Anti-imperialist Paths and Cuba

July 7, 2017 |

By Harold Cardenas  (La Joven Cuba)

HAVANA TIMES — He was enlisted in the United States army and was getting ready to go to war. He got on a navy ship but before leaving, his father’s friend managed to take him off. He wasn’t old enough to sign himself up, but he wanted to fight. That young Cuban was destined to become the most anti-imperialist figure of his time. His name was Julio Antonio Mella.

Anti-imperialist paths have unexpected beginnings. Little Tony Guiteras’ first words were “I want to go out”, later he would be labeled “the most anti-US and anti-imperialist” person by Time magazine. Years later, another child sent a letter in English to President Roosevelt expressing his admiration, his name was Fidel Castro and he would be an anti-imperialist leader for the rest of his life. The fight against domination and inequality is the child of political thought, not slogans and indoctrination.

During the time of the Platt Amendment, the vast majority of Cubans were converted into anti-interfering people. So much so that when Estrada Palma supported the second military intervention in Cuba, it cost him his career. Since then, anti-imperialists of the liberal positivist kind, such as Emilio Roig, Ramiro Guerra or Fernando Ortiz, have multiplied. The Cuban intellectual circle became profoundly anti-imperialist, even those who weren’t Marxists.

The generation which was most influenced by capitalism and US cultural codes carried out the Revolution, and they saw the greater fight against global ruling powers coming even before it triumphed. Anti-Imperialism was a natural political position in vast social sectors, which adopted this position first and then read Marxist and Leninist literature. The native socialism of Mella, Guiteras and Roa proved to be right path. The greatest mistakes in the Cuban revolutionary movement came from trying to apply methods which were conceived in Moscow to Cuba, which prioritized the USSR’s interests above the Cuban people’s anti-imperialist and national freedom struggle.

The battle between Cuba and the ruling sectors of US politics for half a century, ended up converting the island into a symbol of anti-imperialism, but there isn’t a fight without a price to pay. The island would see political alliances form and disappear without the heralded global revolution taking place, and the Cuban people would be the most systematic in resisting these attacks.

With the Revolution in power, a lot of what used to be spontaneous now started to become planned. It still remains to be seen what the effect of anti-imperialist paternalism has had on the Cuban people, and how much this can damage spontaneity and social initiative. A profound analysis of what imperialism really also needs to be carried out, an analysis which doesn’t just simplify the phenomenon to being the United States but deciphers the ruling and liberating forces in every country which has the intention to dominate. There aren’t bad countries, but there are bad politicians.

Anti-imperialist paths need to be drawn out on the basis of thought, not ignorant enthusiasm or discipline. When the Revolution triumphed, Narciso Lopez’s name was removed from many of Havana’s streets, statues of Republican presidents on G Street in Vedado were taken down yet, we kept Lawton, a US general who took part in the military intervention in Cuba, a symbol of imperialism in practice, as the name of a neighborhood.

A lot needs to be said about this subject, but the point is that life isn’t black and white, just as anti-imperialist paths aren’t either.

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  • Moses Patterson

    The anti-Imperialism sloganeering has come about at the expense of crowding out a pro-Cuba positive agenda. That’s to say, being strongly anti-US has cost the Cuban people the opportunity to fortify a pro-Cuba policy.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    When Fidel Castro as a child, sent his letter to President Roosevelt he unsuccessfully asked for money. Seeking support from others was a practice he successfully pursued when adult, receiving support from the USSR and Venezuela to prop up his regime’s failing economy. Brother Raul has followed in Fidel’s footsteps with initially Venezuela and then China where the debt has risen to over $25 billion. Another essential support has been remittances from Cuban exiles living in capitalist countries and tourists from capitalist countries.
    Yakking about “anti-imperialism” is merely a cover for maintaining dictatorship.

  • Nick

    Excellent and thoughtful article.
    Cuba has indeed paid a price for it’s anti imperialist stance. However it has achieved real independence as apposed to the semi-independence of the first half of the 20th.
    Cuba paved the way for other countries of Latin America/Caribbean to be freer from the local regional power.
    However, the outcomes are far from perfect and Harold is correct to say that ‘life isn’t black and white’.
    Unfortunately, certain contributors to this comments forum disagree and can see no further than ‘black and white’, frequently describing everything in terms of some great struggle between ‘good and evil’. Pure fantasy.