The Objective Truth About Cuba

January 19, 2012 | Print Print |

Elio Delgado Legon*

Photo: Linda Williams

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 18 — Many things are published about Cuba around the world, and each one claims to be the truth. Some of these are half-truths blended with lies and nuanced distortions – sometimes written and published out of ignorance of the true circumstances here in Cuba; other times with malicious intent to denigrate the country.

Some people write about Cuba after having gone decades without setting foot on the island, or never having been here at all. Regardless of whether they mean no harm or not, this is irresponsible – an act that no respectable journalist or writer should ever commit.

The first lie that is repeated constantly in the press around the world is that Cuba is a communist regime. But I have to ask: What is a communist regime? No one knows, because none has ever existed on our planet.

Communism was a utopia, a dream of Karl Marx. In his time, after having thoroughly studied the evolution of society and in his desire for a dignified life for the working class (the class that creates wealth), he thought that it was possible and necessary to build a perfect society called communism. He was alluding to primitive communal society, where there was no exploitation of people by people.

Unquestionably, the thinking of Marx — from his viewpoint in the nineteenth century — was outstanding. He looked at the development of the capitalist system, which as he said was “born dripping mud and blood from every pore.”

The exploitation of the working class was ruthless. Workers had no rights, they toiled endless hours for miserable wages and were treated like slaves.

Following the ideas of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and later Vladimir Lenin, workers in many countries began to fight for their rights and established parties that represented their interests. Many of these parties gave themselves the name “Communist.”

The workers’ struggle began paying off. Gradually they gained rights and took back from the capitalists small portions of the wealth they had created.

The owners of capital, never resigned to losing even the tiniest amount of their profits, threatened and attacked the communist parties and other organizations that represented the working class.

Opposed to the communist parties for being the bearers of Marx’s ideas concerning the exploitation of people by people and a new society in the future, they undertook a slanderous propaganda campaign that painted the communists as evil beings.  They attributed all sorts of contrived atrocities to confuse the masses and undermine the support those parties might have gained.

After decades of repeating this anti-communist propaganda, they managed to establish in many people a sense of danger whenever anyone mentioned the word “communist” or applied the label “Marxist.”

However, a communist society as envisioned by Marx implies the disappearance of social classes. It would be a society in which all people were equal, with neither the rich nor the poor; where there would be no money; where people would work only because of the high development of their consciousness and a sense of responsibility – presuming all of their basic needs would be satisfied. This means that each person would contribute according to their ability and receive according those needs.

This idyllic society, conceived by Marx in the nineteenth century, has never come true. And from my point of view, it will never be realized because the development of the capitalist system has exacerbated individualistic feelings and selfishness.

The progress of this system is based on consumerism and the constant creation of new needs in people, which have permeated their consciousness. Even when capitalism — which is now in its final phase — comes to an end, it will not be possible to build the society described by Marx in which everyone has a highly developed social consciousness.

From what has been explained above, I can affirm that they are deliberately lying when they say that Cuba is a communist regime, which they repeat so as to create a misconception about Cuban society among those people who were previously inoculated with an aversion to that notion.

Although the Cuban Constitution states in its preamble that we are building socialism with the ultimate goal of constructing a communist society, that’s a very long-term goal that cannot be achieved as long as societies based on exploitation exist in this world.

In Cuba, the revolution triumphed in January 1959. This was when we began building a more just society. It was when we enacted the first laws that benefited the poor, the perpetually exploited and the dispossessed.

The big capitalist interests — most of them from the United States — felt threatened and began a fight to the death against the Cuban Revolution, and in that struggle they have used every method at their disposal – including the mass media.
—–
(*) I am a Cuban who has lived for 75 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.


What's your opinion?

  • Elizabeth Faraone

    Beautifully written. Thank you, Elio. You’re a lovely person. I hope you live at least another 25 years.

    I read or heard somewhere that at the beginning of the “revolution”, Fidel Castro proposed the elimination of money, but those surrounding him discouraged this idea.

  • John

    You are right to a certain extent about human nature being selfish and that capitalism exacerbates those tendencies. To my mind we can only control those tendencies by democratic control of society at every level: every decision must be placed under the total scrutiny of working-class people and small farmers. If the accounts of every business are open for all to see then how can misappropriation take place?

    I support the Cuban revolution and recognise that there are many counter-revolutionary forces lurking in the background: but it seems a shame that Cuba doesn’t allow different socialist parties to form and stand in elections. This, I think, might produce meaningful change, without undermining the revolution.

  • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

    You are absolutely correct, Elio, in saying that communism is “a very long-term goal.” Socialism is supposed to be that bridge society to the far-in-the-future communist society in which there is no private property, no classes and probably even no money.

    The problem has been that revolutionary governments have mistaken the long-term attribute of “no private property” for an attribute that needs to be installed during the socialist bridge. By abolishing private property rights immediately–through state ownership of all the means of production–the socialist bridge has collapsed (Soviet Bloc), or been on the verge of collapse (Cuba) in every revolutionary country.

    What is needed is correction of our attitude toward private property rights during the socialist bridge period. Cuban socialism should retain and utilize these rights, value the participation of the small bourgeoisie in the socialist construction project, and build a dynamic, democratic and prosperous model of socialism.

  • http://www.alternavox.net Mikhail

    The problem with the logic John puts forward is that it doesn’t explain to me what he means by “other socialist parties” The REASON beyond all others Cuba has been able to withstand the eternal attempt to destroy is precisely because of the unity of the people. Fidel has seen this as paramount in not allowing that to splinter in useless groupings that will be picked out easily by a very powerful enemy. What there needs to be is ever more internal democracy ( and I am not talking about the western version) in the party and in society at large, but that will not come with forces who don’t want them to become more “democratic” (whatever that means) but simply aim to destroy it.

  • John Goodrich

    John,

    Socialism is socialism.

    The idea that you need more than one party or any part at all for that matter is a concept of the oxymoronic capitalist democracies.

    The original idea of the autochthonous Poder Popular system of the nominating and electing representatives individuals directly by their constituents (within a socialist economy) is superior to that of the so-called Western democracies where they are controlled by big money and where the candidates we are given to vote for are pre-selected by the twin parties of capitalism

    We could have twenty capitalist parties in the States and we’d have no more choice than we would with just one given how the parties vet/ select the candidates for whom we are allowed to vote and how their campaigns are financed by the top .001% of the people to elect those who will serve their financial backers.

    Political parties invariably ossify and become self-serving as has the PCC .

    It is best to eliminate all parties and hold large scale constituent meetings on a regular basis to nominate, elect, meet with, remove those non-party connected individuals nominated and elected by these constituent groups.

    The PCC has a part to play in explaining to those constituent groups what, why, when and how policies should be enacted to further the goals of (democratic) socialism.
    It’s time consuming for the working class but it is what democracy is all about.

    At present in Cuba, the PCC has a stultifying effect on that bottom-up democracy and it is no secret to Cubans that democratic reform is needed from the very top levels down to the CDRs..

    Adding another or many more parties only gets between the people and democracy.

    IMO

    • mike sheck

      Thanks.

  • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

    Addendum: The truth is that the socialist state, during the long bridge period, does not need to own all the land and all the instruments of production. There are some enterprises and some sectors that need to be 100% owned by socialist government, but most significant industry and commerce should be owned primarily by cooperative associates.

    Socialist government could then co-own silently and share quarterly distributions of profits, but leave micro-management up to the worker associates. Farmers, restaurateurs, shopkeepers and other small business persons could then own their enterprises, serve the people and feel at one with the objectives of socialist construction.

  • david gansel

    I submit that the defination of a “communist regime” is one in which a Communist Party monopolizes control over the political process

    • Walter Teague

      David, there are several problems with your effort at a simple definition. The biggest is that as a label it is most often used by pro-capitalists to denigrate any effort to build a non-capitalist economy. They hope that the label will stop any thinking or examination of the actual political or historical situation of the so labeled country.

      The logic is; Communist Parties are evil. Wherever they have existed, they have or will fail and therefor, not worth examining. Instead, whoever is opposed to them, is automatically good. In practice, this had even meant non-democratic even openly fascist regimes. The list is long, but fortunately has grown shorter in some place like Central or South America.

      Another part of the absolute think of labeling, is shown by that old joke; A copy says “Damn Communists” as he beats a counter-demonstrator who replies “But i am an Anti-Communist!” The cop responds “I don’t care what kind of communist your are! ” and continues to beat him.

      David, it is obvious that not all efforts to improve or change countries whether they are led by so-called democratic or socialist or communist parties are either successful or similar. Democracies are seldom very democratic (Money rules in most places where there are ballot systems), socialists come in all flavors and competence and some are hardly social or honest (but some socialist parties and efforts have succeeded in bringing us a long list of better social systems and protections. Do you need a list?) and then there are the thousands of Communist and or communist parties and efforts from ancient times to the modern examples. Again David, do you really think they are all the same or that they all were destined to fail because of some inherent evil? Where the early Christian or Pacific communist societies evil? And which ones were ever allowed to experiment in creating healthier societies or individuals without being attacked, undermined and maligned by powers bigger and more intrenched? When was the Cuban Communist Party ever allowed unfettered by foreign or internal sabotage to explore how to fulfill the aspirations of many Cubans?

      The core issue I believe has long been whether we or a group of us want to prosper by outwitting our “lessors” either by trickery or force or whether we would rather see our common efforts benefit the whole of our societies, including those who need care, like all children, elderly if you live long enough, and the less capable for whatever reason. I am not a Christian, but if Christ existed, seems like he would not have applauded the cleaver con-artists that rise to the top of the anti-social regimes.

      Thank you Elio Delgado Legon for your heartfelt thoughts.

      • John Goodrich

        Thank you Walter Teague for your very well written and very clear explanation of what communism, socialism and so-called democracies are and are not.

  • itsme

    not without some effort, I have read the whole article and 7 comments
    I would say it’s a fine piece of humour: unbeatable because unattainable
    * don’t get my point? just talk with a few people around you or read Agramonte’s graduation discourse (1866?), and you might start smiling
    good luck

  • david gansel

    Walter, You read a lot more into my comment than I intended. I was merely responding to Elio”s remark that “Communist regime” lacks an adequate definition. I don’t presume to tell the Cubans or anyone else what type of regime they should have. For what it’s worth, I would characterize Syria(and Iraq formerly) as living under a Baathist regime. The US has a two-party liberal regime–liberal because the citizen enjoys a reasonably high degree of freedom of political expression. I have no problem describing one-party regimes as dictatorial or totalitarian if there are no constraints on the ruling party’s freedom of action. This is not necessarilly a bad thing. I intend my remarks to be descriptive rather than normative.

  • Michael N. Landis

    [If this ideal city-state is to ever come into being, then…] “philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must] …genuinely and adequately philosophize.” (The Republic, 5.473d) Fidel, and other leaders of the revolution were genuinely such philosophers; like Jesus, however, perhaps they were too far ahead of their time (but it also seems equally as bootless to wait for the arrival of the New Jerusalem). Somewhere else in The Republic Socrates also says that such an ideal city-state may never come into being; yet that does not excuse us from trying to bring justice into this world. Fidel may be like Don Quixote, but for me the Man from La Mancha will always be someone to follow and to emulate. !Adelante! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Elio.

  • Mark G

    Not sure why Elio says it is a lie to say Cuba is ruled by a communist regime. What else do you call the Cuban Communist Party which rules Cuba and had a monopoly on political and military power for the past 53 years?

  • John Goodrich

    Mark G,

    As said, “communist regime” is just a U.S/European capitalist way of saying ” evil government, dictatorship, bad, not to be desired”
    It is a way to indoctrinate or rather, further indoctrinate an incredibly dumbed down population into fighting against their own best interests and it works.

    As a long time media critic i regularly listen to many right wing radio talk shows and Rush Limbaugh uses only the phrase “the Obama regime” when he talks about the government in order to make the Obama government seem evil.

    The word “regime” is a catchword; a buzz word intended and used to denigrate and has no place in a scholarly or unbiased discussion.

    Secondly communism is a FUTURE state and there is no existing “communist” society .

    Using the phrase “Communist government” is, while, accurate, still misleading to the 95% of the U.S public who do not know the difference between socialism and communism nor, for that matter how to accurately define either of these two philosophies. A Communist government at present only means a government controlled by a party that calls itself communist, nothing more and very much more is implied by using that phrase to a general public who can’t define socialist or communist accurately

    I hope this clarifies the language problem for you.

    If you say “communist regime” they think Stalinist USSR automatically

  • Mark G

    John, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    The ruling party in Cuba calls itself the Communist Party which in Article 5 of the Cuban Constitution says it follows Marxism-Leninism and is the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation.

    The dictionary definition of regime is an authoritarian government or a political system imposed from above. The Cuban government fits that definition making the use of the term ‘communist regime’ accurate and appropriate.

    • John Goodrich

      Mark,

      Note that the U.S is an oligopoly. That is rule by the few at the top of power and wealth.
      With the exception of Limbaugh, no media outlet uses the term “oligopolist regime” to describe the United States so when “communist regime” is used by a U.S citizen to describe Cuba, it comes across as hypocritical .

      A Communist party is a party that has at its center the aim to move that society to a communist future, future being the operative word..

      Cuba has a (reforming) state socialist economy .

      If you wouldn’t want the U.S government to be truthfully called an oligopolist regime then you should also not call Cuba’s government a communist (small “c” , philosophy) regime which is even less true than calling it a Communist (large”C’ , party) regime.

      The words “communism” and “socialism” have come to mean far more AND far less than their dictionary definitions much less the long and involved philosophies the words represent and they are commonly and deliberately misused by the Western/ corporate media to denigrate those terms for obvious reasons.

      Given the very low levels of sociological and political acumen in the U.S, use of the phrase “communist regime” is throwing gasoline on that raging fire of ignorance.

      IMO

  • John Goodrich

    Correction:

    Limbaugh uses the term “Obama regime” and not “oligopolist regime” as I wrote above .

  • david gansel

    Mark G and John G: My dictionary(Webster’s Unabridged Deluxe Second Edition) defines “regime” as simply 1) a political system and 2)a social system, a social order. This is the meaning I apply when using the term “communist regime.” I don’t believe we are required to drop terminology because it has been abused by propagandists. It is perfectly valid to point out that Communism is a future utopia as yet unrealized, but it is no less valid to characterize a regime by reference to the dominant party.

  • http://Z4W2 david gansel

    John and Mark, “oligopoly” means a market controlled or dominated by a few suppliers. Rule by the few is “oligarchy.” A point to consider is that all historical regimes have been oligarchies. I hesitate to belabor the point, but will nonetheless. If one believes that all political systems are “regimes”, then it is hardly hypocritical to refer as such to the Cuban system. As to the “raging fire of ignorance,” who among us can claim to be all-knowing or immune from error.

  • http://www.cubalibreydemocratica.blogspot.com Rafael Puente

    I am a Cuban who lived in Cuba 29 years, then 11 years in exiled. I am 40 years old now…I can tell you that Elio does not believe what he says and if he does most Cubans don’t even care. Younger generations like me don’t want any more revolutions….We want to work and raise our children in freedom and not in a dictatorial regimen like the one he defends. He is right when he says that there is not communism in Cuba, that was utopic,…what he did not says that in Cuba, since 1959 there is a cruel dictatorial regimen, controlled by a family that make the people believe that they have the power..and in Cuba nobody control not even their own houses. They government dictates even what time people should go to be…..Why youth in Cuba don’t want to stay in the island anymore…why? I was a classic example, being born under the revolution, belonging to the Communist Youth…I gave the very best years of my life to build a better place in Cuba, but once I asked a question that nobody wanted to answer…once I question the system and tried to find solutions…that the regimen didn’t like it…then, automatically became a target of the dictatorial repressive machine.
    Cuba has become hell for Cubans….the future is not good because the regimen has failed to recognized the need to open up Cuba for the benefit of Cuba. Violence, exile, prison, generalized prostitution,high suicide, unemployment, vulgarity, extremely poor hygienic conditions, institutionalized theft,etc…are some of the challenges Cuba and Cubans will have to face to rebuild our nation. I will leave the economic and politic issues aside otherwise I would never end.
    Feel no respect for Elio….at this point of the history of our nation and ignoring that our problem is not about having communism, socialism,etc…but the dictatorial regimen that chocks every single Cuban.

    • Luis

      “Violence, exile, prison, generalized prostitution,high suicide, unemployment, vulgarity, extremely poor hygienic conditions, institutionalized theft,etc…are some of the challenges Cuba and Cubans will have to face to rebuild our nation.”

      At least 7 out of your list of problems are reality in my country too. Some of them, like violence and unemployment, I guarantee that they are much worse down here in Brazil than in Cuba. Does it mean that I and my fellow countrymen also need to ‘rebuild’ our nation?

  • Jose

    In the US I can openly say that Obama, Bush or Clinton are idiots and publically denounce them or support them. In Cuba if you dare challenge the government you will suffer. In the US and most Latin American countries one can travel freely and obtain a passport to travel freely. How many Cuban tourists do you see traveling to any Latin American country on their own or anywhere for that matter? The only Cubans you see traveling on their own are refugees escaping from that island prison. What happended to that young man who asked the Cuban vice president why he could not get a passport to travel to see where Che Guevarra died?
    In Bolivia Cuban medics and doctors are forced to serve there and have their Cuban passports taken away so they can not defect.

    Cuba is a brutal totalitarian country run by a small corrupt group of thugs. I am blessed that my parents and I escaped from under that evil regime when I was young. I pray that someday the millions of Cuban people may travel freely back to the beautiful Island that is shackled by brutal oppressors.

    Jose Puentes

    • Luis

      “In the US I can openly say that Obama, Bush or Clinton are idiots and publically denounce them or support them. In Cuba if you dare challenge the government you will suffer.”

      And them what happens? Nothing. Those in power simply ignore you. In countries like yours and mine there is a much more advanced and subtle techniques of social control. Talk about repression, what happens when the establishment is truly challenged, like OWS? Police brutality.

      “American countries one can travel freely and obtain a passport to travel freely. How many Cuban tourists do you see traveling to any Latin American country on their own or anywhere for that matter? ”

      Now that’s a point I agree with you – Cuba has obsolete migration laws and ought to be changed.

      “Cuba is a brutal totalitarian country run by a small corrupt group of thugs. I am blessed that my parents and I escaped from under that evil regime when I was young.”

      Wow such ‘black-and-white’ thought is prejudicial to the debate. What about the ‘shades of gray’? Cuba is neither hell nor paradise, my friend.

    • Luis

      “In countries like yours and mine there ARE much more advanced and subtle techniques of social control.”