Cuban Revolution

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I'm a liberal Cuban-American born and raised in Miami, Florida. Yes liberal Cuban-American liberals in Miami do exist! :D We are not all right wing zealots. Unfortunately our voices are silenced in much the same way as the liberal voice is silenced in America overall. The conservatives control the media.

I've been thinking about Thom’s conversation with Chris Hedges and a caller from two days ago who mentioned organic farming in Cuba. It got me thinking about the Cuban Revolution and what Americans can learn from it. There are obvious parallels between what happened in Cuba and the lead up to the Revolution to what is going on now in the USA. I’m hoping Thom would have an hour long discussion about the pros and cons of the Cuban Revolution. I’m hoping he can bring a guest on, that can explore the Cuban Revolution without painting either side in black and white terms.

To start off I’m against the embargo. It’s a failed policy that has only resulted in the Cuban people being hurt. Neither do I want the Cuban government overthrown. I want the Cuban people living in Cuba to decide their own fate. What I would like for Cuba is the same thing I want for the USA, a balance between capitalism/socialism and less authoritarianism.

Americans can learn from the Cuban people on how to evolve and survive based on limited resources. Organic farming as the caller pointed two days ago is something positive that came out of the negative impact of the embargo. However, following Latin American politics I disagree with the caller that the Castro brothers are providing a model for change in Latin America. I don’t see Latin American countries adopting a hard-line Marxist-Satanists centralized government approach. Outside of Hugo Chavez I don’t see private property being seized. As far as Chavez goes I don’t believe he’s being completely motivated by ideology, but rather as revenge for Bush attempting to overthrow him.

However, Thom’s assessment of the Cuban community in Miami, which he spoke about with the caller is still sadly based on stereotypes. I acknowledge the right wing element that exists in the Miami Cuban community, and the unfortunate role Cubans played in Watergate and the JFK assassination. However, radical actions conducted by a minority of people, should come to represent the majority. It’s the same as judging all Americans based on the actions of the Neo-Cons or Tea Party.

I believe it’s important to point out that not everyone who has left Cuba, has done so because they supported Batista or were wealthy. It’s been over 50 years since the Cuban Revolution; the majority of Cubans who have left the island at this point had no ties to wealth and privilege.

In addition not all the wealthy left the island or approved off Batista. I know this from my own from my own family’s experience. My grandfather came from a wealthy Cuban family. My grandmother came from an upper middle class Cuban family. They both lived in the well to do suburbs of Havana. My grandfather was educated in the USA. He saw the difference between living in a democracy and living under a dictatorship. As a result my grandparents along with my 2 year old father made the decision to leave Cuba in 1953 and live a modest middle class existence in the USA. They gave up give up all their wealth and privilege to live in a democracy. They became life long Democrats. Ironically my family members who were into wealth and social status stayed behind, living out the remainder of their lives under the Cuban Revolution.

I’m proud to have Cuban ancestry, but my emotional loyalty is with the USA. I travel in liberal and lefty circles in the USA, Latin America and Europe. I know the reasons that Fidel Castro is seen as a hero. He’s one of the few people in the past 50 years to defy the American power elite and get away with it. However, watching the American middle class being destroyed by the elites I have also come to understand the causes Cuban Revolution on an emotional level like I never did before.

I’m angry about what is going on in the USA. I’m angry at the banksters creating the financial meltdown and being bailed out. I’m angry that the Neo-Cons who engaged in war crimes are still free. I’m angry these thieves and thugs haven’t been held accountable. Lastly, I’m angry that the elites have managed to corrupt every level of our democracy, thus preventing necessary reforms to save our economy.

As much as the American Right Wing and Cuban Right Wing like to scream about communism and socialism, they are creating the very atmosphere where a Left Wing Revolution could materialize. I would like liberals and lefties in the USA to discuss the possibility of what that would look like.

As a liberal my preference is for non violence. I believe we should attempt a third party movement and have massive amounts of civil disobedience. However if those peaceful attempts fail at reforming our democracy, I can only conclude that the only way out this mess is through a violent uprising of some kind. That’s why, IMO, it is important to discuss the Cuban Revolution, to avoid some of the same pitfalls. The pitfalls I’m talking about is the authoritarian nature of the Cuban government. I also fear that same authoritarianism manifesting itself if god forbid the Right Wing were to over throw the government.

Again it’s too simplistic to paint all Cubans who left the island as the elites who supported Batista, those elites are a mere fraction of the millions who have left for various reasons over the past 50 years. Travelling in lefty circles I also realize that North/South Americans and Europeans have a tendency to dismiss the people who left as weak. I say the same thing to them as I do the people who support the embargo. Unless you're willing to live under those same conditions, and make those scarifies, it’s wrong to ask the Cuban people to do the same. I would also ask that the left wing be open minded enough to hear out the grievances of those who left and not dismiss it as mere propaganda.

I think it’s important for the Left to understand, that some of the right wing zealots that have resulted in the Miami Cuban community are not solely based on losing one’s wealth and privilege but, rather anger as a result of being mistreated or having their family members being mistreated by the Cuban government in some fashion.

How do we avoid those pitfalls in the future if there were to be a Left Wing Revolution in America? How do we make sure not to allow our anger at the establishment turn us into a movement of vengeance? How do we bring back a balance to our democracy, without hurting innocent people or creating long term enemies along the way? I would hate for my grandkids in 50 years to be writing about Right Wing Americans living in Canada trying to undermine the Second American Revolution.

I would also ask the Right Wing to be open minded enough to hear the causes of the Cuban Revolution in the first place, because they are supporting the same policies here in the USA.

Starbuck's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Excellent post, Starbuck.

QUOTE: " Lastly, I’m angry that the elites have managed to corrupt every level of our democracy, thus preventing necessary reforms to save our economy."

I see it the same way. Elites never seem to get that when they go too far, that when corruption and mass destitution become too great, the only option left is rebellion. It's a rebellion they often attempt to guide to serve themselves when it occurs.

It's what that rebellion will look like that concerns me. Replacing repression with repression is often the outcome whether from the right or the left.

Then we have the Bolivan example. The most progressive Constitution in the world if they are allowed to keep it.

It's the only nation in the world that adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a part of it's consitution. Nature too, has constitutional guarantees. Government encourges direct worker ownership of their workplace...and has funding to assist in that.

The U.S. response was to re-activate the 4th Fleet, land marines in Costa Rica, and expand military bases in neighboring Columbia.

I look for new models to arise out of So. America rather than Europe, the U.S. or Asia.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"


Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Spot on. How would Cuba look today if we had backed Castro instead of the corrupt and crooked Baptista? No matter where you go, there you are. And wherever the US has gone it has always backed the corrupt right wing dictatorships rather than those who have the backing of the people. Can't allow Americans to see options which work. Can't have too many German Jews allowed in to show Americans other ways, much better to let them perish in the ovens. Demonize Venezuela and Bolivia, make fun of Norway and Sweden, predatory monopolistic capitalism is the only option.

What if the US had responded favorably to Ho Chi Minh's entreaties for help against the French colonizers instead of hoping to enrich American and transnational corporate interests? The world exists for those wielding corporate power to extract as much wealth as possible from the serfs and peons on the bottom.

norske's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

As Pres. Eisenhower noted in his memoirs, his decision to intervene against Ho Che Minh was about tin...then a strategic resource. After we rejected Vietnamese pleas to assist them in overthrowing foreign French rule, they turned to China. We didn't want China to have access to the tin.

Ike rejected elections to unify the country...noting that Ho Che Minh would have won. The Vietnamese, north and south, considered him the Father of their Country.

Americans wouldn't fight over tin. However, they did buy the story that all of Asia would fall to communist hordes if we didn't intervene. They even bought the Nixon story that World War III would ensue if Vietnam was lost.

We lost. S.E. Asia didn't fall to communist hordes, World War III never materialized. Just more hokus pokus over resources and profits.

Same sort of thing in Cuba. In isolating Cuba, we forced them into the Soviet camp. What was essentially a reform movement was pushed way beyond that They traded sugar for what they couldn't produce themselves and had to have. Oil and manufactured goods.

The U.S. created the current Cuban Government with its own reactionary policies. It needed a failed model close to its shores, not a successful reform model..It pushed Cuba to where it may not have gone.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

What is amazing is that even though the true reasons for the US involvement in Viet Nam and Cuba are well known, or should be anyway, they continue to be alowed to follow the same script time and time again throughout the world with nary a complaint or a whimper.

norske's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Many powerful Americans including the Bushies had large holdings in Cuba, so both the official and unofficial "crime families" were tied up with the Batista type corruption. Castro crossed the line when he insisted that the appropriations of companies and estates be at the rate they were taxed. Why that was highway robbery and clearly not what the property was worth!

In the words of Foghorn Leghorn, "I say, I say, somebody's cheatin' here, this isn't the hand I dealt myself!"

Anyway, the dirty stuff that had been done to help the mobs get back their assets compromised more than the Bay of Pigs. Of course we should have gone with the people's revolution, but it would have been such an exception to the rule that people all over the world might have wanted us to stop propping up their dictator too.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Yes, excellent post, Starbuck. Great to hear your take on this. The embargo is ridiculous. I'm sure the top tier in Cuba suffered greatly. Embargo's are supposed to hurt the people until they rise up against their oppressors. In reality, they just hurt the people.

I was once demonstrating a chain saw mill in Redwood City, California and a guy came up and wanted to know about a new saw I was using that was just realeased. He was familiar with the mills, and told me he was part of a volunteer group that was helping the indiginous people of El Salvador rebuild their war-torn villages by milling local logs. He told me everything they did and shipped had to go via Vancouver, BC first as the US forbid any aid to El Salvador, even portable sawmills. I think of things like this when hearing the reich wing televangelists and politicians claim how Christian of a nation we are.

Choco's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

ALEC's Scary Plan for Elections

Right-wing oligarchs like the Koch Brothers don't just want to roll back a few regulations - they apparently want to repeal our democracy, too.

Republicans like to wrap themselves in slogans about liberty and freedom, but the truth is that deep down they hate our democracy - and now we have the proof.

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