The Mentality of a Cuban Revolutionary

By German Piniella  (Progreso Semanal)

HAVANA TIMES – As a young Cuban, I suffered in my own flesh the Batista dictatorship.

As a young Cuban, I joined the generalized euphoria of January 1, 1959.

As a young man, I accepted the justice of the revolutionary laws that set the country on its head.

I knew that, due to my social background, from those moments I was going to have less.

I realized that, from my Jesuit formation reinforced by the teachings of Jose Marti, superfluous possessions were not necessary, and that sharing and surrendering were.

I received offers to work abroad and, as a young patriot, I did not accept them.

As a young patriot, I joined all the epic efforts (major and minor) to which my generation was summoned.

As a young patriot, I renounced a personal vocation for a greater social vocation.

For some of the above reasons, and for trying to be consistent with them, I suffered, along with other colleagues, the incomprehension of the bureaucracy and more than one opportunist.

By rebelling against this incomprehension, we suffered harsh sanctions in the name of the revolution.

By knowing that we were not more important than the country we continue to live punished and with the same convictions.

Again, as a young patriot I gave up another personal vocation for another major patriotic vocation.

Photo: Elio Delgado Valdes

Like millions of young Cubans, I gave up vacations to cut sugar cane, harvest potatoes, clean fields sown in sweet potatoes, work on the docks, clean up shit in dairies (strangely, some of the tasks they imposed on me as a punishment).

Not so young, I witnessed with grief how old comrades, some of important battles, left the country. They believed that their personal goals were more important than the dream.

Although some consider them deluded or outdated, I’ve also witnessed how former comrades, of important and minor battles are still young pursuing an elusive Utopia.

Arriving at an age when many justify leaving the sacrifice behind, I refused to grow old and accept cynicism or disbelief as a beacon. I keep searching, because the search is a form of the encounter.

This is not an autobiographical summary: it is the brief account of the lives of millions of my brothers and sisters.

  • grok

    Stalinism — and everything it represents — has been what must be the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century, bar none. This blog is full of articles and commentary which doggedly and bullheadedly confuse stalinism with socialism, communism and marxism. U.S. Imperialism has clearly won the hearts & minds of generations soured on the opportunist, bureaucratic stalinist perversion of socialism and marxism.

    STILL… the World proletariat continues to resist: elsewhere, if not on the essentially backwater island that is Cuba.

    • N.J. Marti

      Coercive imposition of bureaucratic controls is what became of socialism. It is not how Marx saw the evolution towards socialism. State oppression replacing corporate exploitation was not a great bargain. Taming the worse of capitalist corporate worker exploitation via regulations and social programs has turned out to be a better deal for the proletariat. Capitalism is not what it was in 1900.

      • grok

        Bulldada. I reiterate: stalinism IS NOT SOCIALISM.

        The logic of Capitalism remains the logic of Capitalism. It is more decadent than ever — in spite of World technological progress. You speak like someone of the pseudo-Left: those who do indeed make their (own, narrow) peace with the World oligarchs.

        The past 40 years of Neoliberal counterrevolution — Started under Reagan and Thatcher — is ALL about *reversing* the gains of the Postwar ‘Welfare State’ rotten class compromise. I don’t see where your complacency comes from.

        • Keith Petreman

          Stalinism is when socialists retreat from the world into their own dogmatism in order to deflect criticism of their own inadequacy due to an external situation imposed on them by their class enemies. Rather than building towards a socialist future and educating the masses, Stalinists declare defeat in the face of difficulties and blame it on “decadence” which they conflate with progress.

          • grok

            I’d say it was more the expression of bureaucratic self-interest elbowing-aside a weak and weakened proletariat (essentially hardly existing in Cuba). AFAIC: the more numerous and advanced the proletariat — the less leeway any possible internal agents of the external class Enemy have to derail a socialist revolution.

  • rodrigvm

    My congratulation!

  • Moses Patterson

    I admire your conviction. But you have been hoodwinked! The Castros have pulled a fast one that has lasted 58 years.

    • N.J. Marti

      Poor guy. It takes a heavy dose of denial to not recognize the fools bargain. Very few countries have as poor a track record as Castro’s Cuba over last 58 years. Healthcare, education and social justice are all achievable within a liberal democratic system.

    • grok

      The proper analysis remains the trotskyist one (try wsws.org). Not this petit-bourgeois ‘let’s-give-Capitalism-one-more-chance’ crapola…

      • Moses Patterson

        Rather than debate theory, I will pose one question: where does your strategy get the capital infusion Cuba so badly needs to move forward? C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-M

  • emagicmtman

    A wonderful attitude, German! You have nothing to regret, really. The world needs more “inner directed” people like you, who remain faithful to the ideals and spirit of the Revolution, but without being uncritical or having the simple-minded optimism–“this is the best of all possible worlds”– of a Candide. As they used to say during the early days of the Revolution: “!Fiel! !Fiel a Cuba! “Fiel a La Revolucion!” The Revolution is evolving; in fact, it has always been evolving, from the first day, but It will now take a quantum leap and its “electrons” will enter a more highly energized state.

    • Moses Patterson

      Evolving? Are you serious? Devolving maybe. The Castro revolution has failed. The only change that will make a difference is a move towards capitalism.

      • grok

        Stalinists hate trotskyists… But there we have the essential difference, since Lenin’s death (leaving aside all the pro-stalinoid/trade-union-bureaucrat/social-democrat pseudo-trotskyists, who have fallen by the wayside of History).

        • Griffin

          Yada, yada, yada… yes, I know how irritatingly pedantic Trotskyites thrill to the tedious arguments with how you disagree with Stalinists on all those important details such as who to jail and whether the executions should be on a Tuesday or a Sunday. But to the rest of us ignorant “capitalists” you are all the same Communist assholes.