I’m gradually shaking off the inertia of laziness that my vacation has left me with. With the headlines on BBC and CNN concerning Fidel’s retirment, I felt it necessary to write a quick little blurb on this issue.
The capitalists have made a good deal of propaganda trying to portray the Cuban Revo as only being and continuing to be because of Fidel himself, and this is being reflected in the reaction by many in the media and amongst the political pundits concerning what his retirment means for Cuba. This is also shown in the many attempts to assasinate Fidel since he came to power – wikipedia quotes comrade Fabian Escalante (one of Fidel’s bodyguards) as stating there have been at least 638 CIA orchestrated attempted assasinations. The theory was crudely that if Fidel goes, so does the revo.
Fidel is only one person. He is extremely symbolic, and yes, his death would have been damaging to the revo, and his death in the future could also see some ideological change within the Cuban Communist Party. But Fidel does not the revo make, and the revo does not end with him retiring or dying. It is a mistake both by capitalists and by some elements of the Left to overexagerate Fidel’s importance, as symbolic as he may be.
I am not forseeing any immediate change in the existing Cuban model, especially not towards capitalist restoration akin to the Soviet Katastroika or the Chinese model of authoritarian capitalism a la Deng Xiao Peng. When I was last in Cuba, and discussing the current situation (this was in December 2006) with international solidarity activists and members of the Cuban CP and military officers, there was some talk of a ‘Chinese model.’ And there have been some movements towards this brought about by the Special Period of the Katastroika. While there was some support for this and various marker socialist models amongst the individuals I spoke with, there were also those who felt that while the status quo was inadequate and needed change sought a deepening of socialism – the development of a more particpatory economy and democracy.
Of those who advocated the deepening of socialism (and they were roughly equal in number to the market socialist/Chinese model faction) they voiced the concern of US and proxy aggression as one of the main deterrents to this ‘deepening.’ They spoke of the need for greater support from Latin America, and looked to the growin Latin American revo, of which Venezuala is only the most advanced element, as a potential counterbalance to imperialist aggression and a source for revolutionary reinvigoration for Cuba. They saw Cuba’s importance as being largely a symbolic challenge to imperialist hegemony in the Western hemisphere, as well as providing crucial assistance in developing healthcare, education and sustainable farming practices for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Fidel, based on his past statements and actions, is no friend of the Soviet Katastroika, market socialist or Chinese models, and this is his main symbolic importance now, and he can be expected to tip the scales against such models as long as he can. There are forces of cahnge for these models though, especially within the bureaucracy that has benefited from the limited capitalistic reforms required by the Special Period.
The future of the Cuban Revo does seem intimately linked to the success or failure of the current Latin American revolutionary movements. The expansion and deepening of these movements provides Cuba with breathing space from imperialist aggression, and allows for the deepening of the Cuban Revo itself.
The external factors of these revolutionary movements provide the key to understanding what the next President of Cuba will do.