January 1 - The defeat of the Batistano dictatorship in Cuba
will mark the completion of 60 years since the initial foray and base consolidation in the Sierra Maestra of the July 26 Cuban guerilla led by Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Ernesto Guevara.
Last November Commander Fidel Castro died aged 90 when he was no longer head of state but as resolute, as articulate and insightful as he was when his column of fighters engaged with the imperialist supported army of General Fulcengio Batista and emerged victorious.
But the victory of the Revolution sealed on January 1 after Batista flew out from Havana’s Camp Colombia on New Year’s Eve was the culmination of a process, a historical process that equated the reformists of the ‘gobenacion’ (reforms to maintain political neocolonial status with United States imperi- alism) as one factor, and the more popular ‘revolutionists’ programmed to create the political conditions for national liberation.
The Pseudo Republic, Dictatorship, Tokenism and La Frutera
This year it should be recalled will be 50 years since the death of Ernesto Che Guevara – killed by a Central Intelligence Agency counter insurgency operative in a hamlet in the Bolivian hamlet of La Higuera.
It is a daunting task to gauge the Cuban complexity and state system without a necessary historical and class structuration of late 19th into 20th century developments.
And even at this qualitative level there would have to be some analysis of the external issues that determined American intervention into Cuba’s national and provincial life and society.
Indeed revolutionary movements, or ‘accion grou- po’ (Action Groups) occupied with the island’s national liberation through non electoral methods initially began with the establishment of Jose Marti who was the leader of Cuba’s Independence movement and formed a political party – the Cuban Revolutionary Party, (PRC) in the early 1890s.
The PRC vision was Cuba Libre (Cuba Free) of Spanish domination in any form.
Less than three decades later when US imperialism had become entrenched in Cuba there was the establishment of what was known as the ABC, a formation of revolutionaries committed to armed struggle against the agents and lackeys of the then Machado regime (1922-1933) radical anti-dictator student entity that coalesced with other intelectuals and humanists known as La Organisation Cellilar Radical Revolutionaria (OCRR).
The OCRR was opposed to any engagement with the liberal bourgeois political class, and expressed disdain for the corrupt and often anachronistic National Assembly.
These movements functioned during the decades when Fidel Castro would have been a preteen and that would have been up until the mid or late 1930s, during the presidency of Franllin D Roosevelt and the installation of an interim provisional government controlled by Union Nacionalista figurehead, Senor Carlos Mendieta and former Cuban army Sergeant (soon promoted to Colonel Fulgencio Batista in 1934.
These decades were part of the crisis known as the Depression.
This pro Imperialist regime was closely identified with La Frutera ( United Fruit), the largest and most powerful sugar mills corporation, by Cuba Sugar as well as the American owned banks and other investments across the island.
The socio economic system interlocked with politics. Many educated sectors viewed political activism as the only way to secure gainful employment. Perhaps a variation of the PNC party card paramountcy under LFS Burnham and his successor.
Fidel Castro was to that extent radicalized by these 1930s to 1950s developments. Trade union federations and syndicates were established and 100s of thousands of workers joined Obreras associations.
The Victory over the dictatorship
There are several accounts of the Cuban Revolution led by the July 26 ‘brigadistas’ and guerillas. Amongst these are the Monthly Review publication, The Cuban Revolution by Baran and Sweezy; Cuba-An-American Tragedy; by Sweezy and Zeitlin; Cuba – Anatomy of a Revolution by Huberman and Sweezy (Monthly Review Press) and The Economic Transformation of Cuba by Edward Boorstein – all in English with limited Spanish translations.
However, it ought to be consciously understood that although the Platt Treaty had been abrogated decades earlier, US State Department interests sought to protect and guarantee the interests of United Fruit, the American Sugar Company, Texaco, Standard Oil and Shell in sugar and oil distributions. Elsewhere in the extractive sector Bethlehem Steel and Rockfeller interests in nickel and salt petre were significant.
The Fidelistas therefore recognized that the guerilla struggle had to be conducted based on a programme of creating a popular mass sustained uprising against armed tyranny.
It would be interesting to know to what extent American properties and/or citizens were jeopardized before Batista fled the island.
So when Che Guevara led his column to the army base at La Cabana on January 2 after marching from Santa Clara, the insurgency attained its revolutionary seizure of power over the pseudo republic
● Cuba since 1959 - Prof James Millete, UNIP publication; Dec., 1973.
● Profile of a Revolution, Miramar Havana.