores and devoting oneself to satisfying the desires of others, regardless of the effect on one's own happiness.

Sixty-three years after this landmark literary work, it remains difficult for society to overcome what is traditionally learned and facilitate women's access to positions of greater responsibility, even within those sectors where they constitute the majority of the qualified personnel.

Given that these positions generally require more time and commitment, there are those who, 'considering' that a candidate is married, or has children, do not even offer female candidates the opportunity to choose. At the same time, given the opportunity of a promotion, some women limit themselves, fearing they might not be able to fulfill the responsibilities they have been taught to consider more important, at home.

NO PREDETERMINATION

Since the cultural emancipation created in Cuba by the literacy campaign more than 50 years ago, universal access to all levels of education and the support of the Revolution incorporating 'housewives' into the country's economic life, Cuban women and men have known, but not grasped, that the social distribution of work is not naturally predetermined. It is the mechanism through which relations of power are reproduced – in this case patriarchal – with some positioned above others, incompatible with the goals of a society in which the struggle for liberation and justice is valued.

One of the innumerable expressions of clear prejudice is that, as of September, 2011, eight years after the approval of the maternity Decree-Law 234 which offered men the opportunity to take paternity leave, after the exclusive breast-feeding period – thus facilitating mothers' return to work, perhaps given her greater prospects for professional or economic development – only 96 fathers had taken advantage of this option. A large portion of this group had done so only because they had no choice, given the mother's illness or death, according to a report published in Granma January 27, based on information provided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

It is paradoxical that such an advanced law, in comparison to others around the world protecting women workers' maternity rights, should remain largely unused. But if something is acknowledged by experts on the issue and the country's authorities, it is that these kinds of ground-breaking efforts cannot be left to spontaneity.

The cultural inertia which relegates women to the 'weaker sex' category must be answered with the determination to become something different, to shake off the guilt which ties us to an ideal in which frustration is justified, since everyone else comes first, and concentrate on our own empowerment.

It is significant that despite constituting 66% of the technical and professional graduates at the intermediate and higher levels of education in the country, the number of women who exercise decision-making power in the areas of human resources, economics and finances, does not exceed 40%, according to data available at the end of 2011.

In bodies such as the Sports, Physical Education and Recreation Institute (INDER), the Ministries of Steel and Metal, Communication and Agriculture, the figure does not reach 15%. In Tourism, it barely reaches 9% and, according to information from the National Statistics Office (ONEI), among those employed in 2008 in sales, hotels and restaurants, 50% are women.

At the same time, as a fundamental result of recent government efforts, seven entities have been able to ensure than 50 to 70% of their decision-making positions are held by women: the Ministries of Labor & Social Security, Education, and Finances & Prices; the Supreme Court; the offices of the Attorney General and the Comptroller General, as well as the Central Bank of Cuba.

No doubt, comparing these figures with those from previous years, the progress made by women in access to territory once considered exclusively the province of men is evident. However, in this area, the 'outstanding debts' remain greater than those 'paid in full.'

According to information published by ONEI in its Cuban Women, Statistics and Realities report, women represent 81.4% of graduates from medical schools and constitute a majority, 58%, among practicing doctors in the country. Nevertheless, we rarely see a woman leading a large research center or hospital.

For some time now, according to the above source, the percentage of female graduates in Economics has surpassed the 50% mark, but they are infrequently found directing enterprises or budgeted state entities, How many of us, visiting one of these, have asked for the administrator or director, expecting a priori that a man will be sitting behind the desk?

The women ministers, deputy ministers, heads of department and management teams needed to close this power gap, can be found among those never even considered, despite their merits; and also among those who said 'no' beforehand or gave up a position because the other woman underneath their skin, the one holding a broom and wearing an apron, held sway.

No one can deny the reality of family responsibilities, but this concerns all human beings. If it is true that behind anyone who takes on a significant public commitment there is someone who helps in private, gender does not necessarily predispose women to playing one role or the other.

POLITICAL WILL AND FEMALE ATTITUDES

As has already been stated, the struggle against pre-established 'truths' cannot be left to spontaneity. The empowerment of women must be understood as a strategy directed toward men, who often resist given chauvinist thinking -justified with the best of intentions – and toward women, who as daughters of their times and culture, have not escaped patriarchal logic, despite being victimized.

This is not about awarding a position to a woman because of her gender per se, or in order to fulfill a political directive, without considering qualifications. Female leaders must be prepared to meet the requirements of one or another position. They could be hurt even more, left incapable of fulfilling a responsibility for which they were not correctly evaluated. Of course, after decades of overlooking women, an explicit, intentional policy is needed, which goes beyond subjectivity, seeking among women, the ones who are capable. Surely, many will be found.

In his report to the 6th Party Congress, President Raúl Castro Ruz identified this as a challenge in the effort to improve socialism in Cuba, which will define the future. In a strong self-critical statement, he said, referring not only to women, but to youth, Blacks and those of mixed race, "We have not consistently responded to the innumerable directives communicated by Fidel, since the first days of the revolutionary victory and over the years, because the solution to this imbalance was included in agreements adopted at the transcendental 1st Party Congress and the four which followed, and we did not assure their implementation."

At the political level this commitment can be promoted, while attitudes among women must be reinforced. There is no justice, 100 years after March 8 was declared International Women's Day to honor the struggle for women's rights, if for many women this means the paltry privilege of receiving a flower in the same hands with which they complete assigned tasks, or with which they place the plates on the table and later pick up.

PRINT THIS ARTICLE

Obviously some will question the relevance of this on this section of the ed forum.

Those who follow some of my other posts in other sections will find that a lot of it is a kind of quest for a synthesis. I don't get much input (online anyway) so much of it ids an unguided ramble through various aspects of the things that shape our world.

A major focus of late is to try to understand why why things happen the way they do and often the answer lies in understanding the past.

The above piece offers various bridges as diverse as the Cuban Central Bank aand also contributes to a better understanding of what exactly the United States (and others) have against Cuba. (apart from loss of revenue at some point, though the US support for it's terrorists probably is a compensation of sorts).

I think part of the answer to that lies in aaaaan understanding that the rtevolution has a date in Granma, the 54'th year of the revolution. Get that? The Revolution in its 54th year. Afa Cuba goes sovereignty and respect for that sovereignty is paramount : so that the revolution can continue!

Many goals have been reached, many are yet to be achieved but the will to do so remains Revolutionary. I think this is what sets Cuba apart Therein : The Reason.

I'd like to add, of course, that it is necessary that every person to do their bit to ensure that Yankee Imperialism does not succeed in destroying this Idea.

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Interesting, Granma has an article on Cuban Cigars. I haven't read it but it's still listed on the front page of the english online version.

This is just for a bit of flavour. Women have always played a very significant role in progressive social change, particularly so in Cuba where the impetus of the Womens movement has a leading role.

While this is a tribute to Che it is also an acknowledgement of his wish that when he died someone would pick up his rifle. Someone does, she gathers a large group of women and this group in turn gather the rest of the people in carrying the 'torch' of Che. Which ultimately is not a rifle but an idea. It is this idea, not Che, Fidel or any particular person, that the Yankee Imperialists strive so to eradicate.

Hasta Siempre:

Nathalie Cardone - Che Guevara

further on this: (from Granma)

Women under-represented in decision-making positions

Anneris Ivette Leyva

WE are not born women, we become women, Simone de Beauvoir's existentialist philosophy told us, a long time ago. Since that poorly understood warning, we have continued leaning a few things… wrong.

How many women feel the weight of conservative judgments disqualifying us as good mothers and loving wives, when we attempt to assume these roles along with others, in some kind of proportion?

How many women report that they can manage positions of significant responsibility and visibility thanks to those who at home "understand and help," as if it were a great favor?

Expectations of women have not changed much since the French author wrote her book The Second Sex, denouncing the subordinate position of women with this title. At the time, her contemporaries learned that the meaning of life lay in being a good mother and better wife, learning to carry out household chores and devoting oneself to satisfying the desires of others, regardless of the effect on one's own happiness.

Sixty-three years after this landmark literary work, it remains difficult for society to overcome what is traditionally learned and facilitate women's access to positions of greater responsibility, even within those sectors where they constitute the majority of the qualified personnel.

Given that these positions generally require more time and commitment, there are those who, 'considering' that a candidate is married, or has children, do not even offer female candidates the opportunity to choose. At the same time, given the opportunity of a promotion, some women limit themselves, fearing they might not be able to fulfill the responsibilities they have been taught to consider more important, at home.

NO PREDETERMINATION

Since the cultural emancipation created in Cuba by the literacy campaign more than 50 years ago, universal access to all levels of education and the support of the Revolution incorporating 'housewives' into the country's economic life, Cuban women and men have known, but not grasped, that the social distribution of work is not naturally predetermined. It is the mechanism through which relations of power are reproduced – in this case patriarchal – with some positioned above others, incompatible with the goals of a society in which the struggle for liberation and justice is valued.

One of the innumerable expressions of clear prejudice is that, as of September, 2011, eight years after the approval of the maternity Decree-Law 234 which offered men the opportunity to take paternity leave, after the exclusive breast-feeding period – thus facilitating mothers' return to work, perhaps given her greater prospects for professional or economic development – only 96 fathers had taken advantage of this option. A large portion of this group had done so only because they had no choice, given the mother's illness or death, according to a report published in Granma January 27, based on information provided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

It is paradoxical that such an advanced law, in comparison to others around the world protecting women workers' maternity rights, should remain largely unused. But if something is acknowledged by experts on the issue and the country's authorities, it is that these kinds of ground-breaking efforts cannot be left to spontaneity.

The cultural inertia which relegates women to the 'weaker sex' category must be answered with the determination to become something different, to shake off the guilt which ties us to an ideal in which frustration is justified, since everyone else comes first, and concentrate on our own empowerment.

It is significant that despite constituting 66% of the technical and professional graduates at the intermediate and higher levels of education in the country, the number of women who exercise decision-making power in the areas of human resources, economics and finances, does not exceed 40%, according to data available at the end of 2011.

In bodies such as the Sports, Physical Education and Recreation Institute (INDER), the Ministries of Steel and Metal, Communication and Agriculture, the figure does not reach 15%. In Tourism, it barely reaches 9% and, according to information from the National Statistics Office (ONEI), among those employed in 2008 in sales, hotels and restaurants, 50% are women.

At the same time, as a fundamental result of recent government efforts, seven entities have been able to ensure than 50 to 70% of their decision-making positions are held by women: the Ministries of Labor & Social Security, Education, and Finances & Prices; the Supreme Court; the offices of the Attorney General and the Comptroller General, as well as the Central Bank of Cuba.

No doubt, comparing these figures with those from previous years, the progress made by women in access to territory once considered exclusively the province of men is evident. However, in this area, the 'outstanding debts' remain greater than those 'paid in full.'

According to information published by ONEI in its Cuban Women, Statistics and Realities report, women represent 81.4% of graduates from medical schools and constitute a majority, 58%, among practicing doctors in the country. Nevertheless, we rarely see a woman leading a large research center or hospital.

For some time now, according to the above source, the percentage of female graduates in Economics has surpassed the 50% mark, but they are infrequently found directing enterprises or budgeted state entities, How many of us, visiting one of these, have asked for the administrator or director, expecting a priori that a man will be sitting behind the desk?

The women ministers, deputy ministers, heads of department and management teams needed to close this power gap, can be found among those never even considered, despite their merits; and also among those who said 'no' beforehand or gave up a position because the other woman underneath their skin, the one holding a broom and wearing an apron, held sway.

No one can deny the reality of family responsibilities, but this concerns all human beings. If it is true that behind anyone who takes on a significant public commitment there is someone who helps in private, gender does not necessarily predispose women to playing one role or the other.

POLITICAL WILL AND FEMALE ATTITUDES

As has already been stated, the struggle against pre-established 'truths' cannot be left to spontaneity. The empowerment of women must be understood as a strategy directed toward men, who often resist given chauvinist thinking -justified with the best of intentions – and toward women, who as daughters of their times and culture, have not escaped patriarchal logic, despite being victimized.

This is not about awarding a position to a woman because of her gender per se, or in order to fulfill a political directive, without considering qualifications. Female leaders must be prepared to meet the requirements of one or another position. They could be hurt even more, left incapable of fulfilling a responsibility for which they were not correctly evaluated. Of course, after decades of overlooking women, an explicit, intentional policy is needed, which goes beyond subjectivity, seeking among women, the ones who are capable. Surely, many will be found.

In his report to the 6th Party Congress, President Raúl Castro Ruz identified this as a challenge in the effort to improve socialism in Cuba, which will define the future. In a strong self-critical statement, he said, referring not only to women, but to youth, Blacks and those of mixed race, "We have not consistently responded to the innumerable directives communicated by Fidel, since the first days of the revolutionary victory and over the years, because the solution to this imbalance was included in agreements adopted at the transcendental 1st Party Congress and the four which followed, and we did not assure their implementation."

At the political level this commitment can be promoted, while attitudes among women must be reinforced. There is no justice, 100 years after March 8 was declared International Women's Day to honor the struggle for women's rights, if for many women this means the paltry privilege of receiving a flower in the same hands with which they complete assigned tasks, or with which they place the plates on the table and later pick up.

PRINT THIS ARTICLE

Obviously some will question the relevance of this on this section of the ed forum.

Those who follow some of my other posts in other sections will find that a lot of it is a kind of quest for a synthesis. I don't get much input (online anyway) so much of it ids an unguided ramble through various aspects of the things that shape our world.

A major focus of late is to try to understand why why things happen the way they do and often the answer lies in understanding the past.

The above piece offers various bridges as diverse as the Cuban Central Bank aand also contributes to a better understanding of what exactly the United States (and others) have against Cuba. (apart from loss of revenue at some point, though the US support for it's terrorists probably is a compensation of sorts).

I think part of the answer to that lies in aaaaan understanding that the rtevolution has a date in Granma, the 54'th year of the revolution. Get that? The Revolution in its 54th year. Afa Cuba goes sovereignty and respect for that sovereignty is paramount : so that the revolution can continue!

Many goals have been reached, many are yet to be achieved but the will to do so remains Revolutionary. I think this is what sets Cuba apart Therein : The Reason.

I'd like to add, of course, that it is necessary that every person to do their bit to ensure that Yankee Imperialism does not succeed in destroying this Idea.

A translation of Hasta Siempre:

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Part of this, and because religon forum is invisible unless logged in as member, is relevant in light of previous posts in this topic I'll repost the article from the Religion Forum part of the Education Forum, one of a number of topical posts on Cuba and therefore about how much of the Western Medias treatment of Cuba is so often slanted, even among the often perceived 'progressive' media, aa ccounterbalance:

N E W S

Havana. March 22, 2012

POPE JOHN PAUL II’S VISIT TO CUBA

A lesson to the world

Dalia González del Gado

AS the Popemobile moved along Havana’s wide avenues lined with enthusiastic people, chants of "You can feel it, you can feel it, the Pope is here with us," and "Juan Pablo, friend, Cuba is with you," could be heard.

Current Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, affirmed in his book Un cuore grande, Omaggio a Giovanni Paolo II that the Pope confided in him that possibly no head of state had so profoundly prepared for the visit of a Pontiff.

From January 21 through 25, 1998, Cuba gave the world a lesson, one of many. One did not have to be religious to feel the intensity of the encounter between the Cuban people and the Supreme Pontiff.

Cuba’s enemies wanted to celebrate. But the idea of an alleged Apocalypse presented by the foreign media ceded to the image of a people who listened with affection and respect to his message. Those five days did not change the history of Cuba, they enriched it.

Cardinal Roger Eychegaray, then president of the Justice and Peace Pontifical Commission, stated in an interview with Granma, "Rarely has a Papal visit aroused such universal interest and infused in his diverse interlocutors a responsibility so great that it commits all of one and everyone."

Pope John Paul II defined a central theme in each one of the four masses he gave. In Santa Clara he dedicated his sermon to the family; in Camagüey to youth, and in Santiago de Cuba to the homeland.

In the José Martí Plaza de la Revolución he devoted his reflections to the role of laypersons in the Church.

REENCOUNTER WITH FIDEL

They already knew each other. They had met in the Vatican on November 19, 1996. Thousands of journalists, camera crews, reporters for various foreign television and press networks, transmitted images of a Pope and a Communist leader which swept aside ill-intentioned commentaries and their alleged differences with the second shaking of hands.

Believers and non-believers showed hospitality and respect toward the Holy Father during his visit to Cuba.

Fidel Castro received the Pope and bade him farewell at José Martí International Airport, and met with him privately in the Palace of the Revolution. He also accompanied John Paul II in the encounter with cultural figures and during the mass in Plaza de la Revolución.

"Fidel was the President who gave the best attention to Pope John Paul II," Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, current Vatican Secretary of State, affirmed years later in his book Un cuore grande, Omaggio a Giovanni Paolo II. "Fidel showed affection for the Pope, who was already ill, and John Paul II confided to me that possibly no head of state had so profoundly prepared for the visit of a Pontiff (...). Fidel had read the encyclicals and principal speeches of John Paul II and even some of his poems."

A LESSON TO THE WORLD

The Supreme Pontiff’s visit to Cuba took place in the upheavals of the 1990s. The disappearance of socialism in Eastern Europe and the USSR had unleashed great euphoria within the U.S. government and among counterrevolutionary groups in Miami. It was predicted that the Cuban Revolution would collapse in a matter of days or weeks. Cuban exiles began to make political moves to organize a new government.

They themselves described John Paul II as a kind of exterminating angel of socialism, as a man whose visit would be prejudicial to the national social project.

pope3.jpg

The people greet His Holiness John

Paul II in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución.

(Photo: Ahmed Velásquez)

With his usual clarity of vision, Fidel had observed that. "I see so many illusions being created in desperation, that the Pope’s visit will be somewhat tragic for the Cuban Revolution, a fiery sword which is going to liquidate socialism and communism in Cuba (...). They do not know the Pope, they do not know him (...). They are underestimating his intelligence, underestimating his character, underestimating his thinking."

For that reason, as if in response to those deluding themselves, Fidel stated at the farewell to the Holy Father, "I think we have given a good example to the world: you, in visiting what certain people chose to call the last bastion of communism; we, in receiving the religious leader to whom they wanted to attribute the responsibility of having destroyed socialism in Europe. And there were those prophesying apocalyptical events. Some even dreamed of them."

Unfortunately for those dreamers, Cuba demonstrated to the world that, despite erroneous interpretations, socialism can be reconciled with religious faith. Fidel confirmed that upon receiving the Pope. "There will not be any country better prepared to understand your felicitous idea, as we understand it and which is so similar to what we preach, that equitable distribution of wealth and solidarity among human beings and peoples must be globalized."

AGAINST THE BLOCKADE

Fidel recalled the injustices being committed against the country. "Cuba, your Holiness, is currently standing up to the strongest power in history like a new David, a thousand times smaller, who in the same spirit of biblical times, is fighting to survive against a gigantic Goliath of the nuclear age who is trying to prevent our development by forcing us to surrender through sickness and hunger. If that story had not been written then, it would have had to have been written today. This monstrous crime cannot be ignored or excuses given for it."

For that reason, it was gratifying to hear the leader of the Catholic Church condemn the U.S. blockade of Cuba, describing it as "restrictive economic measures imposed from outside of the country, unjust and ethically unacceptable."

At the same time he criticized neoliberalism, then in its apogee. "Economically unsustainable programs are being imposed on nations, as a condition of receiving more aid and the exaggerated enrichment of a few at the cost of the impoverishment of many can be confirmed."

MESSAGES OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND GRATITUDE

"Dear Cubans, upon leaving this beloved land, I am taking with me a lasting impression of these days and great confidence in the future of your homeland," John Paul II affirmed in his farewell address.

"I have experienced full and moving events with the people of God, on a pilgrimage through the beautiful land of Cuba, which has left a profound impression on me. I will take with me the memory of the faces of so many people whom I have met during the last few days. I am grateful for your cordial hospitality, a genuine expression of the Cuban soul."

His words were in response to all the affection shown him by the Cuban population. Everyone – believers and non-believers – gave the Pope a massive demonstration of hospitality and respect.

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chr3.JPG

'Our people showed their determination to fight'

Speech by Che Guevara on worldwide impact of defeat of Washington's invasion of Cuba at Bay of Pigs in 1961

Cuban Revolution: Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Bay of Pigs Victory and Literacy Campaign

The Militant is reprinting here major excerpts from a May 8, 1961, speech by Ernesto Che Guevara.

On April 17, 1961, three weeks prior to Guevara's speech, 1,500 Cuban counterrevolutionaries invaded at the Bay of Pigs on Cuba's southern coast. The mercenaries--organized, trained, armed, and deployed by Washington--aimed to rally the Cuban people the U.S. rulers said were awaiting liberation and, if this proved slower in realization than projected, to establish and hold a beachhead on an isolated stretch of Cuban territory. The invading force would then declare a provisional government to appeal for direct military intervention by the U.S. government and its closest Latin American allies.

Within 72 hours, however, the invaders were routed by Cuba's popular militia, Revolutionary National Police, and Rebel Army. The "people" never showed up, and neither did the invaders' courage. On April 19 the last mercenaries surrendered at Playa Girón (Girón Beach).

Two days prior to the invasion, the U.S.-organized forces had conducted bombing raids from a base in Nicaragua against airfields in Havana, San Antonio de los Baños, and Santiago de Cuba. The following day, at a mass rally called to honor those killed or wounded, Cuban President Fidel Castro publicly pointed to the socialist character of the revolution in Cuba and called the people to arms in defense of the revolution.

With the invasion imminent, central leaders of the revolution were dispatched to various regions to take command of the military forces there. Guevara took command in Pinar del Río on the eastern end of the island; his April 15 call to arms to the people of that province is included in Pathfinder's new book, Playa Girón/Bay of Pigs: Washington's First Military Defeat in the Americas by Fidel Castro and José Ramón Fernández.

The speech by Guevara printed below was given at a ceremony three weeks later to mark the anniversary of the death of Antonio Guiteras, a leader of the 1933 revolution that overturned the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado. Guiteras became interior minister in the new government. A leader of the anti-imperialist forces in the revolution, on January 14, 1934, Guiteras announced the takeover of the Cuban Electric Company, a subsidiary of the U.S.-owned Electric Bond and Share Company. The following day he was ousted by a U.S.-backed coup led by Fulgencio Batista. Guiteras was assassinated on May 8, 1935.

Following the expropriation of the Cuban Electric Company in August 1960 by the revolutionary government, the newly nationalized enterprise was named in honor of Guiteras.

The meeting Guevara addressed was held at the enterprise's plant in Havana, sponsored by the revolutionary administration and the electrical workers union. It was attended by electrical workers and their families, as well as members of the Revolutionary National Militias.

The translation of Guevara's speech is copyright © 2001 by Pathfinder Press and reprinted by permission. Subheadings are by the Militant.

BY ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA

[in the months directly following the triumph of the revolution in January 1959] we already began to see the seeds of something that later was more clearly spelled out by Fidel, but which at that time appeared to us simply as a struggle of good against evil. It actually was a struggle of good against evil, but it was also something else--it was the class struggle, the sharp contours of which were beginning to surface in Cuba. It was the struggle of the exploiters, who had lost power, against the exploited, who had taken power and were eliminating the other class. [Applause]

All of you remember the campaign for the agrarian reform, which is fresh in our memory. The owners of large landed estates donated ten thousand head of cattle, and the Diario de la Marina warmly supported the reform. Carbó and all the other journalists of that time were head over heels in praise of the agrarian reform. It was going to be a "conscientious" agrarian reform, a "just," "rational" agrarian reform. It would give the peasants marabú land,1 and the former owners of the marabú would be paid as if it were excellent land of the highest quality.

But that's not how it turned out. It turned out that the agrarian reform not only went after the large landed estates whose owners were Cuban-born, but mercilessly went after the big U.S.-owned plantations as well. And from that day forward, two camps have been clearly marked out: on this side, the people; on the other side, imperialism and all its domestic servants and allies--importers, plantation owners, big industrialists, bankers--all of whom formed a common front.

Here in Havana at one point, there was a fairly well-known man who should have been easy to capture. This was the former minister of public works [appointed in 1959], Manuel Ray. Nevertheless, Ray continued living in Havana for a while, although not for long because he is not all that courageous. We knew him well since he had been with the Civic Resistance Movement during Batista's time, and had been well-rewarded for all his efforts. At the same time, he had helped in some ways, back when he thought the revolution would simply amount to a change of faces.

So he lived for a time in post-revolutionary Havana. And after having been removed from office and gone underground as an agent for a specific group, he could not be located. Why not? Because of the class struggle once again.

He functioned, as Fidel put it, in the Sierra Maestra of those who oppose us: Cubanacán and a number of other neighborhoods of the former possessors of all Cuba's wealth. And these layers functioned with a class spirit.

We could not penetrate there, because ours is a popular revolution. Our entire defense apparatus and all our ministers come from other social layers. We did not know [the residents of these neighborhoods]; there were no ties.

And when the struggle between antagonistic social classes becomes a struggle to the death, then it's hard to find traitors. On their side it's even harder, since their political consciousness is very "clear." What is there to betray, inasmuch as their aim is to hold on to everything they have, while the government's aim is to take everything in excess away from them?

Naturally, under these circumstances this man was able to hold out for several months. By then we were seeing an ever-widening breach between the great mass of Cuba's people and this small group of the formerly privileged. Later, with the passage of time, came laws such as the urban reform,2 which solved this problem in a radical manner--since each one of these gentlemen conspirators had ten, fifteen, twenty houses.

This breach could be seen with the group that invaded [at Playa Girón]: every one of these gentlemen who came had property--10 houses, 27,000 caballerías of land, 2 banks, 5 mines, 70 factories, 10 sugar mills. They had economic power in their hands; they were the owners of the means of production, which in the capitalist system becomes the means of exploiting the people.

That is what they came here for, and all of Cuba's people know it. One group came in search of spoils in the form of the means of production. While the spoils the other group came in search of was to again place themselves at the service of those who had once owned the means of production and to create a new repressive apparatus against the people--these were all the former members of the Batista army who came.

Class composition of mercenary army

The class composition of this mercenary army is also clear. Almost everyone must have seen on television when Compañero Fidel asked who among them had cut sugarcane. If the ministers of our government had been captured, every one of us could have raised our hand. [Applause] I'm speaking strictly hypothetically in saying we might have been captured, since we believe in always fighting to the last drop of blood, fighting to the death. [Applause]

But among them all, only one young man raised his hand. He was a poor man, who, due to one or another of the many big problems here in Cuba, ended up in the United States. Perhaps, for the best of reasons, he was motivated by hunger. Or maybe by the notion of being a commander in the new army, or of getting some cushy job--or becoming more than a commander, since we've limited it to commander but they can go up to five-star general, right? But something like that motivated him to come.

All the others, in a fit of sincerity, didn't raise their hands. They don't know what a canefield is. They don't know what hunger is. They don't know the desperation of a peasant, shunted off to a guardarraya,3 with almost nothing to give your children to eat, with children who die of all kinds of diseases that modern science could be used to save them from, with barely a few pennies, with no one to turn to. They don't know what it means to be an unemployed worker, in the same desperate situation in some barrio like Las Yaguas, in those terrible barrios surrounding the cities.

What they know of the people comes from a social circle--always sterile, occasionally with good intentions, arrogant and scornful of those who are from the people--and from certain books. Among them were philosophy professors, writers, some with facile pens, others aspiring to be serious writers. There were many sons of ranchers, industrialists, and bankers--many with an acute class consciousness who knew very well what they came here to get.

It is for this reason that the two polar extremes of this revolution have become so clear. Conditions in Cuba are becoming clearer and are progressing so rapidly, however, that not only have the two extremes become very clear--on one side the people, immense, powerful; on the other side, a small group of exploiters. It also became very clear that the people were advancing on the positions of the exploiters and gradually eliminating them, to the point that today they have become barely a caricature of a force.

What a social revolution is

Today the forces of reaction have no strength beyond what comes from a misunderstanding of what a social revolution is and what it creates, giving rise to certain fears on the part of classes that in political economy are called petty bourgeois, to use a social term. And they also have some strength among remnants of a layer of exploiters still in Cuba--perhaps to fight desperately to recover their former existence, or perhaps to continue living in their homeland since they continue to have interests here. All the rest of the exploiters have disappeared.

Therefore, the sole task of the people of Cuba is to continue advancing, to eliminate these contradictions. The task is to continue creating the new social conditions in order to transform each and every person into someone who earns his bread from his work--let's leave aside his sweat, but with his work. We should try to make the work as easy, as humane, as interesting as possible--with technical improvements to put machines to work for people; with culture, with sports transformed into an educator of the masses, trying to make the world into the real earthly paradise we all dream of. Of course, for everyone to be part of this paradise, it is necessary to eliminate from all parts of the world the exploiting layers, who are the aggressors. [Applause]

And they know this very well. They know that every country that frees itself is not an isolated battle lost. It's a battle lost that is part of a war to the death, where imperialism's field of action becomes smaller and smaller.

That's why they are so aggressive.

That's why every time they lose a pawn they used to move at their fancy, and a people becomes free, they throw their whole repressive apparatus at it.

That's why a short time ago, a democracy even newer than ours--that of the Congo--was brutally trampled and Patrice Lumumba was assassinated.4

They know that no manifestation of the people's freedom, or of the people's attainment of their great aspiration to control the means of production--which means controlling the wealth, which ultimately means controlling the state apparatus and which means the people's self-determination--no such manifestation can be good for the imperial powers.

So imperialism immediately tries to annul it. But of course the world goes on, and its development toward more just social systems is clear.

The people of all countries understand more clearly every day the need to throw off the imperial power, so ignominious, in addition to the power of its local servants. But even more: the people see more clearly every day the possibility of doing so. They see tangibly that there are ways of doing so.

And they see something else that is new in Latin America and in all the oppressed countries of the world--something of which Cuba is a living example. They see that when a country achieves its sovereignty, and an entire people rises up to show imperialism that it is capable of preserving its sovereignty even at the cost of the greatest sacrifices, not only does the effective solidarity of all the peoples of the world come to its side, but so too does the solidarity--including military--of the most just and mighty powers of the world. [Applause]

And this is very important, compañeros. Not so much for us; we passed our test. We here were dug in, defenseless but armed with our courage and our convictions, to oppose imperialist aggression.

Nevertheless, at that moment, when we needed it most, although we did not ask for it, we were given just aid--aid we needed, aid that stayed imperialism's hand for a time. That was last year. Since then there have been many proofs that this position of the socialist world was not mere show. And there are clearer and clearer demonstrations that the relationship of forces is shifting rapidly and consistently in favor of all the peace- and freedom-loving peoples.

It is important for us to know this. We are very grateful. We are more confident, more certain of victory, more enthusiastic. We can dedicate ourselves more calmly to our work. We don't have to think with such a heavy load bearing down on our subconscious--with the fear that everything we do tomorrow would be destroyed, and destroyed in vain, because neither we nor a social system like ours would remain to rebuild from the ruins.

Today we know this is impossible--that if tomorrow they destroy what we build today; that if tomorrow we disappear in the maelstrom of a new war, the social system we are helping to implant will remain, to raise up again what was built, and to better create this social system. [Applause]

Example of Cuban revolution

In addition to us, however, there are many peoples on the earth. And there are more peoples on the earth who are in the sad, pitiful state we were in before 1959 than there are those like ourselves who have proudly achieved a completely sovereign nation. Here in Latin America there are many such peoples.

Every day some form of struggle breaks out against the government of some country of Latin America. And always we saw the same thing. We saw struggles that were limited, timid, cautious; struggles to take a baby step, and, aware of one's weakness, to ensure that this step would be a conquest that could not be snatched away the next day.

Nevertheless, the Cuban revolution served not only as an example but also as a catalyst for all the progressive forces of Latin America. In the name of Cuba, for the first time in many years, forces that wanted the same thing politically but differed on tactics and had thus become great enemies thanks to imperialist-sponsored discord, are uniting for big demonstrations, to conduct great struggles throughout Latin America in defense of our revolution.

We have not only been an example; we have also been a catalyst.

We also see how every day struggles in Latin America are more inflamed, more violent, and more audacious, because the masses now know what is possible. They know that through sustained struggle, full of sacrifices, demanding enormous heroism, even requiring years, that through all this they can achieve victory. And the masses fight harder and harder to demand what belongs to them.

Up until recently we were the example of what a people could do against imperialism's local servants, against the lackeys of imperialism such as Batista or Trujillo, those who murdered, who shackled the people for their own benefit, but fundamentally to the benefit of imperialism. To get a penny for themselves they gave a dollar, or more, to imperialism! The peoples could see from Cuba's action that it was possible to struggle against these local servants. And this is what produced the ever-rising mass struggle.

The peoples then began to ask themselves again, or to raise another question that has come up ever since Guatemala:5 All right, but if a democratic government comes to power, can it stand up against imperialist aggression?

Here in Cuba imperialism worked long and hard along these lines. Even friends of ours came to tell us what a shame it was that such a beautiful revolution as the one in Cuba would be drowned in a sea of blood, because the United States was not going to permit this example for Latin America to arise 90 miles from its shore.

And the U.S. newspapers expended torrents of ink to explain that the price of peaceful coexistence--as demanded by the premier of the Soviet Union and all the other socialist countries--had to be paid by the Soviet Union. And that the price of this coexistence--that is, the price of peace--was Cuba.

They maneuvered, they spread lies throughout Latin America. What's more, even in Cuba they spread the idea among those minds susceptible to imperialist propaganda that Cuba was going to be a bargaining chip in a deal between the two great opposing powers in the world.

We knew very well that this could not be, but not everyone knew it. And in Latin America people knew very little.

When this latest imperialist attempt [at the Bay of Pigs] was unleashed, we all know the torrent of lies that rained down--that I had shot myself, that I had failed as a communist, that everything was destroyed; that Fidel, I think it was, had taken asylum, or had been wounded in aerial combat; that Raúl, for his part, was dead; and finally that troops were advancing and had taken the "port" of Bayamo, had crossed Cuba. In short, that everything was a disaster.

A Mexican compañero working here, who happened to be in Mexico during those days, told us how alone he felt at that time. All his friends took their distance from him. And he recalled--because he is an old friend of the Cuban Revolution--what a difference it was from January 1, 1959, when he was presented with bottles of liquor, and mariachi bands came to play music, celebrating the victory. And now no one was at his side.

All the world--even our great friends, our good-faith defenders, our defenders to the death--believed that Cuba was in a very difficult position and on the brink of defeat.

Among all the peoples of Latin America it was the same. The protests were enormous; the popular masses went out into the streets. But many believed that a beautiful Latin American dream was being ended. That we were at the beginning of another sad stage, where imperialism would once again exert all its power, its conqueror's arrogance, all the power it can unleash against the peoples, as it had done in the destruction of Guatemala.

Impact of victory

In barely 72 hours the hopes of the people were reawakened, and imperialism lost one of its battles with the most serious consequences in the entire world. We are heartened to say in the entire world, not just in Latin America.

We do so not to exaggerate what the battle was, because I tell you in all sincerity, although it angers them when we says so, it was nothing more than a thousand or so gusanos.6 [Laughter] And the proof of it is that we captured the invading troop in its entirety, completely; they were all there. The only thing is that the troop was a little imbalanced in its composition, because there were a lot of "sailors" and "cooks" and "medical assistants." It seems nobody fired a shot.7

But the troop is all here. [Applause]

This is why we must tell it exactly how it is. Our people showed their determination to fight, not against this invasion, but against a real invasion. Everyone mobilized. There were many deaths at Girón, many more than necessary, because people showed up there "on their own," so to speak, to fight in whatever way, in their eagerness to do something, without watching out for the planes--the enemy planes--that were still functioning on the first day. And therefore we lost many compañeros unnecessarily.

For this reason, in truth, as a military victory we should not lie and say it was a big deal. To be sure, the operation on our side was very well conceived and led, under Fidel's direct command. [Applause] But when two armies with two such different morales fight, it's not a fight; it's more like shooting ducks.

Under these conditions, then, we can only say it was a victory of the people as a whole. But for our army and our militias, having defeated the gusanos is no particular glory.

The glory for our army and our militia was not in the action itself, but in having been ready to fight in the way they were ready to fight--and in the entire people of Cuba rising up to defend the revolution.

Thus, we don't need to attribute great importance to the action itself, except for two things.

One is to demonstrate how computers--electronic machines that do so well at calculating--are useless when it comes to measuring the human spirit.

They did their mathematical calculations as if they were confronting the German army and coming to take a beachhead at Normandy. "This many Germans have such and such weapons. We throw in so many men. We take this or that beachhead. We place mines here, organize things this way, that way, and there we have it." Everything's perfectly organized, with the efficiency they display in such matters.

But they failed to measure the moral relationship of forces. First, they mismeasured our ability to react, including not only our ability to react in the face of aggression, our ability to react in the face of a danger, and to mobilize our forces and send them to the site of battle--they mismeasured that. But they were also wrong in measuring the capacity for struggle of each one of the groups.

They calculated that 1,000 men would be sufficient to resist. But they needed 1,000 men there who would fight to the death. In that case, we would still have gone in, but with a very high cost in lives. Because their operation was well conceived from a military point of view.

But someone whose daddy had a thousand caballerías of land, and who comes here solely to show his presence so the thousand caballerías will be returned to him--you can't ask him, simply because his caballerías were taken away, to die at the hand of a peasant who had nothing and who has a ferocious desire to kill him. [Applause] This is the part the electronic machines don't know how to calculate. This explains their capacity to make such huge, fantastic mistakes.

And up to now this reality has served us well. They have always been wrong about us. They have always arrived late. And they have never done anything that did not serve instead to strengthen the trust of the people in their government, to make the revolution more militant; in short, to strengthen us more.

Today, this propensity to error is dangerous. It is dangerous because if they are wrong about everything, we run the risk they will commit suicide at our expense. We therefore have to turn this island into a bastion, fill it with trenches, with cannon, with a determination to struggle. This must be visible from all sides--and I mean very visible, so that they do not make a mistake. [Applause] Because an error would be grave.

Clearly, it would mean the liberation of the whole world, but it would be very painful for us, and we have the duty, for ourselves and for the whole world, to struggle for peace, [Applause] to prevent imperialism from committing suicide on this island.

The U.S. invasion had yet another result. That same sadness of all our Latin American friends, who saw the revolution wiped out and their hopes dashed, revived with more strength than ever when they saw how easily the mercenary invasion was crushed. Because everyone knew it was the United States that had organized it, that had prepared the mercenaries. They themselves said so--those who sent the mercenaries to the beaches, those who bombed our cities two days before. The whole world knew it.

When the invasion occurred, and when they saw the news, the whole world saw the disaster being provoked by imperialism. But two or three days later, when they saw the definitive victory of the people, everyone in Latin America saw clearly that a great defeat for imperialism had taken place, even a military defeat. Imperialism had been defeated on all fronts in this action.

Furthermore, they saw the solidarity of the entire world and the militant solidarity of the socialist countries. This solidarity is not just a matter of demonstrations of sympathy or of throwing stones in front of an embassy, but of much more serious things.

The people now knew it was possible to make a revolution, and it was possible to take power against imperialism's servants.

Acquired a new consciousness

The people have been conscious for some time that the exploiters must be removed from power by some means. But now they have acquired a new consciousness: that if the people succeed in expelling the exploiters from power, their survival as a sovereign nation is guaranteed. [Applause]

And this is very important indeed, compañeros. It is very important because without false modesty, we can say that not all peoples, not all parties, and not all leaders have the same resolve we do.

There are many who lack confidence in their strength, who fear imperialism. This includes those who knew, as everyone knows, that the empire's servants must be destroyed, but did not know how to do it. Later they learned that the will of the masses will be imposed, if not by peaceful means, then by violent means. And concretely in Latin America they learned that there is a way--certainly not the only way--but one that has shown its effectiveness, which is guerrilla warfare. So now the road has been opened.

After this, faced with the next question, which is whether we can survive as free nations, there is also the action of the Soviet Union and all the socialist countries, showing that the answer is yes. [Applause]

That is to say, we can show our example, proudly, with all our revolutionary modesty, aware of the limitations, but without false modesty, knowing that it is a contribution to the world. And we can say to Latin America: "Here is our revolution."

In this manner we show that the consciousness that exists among the people of the necessity for change needs to be clearly expressed in the mass struggle, until everyone understands the genuine possibility of change, and there occurs a change of government in those countries where the people are horribly oppressed.

Furthermore, we can say that after this, in the current world situation with the current relationship of forces, it should be clearly understood that any people that wants to be free will be free.

1. Marabú is a dense, thorny shrub that grows wild in Cuba.

2. The urban reform law, enacted October 13, 1960, nationalized housing and guaranteed Cuban working people the right to their dwellings.

3. Guardarrayas were tracts of land located between canefields or on the edge of landed estates. During the months of unemployment between sugar harvests--known as the "dead time"--many agricultural workers stayed in shacks on these lands trying to survive.

4. In January 1961 Patrice Lumumba, central leader of the Congo's independence movement, was murdered by imperialist-backed forces loyal to rightist figure Moise Tshombe. Standing aside while Lumumba was deposed and arrested were United Nations troops he had invited in to halt mercenary attacks backed by Belgium.

5. Seeking to crush worker, peasant, and student struggles in Guatemala accompanied by a limited land reform initiated by the regime of Jacobo Arbenz, CIA-organized mercenaries invaded the country in June 1954. Arbenz refused to arm the population and resigned. Several weeks later, mercenary forces entered Guatemala City, unleashing a bloodbath.

6. Gusanos (Spanish for "worms") is a term popularly used in Cuba for counterrevolutionaries.

7. Guevara is joking about the claims of many of those captured.

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Che Guevara - Debatforum

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Che Guevara, Imperialism speech 1965, translated

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