Peter Binns & Mike Gonzalez

Cuba, Castro and Socialism
(1980)

First published in International Socialism Journal 2:8 (Spring 1980), pp.1-36. Reprinted as a pamphlet June 1983 (and several times later) by the Socialist Workers Party. Transcribed by Michael Gavin and marked up by Jørn Andersen for Marxisme Online, March 2000. Downloaded with thanks from Marxisme Online. Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten.

Twenty one years have passed since the time Castro’s rebel army, backed by a loose coalition of intellectuals – the 26th July Movement – destroyed the US-backed Batista regime and began to effect fundamental changes in Cuban society. What exactly did it achieve? Does it provide the Third World with an alternative and viable road to socialism to that of Moscow’s stultifying bureaucrats? Can its methods be repeated elsewhere? These questions have been posed even more sharply by recent events in China – China for so long the brightest star on the eastern horizon, but which now participates in joint foreign policy initiatives with the USA in Afghanistan, and encourages the entry of western capital and a more sharply differentiated society at home. The limelight is therefore inevitably on Cuba; has it remained faithful to its socialist principles? Did it indeed ever have any? Or, like China, when one probes beneath the surface at all seriously do they disappear into thin air? Many indeed have had no doubts at all about the socialist nature of Cuba’s revolution. Thus C. Wright Mills for instance concluded that it was “a revolutionary dictatorship of the peasants and workers of Cuba” in which one man possessed “virtually absolute power”. This somewhat bizarre view was the more remarkable for representing a wide consensus on the question; from Paul Johnson in the New Statesman who waxed lyrically on Cuba’s “genuine dictatorship of the proletariat” even if it was expressed through the “arbitrary” rule of one man, to Joseph Hansen and the Fourth International who claimed – somewhat less lyrically – that “in the final analysis, the overturn in property relations in Cuba is an echo of the October 1917 revolution in Russia”, and therefore “Cuba entered the transitional phase of a workers’ state, although one lacking as yet the forms of democratic proletarian rule”. [1] On what were these very widespread claims based? And how have they stood the test of time? Finally, how can we now characterise the direction in which Cuba is heading? These are questions we shall examine in this article.

The background to the 1959 Revolution
Cuba was the last remnant of Spain’s Latin American Empire mid when, in 1898, it finally freed itself from Spanish rule the USA was to step in. The USA entered Cuba to protect its citizens and the new government of independent Cuba was appointed by them. The 1901 Constitution was actually written in the office of the US Governor of the island. Cuba was one of the biggest prizes in the drive of US imperialism into the Caribbean and Central America. During the 19th Century more and more sugar-growing and fell into American hands and the process continued rapidly under the new regime. The wild fluctuations of sugar prices on the world market aided the process of concentration and, by 1924, American capital owned 63% of Cuban sugar production. The Cuban economy was completely subordinated to the US sugar barons. In 1902 they had gained preferential terms fur sugar purchase. The entire economy was structured around sugar and, as early as 1912, 70% of all imports were consumer goods. In the 1940s the Batista regime, then in a radical nationalist phase, had begun a process of ‘cubanisation’ in the sugar industry and direct US control of the sugar industry receded, but their control of the world sugar market meant that they could continue to control the overall direction of the Cuban economy. By the 1950s, 80% of all Cuban imports came from the USA. $1 billion of US capital was invested there. The USA had a virtual monopoly of foreign trade via the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreement. Agriculture, with 41.5% of the labour force, dominated the economy and sugar dominated agriculture. 83% of available land was under sugar and it made up at least 80% of exports (another 10% being tobacco). Sugar constituted 36% of the GNP. The rest of the economy was little developed. Utilities remained in foreign hands. Mineral resources were little developed. ‘Services’, including a large sector of the economy devoted to catering for US tourism. employed 20.1% of the labour force. A vast state machine, riddled with graft and gangsterism, took an estimated 25% of the GNP. By 1959, Cuba was a model of an underdeveloped economy; its real centre was not Havana but Washington. This society was run by a series of brutal and parasitic figures. Between 1924 and 1933 an ex-director of General Electric in Cuba, Gerardo Machado, ran things with repression and tenor. In 1933 he was overthrown by a workers’ rising and replaced for a few months by the ‘progressive’ nationalist Grau San Martin. He was then toppled by an ex-sergeant-clerk Fulgencio Batista, who was to dominate Cuban politics from 1934 to 1959. There were two traditions of opposition to this state of affairs. The first was represented by the working class. It was they who toppled Machado in 1933. What began as a strike of bus drivers in Havana escalated rapidly into a general rising of workers and students against the government. The Cuban Communist Party (CCP) had initially played no role in this rising, but quickly moved to take control. They declared the establishment of soviets’ and of workers’ control. By 1934, after massive recruitment of members, they were the effective leadership of the working class. But their aim was not the overthrow of the Cuban state; instead they used their mass support as a bargaining counter with the Grau San Martin government. Thus, when he

was toppled by Batista and the army, the movement was greatly weakened. After a failed General Strike in 1935, Batista murdered hundreds of leading working class militants and declared virtual war on the CCP. By 1938, in pursuance with the Comintern line of unity with ‘progressive’ forces, the CCP was ready to do a deal with Batista. It was an alliance which was consummated in the 1940 Constitution. Along with his policy of giving the local capitalists a larger share of the sugar industry. Batista sought to enlarge the slate machine and to incorporate the trade unions into it. The Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC), founded in 1940, was part of that strategy. Two Communists entered Batista’s Cabinet and another took control of the CTC. The CCP had abandoned independent working class politics for a nationalist populism which focussed on the national interest. Thus, despite the fact that the party had grown, the government was able to take control of the CTC in 1947 and ban the CCP. The new union leaders were gangsters. The unions limited membership was relatively privileged economically but any political opposition was violently crushed. The rural workers, on the other hand, remained poor and badly organised. the majority of plantation workers were unemployed for 5 or 6 months every year. 31% of the population had no education at all, 29.4% had three years or less, 3.5% had been to high school, and only 1% to university. The other current of opposition was petit bourgeois in origin. So long as the whole economy remained dependent on the USA, the less powerful sectors of the urban middle class could not develop. They together with middle farmers, small peasants and university students, formed the backbone of the nationalist opposition. After the semi-incorporation of the organised working class, they formed the only political opposition to Batista. The Partido Ortodoxo, under Eduardo Chibas, grouped various dissidents including the revolutionary student group, the Directorio Revolutionario. which had played a significant role in 1933 and was, in 1953, to organise the assault on the Moncada barracks. It was out of this, fundamentally non-working class, tradition, that Castro and the other leaders of the 1959 revolution came. Their background was in an ideology of independent national development which had been betrayed time and again by corrupt politicians who had failed to reform Cuban society. But, at the same time, socialism was entirely discredited and the potential mass base for a revolutionary organisation – the working class – was effectively insulated from political action. Castro’s most complete political manifesto was delivered at his trial after the failure of the attack on the Moncada barracks on 26 July 1953. This speech, History will absolve me is a fine fighting speech, but its politics are radical reformism. Castro was to have been an Ortodoxo candidate in the 1952 elections which had been forestalled by a military coup led by Batista, and the speech is cast in that mould. It calls for agrarian reform, for proper social services and lower rents, and for controls on US capital. Castro was released in a 1954 amnesty and went to Mexico, where he began to organise a guerrilla group that landed in Cuba from the motor-boat Granma in late 1956. In the course of the guerrilla struggle in the Sierra Maestra mountains, he

. the students’ organisations. a second one in Escambray. In fact it is not. stresses his distance from the Communists: What right does Senor Batista have to speak of Communism? After all. Instead of leading to increased opposition to dissipated it. In the second case the same groupings. but this time under the hegemony of the 26th July Movement. and half a dozen ministers and confidants of his are leading members of the CP. Thus. and ones which were under the hegemony of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois elements. his portrait hung next to Blas Roca’s and Lazaro Pena’s. Instead of building their own organisations and their own independent strength. The Communist Party refused to support the second strike. by late 1957. [3] By 1958. but the workers failed to create organs of their own to fight back – either clandestine or legal. For the general strikes were not organised in and through the workplace. Batista emasculated the trade unions by declaring strikes illegal. once again. From then on Castro ignored the working class. and as a result of this Castro’s 26th July Movement attempted to build the struggle in the cities by organising another on the same lines. The fall of Batista was the result of the work of the guerrillas. but there was no class who wanted him to continue in power. organised the strike from the beginning. Outside Havana working class support for it was almost complete. coordinated (or rather miscoordinated) through clandestine radios and so on. Like almost every other section of Cuban society. They did however participate in two general strikes against the Batista regime: in 1957 and again in April 1958. The 12 members of the 26 July Movement who survived the Granma landing established a guerrilla front in the Sierra Maestra mountains and. even religious and professional organisations. The former was spontaneous and successful. In other words in both general strikes workers were helping to build (to a greater or lesser degree) institutions of collaboration between all classes.. and only then under their own leadership collaborating with other social strata for the specific purpose of bringing down Batista exactly the reverse happened to the Cuban working class in 1957-59. But they did not do so as workers. the workers in the 1958/9 revolution played no central role at all. and it was terribly mismanaged by the Fidelistas. the workers hated Batista and his boot boys. in the elections of 1940 he was the candidate of the Communist Party .delivered another speech which. and so in general they did not connect this with any specific social goals beyond toppling the dictator. In fact they were not organised by workers at all. It might be thought that this was contradicted by the fact that general strikes took place. In marked contrast to the general strike and other workers’ activities that destroyed the earlier dictatorship of General Machado in 1933. it was clear that Batista enjoyed no support outside of the state machine itself. it is entirely consistent with it. but the overall effect was disastrous all the same. concentrating exclusively on the guerrilla struggle. and the working class had no place in the guerrilla’s central strategy. Both of these were distant from the working-class centres. In the first case the spontaneous walk-outs were generalised through the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois organisations of the Instituciones Civicas. when Castro entered Havana in . [2] The nature of the 1959 Revolution illustrates the divergence between these two currents.

For the people. the masses had no organs of workers defence and power. to be applied or implemented by the revolution. The rebels found themselves the inheritors of an economy with a great deal of slack in it. any leftist extremist tendency. All this was completely consistent with the radical – but petit-bourgeois – . Again it is generally admitted that it was the collapse of the Batista regime – and above all the army – that led to the victory of the rebels. administrators would be revolutionaries and that would be sufficient guarantee – that.. But he had neither the organisation nor a clear class base to work on. The question was: what was the nature of the support? Unlike in 1933. at least. It bears the colour of the rebel army from the Sierra Maestra”.. For the Cuban Communist Party. In the first few months bourgeois politicians held government posts while Communists moved into local administration.. though on foundations that were not much stronger than the fragile ones of 1933-34. In 1956 and 1957 they had ignored the guerrillas. however. Our revolution is not red but olive green. communism with its totalitarian conceptions sacrifices human rights.. The new. rather than a bitter struggle between social classes. Capitalism sacrifices the human being. but with no ready-made state apparatus to run or administer it. It was only in 1958 that they even opened negotiations with Castro. any exaggerated measures . The process itself was to be carried through by the real. the bearded guerrillas who had fought the war The command structure of the revolutionary army would be reproduced in government. Some claimed that they had a ‘working arrangement’ with the Batista regime. They had denounced the organisers of the attack on the Moncada barracks as ‘bourgeois putschists’. even for the most basic of foodstuffs of the people. 1959-60: “Our revolution is neither capitalist nor communist” “We are a small country situated only a very short distance away from the United States. (Fidel Castro. For a period of a few months they tried to rebuild a liberal constitutional state. professionals and some peasants – walked into a vacuum of power. the 26 July movement – a group of radical students. and any attempt to disregard the realities and the concrete difficulties confronting the Cuban revolution must be rejected”. Power lay with the barbudos. 1959) “Our revolution is neither capitalist nor communist! . and was (and still largely remains) incredibly popular.January 1959. (CP Central Committee. There was no doubt that the 26 July Movement had mass support. was how Castro saw it. The victory of the revolution faced Castro with the task of building a new order.. May 21st. despite their enthusiastic support for the barbudos. honest. the victory of Castro was a problem. The deformation of our economy through imperialist influence has made us very dependent on imports. We agree neither with the one nor with the other . 1959) Very few people deny that the 1959 revolution was supported by virtually every section of Cuban society. May 25th. the task was to be limited to that of spectators and recipients of the revolutionary process. proven revolutionaries in the olive-green uniforms.. In view of this.

this situation could not be allowed to persist indefinitely. there is virtual universal recognition that this again was instituted from above.M. going far beyond the moderate proposals put forward by the Allende government and forcing the regime to accept a good number of them. the fall in unemployment. Keynes. The latter automatically put pressure on the land available for sugar. Instead of leading to renewed pressure from below. the drastic reduction in rents (up to 50%). Only industrialisation and diversification could solve the problem. [8] meant that the level of demand in the domestic economy was much too unpredictable for most capitalists to want to take the risk of relying on it as a source . This automatically increased the demand for consumption goods – all of which had to be imported – and food. The question that came to be posed in the summer of 1959 was this: how were the reforms of the first part of the year to be paid for? The rapid increase in wages. it was necessary to sentence only a few hundred of Batista’s murderers to death. it left “the overwhelming majority of Cuba’s workers and peasants very satisfied with the new regime. On the contrary. telephone and medicine charges. There the election of the Popular Unity government also led initially to large wage increases. So why then did Castro move towards the creation of a monolithic statised economy? The major reason must be found in his long standing commitment to diversify the economy. with large wage increases and a rapid decline of 36% in the rate of unemployment. but the demands were purely economic. they led not to further demands but to a complete dying away of the strike wave by the summer of 1959. [7] The facts are clear: the events of 1959-60 just did not create the conditions for a social revolution.programme that Castro had continued to put forward from 1953 onwards. In Cuba the events of 1959-60 had the opposite effect. there was hardly any looting or any other more obvious signs of class struggle in the cities. and since this provided Cuba with more than 80% of the exports from which the imports had to be paid. all put much more money into the workers’ pockets. The fantastic variability in the price of sugar. and apart from that there was almost complete social peace. Why then did it all change? It was certainly not due to a secret plan worked out between Castro and the Communist Party beforehand – even the US state department admitted as much. for reivindicaciones – more goods – not for any changes in the structure. [5] And unlike in 1933. After the January 1959 coup there was a widespread strike wave. And after they had been met. the cheapening of electricity. as one commentator put it. In the countryside too. the 1959 land reform was not at all the result of spontaneous squatting by peasants that the government was only later forced to legitimate. But in Chile this led to subsequent pressure by both peasants and workers on the government. and to all-round economic development. and a short-term boom fuelled by these measures that took up the slack in the economy in the traditional manner expounded by the liberal economist J. to end its dependency on the US and the vagaries of the world sugar market. a decline in unemployment. Quite the reverse is the case. Their consciousness was anything but one of impatience and dissatisfaction with Castro’s lack of radicalism during the first months of 1959”. They occupied the land and many factories demanding land reform and nationalisation. [4] Nor is there the least evidence that Castro was pushed from below by the workers or peasants. and Cuba’s almost total dependency on it as a source of foreign earnings. [6] As such Cuba in 1959-60 stands in sharp contrast to Chile in 1970-71.

and suggested strong parallels with those in Italy in 1949-50 instead. and this added considerably to Cuba’s problems. the huge landowners. But after it things were quite different. With a very small and highly unpredictable home market. supported the most reactionary of the Batista followers who had now become refugees in Miami. What is more they backed this up with laws. and it did not solve the problem of the indebtedness of the small peasant.342 hectares – that were efficient to continue). The effect was to increase the proportion of land that was devoted to immediate consumption rather than providing the country with an exportable surplus. A substantial amount of US-owned land was involved and Washington demanded full and immediate compensation for lands seized in the 1959 Act. without that. no advantage attached to investing productive capital in Cuba. [10] while at the same time making the biggest efforts Cuba had ever known to eradicate illiteracy. It was the 1959 land reform – limited though it was – which first brought a reaction from the USA. Before that America and its multinationals coexisted peaceably enough with the new regime. It abolished only the very largest estates (those of more than 402 hectares. and was distributed to the poorer peasants. It was in no way a socialist measure. nor Cuba’s own 1963 reform. [11] . it refused financial support to the Cuban regime. or the widespread trust it engendered in the Cuban masses. They enacted draconian measures such as the death penalty for the misappropriation of public funds against bureaucrats. Again at this point it is important to stress the ideological or subjective factors at work too. something like 25% of the cultivable land was covered by the Act. The matter was made more acute by land reform. and nor was this simple affectation: it was largely genuine. The enormous confidence in the regime that these measures created made sure that a large reserve of loyalty – above all on the part of the workers and peasants – was built up when the state itself began to take on a more active role in the direction of the economy. This was based on several factors. though even here there were exceptions which allowed much bigger farms – up to 1. and even began to aid their piratical attacks on Cuba itself. the fact remained that to increase productivity significantly would have required levels of investment and skilled personnel that were just not available at the time. The May 1959 Land Reform Act has to be seen in this light. Although it was also true that much of the land previously owned by the latifundistas was poorly tended. And. nor one which led to collectivisation in any other form. The initial reforms were thus in no way reminiscent of the state-capitalist “collectivisations” of Eastern Europe in the 1950s. and with just about the highest wage levels in Latin America. Again this was a long standing commitment of Castro’s from the mid-1950s: antipathy to the latifundistas. Indeed one prominent agronomist sharply contrasted the 1959 reform with those in East Europe in the early 1950s. their jeeps for chauffeured limousines. there was not the least chance of the situation changing if the bourgeoisie was simply left to its own devices. It is impossible to underestimate the significance of the popularity of the new regime. but what they did do was to create a situation that only a state-capitalist programme could solve.of income. to massively extend preventive health measures and so on. First of all there was the ascetic revolutionary purity of the rebels which continued while they were in power They did not abandon their fatigues for pin-stripe suits. was the cornerstone of Castro’s radical liberal programme. [9] Yet for all that.

From the Autumn of 1959 through 1960 events moved very rapidly. Faced with the refusal of the USA to grant aid, and an economy that could not survive in its old laissez-faire form without such aid, Castro was forced to use the state in a much more activist way in the economy. In September 1959 he announced that henceforth economic development would have to take place under the auspices of the state. On the land the property gained by Batista’s followers during his regime was confiscated at the end of the year. About 400 cooperatives and 485 Peoples Stores (designed to eliminate rural profiteers) were set up by the newly established INRA (National Association of Agrarian Reform). But Castro at this point still hung back from nationalisation measures. The next phase in Cuba’s attempt to break from the stranglehold of dependence was connected with oil. The USSR agreed to supply a limited amount of crude to Cuba in the summer of 1960 in exchange for sugar. But the multinationals – Texaco, Shell and Esso – refused to refine it in their Cuban refineries. The Cuban government reacted swiftly, seizing the installations at the end of June 1960. Within a week, Eisenhower had cancelled Cuba’s remaining quota of sugar imports to the USA. This was followed immediately by the confiscation of about $800m of US corporation property – in oil, sugar, electricity and mines. The USA responded with a total trade embargo to and from Cuba – a devastating economic blow given Cuba’s total dependence on the US connection. Finally the Cuban regime completed its hold on industry in October 1960 with the nationalisation of the banks, hotels, cinemas and most of the factories and shops. [12a] Meanwhile the military struggle continued. The US supplied arms to counterrevolutionaries in the province of Escambray throughout the summer of 1960, and there was considerable public pressure for the US to mount a full-scale military invasion using its own troops (and even sonic suggestions hat it should remove the top six feet of Cuban soil with nuclear weapons"). Indeed in his 1960 Presidential campaign, Kennedy promised his voters that the US would send its troops in to “protect American interests” [13a] Not surprisingly therefore, the Cubans reacted by defending their territorial integrity as best they could. This took two principal forms. First of all, in September 1960, the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs) were set up. Organised on a block-by-block basis, their purpose was to form small squads of vigilantes to observe and report on possible fifth columnists amongst the erstwhile lackeys of Batista and the US multinationals. Then in October 1960 the popular militias were introduced; mainly for guard and watch duties on strategic installations, so that the army could be freed for major military operations. [14a] The initiative was again taken at this point by the USA, which decided to oust Castro militarily. It supported numbers of incursions and raids by extreme right-wing exBatista supporters and mercenaries, culminating in an invasion in April 1961 by 1,400 of them; backed, armed, and ferried there by the US authorities. The landing, in the Bay of Pigs, was to be coordinated with uprisings throughout Cuba of the extremeright underground, and the USA was to provide the necessary air cover and firepower. It was a complete and utter failure. Militarily the invaders were wiped out by the local militias, without them even having to call on the support of Havana. Support for the Castro regime was so complete that everywhere else in Cuba the tiny insurgent forces were immediately isolated and defeated. And the effect of the abortive invasion was to strengthen very considerably the support for Castro among the vast majority of

the Cuban workers and peasants faced with the threat from the colossus a mere 80 miles to the north of them. As it happened the militia and the CDRs were never seriously put to the test after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The US did not have to invade (wisely – it would have been faced with two Vietnams in the 1960s) and the social basis of support for the old order within Cuba itself was being rapidly eliminated by the fundamental changes that the nationalisation and land reform measures were producing. More than 1/2 million refugees left Cuba in the first 3 years of the Castro regime, unable to make a living from The exploitation of others any more. First to go were the beneficiaries of US tourism: the US banned its citizens from travelling to Cuba, and this led to the 10,000 pimps, the 27,000 croupiers, and many other hangers-on leaving. Then followed the business men, the Batista ex-officers, the pampered state officials, the elite professions, the landowners and so on. However much the US might have wanted to put the clock back, by 1961 the layers of Cuban society that would have enabled them to “Cubanise” any return to the old order had more or less disappeared. The Castro regime had quite effectively removed opposition to its continued rule. But where was the basis of the new regime to be found in society? This was Castro’s next – and crucial – problem.

1961-1963: the first industrialisation attempt
By the end of 1960, The first key period in Castro’s Cuba – leading to the elimination of the social basis of the old regime – was largely completed, it was followed by a number of other distinct phases. From 1961-63 the emphasis was on industrialisation based on diversification, and the key agency for carrying on this task was the old CCP. From 1963-65 the emphasis switched back to sugar production, and the process was presided over by a Castroised Communist Party based on material incentives to workers. Then came the 1965-69 Chinese period; with the emphasis on sugar remaining, but presided over by a small and highly militarised CP and involving largely ‘moral’ incentives to workers. Finally there is the period from 1970 to the present day (1980 – MG). This has involved the militarisation of the economy, renewed emphasis on industrialisation and centralised planning on the basis of joint Cuban/Russian control. These are all points to which we shall return in the following sections. In particular we shall leave the question of the nature of the ruling class that emerged till towards the end of the article. By late 1961, the revolutionary government had reached an impasse. Castro and Che Guevara’s commitment to industrialisation was unyielding; yet they had no experience of bureaucratic organisation nor any clear conception of how to bring about a change from expanding consumption to accumulating capital. The way out of dependency, according to Castro and Che, was the development of heavy industry. The key was to divert resources away from sugar. The problem was, how to effect these changes in both economic and political terms? Here the inexperience of the barbudos led them into the arms of the Cuban Communists and, hence, to a new interest in the Russian experience. The period 1962-63, then, was a period of planning, and Che’s statements (he was then Minister for Industry) on planning [12] returned repeatedly to the Soviet experience as a precedent for Cuba. as well as the direct involvement of “friendly

socialist countries” in the actual preparation of the plan. The consequences of this shift in policy were profound at both economic and political levels. The creativity and enthusiasm unleashed by the Revolution of 1959 were now mobilised in support of a central plan evolved by a rapidly expanding state bureaucracy. An increasing emphasis was laid on labour discipline, on “socialist competition” and workers’ direct management of the implementation of central plans. The role of the trade unions was sharply curtailed, and replaced by technical commissions in the workplace. [13] In 1962, identity cards were introduced and made obligatory for workers. In addition there developed increasingly stringent laws on labour absenteeism; the independence of the political organs of the state from popular control; the growing concentration of power in the Castro brothers; and above all a form of planning whose outcome was not economic independence but Cuba’s integration as an unequal partner in a new circle of dependency. Relying on the apparatus of the Communist Party to administer the industrialisation attempt, very ambitious targets were set for industrial development. More than a quarter of the total national income was devoted to accumulation. [14] Living standards increased slightly, though they were based on longer hours at work and an attempt at speed up. But the industrialisation attempt itself sucked in a vast number of imports of the machinery, stocks, technology etc. needed to get industry moving. These were almost entirely provided by the Eastern Bloc countries, and of course they needed to be paid for. But Cuba had only sugar as a viable export – at least until some of the newer industries had matured sufficiently – and it was precisely sugar that had been dc-emphasised in the attempt to industrialise in 1961. So just when increased sources of foreign earnings were needed to pay for capital imports, Cuba’s ability to find them sharply decreased. The extent of the problem facing Castro in 1963 is revealed by the figures: Agricultural Production (1952-1956 = 100) Total Per capita 1961 6.70 124 108 1982 4.82 102 87 1983 3.88 87 73 (Sources: Hoy, 14.10.64; Monthly Bulletin of Agricultural Economics and Statistics, UN, Rome, January 1972) And this underestimates the scale of the problem, for the population was expanding by 2.4% per annum and its standard of living was – even if only slightly – going up. [15] And this meant that the agricultural produce available for export was declining even faster than the above figures suggest. Year Sugar Production (millions of tons)

1963-65: back to the machete
The disastrous 1963 sugar harvest revealed to the Cuban leaders that there could be no question of just ignoring agriculture so as to concentrate on industry. Unless the catastrophic decline in sugar production could be halted, there could be no

5 Industry 23. 1966. It led to 70% of all cultivable land being in the hands of the state.1 7.5 11. with the yield of rice declining from 17 to 14 quintals per hectare. Instead collectivisation needed to be extended very considerably so that the state would have much more control over what was going on. 102) [16] 1965 40. p. industrial production remained stagnant. Research 8. much sharper differentials.5 18. Helped by better weather conditions the sugar harvest improved considerably. and that of tubers being three times greater on private than on state farms.e. It increased from the abysmal 1963 level of 3. in the years after 1961. material incentives – i. Secondly there had to be a set of devices to increase labour productivity.0 5.1 Housing. further.1 21.3 (Source: Boletin Estadistico. The change in emphasis in the Cuban economy is revealed in the following figures: State Investments in tour sectors at the Cuban economy 1962-65 (Percentages of total state investment) 1962 1983 1964 Agriculture 29. which. The material incentives – in industry at least – did not seem to work. (ii) Russian economic interests. Culture. The Russian connection Russian policy towards Cuba has been conditioned by two factors. The land collectivisation of 1963 was certainly very extensive.47 million in 1964 and 6. was increasingly called in to bale out the Cuban economy.5 29.1 9. But productivity remained incredibly low on collective farms. piecework and other systems of payments by result – were initiated by the authorities. It is to this that we now turn. and to put off industrialisation until they had the foreign exchange to finance it. For Russia clearly. Cuba was a useful bargaining counter through the ups and downs of detente. Firstly the 1959 land reform measures had to be reversed.4 24.3 30. On the land things were not so bad. (i) the progress of detente with The United States. They were forced to re-emphasise sugar again. Community Services &c 13.15 million in 1965.5 11. . Yet in spite of an increasing labour force. It is the first that explains the cool reception in Moscow of the news of the Revolution in 1959 It was not until February 1960 that a delegation led by Mikoyan reached Cuba and declared its support for the new revolution. In both of these respects the policies of the Cuban regime failed in the years 1963-65.4 5. Havana.4 Education. Cuba was a market for its goods and a producer of the sugar whose consumption in Russia was rising constantly.88 million tons to 4. [17] Most of this was destined for the USSR.0 As far as labour productivity was concerned. This meant two things in the 1963-65 period.industrialisation because there would be no money to pay for it.

rather than economic. But the real benefit to Russia was geo-political. given that Cuba could not use the nonconvertible currencies to purchase goods outside the Russian-bloc countries. [19] In 1980. it ensured at the same time that Cuban imports would come from the USSR. The Missile Crisis brought a large scale disillusionment with Russia.From then onwards. While Cuba continued to be drawn into the Soviet camp. with the turn back to sugar. Thus in a strictly economic sense. In terms of inter-imperialist rivalry. the Russians contribution did not fall hut grew due to the need for the industrialisation of sugar production. It is worth underlining that the payment for Cuban sugar exports to Russia was to be in the main in non-convertible currency. This meant that while the USSR guaranteed Cuba a market for its sugar. thus a considerable amount of agricultural land in Russia could be released to other more productive crops. Furthermore. In much the same way that the USA was in the 1950s quite willing to sink millions of dollars into Yugoslavia to have a friend on Russia’s doorstep. Castro’s response was angry and critical. Soviet economic intervention was constant. The agreement signed between Cuba and Russia in 1963 established a quota of 5 million tons per year of sugar exports to the USSR. Russia installed a number of intermediate range ballistic missiles on Cuban soil in the Autumn of 1962. where Cuba provided an opportunity to rejuvenate the tattered image of the Latin American Communist Parties. Khrushchev turned back his ships and reached agreement with Kennedy without bothering to consult Castro over the missile bases.It was this strategic interest – and its limitations – which would be most clearly revealed in the Missile Crisis of 1962. The Cubans looked to Russia for aid. for military assistance and for credits Soviet technicians became increasingly evident after 1961 and Cuba’s $1 million per day aid from the USSR (and at 1961 prices too) meant that it was receiving a per-capita aid equivalent to the total income of people living in he poorer parts of Africa during this period. Russia has found in Cuba a market for its goods and a field of investment. Germany. The Russians themselves are aware of this-that maybe why they prefer to conceal the fact that the hulk of their investment enters sugar and related industries. the united development of its other natural resources has done nothing to alter the fundamental structure of the economy – as a department producing a single product within a global economic system of which it is a servant. a cautious debate was reopened on the question of the available strategies for economic development – though this would not lead to any . At a later stage. while Cuba raised the cry “Fatherland or Death we shall triumph”. Cuba’s main export – to the exclusion of almost any other – continues to be sugar. making many American cities as vulnerable to nuclear attack as most Russian cities had been to the ring of US installations mounted in Britain. its aid has served not so much as a support for Cuba as to reinforce and deepen the domination of sugar over the economy. the USSR could not hut be grateful for the opportunity to wield influence in the American backyard. Turkey etc. for machinery. so too with Russia over Cuba. [18] By 1963. Cuba would be an important spokesperson for the global Russian interest within a non-aligned movement many of whose members were hostile to it – particularly in the Middle East. the five year plan of 1965-70 reinforced that decision by projecting a gradual increase in sugar production culminating in a 10 million ton harvest in 1970. Russian sugar beet was for more expensive to produce than Cuban sugar.

The trouble with the ‘material incentives’ was simply that the scarcity of consumer goods made the material incentives available to very few workers. theme is a reality behind the appearances which points to the tact that the break may have been less radical than it at first appeared. and with Latin America the beginning of a rapprochement with China.open criticism of Russia until 1965. without an increase in their buying power And that was a political issue. abandoning a working class in the industrialised world which seemed reluctant to make the revolution as they believed it should be made. but it was also a question of political mobilisation – of convincing the Cuban working class to work harder. particularly underlined in a Cuba deprived of a wide range of consumer goods because of a lack of foreign exchange coupled with the American blockade. [20] Khrushchev had said. the five-year plan was published. was guarding his back. in 1965. Castro went to Russia and signed a new three-year trade agreement to he renegotiated annually). where did the potential and as yet untapped capacity in the economy lie? After the years of expanding consumption. The logical corollary. The issue was debated and argued in Cuba from 1963 onwards. Cuba signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and acknowledged the role of the Latin American Communist Parties – though their Conference in that year recognised that. In the following year. One. how could that surplus be achieved. in some cases. Yet here. It was now that Cuba’s flamboyant support for guerrilla movements persuaded the revolutionaries of the Third World that Cuba was the home and the haven of Revolution. In 1963. a representative of a revolutionary purity symbolised in the figure of Che Guevara. Cuba faced the problem of accumulation in this way. It was in these years that European intellectuals in search of the revolution made their way to Havana. was that funding should be determined on the basis of the profitability of each plant. In the first place. how could a greater surplus be extracted from the labour force? How could the exploitation of Cuban labour be increased? It was an issue that concerned the rational use of resources. three Vietnams? In 1965 Castro decided that Cuba should thrust out alone: in that year.7% at first. argued a different solution based fundamentally on Chinese experience. that “we must make full use of the powerful level of material interest for the purpose of increasing labour productivity”. the armed road might be appropriate – a concession by the USSR in exchange for Cuban support in the SinoSoviet split. only 1. and a new setback for the Cuban Communist Party members who belonged to the so-called Old Guard.The general political atmosphere was relaxed and a public debate of alternative strategies continued. at the level of the whole economy (as acknowledged in Russia). it seemed. on the other hand. Castro. Che Guevara. This posed two kinds of problem. there was a definitive change in Cuba’s relations with Russia. the central question remained economic development. His arguments were set out in an essay written in 1965 called . The basis of that development had already been laid down in the previous five years: rapid accumulation of capital by the state. For Cuba. It was between 1965 and 1970 that Cuba really gained its reputation as a libertarian revolution. economic and political. two. as elsewhere.

There was no avoiding that. in which Mao had stressed the importance of the element of consciousness. Che’s vision of the relationship between state and people can be reintegrated into his political theory of revolution. represents a means of mobilising the workers and peasants in support of their own continuing exploitation by the state.” [24] The “mass”? Where then is the class. The experience of the barbudos is generalised. and what is its political expression? Of this Che makes no mention. [thus] man truly achieves his full human condition when he produces without being compelled by the physical necessity of selling himself as a commodity. “Socialist emulation” would encourage workers to contribute their utmost in solidarity with the Revolution.” [23] The problem. and not the Cuban working class. and sought to harness that to the development of the productive forces. of the replacement of individual with social consciousness. In this respect. social interest. in that sense. for without it the material base of the revolution could not exist. In his “Guerrilla Warfare”. The hard reality is this: “whatever the ideological significance of incentives.. particularly behind the charismatic figure of Castro. iris about freeing human beings from the slavery of want. and the mass as a whole composed of individuals. that the productive forces were not developed.. voluntary labour allows man to “see himself portrayed in his own works and to understand its human magnitude . In this respect. Therefore it was necessary to replace self-reliance and self-interest. he clearly identified with the Great Leap Forward. however. imposed upon any society seeking to break the circle a general and collective sacrifice. to be its voice and incarnation. is in turn interrelated with the leader. can overcome the absence of the objective conditions for revolution. with its emphasis on the subjective conditions.Man and socialism in Cuba. But equal poverty is not what socialism is about. on consciousness and the will of the people. was that the objective conditions of scarcity did exist. Politics. they are chiefly a device for motivating labour productivity”. in which both are interrelated. becomes the state’s activity among the masses. the subjective conditions. [22] Che recognised the potential for popular mobilisation that still existed in Cuba. he argued. the protagonist of the Cuban Revolution is the state. Like Mao. Che insists that it is the revolutionaries who make the revolution. not the workers. yet in real terms the moral incentives formula. with a collective. The protagonists of revolution are the guerrillas. Accumulation was the pressing need. In the same way. The Law of 1964-65 enforced sanctions for breaches . [21] Underdevelopment. Che’s idealism ostensibly recognises the problem. Che’s Man and socialism contains a tell-tale paragraph: “ What is hard to understand for anyone who has not lived the revolution is the clear dialectical unity which exists between the individual and the mass. This explains why it is these same years of moral incentives that witness also tightening of labour discipline. the state is unquestioningly assumed to be representative of the working masses. and the assumption is drawn (once again) that willpower. Moral incentives in Cuba were designed to prepare the ground for a swing of investment away from consumption and social expenditure and towards productive investment in economic development.

) 1963-66 3. The 1965 Law. according to Minister of Labour Augusta Martinez Sanchez. but there is no doubt that it must have helped. For 1966 also marked an important change in Cuban foreign policy. It is difficult to assess the significance this ‘revolutionary’ line had on labour discipline and productivity..of Labour Discipline while the Grievance Commissions established in 1961 were abolished at the same time because they were regarded as too lenient.a. put up with increased work for no extra pay – seemed at the time to be the only viable alternative. We shall consider this foreign policy at greater length below. Too poor to provide material incentives that would work. acknowledged that these disciplinary measures had largely failed. and that other forms of persuasion would have to be used – yet in 1970 new and even harsher forms of persuasion even harsher rules were introduced... moral incentives were combined with coercive measures of state control.8% 1.. We still find workers who have not taken a revolutionary step and tend to discuss and protest any measure coming from the administration. Yet to convince the workers to do this. Albuquerque. Mesa-Lago. the then Labour Minister Jorge Risquet. For the years 1965-70 were ones of stagnating or declining living standards. From then until 1970. The key to explaining Cuba’s change in foreign policy is to be found here.. 57) . that absenteeism was a permanent and growing problem..e.. Cuba in the 1970s.3% (Source: C. Thus at all stages. the moral incentives formula – i. it will be applied to that kind of worker who is a residue of the exploiting society . a shift away from the Russian orbit and towards Latin America again.) (% p.. Cuba again took on before the world the image of the pure guerrilla so dear to Regis Debray and other “Third worldists” in Europe.” [25] By 1969. who is still found in working places as a residue of capitalism . We have to admit that in the workplaces there are still undisciplined workers and for them we have to have disciplinary measures . they had to be shown that it was part of a crusade: one aimed at the whole of Latin America and with fairly immediate prospects of success. and requiring a powerful shift away from consumption if the foreign reserves necessary for industrialisation were to be generated.a. p.2% 1965-70 0. including the entry of merit and demerit points on a worker’s identity card. would “ strengthen labour discipline and increase production and productivity . 1978. The two cannot be separated. Indeed the obsession with increasing sugar production to the magical figure of 10 million tons by 1970 had a catastrophic effect on the economy as a whole and on consumption in particular as is revealed in the following figures: Economic growth in Cuba 1963-70 Years Absolute growth Per capita growth (% p. The question here is what role did this have on the economy? Basically the economy had run out of steam.4% -1.

[27] Secondly. The attempts by the Cuban state to gain political legitimacy in the world were in the first place a response to political developments within Cuba. So the . Since 1966.e. The bad sugar harvest.). After 1964 its strategic interest in Latin America – well served till then by Cuba – led to a series of new approaches to bourgeois regimes in Latin America. in Venezuela the COPEI government promised a new version of social democracy. had a programme of expanded trade. as well as a new approach towards the USSR. as always. Castro’s speech on the Czechoslovakian invasion marked a meeting point between those two facts. the Soviet government sought economic contacts. [26] When one takes into account the fact that the population grew by 10% in this period. the Soviet Union had provided no new credits to Cuba (though it continued to service existing agreements). The Soviet Union was Cuba’s main customer for sugar. however. a recent study found that between 1965 and 1970 fifteen of these twenty suffered a decline in the five years: some (e. For Russia too there were important changes in this period.The true extent of the decline is hidden by the above figures because the Central Office of Statistics in Havana measured output in constant prices until 1966. The identification of exploited peoples and colonised nations. of which 20 were consumption goods. the Cuban state set out to establish an area of political independence from the Soviet Union. Two of the twenty remained more or less constant. responding first of all to the domestic situation within Cuba. In terms of what Castro still saw to be the central question – development – there was an unbroken continuity from 1961 onwards. they were designed as a massive exercise in ideological mobilisation. and an increasingly draconian body of laws controlling everyday life. low productivity etc. underlined the failure of the period which had culminated in the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968 – the end of the search for an alternative strategy.g. refrigerators. and in launching the Revolutionary Offensive in 1968. the Tricontinental organisation. it was clear. The Cuban regime reacted in a number of ways. while brutally repressive. In founding the Organisation of Latin American Solidarity. a gathering disillusionment among Cuban Workers (expressed through absenteeism. The death of Guevara had only underlined the problem. the sugar harvest was had. An exact estimate for the effect of this on the Cuban working class is a little difficult to measure. The 1970 crisis 1968 brought the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia: in Cuba. the extent of the deprivations that the working class suffered become even more manifest. In a list of 26 selected outputs of the Cuban economy. radios and cookers) by 50% or more. Yet they were coupled within Cuba with a consistent fall in production. in Brazil the military government. but from 1967 it was measured in current prices – i. Frei had come to power in Chile in 1964 with a programme of industrialisation and capitalist development. had only an ideological significance. and only the production of eggs. The only aid that Cuba did receive came from Rumania – and that was only of symbolic value. the decline would be sharper still if it were corrected for inflation. rice and fish actually went up. With all these regimes. the Cultural Congress of 1967. But some idea can be obtained by Cuba’s output of consumption goods during this period. It was a conciliatory speech: in defending the invasion he was.

1969 Castro’s speech on the 10th anniversary of the Revolution contained no mention of Guevara. but there were other. All major departments and agencies would be led by Russian technicians. industrial workers and peasants – did move to the cane fields in response to Castro’s call. In a real sense. which suggests bar Cuba had traded future economic growth for its own decision-making autonomy. then. Cuba devoted itself to “La Gran Zafra” – the search for the 10 million ton sugar harvest.5 million tons). and Cuba’s dependence on sugar confirmed. and around the nation. in fact they were extremely inefficient. In fact. For “the Soviet assistance strengthened the government relative to the rest of the social system”. elsewhere. In the following year absenteeism and low productivity became a serious problem and Castro was only able to make real inroads into the problem with the re-introduction of material incentives and wage differentiations. The Zafra. that was never possible. the Central Committee of the CCP reversed an earlier decision and sent a delegate to the world Conference of Communist Parties. and the Commission . on the other hand. strongly dependent on Russia. Scientific and Technical Cooperation. [30] Furthermore. it was nowhere near the 10 million ton target. though tens of thousands of people – bureaucrats. The rapprochement was to take two years. and a recognition that the austerity measures of the previous years had failed. In between times. less visible strings attached whose effects would he profound. the die was cast. “Prime Minister Castro emphasised that the Soviet Union had taken the initiative in selecting the projects for which aid would be used. Russia’s full stale intervention in all levels of Cuban life put the seal on Cuba’s future. For the new involvement of the USSR in the Cuban economy carried a heavy price tag. in a series of agreements which confirmed Cuba’s dependency on the Soviet Union. the index of production had fallen considerably in the rest of the agricultural sector and in industry. and determined by. From now on. all government functions would be organised through. and their neglect of their own areas of work had a disastrous effect on the economy. yet they were intimately interwoven. The connections between this and growing Soviet involvement may not be immediately obvious. On January 2nd. [29] In June. students. their contribution was more ideological than physical. and only then would it be able to earn enough to begin to industrialise independently of Russian aid. From then on. While the zafra was big (8.” [31] It was in 1970 that the fundamental shift occurred (in the sense of an overt and public recognition of the Soviet-Cuban relationship). By 1972. Cuba would once again be confirmed as the world’s main sugar producer. a great mass mobilisation around sugar. [28] Castro’s speech on Czechoslovakia was the first of a number of moves which were to culminate in 1970. as a dependency of the Soviet Union and the obedient practitioner of Soviet economic planning methods – including the devolution of responsibility for the profitability of individual plants to their managers. Cuba needed to produce a minimum of 81/2 million tons to cover its obligations to the USSR. it was effectively conditional on Cuban acceptance of a new role in the world. a Cuban-Soviet Commission for Economic. until in 1970. it made a point of referring repeatedly to Soviet aid.Czechoslovakia speech was an act of public reconciliation with Russia. New Russian aid in mid-1970 carried quite reasonable terms of interest. Yet it could only earn foreign exchange on its sales of additional sugar on the open market. the establishment of material incentives as an instrument in achieving that profitability. and as a corollary. was above all a political event.

Castro had formally announced the abandonment of the armed road. If this required the intensified exploitation of the Cuban working class. it had done it in their name. including the coordination of the first Cuban Five Year Plan (1976-80). but now as a directing force. and accepted that there can be no socialist relations of production without the prior development of the material forces! [33] Poor Guevara must have turned in his grave. Two years later. but the shape of Cuban politics increasingly took on the central features of Soviet political life. while at the same time undermining the autonomy of all the mass organisations which might have given those workers some autonomous political expression of their own. And while there had been some initiatives aimed at developing rank and file involvement (like the experiment in local government called ‘Poder Local’. The groundwork had been firmly laid for what came to be called the “institutionalisation” of the Cuban Revolution. Not only were Cuba’s economic relations with the USSR in the mid-seventies very similar to its place in the American system before 1959. never the control over them. a proliferation of coercive regulations and controls and the creation of mass organisations which were no more than conduits for the channelling down of state policies. as the optimistic predictions of Guevara in the early sixties bad envisaged. and the price of that privilege is loyalty and adherence to a party tine that is never open to public discussion or amendment. The results of that were not long in coming. The contradictions between the rhetoric and the reality. then that was an unfortunate but “objective” necessity. these concerned only the implementation of decisions. The Zafra of 1970 had dislocated the Cuban economy and brought the Cuban state face to face with its incapacity to industrialise rapidly. [32] and the shelving of the dream of rapid industrialisation propounded in the early sixties by himself and Guevara. By 1970. While the level of consumption may be rising in absolute terms. And in the meantime the full integration of Cuba into the Russian economy would be . The economic projections for the coming decade placed sugar firmly back at the centre of the Cuban economy in the long term. In a crisis or a revolutionary confrontation the rhetoric of dramatic sacrifice and political frenzy can be sustained for a time – but only for so long. Russia re-entered the Cuban economy. in July 1972. In 1971. Cuba joined Comecon. Cuba’s internationalism of the seventies is a poor parody of the resolute and idealistic concept of revolutionary solidarity which had been claimed for it in the late 1960s. Fidel Castro acknowledged that “you cannot jump stages of economic growth”. in 1967). Yet the exhortations and the claims for the “new Cuban man” had been underpinned with an increasing concentration of power. it is unequally shared.would he the final decision-making body on all matters. The period of “revolutionary idealism” had attempted to deepen the exploitation of Cuban workers by the state. in their turn. for this was the definitive renunciation of the idealism of Man and Socialism in Cuba. and a political independence from the mass of society. The support for the guerrilla struggle was short-lived. Cuba in the 70s The second decade of the Cuban Revolution brought Cuba fully within the Soviet ambit. and a failure. have promoted a bureaucracy whose control over the “general affairs of society” has required an increasingly repressive response to pressure from below. In the realm of foreign policy.

together with the concept of the autonomy of individual enterprises. By 1973. Those aspiring to such status needed to be proposed by the workforce. economically and politically privileged and acting in terms of profit and loss. though they were actually selected at the level of government. In 1973 a number of prices were decontrolled. Even Cuba’s trade with the West. was fast being created. Soon . far from the gradual abolition of money. who were entrusted with the task of speeding up production. incapable of diversification. The implications were enormous. as trade deficits grow and Cuba’s economic “takeoff” is postponed indefinitely. it does not and cannot produce itself.completed. In 1976 a form of profit-sharing with the managers of state enterprises was introduced. only continued with Russian support and guarantee. What then is the situation today? Who controls production and how do they do so? What is the role of the trade unions. and the oil. 67. and three years later prices on all other non-essential items were too. But with the ending of rationing and the freeing of price controls and the reintroduction of material incentives after 1970 the situation changed rapidly. At this stage the movement was no more than an arm of the “revolutionary offensive” of the late 1960s. the “advanced workers” movement. A managerial class. it is hard to distinguish between the dependency of the Cuban economy before 1959. whose prices were up to 50% higher than those of the world market. sugar. In 1980. charge hands etc. the experiment in “people’s power” (poder popular [33a])? What happened to the other areas of de-centralised activity: the people’s militia. And increasing living standards – albeit often accompanied by various shortages – retained the support of the workers for the regime by largely non-coercive means until the middle-1960s. although much smaller. The working class During the revolution itself the working class played.5% of all Cuban trade was with the USSR. its chief export. Cuba continues to be the world’s major sugar supplier. but now controlled from Moscow. Let us begin with production. and its renewed dependency in the third decade of the Revolution. In 1980. as we have seen. it was formed as a pro-regime cadre of foremen. And the prospective is for a deepening dependence. the Federation of Cuban Women and the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs)? These are all questions that have to be answered before a definitive answer can be given to the class nature of Cuban society. the bulk of it going to the USSR which in turn provides Cuba with the industrial goods. First proposed by Castro in 1968. The only organisation of or for workers vis-a-vis production has been the trade union. Joining Comecon in 1972 was the logical confirmation of this new relationship. though there has also been a loose movement – the Advanced Workers movement. Cuba is re-affirmed as a fundamentally single-product economy. social relations in Cuba were increasingly expressed through the 1970s in money terms. was exchanged for Soviet manufactures and equipment. though it did not significantly change this role. no active role. There has never been anything resembling workers’ control in Cuba. And there were other consequences too. particularly over economic policies and methods of planning. Castro’s animated defence of Russian foreign policy at the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations at Algiers in 1973 was its political expression.

and soon the bonus system ensured that an Advanced Worker could earn easily twice as much as ordinary workers. But what then about the role of the trade unions? After the 1959 revolution their role was defined by the regime as being: “to win workers for the Revolution. services – even the possibility of accumulating interest on savings – were provided: but for Advanced Workers only.. (Given that 1 peso equals $1 US at the official exchange rate. to fight counter-revolution. There was no question of them defending workers against the employers. The minimum wage ceased to play any real role of preserving equality. He does not know where to turn. the administrator represents the interest of the worker and peasant state.goods. The need to widen the gap between worker and worker was expressed by Castro in 1971: “Paying the same wage for the same type of work but without taking into account the productive effort required to do it is an egalitarian principle we must correct. Not surprisingly they went into a very rapid decline. it is easy to see why the Advanced Worker movement began to confer such material privileges. The switch was not made out of a concern for the material well being of the workers.. Theory is one thing and practice another .” [35] In this context of widening material differentials. were more or less abolished in the 1970s in favour of material incentives. Instead the unions were given managerial functions but no managerial power. and was therefore assumed to have the same interest as that of the workers. and that there are at the most one or two hundred thousand people in this position. and there is no one to defend him. reducing real product and yield per man-hour. but because of the benefits of production. This presented the regime with a problem – through what organs were the workers to be incorporated? For a time the regime attempted to use “Advanced Workers” who were encouraged and given facilities to coordinate worker-management cooperation on the shop floor. nor that access to housing became dependent on Advanced Worker status. He turns to the party and it does not . as the theses approved by the 13th congress of the CTC made clear in 1973: “In many cases unpaid overtime turned out to be more costly than regular paid hours of work. As the minister of labour Risquet put it in August of that year: “ Theoretically. the interest of all the people. but directly appointed by the regime. It is no coincidence that day nurseries began to charge fees in 1977. so popular in the late 1960s. By the mid-1970s the “social wage” was also being increasingly treated as a privilege. Material incentives and widening differentials proceeded throughout the 1970s. the sum is a very large one. In no way therefore can the Advanced Workers movement be seen as even remotely connected with bringing socialism into the workplace. The leaders were not elected by the workers. and push production forward”. after 1974 cars were to be imported for the bureaucrats – in Castro’s words – “in order to increase their productivity”. All this cut away the basis for the existence of trade unions – even as collaborative bodies.” [34] Then in 1974 an extra 132 million pesos were allocated to raise salaries for managerial personnel. But by 1970 this was acknowledged to be a total failure. The worker may have a right established by the Revolution .. because the employer was now the state. So “moral incentives”..) And for the first time.

Poder popular has to be matched against the constricted role of trade unions. and most important of all no canvassing was allowed apart from that put out by the electoral commission – which was itself composed of non-elected party appointees – but which took upon itself the task of recommending the merits and demerits of the various candidates. but a role as an arm of management. recreation and training. to council tenants. What poder popular did represent was a further step in the devolution to the local level of the detailed implementation of government plans and strategies. The trade union either does not exist or it has become the Advanced Workers’ bureau . and elections held for delegates to the Municipal Assemblies.. has become somewhat insensitive to the problems of the masses . [37] On top of that nothing whatever has been done to implement any of the proposals that came out of the CTC Congress in 1973 for greater trade union participation in the protection of workers’ rights.. And exactly the same is true for Cuba. at the point of production. In 1974. In the same way that in Britain in the last 10 years there has been an increased emphasis in engineering on ‘scientific’ management. all socialists protested – because it did not involve a devolution of power. but only of the responsibility for implementation.. Matanzas province was the scene of an experiment in what was called “people’s power” (poder popular). the experiment was extended to the whole country.. absenteeism (running at 20% in 1970) has been cracked down on by an ‘anti-loafing’ law. They are still alive for two reasons. the discussion of proposed labour legislation. the actual . Yet when the Labour government in Britain attempted the same experiment in 1976 by devolving control over house repairs etc. and in general managerial powers in the enterprise have been strengthened and control over the workers tightened. If the party and the administration are one. using works study engineers to optimise the output of each worker. And the role of the ‘unions’ is virtually the same: in both cases they are there to manage the workers and most emphatically not to represent them. the reality is that it was not. In these crucial respects there has been no significant change from the conditions that led to the virtual disappearance of trade unions in the late 1960s. the party is so involved with the management that in many instances it has ceased to play its proper role. work quotas have been adjusted and increased... But the unions are not dead in Cuba today. for while local government was evolving in Cuba. in the living areas and on the land was ever more restricted. Firstly because they help organise holidays. Was this a new move towards proletarian democracy? Whatever the appearances. control over organisations in the workplace. then there is nowhere the worker can take his problem .” [36] Elections were therefore held in October 1970. However about 40% of the places were uncontested. turn-out was only about one half of that expected by the government. Since 1970 there has been a much tighter system of identity cards and labour records. Further. In 1976.. and secondly because the vastly tighter labour discipline of the 1970s has made them play an important role.know or it is busy mobilizing people for production . [38] These real limitations on the role of trade unions – the only organisation which embraced the mass of the working class – have to be set in their turn in the context of what is claimed by many [39] to be a significant move in the direction of popular democracy. social security administration and production plans. The organisation of production now resembles that in Russia quite closely.. so too has there in Cuba and it has been performed by the unions themselves.

The Federation of Cuban Women. also charged with a principal role over public health and volunteer labour. education and general propaganda functions. it did nothing to socialise the functions of women nor to acknowledge the continuing exclusion of women from political life. at no Point were the CDRs controlled by their mass base. but elected from Party-approved lists from the level immediately below it. Since this whole method is now universally recognised as actually counterproductive. and the reason for this has been indicated already: when the regime depended on “volunteer labour” in the 1965-70 period.3 million at its height. and in 1973 they were abolished. with the US military threat fading. the same conclusions can be drawn for the other mass organisations. the Committees were mass organisations. By 1964. And it is still the case that over 300 jobs are prohibited to women including house painter. Thus Dominguez notes the almost complete unanimity on all issues at the meeting of the National Assembly. but for more efficacious and responsive organs of local administration”. They were never permitted to formulate policy. But two crucial features must be borne in mind. Firstly since 1970 they they have gone into a rapid decline. Since the revolution therefore. A massive campaign to get women into the workforce in the 1969-70 period failed to retain the majority of them. set up to watch for “counter-revolutionary activity” after the Bay of Pigs. the CDRs were the crucial transmission belts though which this was provided. the regime’s need for the CDRs has diminished accordingly. deep sea diver and cemetery worker! More importantly the representation of women at the levels of leadership in the Communist Party or the mass organisations is extremely low. [41] In general. At their height in 1970 they included fully 3. Undoubtedly then. where most major decisions were taken by acclamation. with the remaining personnel incorporated into the army reserve. [40] It rapidly became clear that “the development of People’s Power does. has shared its fate. only to implement the policy given to them from above. despite their superficial resemblance to organs of power. A mass organisation of 1. have been a case in point. The Party the army and the construction of a new ruling class . in many ways a parallel body to the CDRs. And while the Family Code of 1976 reaffirmed the equality of men and women in the home. not provide for self-government. The Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. as delegation to Regional and National Assemblies was not by direct suffrage. The other mass organisation set up in the period around the Bay of Pigs invasion – the people’s militia – had a shorter history. they were disarmed. it has had all too little effect on changing the male domination of production and society. On the contrary their leadership was universally appointed by the Communist Party.2 million people – a remarkable figure for a country of only 8 million.structure of poder popular itself was undemocratic. Secondly. Cuba has at various times created a variety of mass organisations. But none of them at any time has been able or willing to do anything but implement the already fixed policy of the regime. including the election of the Council of Ministers. By the late 1960s their role had developed into being one of the main organisations for tapping manpower reserves in the economy as well as promoting public health.

military. The army. Finally. The July 26th-ers were not well placed to do this. the state bureaucracy etc. he could not have survived the transformation of the society over which he was presiding.Undoubtedly then. Even from its inception it was dominated by the military. state and party bodies. because by then the army had already taken over many non-military functions such as the organisation of production. he greatly strengthened the army and used this strength to militarise both the party and the civil administration. But it is equally true that Castro did not simply lay hold of the existing state apparatus. There is no way he could have done so – Batista’s corrupt state machine was definitively smashed in 1959. In 1969 for instance it had only 55. cutting the cane. commander in chief of the army and also prime minister. First of all whenever he moved decisively against any sections of the old ruling class such as the landowners or the businessmen. the courts. Half a million Cubans left the country and settled in the USA. The reconstituted Cuban Communist Party is a completely bureaucratised monolithic party. Castro’s strategy – which worked brilliantly – was as follows. As such these members were of course under the direct military discipline of Fidel and Raul Castro. and used this to oust the old Stalinists who initially controlled it. and was allowed to expand only at the rate that ‘trusty’ members could be found for it. criticising dissidents etc. The military influence continued in the party and was extended considerably in the area of civil administration. but also. Secondly he fused the 26th July Movement with the Communist Party in 1961. thus extending his control throughout Cuban society. its first Central Committee being more than two thirds composed of top army brass for instance. But the social transformation that Cuba found itself pushed into by the US blockade changed the whole situation very rapidly indeed. though here too the process was already well in hand by the mid1960s. collapsed like a pack of cards.000 members. Since Fidel Castro was already first secretary of the party. Had Castro continued to rely solely on the 26th July Movement. in the late 1960s. What is more the blockade and the attack on the wealthier urban population also ate into the support for Castro in the milieu that the movement had recruited from. The regime found itself in need of a stratum of reliable people who could run the nationalised industries and the collective farms. the pimps and the croupiers. for instance. That way he eliminated the social basis for a return to the old order. the workers and peasants do not control Cuban society. he made sure that it was easy for them to leave the country. At the same time he retained an independent power base in the army. It was kept fairly small to begin with. so that by the time the Party was reconstituted in 1965 it was firmly in Fidel’s hands. [42] The 1975 Party Congress merely rubber-stamped the new “socialist” constitution. Although the Central . the new constitution hardly added anything new. the effect of which was to formalise the power of the General Secretariat of the Political Bureau over all judicial. Into their place stepped the rebel army and the petit-bourgeois intelligentsia of the July 26th Movement. It has held only one congress in its entire history. the first and second in command of the army. and that was in 1975 – ten years after it was set up. two thirds of Cuba’s doctors. They included not just the capitalists. The party expanded four-fold between 1969 and the 1975 Congress.

[43] The army achieved this hegemony in Cuba in the late 1960s not only because it was Fidel’s pliant tool. President of the Council of Ministers. Health and Culture as well. whose domination is and will for the foreseeable future be unchallenged. then. Fidel is First Secretary of the Communist Party. and is in its turn supposed to elect the higher party bodies. but because of its efficiency. size and efficiency of the latter – coupled with the militarisation of the economy after its collapse in the late 1960s – all ensured that it played the crucial role in cementing together and structuring the relatively stable Cuban ruling class of the past 10 years. its cadre of officers having been trained in Russia from the early 1960s and its command structure remained unaltered throughout this period. In effect. and finally the army. whatever the “state of the parties” the relationship between the Cuban state and the mass of the people remains unchanged. Raul Castro is his deputy in each case. Power resides in the 18 overlapping members of the Politburo and its Secretariat. In practice the Secretariat is. and has recently become Minister of Education. Cuban state capitalism’s subordination to the USSR . all leading posts in Cuban organisations are determined in the last analysis within this tiny circle of power. The increasing differentiation within the Cuban working class (the Advanced Workers Movement) is not. but the creation of new layers of privileged individuals who are directly dependent upon the Cuban bureacuracy for their continuing prosperity. a self-perpetuating clique. yet. The command structure. Its technicians and other skilled personnel were not ignored or put on to other work – as occurred elsewhere in the economy. Only 3 people are members of all three bodies – Fidel. the internal struggle within the bureauracy continues. Industrial and agricultural development in Cuba in the late 1960s was quite disastrous. The ruling class that has emerged in Cuba is thus a unique fusion of three main elements: the Communist Party with its roots deep in a class collaborationist labour movement. For these reasons the militarisation of the economy and the administration seemed the obvious – indeed the only – solution to the crisis of the late 1960s. the Council of Ministers and the Council of State elected (by acclaim) by the National Assembly. with the years from 1966 to 1970 showing a decline of more than 1% in per-capita GDP even according to the regime’s own figures. the fruit of a differential development of political consciousness among sections of workers. [45] This left the army as the only instrument that worked at all efficiently in Cuba. [44] During these years all forms of cost accounting were eliminated. Today. Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. his brother Raul Castro and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez. in the attempt to substitute ‘moral incentives’ for material incentives. the petit bourgeois but revolutionary July 26th Movement.Committee is supposed to be elected from below. as in Russia. In the event only 81/2 million tons of sugar were produced by this method and the virtual collapse of the rest of the economy forced Castro to make a sharp reversal of policy. without congresses there are in fact no means at all for this to be done. It was the only organ untouched by Cuba’s disastrous ‘Chinese’ experiment.

attacks which they are bound to repeat more ferociously as the present world crisis deepens. The effect of this has been for Cuba to become more and more dependent on the Russian economy to bail it out – at least for the foreseeable future. [49] As industrialisation proceeds. as the huge levels of Russian aid indicate. [48] Cuba has been tranformed into a society in which the state owns and organises production in all the significant areas (though about a third of agriculture is still in the private sector). because Cuba’s diversification away from sugar required substantial imports of the capital goods that would make this possible. and the transference of depen-dence from the USA to the USSR. The result has been both the transformation of the Cuban economy into a state capitalist one. In the medium term therefore. of .Since 1970 sugar has not been allowed to disrupt the rest of the economy as it did before then. Cuba has become an international tentacle of Russian state capital. But this transformation has come about not as a result of the intentions of the revolutionaries of 1959. Certainly they wanted an independent Cuban developing economy. They were however prevented from achieving it by means of a mixed. It produced the delegation of executive responsibility and financial accountability to the individual enterprises themselves and the demand that they pay stricter attention to profitability in future. That in turn required foreign exchange. Russia and the East accounted for two thirds of Cuba’s trade even before the 1975 crisis forced a still heavier concentration on these sources. In addition to the massive size of Russian aid to Cuba (equal to twenty times the average per-capita aid from all sources to the rest of Latin America). [46] The militarisation of the economy has not. been a magic wand eliminating Cuba’s problems of underdevelopment. but western-style economy through the abrupt destruction of the trade and investment link with the US. It also threw planning into a sharp crisis. just when Russia’s allies in Eastern Europe have been developing greater economic – and therefore also political – independence from Russia the reverse is happening in Cuba. But unlike Russia or China. more and more based on Russian technology. Since the onset of the 1975 crisis these levels have increased even further. and the price of sugar dropping rapidly in the 1975 crisis. Cuban state capitalism is at the present time a completely dependent formation. but with 80% of Cuba’s foreign earnings coming from sugar. In the long term. For all intents and purposes therefore. [47] In addition there is no doubt at all that the crisis would have been much worse if the Cuban regime had not already made major attacks on the working class. The first five years of the 1970s therefore saw a much healthier growth rate in the Cuban economy. The downturn of the world economy in 1975 affected Cuba deeply. Skilled personnel have been re-introduced and there has been a distribution of resources throughout the economy that is much more rationally tied in with the regime’s goals of development and accumulation. markedly lowering growth aims and involving a massive cut of 25% in 1977 state expenditure. a severe balance of payments crisis was the inevitable result. however. this dependence is bound to grow further.

Cuba’s foreign policy How does Cuba’s foreign policy fit this picture? It was with respect to Latin America that Cuban foreign policy has been most clearly defined. therefore. a “disgusting. but both of whom were prepared to act relatively independently of the United States. was his continued persecution and imprisonment of Peruvian revolutionaries like Hugo Blanco. however reactionary it is – a position that he himself has explicitly admitted to. [52] The situation has developed further since then. And it was Castro’s clarion call to revolution on the continent that established his revolutionary credentials during the high point of the “revolutionary” period in the late 1960s. But there is no chance of this happening in the short term. he has now reduced that to support of any regime that opposes American interests. [53] We have argued. Velasco’s main claim to fame at the time he was receiving Castro’s accolades. [50] Yet within a very short time – less than a year – this whole position was revealed as empty rhetoric. Argentina has diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba. neither of whom had introduced any nationalisation or other “socialist” measures at all. was (a) mainly rhetorical. The OAS policy of isolating Cuba was quietly dropped in 1975. Castro originally (and not inaccurately) referred to the Organisation of American States (OAS) as a “putrid. Peru’s new dictator. From beginning with the notion that what was needed was a revolutionary foreign policy. In the early 1970s similar relations developed with the Panamanian military regime of General Torrijos and the Ecuadorian autocrat Velasco Ibarra. discredited cesspool”. Already in 1969 Castro was praising the Peruvian regime that came to power in a military coup a year before as a “new phenomenon” with “a group of progressive military playing a revolutionary role”. Castro has therefore turned full circle. and now even one of the most right wing and repressive regimes in the continent. to which Cuba would only return if the “imperialists and their puppets were kicked out first”. (b) conditioned by Cuba’s isolation from the . diplomatic relations being restored and Velasco proposing (unsuccessfully) in the OAS that sanctions should be droppedApart from nationalising US oil interests (hardly in themselves ‘revolutionary’ Frei’s Christian Democrat regime in Chile had already proposed as much in its copper industry). things could develop differently – as they have in Russia’s Eastern European allies in the past 15 years. Those with illusions in Castro were shocked and disarmed by this volte-face. but also if these countries had a revolution and if they condemned US crimes against Cuba as well. that Cuba’s ‘revolutionary’ phase as far as foreign policy is concerned. a “ministry of colonies of the United States”. revolting den of corruption”. and since then there have been tentative (and as yet unsuccessful) measures to reopen some direct US/Cuba links.course. and Castro became close associates. General Velasco. Relations with other Latin American countries could only be restored if not only were OAS sanctions rejected. [51] Nor was the Peruvian case an isolated example. but all too few learnt any lessons from it.

and (c) short-lived. The reality is that Castro was acting as Brezhnev’s agent. It was also. the Cubans were much more acceptable than Russian troops would have been. The . We do not debate Cuba in the abstract. both at home and abroad.rest of Latin America. are important. socialism. Nothing about the nature of the struggle in Eritrea itself had changed. to repeat it once again. Coming from a 3rd world country themselves. is the conscious repossession of their world by the workers. but for all that the Eritreans were cynically sacrificed without the least hesitation by Cuba and Russia. which was legitimately fighting against the Ethiopian occupying forces. For the political question remains – how can the working people create through their own intervention the institutions and organisations that will defend their gains and create a workers’ state. it is clear that to attribute the Cuban action to the ‘progressive’ nature of the regime would be to fly in the face of all the evidence to the contrary provided by Castro’s friendly relations with Latin American military dictators. The Russians and the Cubans initially extended aid to the Eritrean liberation movement. any more than it is when we discuss Russia. The interests of the state have been in conflict with the needs of the workers more than once – the response has been a series of increasingly draconian measures designed to maintain the continuing exploitation of the working class despite their discontent. leading to Castro supporting right-wing military dictatorships on the continent. the inter-imperialist rivalry between it and the USA. It should be clear that the Cuban masses did not make the Cuban revolution. This analysis was strikingly confirmed shortly afterwards in the horn of Africa. it is not a matter of the “correct line”. of course and crucially – Cuba’s following the interests of Russia that explains the 1969 turn to the ‘nationalistic’ dictators. leading to a flow of military aid from the Cubans and the Russians to the Ethiopian army of occupation instead. In Angola the USSR provided the military hardware and the Cubans the troops to holster the efforts of the MPLA – the legitimate national liberation movement. But it only needed the Ethiopians to switch allegiance from the US to the USSR for this policy to be sharply reversed. That is the sole guarantee that it will be the interests of the majority that are expressed through the state. Yet the history of post-revolutionary Cuba is that of a separation between state and masses through a network of organisations which mobilise the masses but do not provide forms of direct and permanent involvement in the whole process of political life. there is no guarantee whatsoever in the sincerity or commitment of a leadership which proclaims itself the representative and the substitute for the working class. was the sole criterion according to which the Cubans operated. To accept Cuba as a socialist country would have a series of implications for our understanding of what is meant by socialism. There can be no workers’ state without the working classes. [54] For the self-emancipation of the working class These consequences of the development of state capitalism in Cuba. (They were certainly much cheaper and probably a great deal more effective too. Russian foreign policy. and that the action was designed as a means of strengthening the hand of the Russians in their inter-imperialist rivalry with the Americans. And of course it is the Russian connection that explains the role of the Cuban armed forces in Africa. But there is no iron law in that. From what we have said already.

It remains as true now as it was for Lenin in 1917. If it fails to reconcile those two things. Yet without the full development of the productive forces. with all its attendant sacrifices. reconciling workers’ democracy with the demands of accumulation. Cuba entered a new dependency. if by socialism we understand that qualitative change in the nature and possession of political power.emphasis throughout has been on discipline. then the state is exercising to its full extent a capitalist function in a capitalist way. there is in Cuba today a class which dominates that society. coincide with the moment of its “discovery” by Europe in 1492. in a period of world crisis. could only offer a “socialism” that involved the equitable division of scarcity and poverty. Cuba is once again the victim of the unequal international distribution of the productive forces. there could be no emancipation of the working classes. then they too will have to overthrow a national state and its bureaucracy which has. and the central problem in 1959 was still how to accumulate. The iron circle of dependency closed through the centuries. the survival of its national state. Yet the truth of the matter is that within its narrow confines. And it is. that only the international revolution can effect the redistribution of the world’s resources that will release Cuba. that is essentially the function of a bourgeoisie in capitalism. the “optimism of the will” – the belief that ideas were enough – sustained a politics of sacrifice. which has been and remains its only priority. But it became clear that rapid accumulation. the modus vivendi it has reached with the Russian metropolis and its arrival at the negotiating tables of the international order have ensured. That Cuba has succeeded in this – and there is no doubt that it has done so more successfully than any other state capitalist regime – is no evidence that it is socialist. become an obstacle to the transformation of the world. only at that – international – level that Cuba’s problem can be solved. if the working class is to carry out that function because a dependent capitalism has failed to develop those resources. loyalty – not on the creative transformation of a society from one based on exploitation to one organised around the fulfilment of need. For a time. and thus escape from the circle. for the moment at least. After all. ensconced in the state. If the interests of the Cuban working class lie in the international socialist revolution. ultimately. REDS – Die Roten > State Capitalism | Staatskapitalismus . in its turn. Accumulation has taken precedence. it has been the desire of every capitalist class to encourage the working class to submit voluntarily to their own exploitation. Now. its subservience to another economic centre to which it was forced to sacrifice the development of its own productive forces. For that bureaucracy. Yet if the task of accumulation is urgent. Yet in the end. and reconciled itself to an accommodation with the existing world order. industrialise. and which has benefited in power terms from the present course of events. obedience. growth has been presented as equivalent to socialism. Could it have been otherwise? The origins of the distortion of the Cuban economy. then it must do so in the context of a form of power that is proletarian.

March 2000. Transcribed by Michael Gavin and marked up by Jørn Andersen for Marxisme Online. two. Reprinted as a pamphlet June 1983 (and several times later) by the Socialist Workers Party. The background to the 1959 Revolution 1959-60: “Our revolution is neither capitalist nor communist” 1961-1963: the first industrialisation attempt 1963-65: back to the machete The Russian connection One.1-36. Castro and Socialism (1980) First published in International Socialism Journal 2:8 (Spring 1980). Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten. pp.Peter Binns & Mike Gonzalez Cuba. three Vietnams? The 1970 crisis Cuba in the 70s The working class The Party the army and the construction of a new ruling class Cuban state capitalism’s subordination to the USSR Cuba’s foreign policy For the self-emancipation of the working class Notes . Downloaded with thanks from Marxisme Online.

although one lacking as yet the forms of democratic proletarian rule”. Cuba was one of the biggest prizes in the drive of US imperialism into the Caribbean and Central America. American capital owned 63% of Cuban sugar production. The 1901 Constitution was actually written in the office of the US Governor of the island. The USA entered Cuba to protect its citizens and the new government of independent Cuba was appointed by them. by 1924. and therefore “Cuba entered the transitional phase of a workers’ state. backed by a loose coalition of intellectuals – the 26th July Movement – destroyed the US-backed Batista regime and began to effect fundamental changes in Cuban society. Thus C. it finally freed itself from Spanish rule the USA was to step in. has it remained faithful to its socialist principles? Did it indeed ever have any? Or.Twenty one years have passed since the time Castro’s rebel army. . from Paul Johnson in the New Statesman who waxed lyrically on Cuba’s “genuine dictatorship of the proletariat” even if it was expressed through the “arbitrary” rule of one man. Wright Mills for instance concluded that it was “a revolutionary dictatorship of the peasants and workers of Cuba” in which one man possessed “virtually absolute power”. like China. when one probes beneath the surface at all seriously do they disappear into thin air? Many indeed have had no doubts at all about the socialist nature of Cuba’s revolution. The limelight is therefore inevitably on Cuba. The wild fluctuations of sugar prices on the world market aided the process of concentration and. in 1898. What exactly did it achieve? Does it provide the Third World with an alternative and viable road to socialism to that of Moscow’s stultifying bureaucrats? Can its methods be repeated elsewhere? These questions have been posed even more sharply by recent events in China – China for so long the brightest star on the eastern horizon. the overturn in property relations in Cuba is an echo of the October 1917 revolution in Russia”. This somewhat bizarre view was the more remarkable for representing a wide consensus on the question. [1] On what were these very widespread claims based? And how have they stood the test of time? Finally. and encourages the entry of western capital and a more sharply differentiated society at home. Top of page The background to the 1959 Revolution Cuba was the last remnant of Spain’s Latin American Empire mid when. how can we now characterise the direction in which Cuba is heading? These are questions we shall examine in this article. to Joseph Hansen and the Fourth International who claimed – somewhat less lyrically – that “in the final analysis. During the 19th Century more and more sugar-growing and fell into American hands and the process continued rapidly under the new regime. but which now participates in joint foreign policy initiatives with the USA in Afghanistan.

including a large sector of the economy devoted to catering for US tourism. but their control of the world sugar market meant that they could continue to control the overall direction of the Cuban economy. employed 20. It was they who toppled Machado in 1933. riddled with graft and gangsterism. They declared the establishment of soviets’ and of workers’ control. There were two traditions of opposition to this state of affairs. after massive recruitment of members. By 1938. . Cuba was a model of an underdeveloped economy. but quickly moved to take control. ‘Services’. had begun a process of ‘cubanisation’ in the sugar industry and direct US control of the sugar industry receded. In the 1940s the Batista regime. The first was represented by the working class. Mineral resources were little developed. Between 1924 and 1933 an ex-director of General Electric in Cuba. In 1902 they had gained preferential terms fur sugar purchase. Gerardo Machado. Thus. when he was toppled by Batista and the army. The Cuban Communist Party (CCP) had initially played no role in this rising. who was to dominate Cuban politics from 1934 to 1959. The CCP had abandoned independent working class politics for a nationalist populism which focussed on the national interest. as early as 1912. 83% of available land was under sugar and it made up at least 80% of exports (another 10% being tobacco). He was then toppled by an ex-sergeant-clerk Fulgencio Batista. Two Communists entered Batista’s Cabinet and another took control of the CTC. Thus. By 1959. What began as a strike of bus drivers in Havana escalated rapidly into a general rising of workers and students against the government. was part of that strategy. The entire economy was structured around sugar and. Utilities remained in foreign hands. A vast state machine. 80% of all Cuban imports came from the USA. After a failed General Strike in 1935. dominated the economy and sugar dominated agriculture.1% of the labour force. they were the effective leadership of the working class. the movement was greatly weakened. Batista sought to enlarge the slate machine and to incorporate the trade unions into it. founded in 1940. This society was run by a series of brutal and parasitic figures. Agriculture.The Cuban economy was completely subordinated to the US sugar barons. But their aim was not the overthrow of the Cuban state. The Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC). with 41. Batista murdered hundreds of leading working class militants and declared virtual war on the CCP. $1 billion of US capital was invested there. It was an alliance which was consummated in the 1940 Constitution. 70% of all imports were consumer goods. despite the fact that the party had grown. ran things with repression and tenor. then in a radical nationalist phase. the government was able to take control of the CTC in 1947 and ban the CCP. The USA had a virtual monopoly of foreign trade via the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreement. Along with his policy of giving the local capitalists a larger share of the sugar industry. the CCP was ready to do a deal with Batista. its real centre was not Havana but Washington. instead they used their mass support as a bargaining counter with the Grau San Martin government. In 1933 he was overthrown by a workers’ rising and replaced for a few months by the ‘progressive’ nationalist Grau San Martin.5% of the labour force. By 1934. By the 1950s. took an estimated 25% of the GNP. Sugar constituted 36% of the GNP. The rest of the economy was little developed. in pursuance with the Comintern line of unity with ‘progressive’ forces.

tradition. the less powerful sectors of the urban middle class could not develop. by late 1957. for proper social services and lower rents. Castro’s most complete political manifesto was delivered at his trial after the failure of the attack on the Moncada barracks on 26 July 1953. they formed the only political opposition to Batista. So long as the whole economy remained dependent on the USA.. socialism was entirely discredited and the potential mass base for a revolutionary organisation – the working class – was effectively insulated from political action. grouped various dissidents including the revolutionary student group. The 12 members of the 26 July Movement who survived the Granma landing established a guerrilla front in the Sierra Maestra mountains and. in the elections of 1940 he was the candidate of the Communist Party . 3. Their background was in an ideology of independent national development which had been betrayed time and again by corrupt politicians who had failed to reform Cuban society. 31% of the population had no education at all. in 1953.. but its politics are radical reformism. fundamentally non-working class. once again.The new union leaders were gangsters. the majority of plantation workers were unemployed for 5 or 6 months every year. The other current of opposition was petit bourgeois in origin. . After the semi-incorporation of the organised working class. The rural workers. his portrait hung next to Blas Roca’s and Lazaro Pena’s. small peasants and university students. Both of these were distant from the working-class centres. and for controls on US capital. The Partido Ortodoxo. to organise the assault on the Moncada barracks. stresses his distance from the Communists: What right does Senor Batista have to speak of Communism? After all. and the speech is cast in that mould. 29. This speech. that Castro and the other leaders of the 1959 revolution came. But.4% had three years or less. and only 1% to university. They together with middle farmers. In the course of the guerrilla struggle in the Sierra Maestra mountains. under Eduardo Chibas. Castro was released in a 1954 amnesty and went to Mexico. [2] The nature of the 1959 Revolution illustrates the divergence between these two currents. It was out of this. and the working class had no place in the guerrilla’s central strategy. at the same time. formed the backbone of the nationalist opposition. remained poor and badly organised. It calls for agrarian reform. the Directorio Revolutionario. The unions limited membership was relatively privileged economically but any political opposition was violently crushed. which had played a significant role in 1933 and was. and half a dozen ministers and confidants of his are leading members of the CP. History will absolve me is a fine fighting speech. a second one in Escambray. on the other hand. where he began to organise a guerrilla group that landed in Cuba from the motor-boat Granma in late 1956. he delivered another speech which. Castro was to have been an Ortodoxo candidate in the 1952 elections which had been forestalled by a military coup led by Batista.5% had been to high school.

For the general strikes were not organised in and through the workplace. Batista emasculated the trade unions by declaring strikes illegal. the 26 July movement – a group of radical students. organised the strike from the beginning. There was no doubt that the 26 July Movement had mass support. The question was: what was the nature of the support? . It might be thought that this was contradicted by the fact that general strikes took place. the victory of Castro was a problem.In marked contrast to the general strike and other workers’ activities that destroyed the earlier dictatorship of General Machado in 1933. In the second case the same groupings. The former was spontaneous and successful. In the first case the spontaneous walk-outs were generalised through the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois organisations of the Instituciones Civicas. and only then under their own leadership collaborating with other social strata for the specific purpose of bringing down Batista exactly the reverse happened to the Cuban working class in 1957-59. In other words in both general strikes workers were helping to build (to a greater or lesser degree) institutions of collaboration between all classes. [3] By 1958. In fact it is not. Outside Havana working class support for it was almost complete. it is entirely consistent with it. But he had neither the organisation nor a clear class base to work on. it was clear that Batista enjoyed no support outside of the state machine itself. They had denounced the organisers of the attack on the Moncada barracks as ‘bourgeois putschists’. Some claimed that they had a ‘working arrangement’ with the Batista regime. In the first few months bourgeois politicians held government posts while Communists moved into local administration. It was only in 1958 that they even opened negotiations with Castro. The victory of the revolution faced Castro with the task of building a new order. The Communist Party refused to support the second strike. In 1956 and 1957 they had ignored the guerrillas. For the Cuban Communist Party. Instead of leading to increased opposition to dissipated it. concentrating exclusively on the guerrilla struggle. the students’ organisations. and ones which were under the hegemony of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois elements. They did however participate in two general strikes against the Batista regime: in 1957 and again in April 1958. the workers in the 1958/9 revolution played no central role at all. even religious and professional organisations. and so in general they did not connect this with any specific social goals beyond toppling the dictator. coordinated (or rather miscoordinated) through clandestine radios and so on. but there was no class who wanted him to continue in power. but the workers failed to create organs of their own to fight back – either clandestine or legal. when Castro entered Havana in January 1959. professionals and some peasants – walked into a vacuum of power. The fall of Batista was the result of the work of the guerrillas. But they did not do so as workers. Like almost every other section of Cuban society. but the overall effect was disastrous all the same. From then on Castro ignored the working class. and it was terribly mismanaged by the Fidelistas. and as a result of this Castro’s 26th July Movement attempted to build the struggle in the cities by organising another on the same lines. the workers hated Batista and his boot boys. Thus. Instead of building their own organisations and their own independent strength. In fact they were not organised by workers at all. but this time under the hegemony of the 26th July Movement.

honest. And after they had been met. For a period of a few months they tried to rebuild a liberal constitutional state. [5] And unlike in 1933. 1959) Very few people deny that the 1959 revolution was supported by virtually every section of Cuban society.Unlike in 1933. however. Top of page 1959-60: “Our revolution is neither capitalist nor communist” “We are a small country situated only a very short distance away from the United States.. and any attempt to disregard the realities and the concrete difficulties confronting the Cuban revolution must be rejected”. despite their enthusiastic support for the barbudos. at least.. Why then did it all change? It was certainly not due to a secret plan worked out between Castro and the Communist Party beforehand – even the US state department admitted as much. The new. Quite the reverse is the case. Again it is generally admitted that it was the collapse of the Batista regime – and above all the army – that led to the victory of the rebels. the bearded guerrillas who had fought the war The command structure of the revolutionary army would be reproduced in government. All this was completely consistent with the radical – but petit-bourgeois – programme that Castro had continued to put forward from 1953 onwards. [4] Nor is there the least evidence that Castro was pushed from below by the workers or peasants. but the demands were purely economic. Our revolution is not red but olive green. the task was to be limited to that of spectators and recipients of the revolutionary process. with large wage increases and a rapid decline of 36% in the rate of unemployment.. to be applied or implemented by the revolution. In view of this. For the people. 1959) “Our revolution is neither capitalist nor communist! . The deformation of our economy through imperialist influence has made us very dependent on imports. they led not to further demands but to a complete dying away of the strike wave by the summer of 1959. any exaggerated measures . (CP Central Committee. Power lay with the barbudos. (Fidel Castro. It bears the colour of the rebel army from the Sierra Maestra”.. After the January 1959 coup there was a widespread strike wave. the masses had no organs of workers defence and power. for reivindicaciones – more goods – not for any changes in the structure. there was hardly any looting or any . though on foundations that were not much stronger than the fragile ones of 1933-34. Capitalism sacrifices the human being. and was (and still largely remains) incredibly popular. proven revolutionaries in the olive-green uniforms. May 25th. administrators would be revolutionaries and that would be sufficient guarantee – that.. We agree neither with the one nor with the other . even for the most basic of foodstuffs of the people. any leftist extremist tendency. communism with its totalitarian conceptions sacrifices human rights. but with no ready-made state apparatus to run or administer it. The rebels found themselves the inheritors of an economy with a great deal of slack in it. rather than a bitter struggle between social classes.. May 21st. The process itself was to be carried through by the real. was how Castro saw it.

telephone and medicine charges. the 1959 land reform was not at all the result of spontaneous squatting by peasants that the government was only later forced to legitimate. there was not the least chance of the situation changing if the bourgeoisie was simply left to its own devices. a decline in unemployment. no advantage attached to investing productive capital in Cuba. this situation could not be allowed to persist indefinitely. But in Chile this led to subsequent pressure by both peasants and workers on the government. The matter was made more acute by land reform. the huge landowners. And. Keynes. The question that came to be posed in the summer of 1959 was this: how were the reforms of the first part of the year to be paid for? The rapid increase in wages. Again this was a long standing commitment of Castro’s from the mid-1950s: antipathy to the latifundistas.M. Their consciousness was anything but one of impatience and dissatisfaction with Castro’s lack of radicalism during the first months of 1959”. the cheapening of electricity. The May 1959 Land Reform Act has to be seen in this light. There the election of the Popular Unity government also led initially to large wage increases. [7] The facts are clear: the events of 1959-60 just did not create the conditions for a social revolution. [6] As such Cuba in 1959-60 stands in sharp contrast to Chile in 1970-71. and to all-round economic development. They occupied the land and many factories demanding land reform and nationalisation. With a very small and highly unpredictable home market. In the countryside too. going far beyond the moderate proposals put forward by the Allende government and forcing the regime to accept a good number of them. This automatically increased the demand for consumption goods – all of which had to be imported – and food. Instead of leading to renewed pressure from below. In Cuba the events of 1959-60 had the opposite effect. and with just about the highest wage levels in Latin America. as one commentator put it. it left “the overwhelming majority of Cuba’s workers and peasants very satisfied with the new regime. to end its dependency on the US and the vagaries of the world sugar market. and since this provided Cuba with more than 80% of the exports from which the imports had to be paid. and apart from that there was almost complete social peace. though even here there were exceptions which allowed much bigger farms – up to 1. It abolished only the very largest estates (those of more than 402 hectares. [8] meant that the level of demand in the domestic economy was much too unpredictable for most capitalists to want to take the risk of relying on it as a source of income. there is virtual universal recognition that this again was instituted from above. was the cornerstone of Castro’s radical liberal programme. It was in no way a socialist measure. nor one which led to collectivisation in any other form. all put much more money into the workers’ pockets. The fantastic variability in the price of sugar. Only industrialisation and diversification could solve the problem. So why then did Castro move towards the creation of a monolithic statised economy? The major reason must be found in his long standing commitment to diversify the economy. it was necessary to sentence only a few hundred of Batista’s murderers to death. the drastic reduction in rents (up to 50%). The latter automatically put pressure on the land available for sugar. without that. and a short-term boom fuelled by these measures that took up the slack in the economy in the traditional manner expounded by the liberal economist J. On the contrary. and Cuba’s almost total dependency on it as a source of foreign earnings.other more obvious signs of class struggle in the cities. the fall in unemployment.342 hectares – that were .

Although it was also true that much of the land previously owned by the latifundistas was poorly tended. . They enacted draconian measures such as the death penalty for the misappropriation of public funds against bureaucrats. and an economy that could not survive in its old laissez-faire form without such aid. [9] Yet for all that. and it did not solve the problem of the indebtedness of the small peasant. Again at this point it is important to stress the ideological or subjective factors at work too. But Castro at this point still hung back from nationalisation measures. and even began to aid their piratical attacks on Cuba itself. to massively extend preventive health measures and so on. and this added considerably to Cuba’s problems.efficient to continue). or the widespread trust it engendered in the Cuban masses. It is impossible to underestimate the significance of the popularity of the new regime. A substantial amount of US-owned land was involved and Washington demanded full and immediate compensation for lands seized in the 1959 Act. it refused financial support to the Cuban regime. First of all there was the ascetic revolutionary purity of the rebels which continued while they were in power They did not abandon their fatigues for pin-stripe suits. nor Cuba’s own 1963 reform. and suggested strong parallels with those in Italy in 1949-50 instead. but what they did do was to create a situation that only a state-capitalist programme could solve. About 400 cooperatives and 485 Peoples Stores (designed to eliminate rural profiteers) were set up by the newly established INRA (National Association of Agrarian Reform). Indeed one prominent agronomist sharply contrasted the 1959 reform with those in East Europe in the early 1950s. supported the most reactionary of the Batista followers who had now become refugees in Miami. the fact remained that to increase productivity significantly would have required levels of investment and skilled personnel that were just not available at the time. It was the 1959 land reform – limited though it was – which first brought a reaction from the USA. something like 25% of the cultivable land was covered by the Act. and nor was this simple affectation: it was largely genuine. In September 1959 he announced that henceforth economic development would have to take place under the auspices of the state. On the land the property gained by Batista’s followers during his regime was confiscated at the end of the year. Castro was forced to use the state in a much more activist way in the economy. The enormous confidence in the regime that these measures created made sure that a large reserve of loyalty – above all on the part of the workers and peasants – was built up when the state itself began to take on a more active role in the direction of the economy. This was based on several factors. and was distributed to the poorer peasants. their jeeps for chauffeured limousines. Before that America and its multinationals coexisted peaceably enough with the new regime. The effect was to increase the proportion of land that was devoted to immediate consumption rather than providing the country with an exportable surplus. [11] From the Autumn of 1959 through 1960 events moved very rapidly. But after it things were quite different. Faced with the refusal of the USA to grant aid. What is more they backed this up with laws. The initial reforms were thus in no way reminiscent of the state-capitalist “collectivisations” of Eastern Europe in the 1950s. [10] while at the same time making the biggest efforts Cuba had ever known to eradicate illiteracy.

Then in October 1960 the popular militias were introduced. and the USA was to provide the necessary air cover and firepower. The Cuban government reacted swiftly. Indeed in his 1960 Presidential campaign. Shell and Esso – refused to refine it in their Cuban refineries. As it happened the militia and the CDRs were never seriously put to the test after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. But the multinationals – Texaco. The landing. armed. First of all. sugar. hotels.The next phase in Cuba’s attempt to break from the stranglehold of dependence was connected with oil. Kennedy promised his voters that the US would send its troops in to “protect American interests” [13a] Not surprisingly therefore. and ferried there by the US authorities. backed. Militarily the invaders were wiped out by the local militias. and this led to the 10. The US supplied arms to counterrevolutionaries in the province of Escambray throughout the summer of 1960. the Cubans reacted by defending their territorial integrity as best they could. And the effect of the abortive invasion was to strengthen very considerably the support for Castro among the vast majority of the Cuban workers and peasants faced with the threat from the colossus a mere 80 miles to the north of them. Within a week. It supported numbers of incursions and raids by extreme right-wing exBatista supporters and mercenaries. electricity and mines. Support for the Castro regime was so complete that everywhere else in Cuba the tiny insurgent forces were immediately isolated and defeated. in September 1960. so that the army could be freed for major military operations.400 of them. [14a] The initiative was again taken at this point by the USA. Finally the Cuban regime completed its hold on industry in October 1960 with the nationalisation of the banks.000 . cinemas and most of the factories and shops. and there was considerable public pressure for the US to mount a full-scale military invasion using its own troops (and even sonic suggestions hat it should remove the top six feet of Cuban soil with nuclear weapons"). their purpose was to form small squads of vigilantes to observe and report on possible fifth columnists amongst the erstwhile lackeys of Batista and the US multinationals. the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs) were set up. without them even having to call on the support of Havana. This took two principal forms. unable to make a living from The exploitation of others any more. This was followed immediately by the confiscation of about $800m of US corporation property – in oil. was to be coordinated with uprisings throughout Cuba of the extremeright underground. The USA responded with a total trade embargo to and from Cuba – a devastating economic blow given Cuba’s total dependence on the US connection. Organised on a block-by-block basis. culminating in an invasion in April 1961 by 1. Eisenhower had cancelled Cuba’s remaining quota of sugar imports to the USA. which decided to oust Castro militarily. [12a] Meanwhile the military struggle continued. First to go were the beneficiaries of US tourism: the US banned its citizens from travelling to Cuba. More than 1/2 million refugees left Cuba in the first 3 years of the Castro regime. in the Bay of Pigs. The USSR agreed to supply a limited amount of crude to Cuba in the summer of 1960 in exchange for sugar. mainly for guard and watch duties on strategic installations. The US did not have to invade (wisely – it would have been faced with two Vietnams in the 1960s) and the social basis of support for the old order within Cuba itself was being rapidly eliminated by the fundamental changes that the nationalisation and land reform measures were producing. It was a complete and utter failure. seizing the installations at the end of June 1960.

In particular we shall leave the question of the nature of the ruling class that emerged till towards the end of the article. the landowners and so on. the revolutionary government had reached an impasse. From 1961-63 the emphasis was on industrialisation based on diversification. The Castro regime had quite effectively removed opposition to its continued rule. Then followed the business men. and the key agency for carrying on this task was the old CCP. then. how to effect these changes in both economic and political terms? Here the inexperience of the barbudos led them into the arms of the Cuban Communists and. renewed emphasis on industrialisation and centralised planning on the basis of joint Cuban/Russian control. with the emphasis on sugar remaining. Finally there is the period from 1970 to the present day (1980 – MG). The first key period in Castro’s Cuba – leading to the elimination of the social basis of the old regime – was largely completed. but presided over by a small and highly militarised CP and involving largely ‘moral’ incentives to workers.pimps. The key was to divert resources away from sugar. The problem was. [13] . Castro and Che Guevara’s commitment to industrialisation was unyielding. the pampered state officials. was a period of planning. as well as the direct involvement of “friendly socialist countries” in the actual preparation of the plan. An increasing emphasis was laid on labour discipline. yet they had no experience of bureaucratic organisation nor any clear conception of how to bring about a change from expanding consumption to accumulating capital. to a new interest in the Russian experience. The period 1962-63. The way out of dependency. hence. the Batista ex-officers. the elite professions. and replaced by technical commissions in the workplace. From 1963-65 the emphasis switched back to sugar production. Top of page 1961-1963: the first industrialisation attempt By the end of 1960. according to Castro and Che. However much the US might have wanted to put the clock back. This has involved the militarisation of the economy. the 27. By late 1961. it was followed by a number of other distinct phases. The role of the trade unions was sharply curtailed. The creativity and enthusiasm unleashed by the Revolution of 1959 were now mobilised in support of a central plan evolved by a rapidly expanding state bureaucracy. by 1961 the layers of Cuban society that would have enabled them to “Cubanise” any return to the old order had more or less disappeared. on “socialist competition” and workers’ direct management of the implementation of central plans. was the development of heavy industry. and the process was presided over by a Castroised Communist Party based on material incentives to workers. But where was the basis of the new regime to be found in society? This was Castro’s next – and crucial – problem. The consequences of this shift in policy were profound at both economic and political levels. Then came the 1965-69 Chinese period. and Che’s statements (he was then Minister for Industry) on planning [12] returned repeatedly to the Soviet experience as a precedent for Cuba.000 croupiers. and many other hangers-on leaving. These are all points to which we shall return in the following sections.

very ambitious targets were set for industrial development. . the independence of the political organs of the state from popular control. for the population was expanding by 2. The extent of the problem facing Castro in 1963 is revealed by the figures: Agricultural Production (1952-1956 = 100) Total Per capita 1961 6.4% per annum and its standard of living was – even if only slightly – going up. and to put off industrialisation until they had the foreign exchange to finance it.88 87 73 (Sources: Hoy. Cuba’s ability to find them sharply decreased. 14. Monthly Bulletin of Agricultural Economics and Statistics. Relying on the apparatus of the Communist Party to administer the industrialisation attempt. and of course they needed to be paid for.70 124 108 1982 4. In addition there developed increasingly stringent laws on labour absenteeism. UN. [15] And this meant that the agricultural produce available for export was declining even faster than the above figures suggest. But the industrialisation attempt itself sucked in a vast number of imports of the machinery. and above all a form of planning whose outcome was not economic independence but Cuba’s integration as an unequal partner in a new circle of dependency. identity cards were introduced and made obligatory for workers. Rome. technology etc.82 102 87 1983 3. More than a quarter of the total national income was devoted to accumulation. January 1972) And this underestimates the scale of the problem. there could be no industrialisation because there would be no money to pay for it. These were almost entirely provided by the Eastern Bloc countries. [14] Living standards increased slightly. Top of page Year Sugar Production (millions of tons) 1963-65: back to the machete The disastrous 1963 sugar harvest revealed to the Cuban leaders that there could be no question of just ignoring agriculture so as to concentrate on industry.In 1962. needed to get industry moving. stocks. Unless the catastrophic decline in sugar production could be halted. But Cuba had only sugar as a viable export – at least until some of the newer industries had matured sufficiently – and it was precisely sugar that had been dc-emphasised in the attempt to industrialise in 1961.64. the growing concentration of power in the Castro brothers. So just when increased sources of foreign earnings were needed to pay for capital imports.10. They were forced to re-emphasise sugar again. though they were based on longer hours at work and an attempt at speed up.

5 11.e. p. in the years after 1961. From then onwards. Culture. which.5 11. For Russia clearly.4 24. But productivity remained incredibly low on collective farms.47 million in 1964 and 6. for military assistance and for credits Soviet . much sharper differentials. Community Services &c 13. The Cubans looked to Russia for aid. Yet in spite of an increasing labour force.3 30.1 9. was increasingly called in to bale out the Cuban economy. material incentives – i. Soviet economic intervention was constant. with the yield of rice declining from 17 to 14 quintals per hectare.This meant two things in the 1963-65 period. The land collectivisation of 1963 was certainly very extensive. The material incentives – in industry at least – did not seem to work.4 Education.0 5. Havana. The change in emphasis in the Cuban economy is revealed in the following figures: State Investments in tour sectors at the Cuban economy 1962-65 (Percentages of total state investment) 1962 1983 1964 Agriculture 29.88 million tons to 4.4 5. It led to 70% of all cultivable land being in the hands of the state. 102) [16] 1965 40. 1966.3 (Source: Boletin Estadistico.1 7. for machinery. Helped by better weather conditions the sugar harvest improved considerably. piecework and other systems of payments by result – were initiated by the authorities.0 As far as labour productivity was concerned. Firstly the 1959 land reform measures had to be reversed. and that of tubers being three times greater on private than on state farms. further. industrial production remained stagnant. In both of these respects the policies of the Cuban regime failed in the years 1963-65. It increased from the abysmal 1963 level of 3.5 29. It is the first that explains the cool reception in Moscow of the news of the Revolution in 1959 It was not until February 1960 that a delegation led by Mikoyan reached Cuba and declared its support for the new revolution.1 Housing. Instead collectivisation needed to be extended very considerably so that the state would have much more control over what was going on. [17] Most of this was destined for the USSR. On the land things were not so bad. (ii) Russian economic interests.5 18. It is to this that we now turn. (i) the progress of detente with The United States.15 million in 1965. Cuba was a market for its goods and a producer of the sugar whose consumption in Russia was rising constantly. Research 8.1 21. Top of page The Russian connection Russian policy towards Cuba has been conditioned by two factors.5 Industry 23. Secondly there had to be a set of devices to increase labour productivity. Cuba was a useful bargaining counter through the ups and downs of detente.

thus a considerable amount of agricultural land in Russia could be released to other more productive crops. given that Cuba could not use the nonconvertible currencies to purchase goods outside the Russian-bloc countries. While Cuba continued to be drawn into the Soviet camp. its aid has served not so much as a support for Cuba as to reinforce and deepen the domination of sugar over the economy. Castro went to Russia and signed a new three-year trade agreement to he renegotiated annually). the USSR could not hut be grateful for the opportunity to wield influence in the American backyard. The Russians themselves are aware of this-that maybe why they prefer to conceal the fact that the hulk of their investment enters sugar and related industries. In terms of inter-imperialist rivalry. Russia installed a number of intermediate range ballistic missiles on Cuban soil in the Autumn of 1962. the Russians contribution did not fall hut grew due to the need for the industrialisation of sugar production. This meant that while the USSR guaranteed Cuba a market for its sugar. The Missile Crisis brought a large scale disillusionment with Russia. with the turn back to sugar. [18] By 1963. where Cuba provided an opportunity to rejuvenate the tattered image of the Latin American Communist Parties. It is worth underlining that the payment for Cuban sugar exports to Russia was to be in the main in non-convertible currency.It was this strategic interest – and its limitations – which would be most clearly revealed in the Missile Crisis of 1962. The agreement signed between Cuba and Russia in 1963 established a quota of 5 million tons per year of sugar exports to the USSR. making many American cities as vulnerable to nuclear attack as most Russian cities had been to the ring of US installations mounted in Britain. Cuba’s main export – to the exclusion of almost any other – continues to be sugar. But the real benefit to Russia was geo-political.technicians became increasingly evident after 1961 and Cuba’s $1 million per day aid from the USSR (and at 1961 prices too) meant that it was receiving a per-capita aid equivalent to the total income of people living in he poorer parts of Africa during this period. so too with Russia over Cuba. while Cuba raised the cry “Fatherland or Death we shall triumph”. Russia has found in Cuba a market for its goods and a field of investment. Germany. rather than economic. a cautious debate was reopened on the question of the available strategies for economic development – though this would not lead to any open criticism of Russia until 1965. [19] In 1980. In 1963. the five year plan of 1965-70 reinforced that decision by projecting a gradual increase in sugar production culminating in a 10 million ton harvest in 1970. Cuba would be an important spokesperson for the global Russian interest within a non-aligned movement many of whose members were hostile to it – particularly in the Middle East. Thus in a strictly economic sense. In the following year. the united development of its other natural resources has done nothing to alter the fundamental structure of the economy – as a department producing a single product within a global economic system of which it is a servant. Khrushchev turned back his ships and reached agreement with Kennedy without bothering to consult Castro over the missile bases. Turkey etc. it ensured at the same time that Cuban imports would come from the USSR. At a later stage. Castro’s response was angry and critical. the . Furthermore. In much the same way that the USA was in the 1950s quite willing to sink millions of dollars into Yugoslavia to have a friend on Russia’s doorstep. Russian sugar beet was for more expensive to produce than Cuban sugar.

was guarding his back. without an increase in their buying power And that was a political issue. was that funding should be determined on the basis of the profitability of each plant. Yet here. abandoning a working class in the industrialised world which seemed reluctant to make the revolution as they believed it should be made. . at the level of the whole economy (as acknowledged in Russia). it seemed.7% at first. and with Latin America the beginning of a rapprochement with China. and a new setback for the Cuban Communist Party members who belonged to the so-called Old Guard. theme is a reality behind the appearances which points to the tact that the break may have been less radical than it at first appeared. in some cases. It was now that Cuba’s flamboyant support for guerrilla movements persuaded the revolutionaries of the Third World that Cuba was the home and the haven of Revolution. The basis of that development had already been laid down in the previous five years: rapid accumulation of capital by the state. where did the potential and as yet untapped capacity in the economy lie? After the years of expanding consumption. the central question remained economic development. The logical corollary. three Vietnams? In 1965 Castro decided that Cuba should thrust out alone: in that year. only 1. a representative of a revolutionary purity symbolised in the figure of Che Guevara.The general political atmosphere was relaxed and a public debate of alternative strategies continued. economic and political. how could that surplus be achieved. It was between 1965 and 1970 that Cuba really gained its reputation as a libertarian revolution. in 1965. as elsewhere. Castro. particularly underlined in a Cuba deprived of a wide range of consumer goods because of a lack of foreign exchange coupled with the American blockade. [20] Khrushchev had said. The trouble with the ‘material incentives’ was simply that the scarcity of consumer goods made the material incentives available to very few workers. This posed two kinds of problem. Cuba signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and acknowledged the role of the Latin American Communist Parties – though their Conference in that year recognised that. The issue was debated and argued in Cuba from 1963 onwards. Cuba faced the problem of accumulation in this way.five-year plan was published. It was in these years that European intellectuals in search of the revolution made their way to Havana. two. Top of page One. For Cuba. there was a definitive change in Cuba’s relations with Russia. the armed road might be appropriate – a concession by the USSR in exchange for Cuban support in the SinoSoviet split. that “we must make full use of the powerful level of material interest for the purpose of increasing labour productivity”. In the first place. how could a greater surplus be extracted from the labour force? How could the exploitation of Cuban labour be increased? It was an issue that concerned the rational use of resources. but it was also a question of political mobilisation – of convincing the Cuban working class to work harder.

voluntary labour allows man to “see himself portrayed in his own works and to understand its human magnitude . The hard reality is this: “whatever the ideological significance of incentives.” [23] The problem. Politics. Che insists that it is the revolutionaries who make the revolution. to be its voice and incarnation. particularly behind the charismatic figure of Castro. [22] Che recognised the potential for popular mobilisation that still existed in Cuba. social interest. and not the Cuban working class. in which Mao had stressed the importance of the element of consciousness. Moral incentives in Cuba were designed to prepare the ground for a swing of investment away from consumption and social expenditure and towards productive investment in economic development. Che’s vision of the relationship between state and people can be reintegrated into his political theory of revolution. however. the protagonist of the Cuban Revolution is the state.. the state is unquestioningly assumed to be representative of the working masses. Che’s idealism ostensibly recognises the problem. the subjective conditions. In his “Guerrilla Warfare”. and the mass as a whole composed of individuals. that the productive forces were not developed. argued a different solution based fundamentally on Chinese experience. in that sense. with a collective. and the assumption is drawn (once again) that willpower. iris about freeing human beings from the slavery of want. [21] Underdevelopment.Che Guevara. Che’s Man and socialism contains a tell-tale paragraph: “ What is hard to understand for anyone who has not lived the revolution is the clear dialectical unity which exists between the individual and the mass. and sought to harness that to the development of the productive forces. he clearly identified with the Great Leap Forward. for without it the material base of the revolution could not exist. represents a means of mobilising the workers and peasants in support of their own continuing exploitation by the state.” [24] The “mass”? Where then is the class. of the replacement of individual with social consciousness. Accumulation was the pressing need. In this respect. [thus] man truly achieves his full human condition when he produces without being compelled by the physical necessity of selling himself as a commodity. with its emphasis on the subjective conditions. they are chiefly a device for motivating labour productivity”. on consciousness and the will of the people. His arguments were set out in an essay written in 1965 called Man and socialism in Cuba. Like Mao. is in turn interrelated with the leader. was that the objective conditions of scarcity did exist. There was no avoiding that. he argued. The protagonists of revolution are the guerrillas. not the workers. Therefore it was necessary to replace self-reliance and self-interest. imposed upon any society seeking to break the circle a general and collective sacrifice. becomes the state’s activity among the masses.. in which both are interrelated. yet in real terms the moral incentives formula. In the same way. In this respect. and what is its political expression? Of this Che makes no mention. The experience of the barbudos is generalised. But equal poverty is not what socialism is about. can overcome the absence of the objective conditions for revolution. on the other hand. “Socialist emulation” would encourage workers to contribute their utmost in solidarity with the Revolution. .

put up with increased work for no extra pay – seemed at the time to be the only viable alternative. For the years 1965-70 were ones of stagnating or declining living standards. that absenteeism was a permanent and growing problem. Cuba again took on before the world the image of the pure guerrilla so dear to Regis Debray and other “Third worldists” in Europe. they had to be shown that it was part of a crusade: one aimed at the whole of Latin America and with fairly immediate prospects of success.This explains why it is these same years of moral incentives that witness also tightening of labour discipline.) 1963-66 3. From then until 1970.. acknowledged that these disciplinary measures had largely failed. according to Minister of Labour Augusta Martinez Sanchez. it will be applied to that kind of worker who is a residue of the exploiting society . Too poor to provide material incentives that would work.8% Per capita growth (% p.a.. the then Labour Minister Jorge Risquet.a. and that other forms of persuasion would have to be used – yet in 1970 new and even harsher forms of persuasion even harsher rules were introduced. Indeed the obsession with increasing sugar production to the magical figure of 10 million tons by 1970 had a catastrophic effect on the economy as a whole and on consumption in particular as is revealed in the following figures: Economic growth in Cuba 1963-70 Years Absolute growth (% p. The question here is what role did this have on the economy? Basically the economy had run out of steam. The two cannot be separated.. We still find workers who have not taken a revolutionary step and tend to discuss and protest any measure coming from the administration. would “ strengthen labour discipline and increase production and productivity .) 1. Thus at all stages. including the entry of merit and demerit points on a worker’s identity card...” [25] By 1969. moral incentives were combined with coercive measures of state control. It is difficult to assess the significance this ‘revolutionary’ line had on labour discipline and productivity. We shall consider this foreign policy at greater length below.e. who is still found in working places as a residue of capitalism . The Law of 1964-65 enforced sanctions for breaches of Labour Discipline while the Grievance Commissions established in 1961 were abolished at the same time because they were regarded as too lenient. The key to explaining Cuba’s change in foreign policy is to be found here.. For 1966 also marked an important change in Cuban foreign policy.2% . the moral incentives formula – i.. and requiring a powerful shift away from consumption if the foreign reserves necessary for industrialisation were to be generated. a shift away from the Russian orbit and towards Latin America again. We have to admit that in the workplaces there are still undisciplined workers and for them we have to have disciplinary measures . Yet to convince the workers to do this. but there is no doubt that it must have helped. The 1965 Law..

[27] Secondly. the Soviet government sought economic contacts. p. of which 20 were consumption goods. Cuba in the 1970s. But some idea can be obtained by Cuba’s output of consumption goods during this period.e. responding first of . The attempts by the Cuban state to gain political legitimacy in the world were in the first place a response to political developments within Cuba. in Brazil the military government. however. Castro’s speech on the Czechoslovakian invasion marked a meeting point between those two facts. and only the production of eggs. Albuquerque. and in launching the Revolutionary Offensive in 1968. 57) The true extent of the decline is hidden by the above figures because the Central Office of Statistics in Havana measured output in constant prices until 1966. the extent of the deprivations that the working class suffered become even more manifest. a recent study found that between 1965 and 1970 fifteen of these twenty suffered a decline in the five years: some (e. In a list of 26 selected outputs of the Cuban economy. but from 1967 it was measured in current prices – i. Frei had come to power in Chile in 1964 with a programme of industrialisation and capitalist development.4% -1. Top of page The 1970 crisis 1968 brought the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia: in Cuba.3% (Source: C. refrigerators. in Venezuela the COPEI government promised a new version of social democracy. In terms of what Castro still saw to be the central question – development – there was an unbroken continuity from 1961 onwards. they were designed as a massive exercise in ideological mobilisation. and an increasingly draconian body of laws controlling everyday life. With all these regimes. Yet they were coupled within Cuba with a consistent fall in production.g. The identification of exploited peoples and colonised nations. Two of the twenty remained more or less constant. as always. a gathering disillusionment among Cuban Workers (expressed through absenteeism. The Cuban regime reacted in a number of ways. In founding the Organisation of Latin American Solidarity. [26] When one takes into account the fact that the population grew by 10% in this period. After 1964 its strategic interest in Latin America – well served till then by Cuba – led to a series of new approaches to bourgeois regimes in Latin America. the sugar harvest was had. had a programme of expanded trade. the decline would be sharper still if it were corrected for inflation. 1978. while brutally repressive.1965-70 0. For Russia too there were important changes in this period. An exact estimate for the effect of this on the Cuban working class is a little difficult to measure. the Tricontinental organisation. It was a conciliatory speech: in defending the invasion he was. had only an ideological significance. low productivity etc. the Cultural Congress of 1967. as well as a new approach towards the USSR. radios and cookers) by 50% or more. Mesa-Lago. rice and fish actually went up. the Cuban state set out to establish an area of political independence from the Soviet Union.).

Cuba would once again be confirmed as the world’s main sugar producer. On January 2nd. From then on. less visible strings attached whose effects would he profound. and around the nation. [29] In June. The rapprochement was to take two years. was above all a political event. the index of production had fallen considerably in the rest of the agricultural sector and in industry. strongly dependent on Russia. The bad sugar harvest.all to the domestic situation within Cuba. and their neglect of their own areas of work had a disastrous effect on the economy. For “the Soviet assistance strengthened the government relative to the rest of the social system”. The Zafra. the establishment of material incentives as an instrument in achieving that profitability. In fact. Since 1966. Cuba needed to produce a minimum of 81/2 million tons to cover its obligations to the USSR. though tens of thousands of people – bureaucrats. In a real sense. 1969 Castro’s speech on the 10th anniversary of the Revolution contained no mention of Guevara. which suggests bar . it was effectively conditional on Cuban acceptance of a new role in the world. [28] Castro’s speech on Czechoslovakia was the first of a number of moves which were to culminate in 1970. until in 1970. a great mass mobilisation around sugar. New Russian aid in mid-1970 carried quite reasonable terms of interest. it was nowhere near the 10 million ton target. that was never possible. as a dependency of the Soviet Union and the obedient practitioner of Soviet economic planning methods – including the devolution of responsibility for the profitability of individual plants to their managers. The only aid that Cuba did receive came from Rumania – and that was only of symbolic value. in a series of agreements which confirmed Cuba’s dependency on the Soviet Union. then. and only then would it be able to earn enough to begin to industrialise independently of Russian aid. While the zafra was big (8. on the other hand. “Prime Minister Castro emphasised that the Soviet Union had taken the initiative in selecting the projects for which aid would be used. students. The Soviet Union was Cuba’s main customer for sugar. but there were other. in fact they were extremely inefficient.5 million tons). The connections between this and growing Soviet involvement may not be immediately obvious. In the following year absenteeism and low productivity became a serious problem and Castro was only able to make real inroads into the problem with the re-introduction of material incentives and wage differentiations. [30] Furthermore. So the Czechoslovakia speech was an act of public reconciliation with Russia. and a recognition that the austerity measures of the previous years had failed. In between times. Cuba devoted itself to “La Gran Zafra” – the search for the 10 million ton sugar harvest. the Soviet Union had provided no new credits to Cuba (though it continued to service existing agreements). it made a point of referring repeatedly to Soviet aid. Russia’s full stale intervention in all levels of Cuban life put the seal on Cuba’s future. and Cuba’s dependence on sugar confirmed. industrial workers and peasants – did move to the cane fields in response to Castro’s call. elsewhere. The death of Guevara had only underlined the problem. Yet it could only earn foreign exchange on its sales of additional sugar on the open market. it was clear. underlined the failure of the period which had culminated in the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968 – the end of the search for an alternative strategy. the Central Committee of the CCP reversed an earlier decision and sent a delegate to the world Conference of Communist Parties. their contribution was more ideological than physical. and as a corollary. the die was cast. yet they were intimately interwoven. By 1972.

but the shape of Cuban politics increasingly took on the central features of Soviet political life.” [31] It was in 1970 that the fundamental shift occurred (in the sense of an overt and public recognition of the Soviet-Cuban relationship). In the realm of foreign policy. The period of “revolutionary idealism” had attempted to deepen the exploitation of Cuban workers by the state. In a crisis or a revolutionary confrontation the rhetoric of dramatic sacrifice and political frenzy can be sustained for a time – but only for so long. and the Commission would he the final decision-making body on all matters. The contradictions between the rhetoric and the reality. and a political independence from the mass of society. in July 1972. By 1970. all government functions would be organised through. and the price of that privilege is loyalty and adherence to a party tine that is never open to public discussion or amendment. and determined by. a proliferation of coercive regulations and controls and the creation of mass organisations which were no more than conduits for the channelling down of state policies. and a failure. Cuba’s internationalism of the seventies is a poor parody of the resolute and idealistic concept of revolutionary solidarity which had been claimed for it in the late 1960s. have promoted a bureaucracy whose control over the “general affairs of society” has required an increasingly repressive response to pressure from below. it is unequally shared. Top of page Cuba in the 70s The second decade of the Cuban Revolution brought Cuba fully within the Soviet ambit. For the new involvement of the USSR in the Cuban economy carried a heavy price tag. a Cuban-Soviet Commission for Economic. Not only were Cuba’s economic relations with the USSR in the mid-seventies very similar to its place in the American system before 1959. Yet the exhortations and the claims for the “new Cuban man” had been underpinned with an increasing concentration of power. Scientific and Technical Cooperation.Cuba had traded future economic growth for its own decision-making autonomy. it had done it in their name. From now on. The groundwork had been firmly laid for what came to be called the “institutionalisation” of the Cuban Revolution. including the coordination of the first Cuban Five Year Plan (1976-80). never the control over them. All major departments and agencies would be led by Russian technicians. Castro had formally announced the abandonment of the armed road. in 1967). And while there had been some initiatives aimed at developing rank and file involvement (like the experiment in local government called ‘Poder Local’. The support for the guerrilla struggle was short-lived. While the level of consumption may be rising in absolute terms. . Two years later. Cuba joined Comecon. in their turn. these concerned only the implementation of decisions. [32] and the shelving of the dream of rapid industrialisation propounded in the early sixties by himself and Guevara. while at the same time undermining the autonomy of all the mass organisations which might have given those workers some autonomous political expression of their own.

And the prospective is for a deepening dependence. The implications were enormous. 67. In 1976 a form of profit-sharing with the managers of state enterprises was introduced. Joining Comecon in 1972 was the logical confirmation of this new relationship. In 1980. but now controlled from Moscow. was exchanged for Soviet manufactures and equipment. the “advanced workers” movement. A managerial class. no active role. it is hard to distinguish between the dependency of the Cuban economy before 1959. the experiment in “people’s . incapable of diversification. as the optimistic predictions of Guevara in the early sixties bad envisaged.The Zafra of 1970 had dislocated the Cuban economy and brought the Cuban state face to face with its incapacity to industrialise rapidly. but now as a directing force. If this required the intensified exploitation of the Cuban working class. social relations in Cuba were increasingly expressed through the 1970s in money terms. only continued with Russian support and guarantee. Even Cuba’s trade with the West. it does not and cannot produce itself. The economic projections for the coming decade placed sugar firmly back at the centre of the Cuban economy in the long term. together with the concept of the autonomy of individual enterprises. What then is the situation today? Who controls production and how do they do so? What is the role of the trade unions. then that was an unfortunate but “objective” necessity. In 1980. And there were other consequences too. Cuba continues to be the world’s major sugar supplier. as we have seen. and accepted that there can be no socialist relations of production without the prior development of the material forces! [33] Poor Guevara must have turned in his grave. And in the meantime the full integration of Cuba into the Russian economy would be completed. whose prices were up to 50% higher than those of the world market. Russia re-entered the Cuban economy. economically and politically privileged and acting in terms of profit and loss. In 1973 a number of prices were decontrolled. was fast being created. the bulk of it going to the USSR which in turn provides Cuba with the industrial goods. as trade deficits grow and Cuba’s economic “takeoff” is postponed indefinitely. its chief export. and its renewed dependency in the third decade of the Revolution. and the oil. In 1971. far from the gradual abolition of money. Top of page The working class During the revolution itself the working class played. And increasing living standards – albeit often accompanied by various shortages – retained the support of the workers for the regime by largely non-coercive means until the middle-1960s. for this was the definitive renunciation of the idealism of Man and Socialism in Cuba. By 1973. sugar. The results of that were not long in coming. although much smaller. particularly over economic policies and methods of planning. though it did not significantly change this role. Castro’s animated defence of Russian foreign policy at the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations at Algiers in 1973 was its political expression. Cuba is re-affirmed as a fundamentally single-product economy. and three years later prices on all other non-essential items were too. Fidel Castro acknowledged that “you cannot jump stages of economic growth”.5% of all Cuban trade was with the USSR.

First proposed by Castro in 1968. as the theses approved by the 13th congress of the CTC made clear in 1973: “In many cases unpaid overtime turned out to be more costly than regular paid hours of work.power” (poder popular [33a])? What happened to the other areas of de-centralised activity: the people’s militia.” [35] In this context of widening material differentials. Material incentives and widening differentials proceeded throughout the 1970s. It is no coincidence that day nurseries began to charge fees in 1977. The minimum wage ceased to play any real role of preserving equality. (Given that 1 peso equals $1 US at the official exchange rate. after 1974 cars were to be imported for the bureaucrats – in Castro’s words – “in order to increase their productivity”. charge hands etc. The switch was not made out of a concern for the material well being of the workers. and soon the bonus system ensured that an Advanced Worker could earn easily twice as much as ordinary workers. though there has also been a loose movement – the Advanced Workers movement. reducing real product and yield per man-hour. and push production forward”.) And for the first time. and that there are at the most one or two hundred thousand people in this position. By the mid-1970s the “social wage” was also being increasingly treated as a privilege. it is easy to see why the Advanced Worker movement began to confer such material privileges. There was no question of them defending workers against the employers. At this stage the movement was no more than an arm of the “revolutionary offensive” of the late 1960s. though they were actually selected at the level of government. In no way therefore can the Advanced Workers movement be seen as even remotely connected with bringing socialism into the workplace. Those aspiring to such status needed to be proposed by the workforce.” [34] Then in 1974 an extra 132 million pesos were allocated to raise salaries for managerial personnel. were more or less abolished in the 1970s in favour of material incentives. Let us begin with production. So “moral incentives”. services – even the possibility of accumulating interest on savings – were provided: but for Advanced Workers only. But what then about the role of the trade unions? After the 1959 revolution their role was defined by the regime as being: “to win workers for the Revolution. because the employer was now the state. The only organisation of or for workers vis-a-vis production has been the trade union. nor that access to housing became dependent on Advanced Worker status. Soon goods. But with the ending of rationing and the freeing of price controls and the reintroduction of material incentives after 1970 the situation changed rapidly. it was formed as a pro-regime cadre of foremen. so popular in the late 1960s. to fight counter-revolution. The need to widen the gap between worker and worker was expressed by Castro in 1971: “Paying the same wage for the same type of work but without taking into account the productive effort required to do it is an egalitarian principle we must correct. There has never been anything resembling workers’ control in Cuba. the sum is a very large one. . the Federation of Cuban Women and the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs)? These are all questions that have to be answered before a definitive answer can be given to the class nature of Cuban society. but because of the benefits of production. who were entrusted with the task of speeding up production.

All this cut away the basis for the existence of trade unions – even as collaborative bodies. However about 40% of the places were uncontested.. but a role as an arm of management. But the unions are not dead in Cuba today.. Instead the unions were given managerial functions but no managerial power.. and secondly because the vastly tighter labour discipline of the 1970s has made them play an important role.and was therefore assumed to have the same interest as that of the workers.” [36] Elections were therefore held in October 1970. the party is so involved with the management that in many instances it has ceased to play its proper role. Firstly because they help organise holidays. He turns to the party and it does not know or it is busy mobilizing people for production . The trade union either does not exist or it has become the Advanced Workers’ bureau . As the minister of labour Risquet put it in August of that year: “ Theoretically. and in general managerial powers in the enterprise have been strengthened and control over the workers tightened. has become somewhat insensitive to the problems of the masses . And the role of the ‘unions’ is virtually the same: in both cases they are there to manage the workers and most emphatically not to represent them. the administrator represents the interest of the worker and peasant state. Not surprisingly they went into a very rapid decline.. so too has there in Cuba and it has been performed by the unions themselves. But by 1970 this was acknowledged to be a total failure.. the discussion of proposed labour legislation.. [38] . The leaders were not elected by the workers. recreation and training.. using works study engineers to optimise the output of each worker. The worker may have a right established by the Revolution . absenteeism (running at 20% in 1970) has been cracked down on by an ‘anti-loafing’ law.. work quotas have been adjusted and increased. In these crucial respects there has been no significant change from the conditions that led to the virtual disappearance of trade unions in the late 1960s.. but directly appointed by the regime. [37] On top of that nothing whatever has been done to implement any of the proposals that came out of the CTC Congress in 1973 for greater trade union participation in the protection of workers’ rights. the interest of all the people. In the same way that in Britain in the last 10 years there has been an increased emphasis in engineering on ‘scientific’ management.. This presented the regime with a problem – through what organs were the workers to be incorporated? For a time the regime attempted to use “Advanced Workers” who were encouraged and given facilities to coordinate worker-management cooperation on the shop floor. He does not know where to turn. If the party and the administration are one. and most important of all no canvassing was allowed apart from that put out by the electoral commission – which was itself composed of non-elected party appointees – but which took upon itself the task of recommending the merits and demerits of the various candidates. The organisation of production now resembles that in Russia quite closely. Since 1970 there has been a much tighter system of identity cards and labour records. They are still alive for two reasons. turn-out was only about one half of that expected by the government. and there is no one to defend him... Theory is one thing and practice another . social security administration and production plans. then there is nowhere the worker can take his problem .

at the point of production. Matanzas province was the scene of an experiment in what was called “people’s power” (poder popular). the experiment was extended to the whole country. Firstly since 1970 they they have gone into a rapid decline. Yet when the Labour government in Britain attempted the same experiment in 1976 by devolving control over house repairs etc. have been a case in point. including the election of the Council of Ministers. Poder popular has to be matched against the constricted role of trade unions. Was this a new move towards proletarian democracy? Whatever the appearances. also charged with a . the CDRs were the crucial transmission belts though which this was provided. The Federation of Cuban Women. only to implement the policy given to them from above. They were never permitted to formulate policy. they were disarmed. and elections held for delegates to the Municipal Assemblies.3 million at its height. In 1976. with the remaining personnel incorporated into the army reserve. but for more efficacious and responsive organs of local administration”. but only of the responsibility for implementation. to council tenants. despite their superficial resemblance to organs of power. and the reason for this has been indicated already: when the regime depended on “volunteer labour” in the 1965-70 period. Secondly. but elected from Party-approved lists from the level immediately below it. Since this whole method is now universally recognised as actually counterproductive. set up to watch for “counter-revolutionary activity” after the Bay of Pigs. [40] It rapidly became clear that “the development of People’s Power does. By the late 1960s their role had developed into being one of the main organisations for tapping manpower reserves in the economy as well as promoting public health. and in 1973 they were abolished. the Committees were mass organisations. Undoubtedly then. the regime’s need for the CDRs has diminished accordingly. And exactly the same is true for Cuba. the reality is that it was not. as delegation to Regional and National Assemblies was not by direct suffrage. At their height in 1970 they included fully 3. A mass organisation of 1. has shared its fate. in many ways a parallel body to the CDRs. the actual structure of poder popular itself was undemocratic.2 million people – a remarkable figure for a country of only 8 million. the same conclusions can be drawn for the other mass organisations. The other mass organisation set up in the period around the Bay of Pigs invasion – the people’s militia – had a shorter history. control over organisations in the workplace. Further. In 1974. at no Point were the CDRs controlled by their mass base. not provide for self-government.These real limitations on the role of trade unions – the only organisation which embraced the mass of the working class – have to be set in their turn in the context of what is claimed by many [39] to be a significant move in the direction of popular democracy. By 1964. But two crucial features must be borne in mind. all socialists protested – because it did not involve a devolution of power. On the contrary their leadership was universally appointed by the Communist Party. education and general propaganda functions. [41] In general. The Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. for while local government was evolving in Cuba. Thus Dominguez notes the almost complete unanimity on all issues at the meeting of the National Assembly. What poder popular did represent was a further step in the devolution to the local level of the detailed implementation of government plans and strategies. with the US military threat fading. in the living areas and on the land was ever more restricted. where most major decisions were taken by acclamation.

but also. the state bureaucracy etc. Secondly he fused the 26th July Movement with the Communist Party in 1961. he made sure that it was easy for them to leave the country. The army. thus extending his control throughout Cuban society. Finally. . The July 26th-ers were not well placed to do this. At the same time he retained an independent power base in the army.principal role over public health and volunteer labour. Into their place stepped the rebel army and the petit-bourgeois intelligentsia of the July 26th Movement. it has had all too little effect on changing the male domination of production and society. But the social transformation that Cuba found itself pushed into by the US blockade changed the whole situation very rapidly indeed. the pimps and the croupiers. But it is equally true that Castro did not simply lay hold of the existing state apparatus. Castro’s strategy – which worked brilliantly – was as follows. That way he eliminated the social basis for a return to the old order. two thirds of Cuba’s doctors. The regime found itself in need of a stratum of reliable people who could run the nationalised industries and the collective farms. deep sea diver and cemetery worker! More importantly the representation of women at the levels of leadership in the Communist Party or the mass organisations is extremely low. Cuba has at various times created a variety of mass organisations. he could not have survived the transformation of the society over which he was presiding. he greatly strengthened the army and used this strength to militarise both the party and the civil administration. They included not just the capitalists. Top of page The Party the army and the construction of a new ruling class Undoubtedly then. the courts. Half a million Cubans left the country and settled in the USA. What is more the blockade and the attack on the wealthier urban population also ate into the support for Castro in the milieu that the movement had recruited from. the workers and peasants do not control Cuban society. And while the Family Code of 1976 reaffirmed the equality of men and women in the home. it did nothing to socialise the functions of women nor to acknowledge the continuing exclusion of women from political life. First of all whenever he moved decisively against any sections of the old ruling class such as the landowners or the businessmen. and used this to oust the old Stalinists who initially controlled it. There is no way he could have done so – Batista’s corrupt state machine was definitively smashed in 1959. for instance. But none of them at any time has been able or willing to do anything but implement the already fixed policy of the regime. in the late 1960s. so that by the time the Party was reconstituted in 1965 it was firmly in Fidel’s hands. And it is still the case that over 300 jobs are prohibited to women including house painter. Since the revolution therefore. A massive campaign to get women into the workforce in the 1969-70 period failed to retain the majority of them. Had Castro continued to rely solely on the 26th July Movement. collapsed like a pack of cards.

in the attempt to substitute ‘moral incentives’ for material incentives. In 1969 for instance it had only 55. In the event only 81/2 million tons of sugar were produced by this method and the virtual collapse of the rest of the economy forced Castro to make a sharp reversal of policy. criticising dissidents etc. It has held only one congress in its entire history. the first and second in command of the army. without congresses there are in fact no means at all for this to be done. its first Central Committee being more than two thirds composed of top army brass for instance. It was the only organ untouched by Cuba’s disastrous ‘Chinese’ experiment. and that was in 1975 – ten years after it was set up. [42] The 1975 Party Congress merely rubber-stamped the new “socialist” constitution. military. [45] This left the army as the only instrument that worked at all efficiently in Cuba. but because of its efficiency. commander in chief of the army and also prime minister. In practice the Secretariat is.000 members. and is in its turn supposed to elect the higher party bodies. The command structure. As such these members were of course under the direct military discipline of Fidel and Raul Castro. Industrial and agricultural development in Cuba in the late 1960s was quite disastrous. though here too the process was already well in hand by the mid1960s. Since Fidel Castro was already first secretary of the party.The reconstituted Cuban Communist Party is a completely bureaucratised monolithic party. [44] During these years all forms of cost accounting were eliminated. a self-perpetuating clique. and finally the army. and was allowed to expand only at the rate that ‘trusty’ members could be found for it. The military influence continued in the party and was extended considerably in the area of civil administration. size and efficiency of the latter – coupled with the militarisation of the economy after its collapse in the late 1960s – all ensured that it . Although the Central Committee is supposed to be elected from below. the petit bourgeois but revolutionary July 26th Movement. The ruling class that has emerged in Cuba is thus a unique fusion of three main elements: the Communist Party with its roots deep in a class collaborationist labour movement. [43] The army achieved this hegemony in Cuba in the late 1960s not only because it was Fidel’s pliant tool. with the years from 1966 to 1970 showing a decline of more than 1% in per-capita GDP even according to the regime’s own figures. its cadre of officers having been trained in Russia from the early 1960s and its command structure remained unaltered throughout this period. cutting the cane. state and party bodies. as in Russia. For these reasons the militarisation of the economy and the administration seemed the obvious – indeed the only – solution to the crisis of the late 1960s. The party expanded four-fold between 1969 and the 1975 Congress. because by then the army had already taken over many non-military functions such as the organisation of production. the effect of which was to formalise the power of the General Secretariat of the Political Bureau over all judicial. Its technicians and other skilled personnel were not ignored or put on to other work – as occurred elsewhere in the economy. It was kept fairly small to begin with. the new constitution hardly added anything new. Even from its inception it was dominated by the military.

Health and Culture as well. The effect of this has been for Cuba to become more and more dependent on the Russian economy to bail it out – at least for the foreseeable future. but with 80% of Cuba’s foreign earnings coming from sugar. because Cuba’s diversification away from sugar required substantial imports of the capital goods that would make this possible. It produced the delegation of executive responsibility and financial accountability to the individual enterprises themselves and the demand that they pay stricter attention to profitability in future. however. It also threw planning into a sharp crisis. markedly lowering growth aims and involving a massive cut of 25% in 1977 state expenditure. but the creation of new layers of privileged individuals who are directly dependent upon the Cuban bureacuracy for their continuing prosperity. In effect. [46] The militarisation of the economy has not. Power resides in the 18 overlapping members of the Politburo and its Secretariat. Only 3 people are members of all three bodies – Fidel. The increasing differentiation within the Cuban working class (the Advanced Workers Movement) is not. the fruit of a differential development of political consciousness among sections of workers. Raul Castro is his deputy in each case. his brother Raul Castro and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez. whatever the “state of the parties” the relationship between the Cuban state and the mass of the people remains unchanged. That in turn required foreign exchange. President of the Council of Ministers. the Council of Ministers and the Council of State elected (by acclaim) by the National Assembly. the internal struggle within the bureauracy continues.played the crucial role in cementing together and structuring the relatively stable Cuban ruling class of the past 10 years. Skilled personnel have been re-introduced and there has been a distribution of resources throughout the economy that is much more rationally tied in with the regime’s goals of development and accumulation. [48] . a severe balance of payments crisis was the inevitable result. The downturn of the world economy in 1975 affected Cuba deeply. Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Top of page Cuban state capitalism’s subordination to the USSR Since 1970 sugar has not been allowed to disrupt the rest of the economy as it did before then. Today. all leading posts in Cuban organisations are determined in the last analysis within this tiny circle of power. whose domination is and will for the foreseeable future be unchallenged. and has recently become Minister of Education. [47] In addition there is no doubt at all that the crisis would have been much worse if the Cuban regime had not already made major attacks on the working class. Fidel is First Secretary of the Communist Party. and the price of sugar dropping rapidly in the 1975 crisis. yet. The first five years of the 1970s therefore saw a much healthier growth rate in the Cuban economy. attacks which they are bound to repeat more ferociously as the present world crisis deepens. been a magic wand eliminating Cuba’s problems of underdevelopment. then.

Cuba has become an international tentacle of Russian state capital. a “disgusting. as the huge levels of Russian aid indicate. Already in 1969 Castro was praising the Peruvian regime that came to power in a military coup a year before as a “new phenomenon” with “a group of . but western-style economy through the abrupt destruction of the trade and investment link with the US. They were however prevented from achieving it by means of a mixed. But there is no chance of this happening in the short term. But this transformation has come about not as a result of the intentions of the revolutionaries of 1959. Cuban state capitalism is at the present time a completely dependent formation. a “ministry of colonies of the United States”. revolting den of corruption”. In the medium term therefore. [50] Yet within a very short time – less than a year – this whole position was revealed as empty rhetoric. Relations with other Latin American countries could only be restored if not only were OAS sanctions rejected. But unlike Russia or China.Cuba has been tranformed into a society in which the state owns and organises production in all the significant areas (though about a third of agriculture is still in the private sector). Russia and the East accounted for two thirds of Cuba’s trade even before the 1975 crisis forced a still heavier concentration on these sources. [49] As industrialisation proceeds. discredited cesspool”. more and more based on Russian technology. just when Russia’s allies in Eastern Europe have been developing greater economic – and therefore also political – independence from Russia the reverse is happening in Cuba. For all intents and purposes therefore. of course. Castro originally (and not inaccurately) referred to the Organisation of American States (OAS) as a “putrid. The result has been both the transformation of the Cuban economy into a state capitalist one. to which Cuba would only return if the “imperialists and their puppets were kicked out first”. this dependence is bound to grow further. things could develop differently – as they have in Russia’s Eastern European allies in the past 15 years. and the transference of depen-dence from the USA to the USSR. In the long term. Top of page Cuba’s foreign policy How does Cuba’s foreign policy fit this picture? It was with respect to Latin America that Cuban foreign policy has been most clearly defined. In addition to the massive size of Russian aid to Cuba (equal to twenty times the average per-capita aid from all sources to the rest of Latin America). Certainly they wanted an independent Cuban developing economy. Since the onset of the 1975 crisis these levels have increased even further. but also if these countries had a revolution and if they condemned US crimes against Cuba as well. And it was Castro’s clarion call to revolution on the continent that established his revolutionary credentials during the high point of the “revolutionary” period in the late 1960s.

but both of whom were prepared to act relatively independently of the United States. of course and crucially – Cuba’s following the interests of Russia that explains the 1969 turn to the ‘nationalistic’ dictators. he has now reduced that to support of any regime that opposes American interests. which was legitimately fighting against the Ethiopian occupying forces. Peru’s new dictator. the Cubans were much more acceptable than Russian troops would have been. was his continued persecution and imprisonment of Peruvian revolutionaries like Hugo Blanco. But it only . Castro has therefore turned full circle. (They were certainly much cheaper and probably a great deal more effective too. Coming from a 3rd world country themselves. [52] The situation has developed further since then. General Velasco. neither of whom had introduced any nationalisation or other “socialist” measures at all. but all too few learnt any lessons from it. And of course it is the Russian connection that explains the role of the Cuban armed forces in Africa. In Angola the USSR provided the military hardware and the Cubans the troops to holster the efforts of the MPLA – the legitimate national liberation movement. Argentina has diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba. From what we have said already. It was also. From beginning with the notion that what was needed was a revolutionary foreign policy. The OAS policy of isolating Cuba was quietly dropped in 1975. and Castro became close associates.progressive military playing a revolutionary role”. that Cuba’s ‘revolutionary’ phase as far as foreign policy is concerned. diplomatic relations being restored and Velasco proposing (unsuccessfully) in the OAS that sanctions should be droppedApart from nationalising US oil interests (hardly in themselves ‘revolutionary’ Frei’s Christian Democrat regime in Chile had already proposed as much in its copper industry). therefore. Velasco’s main claim to fame at the time he was receiving Castro’s accolades. The Russians and the Cubans initially extended aid to the Eritrean liberation movement. and that the action was designed as a means of strengthening the hand of the Russians in their inter-imperialist rivalry with the Americans. and now even one of the most right wing and repressive regimes in the continent. [51] Nor was the Peruvian case an isolated example. it is clear that to attribute the Cuban action to the ‘progressive’ nature of the regime would be to fly in the face of all the evidence to the contrary provided by Castro’s friendly relations with Latin American military dictators. [53] We have argued. and (c) short-lived. was (a) mainly rhetorical. This analysis was strikingly confirmed shortly afterwards in the horn of Africa. leading to Castro supporting right-wing military dictatorships on the continent. (b) conditioned by Cuba’s isolation from the rest of Latin America. and since then there have been tentative (and as yet unsuccessful) measures to reopen some direct US/Cuba links. The reality is that Castro was acting as Brezhnev’s agent. however reactionary it is – a position that he himself has explicitly admitted to. In the early 1970s similar relations developed with the Panamanian military regime of General Torrijos and the Ecuadorian autocrat Velasco Ibarra. Those with illusions in Castro were shocked and disarmed by this volte-face.

growth has been presented as equivalent to socialism. if the working class is to carry out that function because a dependent capitalism has failed to develop those resources.needed the Ethiopians to switch allegiance from the US to the USSR for this policy to be sharply reversed. if by socialism we understand that qualitative change in the nature and possession of political power. . We do not debate Cuba in the abstract. it has been the desire of every capitalist class to encourage the working class to submit voluntarily to their own exploitation. There can be no workers’ state without the working classes. [54] Top of page For the self-emancipation of the working class These consequences of the development of state capitalism in Cuba. That is the sole guarantee that it will be the interests of the majority that are expressed through the state. was the sole criterion according to which the Cubans operated. The interests of the state have been in conflict with the needs of the workers more than once – the response has been a series of increasingly draconian measures designed to maintain the continuing exploitation of the working class despite their discontent. If it fails to reconcile those two things. then the state is exercising to its full extent a capitalist function in a capitalist way. Accumulation has taken precedence. any more than it is when we discuss Russia. there is no guarantee whatsoever in the sincerity or commitment of a leadership which proclaims itself the representative and the substitute for the working class. but for all that the Eritreans were cynically sacrificed without the least hesitation by Cuba and Russia. then it must do so in the context of a form of power that is proletarian. The emphasis throughout has been on discipline. both at home and abroad. leading to a flow of military aid from the Cubans and the Russians to the Ethiopian army of occupation instead. But there is no iron law in that. is the conscious repossession of their world by the workers. Russian foreign policy. That Cuba has succeeded in this – and there is no doubt that it has done so more successfully than any other state capitalist regime – is no evidence that it is socialist. to repeat it once again. reconciling workers’ democracy with the demands of accumulation. the inter-imperialist rivalry between it and the USA. Yet if the task of accumulation is urgent. it is not a matter of the “correct line”. that is essentially the function of a bourgeoisie in capitalism. loyalty – not on the creative transformation of a society from one based on exploitation to one organised around the fulfilment of need. are important. socialism. It should be clear that the Cuban masses did not make the Cuban revolution. obedience. After all. To accept Cuba as a socialist country would have a series of implications for our understanding of what is meant by socialism. Yet the history of post-revolutionary Cuba is that of a separation between state and masses through a network of organisations which mobilise the masses but do not provide forms of direct and permanent involvement in the whole process of political life. Nothing about the nature of the struggle in Eritrea itself had changed. For the political question remains – how can the working people create through their own intervention the institutions and organisations that will defend their gains and create a workers’ state.

238-33. Revolution and Reaction in Cuba 1933-1960. Raids and Reconstructions. the modus vivendi it has reached with the Russian metropolis and its arrival at the negotiating tables of the international order have ensured. Dynamics of the Cuban Revolution. p. . pp. and reconciled itself to an accommodation with the existing world order.M. pp. then they too will have to overthrow a national state and its bureaucracy which has. for the US State Department’s position in 1961-62. that only the international revolution can effect the redistribution of the world’s resources that will release Cuba. But it became clear that rapid accumulation. there could be no emancipation of the working classes. New York 1978. in a period of world crisis. in its turn.Could it have been otherwise? The origins of the distortion of the Cuban economy. and the central problem in 1959 was still how to accumulate.200. Yet without the full development of the productive forces. cit. 6. industrialise. Cuba entered a new dependency. Now. If the interests of the Cuban working class lie in the international socialist revolution. J. T. Cuba – Socialism and Development. We have referred throughout to the “Cuban Communist Party” (CCP). and from 1963-1965 as PURS. Yet the truth of the matter is that within its narrow confines.. could only offer a “socialism” that involved the equitable division of scarcity and poverty. It remains as true now as it was for Lenin in 1917. H. Only in 1965 did it revert to the “Cuban Communist Party” name. S. The best discussion of Cuban agriculture by far is R. Hansen.221. Cuba is once again the victim of the unequal international distribution of the productive forces. its subservience to another economic centre to which it was forced to sacrifice the development of its own productive forces. For a time. and thus escape from the circle. become an obstacle to the transformation of the world. with all its attendant sacrifices. op. New York 1970. 3. 5. See S. Until 1961 it was called the PSP. which has been and remains its only priority. pp. from 1961-1963 as ORI. And it is. Middletown 1976. the “optimism of the will” – the belief that ideas were enough – sustained a politics of sacrifice. Notes 1. For that bureaucracy.74-75. Castro’s Revolution: Myth and Reality.5-10. though it has gone through a number of changes. Draper. ensconced in the state. op. Draper. The iron circle of dependency closed through the centuries. Enzenburger. the survival of its national state. Farber. only at that – international – level that Cuba’s problem can be solved.cit. Farber. ultimately. 4. Dumont. See the introduction of T. coincide with the moment of its “discovery” by Europe in 1492. London 1976. there is in Cuba today a class which dominates that society. London 1962.156-161 for a thorough discussion of this question.. for the moment at least. For the 1959 reform see pp. The Castro brothers secured complete control over it in 1963 with the expulsion of some of the old guard of the party. and which has benefited in power terms from the present course of events. 2. p. Yet in the end.

See N.20.70. Ibid. 21. 1968. pp. Cornell 1970. and On economic planning in J. Quoted on p. Venceremos: speeches and writings of Che Guevara. – in fact it is about 2. S. pp. sometimes quite wildly. p.). 31.387-400. Pittsburgh 1979.28. this note is missing. Harris. Boletin Estadistico. 15. London 1973. 12a. 18.7. p.5. Our industrial tasks. See Blasier & Mesa-Lago (ed. indicates a rise in living standards of about 6% in 1961-63. O’Connor. 16.218 8. p. op.). Sorry. J.cit. Sorry. London. 23. 10. J. Guevara. pp. Sorry. between 5 and 65 (US) cents per pound. 14. 9.234-45. 13. Goldenberg.cit. op.389. R.cit.. p. Farber. The Mandate of Heaven. S. R. op. A.48-59.. Cuba in the World.5 acres – MG) The 1959 reform did however resemble quite closely the initial reforms in Eastern Europe – in the late 1940s – but not the “collectivisations” of the early 1950s. (A hectare is about the same as an acre. London 1978. 20.7. Lowy’s very idealistic portrayal of Che in The Marxism of Che Guevara. admit as much. Dumont.). 1973.75.72-71. op. J. R.199.. 17. 12. Farber. Dumont. p. University of Pittsburgh PhD thesis.215.71 of M. Granma. cit.. 22.cit. p. 24. this note is missing. Gerasi (ed. Gerassi (ed. See C. Dumont. The Origins of Socialism in Cuba. 13a.347. quite consistent with the puritan traditions of Chibas and the Ortodoxo Party. p. 14a.). Havana 1966. p. Gerassi (ed. Since 1959 the world market price has fluctuated. The Cuban Revolution and Latin America.. See B.cit. op. op. 11...cit. Evans. 19. pp. p. . All this was of course. The Moral versus Material Incentives Controversy. Even such strongly pro-US sources such as B. this note is missing. op.

Cambridge (Mass. Haernecker in Cuba dictatura o democrazia?. Karol. Mexico. Cuba in the 1970s (op.26-28. 29.93-98. Mesa-Lago.17779. An analysis of the Poder Popular can be found in Peter Binns: “ Popular Power” in Cuba. 41. Mesa-Lago. Ibid. p. Quoted in C. pp. 42.. pp.S. For example by M.p. cit).. K. Cuba: Order and Revolution. Revolutionary Change in Cuba.cit.. J.68-73. chapter 8. Gonzalez. p. Ibid. 30. p. in International Socialism Journal 2:21 (Autumn 1983). 32. Cuba in the 1970s.13544. 33. Cuban Studies.220. 36.cit. The expansion in rice production did not however imply an increased consumption.. Dominguez. And was bitterly denounced by Douglas Bravo. p. 1967. See the Boletin Estadistico. 6:2. p.. For expulsion of the micra faction in 1968 and the boycott of the Bucharest meeting of the Communist Parties in the same year. C. . Guerrillas in Power.) 1979. Ibid.). pp. cit). 34.45-46.45-46.I. 28.cit. London 1971. Mesa-Lago (ed. 39. for a discussion of the origins of this phenomenon.I. See A.). merely a substitution of home grown rice for Chinese imported rice. 44. Cuba in the 1970s (op. 35. pp.59. Dominguez.7. leader of the Venezuelan guerrillas for doing so. op. 40. See E. pp.pp. 1975.. pp. See Dominguez. Mesa-Lago. 37. 26.. Ibid. Cuba in the 1970s (op. Ibid. Havana 1973. 31. (July 1976). 43.159. C.513. C.25. C. 33a. Cuba: Castroism and Communism 1959-66. Albuquerque 1978. 38. 27. Suarez. Cambridge. Pittsburgh 1971.159-60. Quoted in J. pp. op.84-86.83. pp. Mesa-Lago.

We have referred throughout to the “Cuban Communist Party” (CCP).5-10. Hansen.15. Dynamics of the Cuban Revolution. In addition to the above. this shows how Cuba’s convertible currency earnings declined by 50% from 1975-76. See Granma. p. October 1978. 52. In Granma.76.cit. The Castro brothers secured complete control over it in 1963 with the expulsion of some of the old guard of the party.12). New York. 53. Castro’s Revolution: Myth and Reality. F.71 and 1.12. (1975). according to the caption underneath. and from 1963-1965 as PURS.71. T. . Hugo Blanco himself is a case in point. 54.4. but western sources have put the figure at about 8% (See National Westminster Country Reports. 20.73. Until 1961 it was called the PSP. Blanco. 49. though it has gone through a number of changes. Instead of revealing the class nature of Cuban society to him. Castro in Granma. 46. 1972.. pp. See Junta Central de Planificacion.5.7. Land or Death: The Peasant Struggle in Peru. p. Hence the sickening photograph in a recent issue of Granma in which.200.69.M. 48. Much of the growth reflected the boom in world commodity prices of the early 1970s. “Fidel and Mengitsu (the Ethiopians’ butcher in chief – PB/MG) attentively follow the brilliant military exercises performed in the Ogaden” (Granma. London 1976. op. 4.2. 19.2005 Notes 1. See Ibid. 51. New York 1978. p. and to an even lower figure in 1977. London 1962. Last updated 27.74. Enzenburger. p. from 1961-1963 as ORI. 2.12.78. 26. H. J. Cuba. p. he merely confesses that it was “disheartening” (H. p.10. Junta Central de Planificacion – Direccion Central de Estadistica). 50. Raids and Reconstructions. According to official Cuban sources the growth rate in these years was nearly 15% (See Cuba 1975. pp. Fidel’s candid self-criticism of the 1966-70 period can be found in Granma. 47. Only in 1965 did it revert to the “Cuban Communist Party” name.74-75.. See Lloyds Bank.1. April 1975). Economic Report: Cuba.45. of which sugar was one of the most extreme examples.10: “many of the increases in production and productivity in recent years were the result of tough measures against absenteeism and the introduction of piecework systems”. Draper. 1.

p. Farber. Dumont. Dumont.cit. Since 1959 the world market price has fluctuated.5. (A hectare is about the same as an acre. S. sometimes quite wildly. quite consistent with the puritan traditions of Chibas and the Ortodoxo Party.199. London.). op. 7.28. and On economic planning in J.72-71. Sorry.221. p. for the US State Department’s position in 1961-62. Farber. Even such strongly pro-US sources such as B. p. J. p. pp. Guevara. O’Connor. 6. Dumont. Goldenberg. – in fact it is about 2.70. 5. Boletin Estadistico. All this was of course. pp.238-33. op.3. Middletown 1976. 12a.7. New York 1970. p. Sorry. The best discussion of Cuban agriculture by far is R.cit. admit as much. S.cit. Draper. 12. Gerasi (ed. S. indicates a rise in living standards of about 6% in 1961-63.. R. R. between 5 and 65 (US) cents per pound. 9. See Blasier & Mesa-Lago (ed. Cuba – Socialism and Development. p. op. Cornell 1970.). op. this note is missing. Havana 1966. 1968...215. op. Our industrial tasks. 18.. R. The Origins of Socialism in Cuba. 10. Farber. Cuba in the World. See S. 31. 4. 17. Farber. op.75. 15.234-45. The Cuban Revolution and Latin America. p. Sorry. op. Ibid. 11.5 acres – MG) The 1959 reform did however resemble quite closely the initial reforms in Eastern Europe – in the late 1940s – but not the “collectivisations” of the early 1950s. See the introduction of T. p. pp. Venceremos: speeches and writings of Che Guevara. Dumont.20. 13a.347. 14a. Revolution and Reaction in Cuba 1933-1960.cit. cit.cit.156-161 for a thorough discussion of this question. Granma. 19. p.. this note is missing. 14. See C. Pittsburgh 1979. . 13.218 8.. For the 1959 reform see pp. cit. 16. this note is missing..

.I. See B. J. Dominguez.).p.84-86. 26. The Moral versus Material Incentives Controversy. 30. . p.) 1979.. pp. 36. The expansion in rice production did not however imply an increased consumption. London 1971. And was bitterly denounced by Douglas Bravo. 1973. Cuba in the 1970s (op. 22. Cuba: Order and Revolution.59. K.. in International Socialism Journal 2:21 (Autumn 1983). For expulsion of the micra faction in 1968 and the boycott of the Bucharest meeting of the Communist Parties in the same year. Mesa-Lago. Cuba in the 1970s. Pittsburgh 1971. Evans. C. Ibid. p. 37. pp. 25.45-46. op.159-60. Mesa-Lago. pp. Dominguez. merely a substitution of home grown rice for Chinese imported rice. 33. Karol. University of Pittsburgh PhD thesis.cit. p. 35. cit). 32. Quoted in J. 24. pp. pp. Harris. 33a. See N.. London 1978. Cuba in the 1970s (op.20.I. 34.71 of M. Ibid.387-400.cit. Guerrillas in Power. 29.513. The Mandate of Heaven. C. A. J..cit. 28. cit). Gerassi (ed. Quoted in C. London 1973. 27. Gerassi (ed. leader of the Venezuelan guerrillas for doing so. Albuquerque 1978. Quoted on p. C.48-59. Lowy’s very idealistic portrayal of Che in The Marxism of Che Guevara.83. 21.. op.S. p.13544. op. 31. Mesa-Lago.389.159. pp. pp.).17779.. Ibid. An analysis of the Poder Popular can be found in Peter Binns: “ Popular Power” in Cuba. J.). Cambridge (Mass.. Ibid. pp. pp. 23.220. Mesa-Lago (ed.26-28. 38.45-46.pp.93-98. p. Ibid. Revolutionary Change in Cuba.

51. In addition to the above. 40. and to an even lower figure in 1977. See E. Havana 1973.69. 54. Suarez.5. See the Boletin Estadistico.10. See Granma. See Dominguez. C. 1972. for a discussion of the origins of this phenomenon. chapter 8. p.71 and 1.cit. 20. Cuba. 50. See Junta Central de Planificacion. Castro in Granma. Mesa-Lago. op. 49. New York.cit. 43. 44. Junta Central de Planificacion – Direccion Central de Estadistica).68-73. p. Gonzalez. 42.1. See Lloyds Bank. (July 1976).. pp. See Ibid. 52. Hugo Blanco himself is a case in point.78. . 4. See A. according to the caption underneath..7. of which sugar was one of the most extreme examples.74. According to official Cuban sources the growth rate in these years was nearly 15% (See Cuba 1975. Instead of revealing the class nature of Cuban society to him.71. but western sources have put the figure at about 8% (See National Westminster Country Reports. Cuban Studies.cit. p. this shows how Cuba’s convertible currency earnings declined by 50% from 1975-76. Blanco.12. (1975). Cambridge.73.39. 1. Land or Death: The Peasant Struggle in Peru. In Granma. p.12.76. 26. 46.7. “Fidel and Mengitsu (the Ethiopians’ butcher in chief – PB/MG) attentively follow the brilliant military exercises performed in the Ogaden” (Granma.15.). 19. p.12). op. October 1978. Much of the growth reflected the boom in world commodity prices of the early 1970s. Haernecker in Cuba dictatura o democrazia?. 6:2.. he merely confesses that it was “disheartening” (H.4. April 1975). 53. 1967. Mexico. For example by M. Fidel’s candid self-criticism of the 1966-70 period can be found in Granma. 41. Economic Report: Cuba.10: “many of the increases in production and productivity in recent years were the result of tough measures against absenteeism and the introduction of piecework systems”. 1975. Hence the sickening photograph in a recent issue of Granma in which. 47. 48. Cuba: Castroism and Communism 1959-66. Cuba in the 1970s (op. 45. p. F.