Cuba’s Revolution Sold Out?
The Road from Revolution to the Restoration of Capitalism
By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency(RCIT), August 2013
The following document is an excerpt of the book “CUBA‘S REVOLUTION SOLD OUT?” which the RCIT has published recently. It has been written by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the RCIT. It has been published as the final chapter of the book in which the author summarizes the main findings of his study. You can find more details about the book and how to order it on our website http://www.cuba-sold-out.net/.
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In this summary we want to present as a number of theses the main elements of the RCIT’s analysis of the Cuban Revolution, its political expropriation by the Castroite-Stalinist bureaucracy and the capitalist counterrevolution in the last years.
1. The Cuban Revolution in 1959-61 was an important event in the 20th century. It was not simply a putsch by a small band of armed guerillas. It took place against the background of massive workers and peasants struggles which involved hundreds of thousands and millions of workers and peasants. Since no revolutionary workers party existed, the revolution was led by the petty-bourgeois Castroite M-26-7 guerilla movement which advocated a bourgeois reform program but no socialist revolution. Neither did the Stalinist PSP leadership seek such a revolution.
2. The Cuban Revolution soon met the outright hostility and subversion by US imperialism. The pressure of the counterrevolution on one hand and of the domestic class struggle on the other hand squeezed the Castroite bureaucracy. It’s only possibility i) to keep power and privileges, ii) to accommodate the pressure of the masses but control them at the same time and iii) to withstand the aggression of US imperialism was to transform Cuba bureaucratically into a degenerated workers’ state and make it a close ally of the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR. Hence the Castroite bureaucracy was forced to expropriate the foreign and domestic bourgeoisie, to oppress independent working class activity and to ally itself with the Soviet Union in 1960/61. In this process did the Castroite M-26-7 as well as the Stalinist PSP leadership decide to join forces and to form the PCC (in which the Castro leadership dominated).
3. Cuba, therefore, never was a “socialist country”. While it remained initially a capitalist country after the overthrow of Batista (albeit with a highly mobilized working class and a feeble bourgeoisie), it became a degenerated workers state when the Castroite government was transformed into an anti-capitalist bureaucratic workers government and took decisive measures to nationalize and plan the economy while politically expropriating the working class in summer 1960.
4. Despite its bureaucratic degeneration, the Cuban Revolution provided the working masses with a number of concrete social gains: wages rose, the peasants got access to land, a regionally exceptional high developed health care system was created as well as social benefits, a low retirement age, a regionally high level of women participation in the labor process, the right of abortion, etc.
5. However due to the failure in spreading the revolution to the Latin American continent and the domestic bureaucratic domination, the Cuban masses became more and more passive and cynical towards the regime. The regime also failed to build a diversified industry, so the economy remained dependent on sugar production and export.
6. We Trotskyists fought for a program of political revolution as long as Cuba remained a degenerated workers state (from 1960 until 2010/11) did. We called for the defense of the planning system and the proletarian property relations against any step towards capitalist restoration. At the same time, we called for the abolition of the bureaucracy’s privileges as well as control over the economy and the society. Such a program also included the call for working class independence (right of workers to strike, action committees in workplaces, independent trade union, right to form parties, etc.). A successful political revolution required the formation of action councils (soviets) and armed popular militias to organize an armed insurrection in order to smash the Stalinist-bourgeoisified state apparatus and to replace it with a healthy workers state, i.e., a proletarian dictatorship as it existed in the young Soviet Union in the times of Lenin and Trotsky. Such a revolutionary workers state would have strived to internationalize the revolution in Latin America and all over the world. Such a perspective however did not materialize because of the absence of a revolutionary workers party and a revolutionary worker international.
7. The highly bureaucratized and dependent Cuban economy entered a deep crisis with the collapsed of the USSR in 1989-91. Since then, the Castroite regime has increasingly – albeit with zigzags – turned towards pro-market reforms. The Cuban Stalinist model was in a cul-de-sac.
8. The model of a successful capitalist restoration and a growing economy in China without loss of power for the Stalinist bureaucracy convinced the Castroite leadership that there was a way out for them. It therefore turned decisively towards the restoration of capitalism. This turn was expressed by the announcement of a series of drastic pro-capitalist measures in autumn 2010 and spring 20011 (around the Sixth Congress of the PCC). Castroism had returned to its bourgeois roots.
9. Mass lay-offs in the state-owned enterprises and introduction of the law of value: In 2011 and 2012 already between 360.000 and 500.000 workers were sacked from the state-owned enterprises. The Castro government wants to lay-off a million workers by 2016 – a fifth of the total labor force of the country!
10. Massive boost of a private capitalist sector and advancing the formation of a domestic capitalist class of private property owners: the private capitalist sector has already grown massively. The government announced to reduce the state share in GDP from originally 95% to around 40% by 2017.
11. Cutting the social benefits in order to create an industrial reserve army of labor and hence a better exploitable working class: The Castro regime ended the practice of paying 60% of the salary of workers laid off from their jobs. In addition, it increased retirement ages by five years for both sexes, raising it to 60 for women and 65 for men. In addition, the number of products sold at subsidized prices has been reduced, or the amounts made available substantially cut back.
12. Opening the economy for imperialist capital and in particular for China’s monopolies: Foreign Direct Investment has substantially increased in the last years up to $3.5 billion. Most of this investment is concentrated in a few major projects like oil exploitation. Cuba is increasingly dependent on China which is a major trading partner, foreign investor and creditor. Another key element of Cuba’s transformation into a semi-colony of Chinese imperialism is the establishment of the first Five-Year Plan for Sino-Cuban cooperation in June 2011.
13. Keeping the authoritarian rule of the Stalinist PCC: The Communist Party is determined to keep the dictatorship as the Chinese model has done it. Part of this effort of a state-capitalist transformation of the country is the regime’s policy of the recent past to put key sectors of the economy under the command of the army bureaucracy. According to one estimate, the military controls about 60% of the economy through the management of hundreds of enterprises in key economic sectors.
14. Cuba’s transformation from a degenerated workers state into a capitalist semi-colony has altered the tasks for the working class. It is no longer to organize a political revolution but a social revolution in order to overthrow the Castroite regime and establish an authentic workers and peasant government.
15. Such a program for social revolution starts from the defense of the existing social gains of the Revolution and opposition against the brutal measures of capitalist restoration: this includes resistance against the mass layoffs, privatization of state enterprises and social cuts, defense of women’s rights like abortion as well as the struggle for democratic rights (right to strike, forming independent trade unions, forming new parties, etc.)
16. Another important aspect of the revolutionary program is the struggle to defend Cuba against the permanent aggression of US imperialism, as well as against the subordination of Cuba to Chinese imperialism.
17. The program for social revolution must call for building workers’, poor peasants’ and soldiers’ councils and armed militias. They should fight for an armed insurrection against the Castroite-capitalist regime and for the establishment of a Workers’ and poor Peasants’ Government based on such councils and militias. A victorious Cuban workers state would strive to internationalize the revolution in Latin America and beyond.
18. The success of the socialist revolution requites the timely formation of a revolutionary party as part of the Fifth Workers International. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) will do its best to support the formation of a revolutionary nucleus in Cuba.