It was not fire-breathing communists but Jawaharlal Nehru who took the initiative to recognize Cuba at a time when Western powers were bristling with frustrated rage against the tiny island-country only thirty and odd miles from the American coast.Because Nehru saw the Cuban revolution as part of the national liberation movement that roused people against suffocating colonial and imperialist dominance in Asia,Africa and Latin America.That the leaders of this national liberation movement in Cuba chose socialism as its social and political goal is also an undeniable historical reality. Left parties and trade unions in different countries too were in favour of the Cuban revolution except in countries where the labour leaders had compromised with big capital.It was not for nothing that from day one USA had taken extremely harsh and vindictive steps against the tiny island with aggressive economic blockade as well as severe sanctions against any country that entered into trade and economic co-operation with Cuba.The most blatantly unjust of such measures is freezing several hundred million dollars of Cuban national assets held in American banks.This had put the socialist country since its infancy in dire straits.
The fall of the Soviet Union had robbed it of a lifeline in trade and aid.(34 p.c of its GDP and 61 p.c.of its export shrank in consequence).Yet Cuba continues to survive in such a withering atmosphere,though it does not exactly thrive,thanks to the support of millions who believe in the Cuban state.
But the situation has become grimmer with the neo-liberal globalization driven by unprecedented concentration of finance capital holding sway over world economy and indirectly armed with the military capabilities of Western capitalist powers.Bread-lines have grown longer,and goods essential for maintenance of daily life have become more and more scarce.Through all this,depending on their own resources,Cuba has increased its food-production several-fold and built an efficient health-care and medical facilities that is the envy of much more prosperous countries.Only about five years back American film-maker Michael Moore took a boatload of American citizens who suffered serious ailments and had no hope of treatment at home thanks to exorbitant costs and brought them back after a few months cured of the diseases that left untreated could have been fatal.Today Cuba provides free medical services and medicines to many poor and struggling countries out of its commitment to socialist ideals.
Yet at this moment the only countries that solidly back them against foreign aggression are Russia and China,both with the reputation of being most tyrannical states.The so-called ‘free world’ is relishing the spectacle of economic distress in Cuba and inciting rebellion against the Cuban government in the hope that just one more push will serve to topple it to the ground.Apart from those Cuban expatriates in Miami just across the channel, the mainstream American politicians thunder periodic denunciation of the Cuban regime for robbing the Cuban people of their freedom.It is now common knowledge that the CIA had hatched and executed numerous plots against Cuba,ranging from putting chemicals in Castro’s boots so as to make his beard fall off,through sinister assassination against his life,to incubating unrest and widespread disturbance,all of which have failed so far.In December 2014 Huffington Post had revealed a labyrinthine CIA plot with many alibis to co-opt Cuban hip-hop musicians into inflaming anarchic discontent against the Cuban government
The latest tactics include some successfully tried out in several other Latin American countries:mass protests, widespread disturbances and tumultuous demonstrations for freedom and against corruption of the regime hated by American financiers and politicians.There were thousands upon thousands who had paraded the streets against Maduro in Venezuela, against Evo Morales in Bolivia and in Brazil against Lula Da Silva and his chosen successors with Jair Bolsonaro in the lead,and who incidentally was then hailed by the American press as the only hope of ‘freedom’ against an allegedly corrupt and oppressive regime. Maduro and Morales have barely survived and Da Silva has been freed from internment and infamy,only because the common people saw through the game and stood stoutly by them.
So when the Associated Press and Reuters circulate news of tens of thousands out in the streets of Havana calling for freedom ,we had better take it with more than a grain of salt.True,the situation in Cuba is getting critical.But the economic distress is explained by the tightening of screws on trade by political agents of Wall Street,and severe civic and political restrictions largely by incessant foreign conspiracies to dynamite the socialist state.
If the socialist and democratic forces of the world really believe that Socialism is an ideal worth fighting for,they should organize in their countries movements to support Cuba in her unyielding struggle against these diverse foreign interventions and crippling sanctions.Regardless of whether they approve of the particular form socialism has assumed there.Indeed there should be a ‘Hands off Cuba’ movement on the social media before there are opportune moments to stage protest movements on the streets.
One recalls at this juncture the historic ‘Hands off Russia’ movement in Great Britain in January 1919 culminating in a massive dock strike that prevented British government from rushing ammunitions and supplies to counter-revolutionary forces and British and French troops that were mounting an armed challenge to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.It meant expression of solidarity with Russian people’s experiment in a revolutionary transformation of society for freedom from hunger and murderous oppression,not necessarily blanket support to Soviet Communism.It certainly helped Soviet Russia to weather the storm so soon after its birth. There was a similar example in the World Peace Movement between nineteen forty-eight and nineteen fifty-one,with support from eminent artists and scientists, when America was drumming up a hysteric frenzy against the ‘Russian menace’ almost to the point of triggering a new war.There is reason to believe that the people’s hatred of war with horrific memories from the recent past then still scarred on their souls, and their robust resistance, checked the war-mongers .We hear today only of Lenin and Stalin’s massacres( Google’s store of information these days seems replete with highly biased content on Lenin and Soviet Russia), and not at all about the mass starvation, degrading poverty and servitude under the brutal autocracy that ruled Russia before.Socialism there might have lost its track and gone astray,but that provides no justification for the inhuman bondage millions had risen up against.
We are at a similar juncture today.We may have differences.But let us all find our voice and cry, ‘Hands off Cuba!”We cannot yearn for liberty at home and placidly allow tyranny and foreign plots to overturn popular governments elsewhere without even a flicker of protest.
Hiren Gohain is a literary critic, and social scientist