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Daily Archives: September 14, 2009

Travel agents urged to push for lifting of Cuba travel embargo

agents urged to push for lifting of Cuba By: Nadine GodwinSeptember 14, 2009

LAS VEGAS — Tony Martinez, a consultant on U.S.-Cuba policy issues, called on members of the U.S. travel industry to get involved with ending the Cuba embargo.

"Pro-embargo politics blocks you and your industry," Martinez said at TheTradeShow.

He added that the embargo policy has been a failure. "It has changed nothing," Martinez said.

The embargo policy stays in place because "it is about money," he said. A group of 5,000 Cuban-Americans spending about $1 million during congressional elections every two years "have had a great impact." They have kept Congress at bay even though a majority of Americans and even a majority of Cuban-Americans want the embargo lifted, he said.

Martinez was one of several speakers at TheTradeShow session called "Cuba: Breakthrough Opportunities for the U.S. Travel Industry." He also is a senior foreign policy adviser to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, but he said he was not participating in TheTradeShow in an official capacity and his remarks reflected his own opinions.

However, he reported on Governor Richardson's August trade mission to Cuba because the governor met with officials at the Cuba Ministry of . (A trade mission was possible because it is legal to export and agricultural products to Cuba.)

The tourism officials made it clear they were "eager to work with American businesses" to prepare for and receive American tourists, Martinez said.

He listed for TheTradeShow delegates the ways they can be involved:

• Get the newest regulations (updated because of new rules allowing Cuban-Americans to visit Cuba at will) and "get your business mind working" on the travel that can be done legally now. Get a license to sell Cuba travel and promote legal travel to Cuba.

• Discuss the matter with your representatives in Congress.

• See Cuba for yourself, and get your congressional representatives to visit, as well.

• Make a contribution to an organization that is campaigning to end the embargo. "Look at current politics and how politicians are raising large sums from small contributions. If all supporters [of eliminating the embargo] gave $10 each, that would be enough." Martinez said money could be given to a group like the U.S.-Cuba Political Action Committee, but there are others.

John McAuliff, coordinator of the Travel Industry Network on Cuba, added his own suggestions:

• Sign a petition created by Orbitz to end the embargo. He said there are close to 100,000 signatures now.

• Take the message to the White House urging Obama to license all non-touristic travel to Cuba. That is as far as the president can go, he said, adding that only Congress can end the ban on ordinary tourism to Cuba. Bills to lift the embargo are pending in both houses now.

In TheTradeShow session moderated by U.S. Tour Operator Association President Bob Whitley, speakers also provided information on Cuba tourism today.

Christopher Baker, travel writer and author of six books about Cuba, said there is speculation that 1 million Americans would visit Cuba in the first year after the end of an embargo, and 2 million to 3 million would visit annually after that.

"Tourism to Cuba already is huge," Baker noted, as the island had 2.3 million visitors last year. Three-quarters of hotels are inclusives concentrated in three beach areas. A quarter of the stock is managed by Sol but all hotels are government-owned, Baker said.

Baker said he worries about the change that might be wrought when the doors are opened from the U.S. but he still supports open doors "for obvious reasons."

"So much about Cuba is nostalgia," he said.

Andrea Holbrook, president of Holbrook Travel in Gainesville, Fla., said there is "almost the sense of a long-lost cousin" when visiting Cuba.

Holbrook's agency has a license to sell Cuba. She described it as a safe destination and, because of the pent-up demand, "a recession-buster."

She said there are several travel companies, all government-owned, and three are assigned to work with the U.S. travel sellers.

Travel Weekly (14 September 2009)

The "gains" of the Cuban revolution

The "gains" of the Cuban revolutionSubmitted on 14 July, 2009 – 21:06Cuba

There's a symposium of articles in the latest Against the Current magazine, published in the US. Apart from Sam Farber's contribution, an article by Frank Thompson, The After A Half Century explains the ral limits of the "gains" of the Cuban revolution.

In 1950, Cuba ranked seventh in per capita GDP in (the 47 countries of) Latin America (and Caribbean)… in 2001, Cuba was the third poorest country in Latin America as measured by per capita GDP. Only Nicaragua and Haiti lower.

Cuba's annualized average growth rate of GDP per capita during the whole 1950-2006 period is a meagre 0.80%. During the same period, Latin America's average per capita GDP grew at a rate of 1.67%. That is, during this period, Latin American average per capita GDP more than doubled (to be more precise, increased 161%), whereas Cuban per capita GDP grew only 58%.

But taking the HDI as a more adequate measure of development than mere per capita GDP at best allows one to argue that Cuba's position has not slipped relative to the rest of Latin America. In the first HDI ranking in 1990, Cuba ranked seventh among the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. It remains in the seventh position in the most recent report.

Thompson writes: "On the basis of the best available estimates of per capita GDP, the Cuban economy has not performed particularly well during the past half century, either in real terms or in comparison with most other economies, most saliently other Latin American economies."

The "gains" of the Cuban revolution | Workers' Liberty

Guevara the economist? Workers short-changed

Guevara the economist? Workers short-changedSubmitted on 29 August, 2009 – 09:10

CubaSolidarity 3/157, 20 August 2009

GuevaraAuthor:Paul Hampton

Paul Hampton reviews Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution by Helen Yaffe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

A late night meeting of the Cuban leadership towards the end of 1959. looks around the room and asks for "a good economist" to become the of the National Bank of Cuba. Half asleep, Ernesto "Che" Guevara raises his hand. Castro replied with surprise: "Che, I didn't know you were a good economist", to which Guevara exclaimed: "Oh, I thought you asked for a good communist!" (Yaffe 2009)

This apocryphal story, told by Osvaldo Dorticós, president of Cuba from 1959 until 1976, serves to indicate the apparently accidental nature of Che Guevara's involvement in running the economy of the Cuban state.

Guevara is better known as a leader of the guerrilla that overthrew the hated Batista at the end of 1958. Guevara played a leading role in the reconstruction of the Cuban state, including the training of the Rebel Army and the creation of the G-2 security apparatus. I've discussed Guevara's Stalinist politics previously — see "No hero of ours" (Solidarity 3/57, 2004) and "How should Che Guevara be commemorated?" (Workers' Liberty 1/43, 1997).

Helen Yaffe's book argues that Guevara's "most significant contribution remains largely unknown", and that, "his life and work as a member of the Cuban government from 1959 to 1965 have received scant attention from historians, social scientists and other commentators". Guevara was appointed Head of the Department of Industrialisation in the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) in October 1959, becoming Minister of Industries (MININD) from February 1961 until 1965. He was also briefly President of the National Bank of Cuba in 1959-1960.

The claim of neglect is not entirely true. A collection of articles on Guevara's economics, Man and socialism in Cuba: the great debate edited by Bertram Silverman was published in 1971, while the Mandelite Trotskyist Michel Löwy produced a short but glowing tribute, The Marxism of Che Guevara: philosophy, economics, and revolutionary warfare in 1973. More recently, the Cuban government itself has also made use of Guevara's legacy — particularly during the Rectification period in the late 1980s. In this context, Carlos Tablada's Che Guevara: Economics and Politics in the Transition to Socialism (1989) covered some of the same ground.

Nevertheless Yaffe's book contains new material that merits discussion. It is the product of a PhD thesis, involving 60 interviews with nearly 50 of Guevara's closest collaborators. It reviews Guevara's so-called "great debate" about economic planning in the mid-1960s, but also lesser known elements, such as his critique of the Soviet manual of political economy.

Yaffe assumes that Cuba is socialist and has been so since the early 1960s. This assumption sets the framework for the assessment of Guevara. However she does not make the case that Cuba is socialist. The reason why is very simple: it is not possible to define Cuba as socialist without abandoning the central tenets of Marxism.

Socialism for classical Marxists and for the AWL means the self–emancipation of the working class. It means that the the working class acts consciously for its own interests. It has its own forms of struggle — strikes, workplace occupations etc; its own organisations — unions, committees, its own party; and it creates own particular forms of democratic rule, e.g. workers' councils (soviets). This is not a pipe-dream or an ideal — it is the reality of the high points of decades of workers' struggle from Russia in 1917, when workers took power, to Poland in 1980. And there was a precedent in Cuba in August 1933, when embryonic Soviets were formed in 36 sugar mills, along with workers' militias, committees and land distribution.

The July 26 movement (M26J) was simply not a working class movement. The M26J was self-declared as "Olive Green" in 1959, with a moderate bourgeois programme and a largely petty bourgeois and déclassé leadership heading a peasant army numbering a few thousand. It was headed by a Bonaparte figure in the shape of Fidel Castro. The movement did involve other forces, including in urban areas. The M26J had its own trade union front (FON), but its attempted general strike in April 1958 failed in most places.

In the revolution of 1958-59 there were no Soviets, no dual power, no factory committees and no workers' party. The general strike called by Castro at the beginning of January 1959 took place after Batista fled and his army had disintegrated. It helped forestall a military junta backed by the US, but the strike was in reality closer to a holiday to celebrate the fall of the dictator.

No socialism is possible without the conscious, active role of the working class. There is no "unconscious socialism", no workers' state, however "deformed" or "degenerated" created without the agency of the working class. There are no "blunt instruments", no locums or substitutes capable of making socialism as replacements for the working class. The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself. Or else it is not socialism.

If the Castroites did not lead the working class to power, then the social formation that exists in Cuba is not socialism but a class society. The key question in any society is how the surplus product is pumped out of the direct producers. Under socialism, the surplus product would be democratically controlled by the working class. If the working class does not rule politically, it does not rule at all. This is the fundamental dividing line in determining the class character of Cuba.

What sort of class society was created in Cuba? In my view it was Stalinism, on the model of Stalin's rule in Russia after 1928, but also from 1949, Eastern Europe 1945-89 and . Cuba since 1960 has been a class society with a Stalinist form of exploitation: the state owns the means of production, and a totalitarian bureaucratic ruling class controls the state and extracts the surplus product from workers and peasants. In other words the direct producers are exploited directly, with the state providing the means of subsistence in return for absolute control over the product.

This is not a capitalist mode of exploitation, though Stalinist societies do tend to evolve towards capitalism, given their material backwardness and the pressure from the world market.

Yaffe's abject failure to engage with this reality is a fundamental flaw of the book. Her assumption is not only made about Cuba — the persistent references to "the socialist countries" suggest she also believes societies like Stalin's USSR went beyond capitalism.

How far Cuba was and is from socialism is indicated in Yaffe's book, which inadvertently reveals the meaning of nationalisation under Castro.

In 1960 Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir visited Cuba, around the time that the sugar mills were nationalised. Yaffe recounts the tale, recalled by Orlando Borrago Díaz, Guevara's deputy from 1959 to 1964.

Borrego was called up during the night by Guevara and told that they needed to find 200 people by nine the next morning to run factories and sugar mills. The need was desperate: legislation had been rushed through in a special night-time cabinet meeting in the face of increasingly acrimonious actions by the US.

Borrego said: "I nearly had a heart attack! Where were we going to find them? I only knew about three people with any accountancy experience. Half an hour later Che called me again and said Fidel had an idea, a solution. There was a boarding school with 200 youngsters aged between 15 and 20 years old, training to be teachers…

"Fidel said: 'We will nominate them as managers of the factories'. I was shocked! Minutes later Fidel called to tell me to go the school to wake them up even though it was the middle of the night. He arrived at 4am. The students went mad with joy, throwing their things up in the air." (Yaffe 2009)

Yaffe argues that the unions in the sugar mills supported this action. However the episode indicates that the workers had no control over the process. The incident also shows the Castroites' contempt for workers – the job of administration was given to some unqualified outsiders, while the workers were not considered capable of taking over the running of the industry.

The "planning" process was bureaucratic, top-down with at most an opportunity to rubber stamp decisions made from above. Interviewed by Maurice Zeitlin in 1962, Guevara was asked: What role do the workers take in the actual creation of the national economic plan? Guevara answer was candid but revealing: "They take no part in the creation of the first plan. After the first plan has been worked out by the Central Planning Commission, the specific plans are sent to the enterprises, and from there to the factories, and in the factories to the assembly of workers, where the factory plan is discussed. Here the workers discuss the possibilities of the plan for the factory and send the revised plan back up for approval, and then it becomes law. In this way the workers have a voice in the plan of the factory, but not in the national plan." (Bonachea and Valdes, Che: Selected Works of Ernesto Guevara, 1969)

Yaffe argues that workers did have some say at factory level. She cites the Committees for Spare Parts set up in 1960, as the first workers' committee established in industry.

In 1961, Advisory Technical Committees (Comités Técnico Asesor – CTAs) were set up in every work centre and every nationalised industry. Finally, "Production Assemblies generalised the active role of the CTAs among the entire workforce. They involved a meeting of all the workers, advisors, technicians, engineers and administrators linked to each workplace, at quarterly, if not monthly intervals." Yaffe argues that "a minimum of 70% of the workers must participate or Assemblies had to be cancelled. Trade unions, the party and other mass organisations were responsible for mobilising workers to participate".

However these bodies were also little more than top-down schemes, like Japanese quality circles and codetermination (mitbestimmung), designed to involve workers in their own exploitation. They were widely criticised at the time, including within Cuba, something Yaffe conveniently overlooks.

Again, Guevara's own testimony bears witness to the real state of affairs. Speaking on The People's TV programme on 30 April 1961 he said: "In other words, the leaders of the country in close identification with their people consider what is best for the people and put that into numbers, more or less arbitrary though, of course, based on logic and judgement, and send them from the top down: for example, from the Central Planning Board to the Ministry of Industries, where the Ministry of Industries makes the corrections it deems appropriate since it is closer to certain aspects of real life than the other offices.

"From there it continues downward to the enterprises, which makes other corrections. From the enterprises it goes to the factories, where other corrections are made, and from there to the workers who must have the final say on the plan."

He went on to say: "I was reading a little news sheet we have here. It's hardly worth mentioning, but it's a Trotskyist newspaper whose name I'm not sure of. [Voice in background tells him it is Voz Proletaria.] It criticised the Technical Advisory Committees from a Trotskyist point of view…

"The trouble in fact with the Technical Advisory Committees is that they were not created by mass pressure. They were bureaucratically created from the top to give the masses a vehicle they had not asked for, and that is the fault of the masses. We, the 'timorous petty bourgeoisie', went looking for a channel that would enable us to listen to the masses' voice. That is what I want to emphasise. And we created the Technical Advisory Committees, for better or worse, with the imperfections they very likely have, because they were our idea, our creation, that is, the creation of people who lack experience in these problems. What was not present at all, and I want to stress that, was mass pressure… " (Guevara, Cuba's Economic Plan, in George Lavan, Che Guevara Speaks, 1967)*

Yaffe's fallback is to blame the context. As she put it: "It must be recognised, meanwhile, that the persistently punitive US blockade, terrorist attacks and political machinations against Cuba have limited the feasibility of decentralising management to the Cuban masses. It has been necessary, therefore, to integrate workers from the masses into the central apparatus of government. The decentralisation to which Guevara aspired has not yet been achieved."

This is entirely disingenuous. The absence of workers' democracy makes workers less likely to defend the government in the face of US aggression. And workers' democracy is the essence of socialist relations of production, the very oxygen that permits the working class to rule itself and to administer a modern economy, with a division of labour and specialisation. The persistent absence of workers' self-management is concrete proof that Cuba is not any kind of socialism.

Yaffe attempts to argue that Guevara's attitude towards the working class was somehow different from the rest of the regime.

She quotes an article in Trabajadores from July 1961, in which Guevara outlined two distinct responsibilities for the unions: to promote the goals of the government among the workers and to defend the immediate material and spiritual interests of the workers. However she quotes the main emphasis — increasing production. Guevara wrote: "The trade unions are intimately linked to a rise in productivity and to work discipline, two pillars in the construction of socialism… the superior weapon of the working class, the strike, is precisely the weapon of the violent definition of class contradictions, which cannot occur in a society on the path towards socialism."

A similar ambivalence was illustrated in Guevara's interview with Zeitlin. Asked, can the workers strike, if they feel it is necessary? Guevara answered: "I believe yes! We maintain, that a strike is a defeat for the government and for the working class. For example, we had a 24-hour strike — which was solved politically as all strikes must be. The strike occurred 14 months ago. Now there are no strikes." (Bonachea and Valdes 1969)

Yaffe says nothing about the effective suppression of independent trade unionism in Cuba by the Castroites. In November 1959, they imposed Stalinists on the CTC union federation, and in the following months purged most of the union leaders, including M26J supporters elected after 1959 (and not hangovers from the Batista period). The government imposed Lazaro Peña as general secretary of the CTC in 1961. Peña previously held the position when the Stalinist party (PSP) was in alliance with Batista between 1938 and 1947.

However the book does reveal unintentionally the real nature of industrial relations in Cuba under Guevara. He organised for a new salary scale to be introduced in 1964. All wages were grouped into eight categories and there was a 15% differential between the eight hourly wage rates. (2009) Yaffe made a big fuss of this in The Guardian last year (20 June 2008), arguing that Cubans had long experienced wage differentials. The point entirely missed is that these wage scales were imposed from above; they were not the product of collective bargaining but rather of top-down diktat.

Yaffe like others ascribes exaggerated significance to the debate in Cuba between 1963 and 1965 involving leading members of the Cuban government, and some European intellectuals.

The discussion ranged over the role of the law of value, the way planning was organised, and about the place of material and moral incentives.

On the one side were those who supported the Soviet Auto-Financing System (AFS), which meant "financial decentralisation for enterprises which functioned as independent accounting units responsible for their own profits and losses and, in the case of INRA, was similar to the khozraschet model of cooperative farms in the USSR". On the other was the Budgetary Finance System (BFS) advocated by Guevara and operated by his ministry. (Yaffe 2009)

Both sides took their cue from Stalin: the former from his last article on economics (1952); the later from his political economy during the 1930s. Both adopted a mistaken view of the law of value as operating initially under "simple commodity production", a logical construct and/or historical period suggested originally by Engels at the end of his life but not found anywhere in Marx's economic writings. The problem with this approach is that it treats the law of value as principally a theory of prices. But Marx accepted that actual prices are not simply determined by values (i.e. quantities of socially necessary labour time) even under capitalism. In fact Marx's real insight, derived from his exposition of the value-form, was to uncover exploitation beneath the veneer of equal exchange under capitalism. Yaffe appears unaware of these discussions.

Yaffe is convinced that Guevara's view was right. "Guevara stated that 'value' is brought about by the relationships of production. It exists objectively and is not created by man with a specific purpose. He agreed that the law of value continues under socialism. Guevara insisted that commodity-exchange relations between factories threatened transition, via 'market socialism', to capitalism. He stressed central planning and state regulation as substitutes to such mechanisms. Cuba, he argued, should be considered as one big factory… Guevara believed that a socialist country's task was not to use, or even hold the law of value in check, but to define very precisely the law's sphere of operation and then make inroads into those spheres to undermine it; to work towards its abolition, not limitation." (2009)

Under the BFS, cost-cutting not profit was the key to evaluating enterprise performance. BFS enterprises did not control their own finances. They could not get bank credit. However she concedes that "the origin of the BFS lay in the capitalist corporations of pre-Revolution Cuba". Yaffe goes as far as to say that "Guevara's vision was of Cuba Socialista as a single factory operating under what today is known as Just in Time techniques to achieve the greatest possible efficiency, via rational organisation, maximum returns on investments and a focus on quality."

Perhaps Guevara's critique of the USSR as heading for capitalism had some traction. However the BFS was also a bureaucratic, top-down system of planning, with no democratic means through which workers could exercise their power. Some of the differences were exaggerated. Yaffe concedes that others were cosmetic: "Guevara insisted on changing the titles of various functions to dissociate them from capitalist concepts… So profit is renamed 'record of results'." The debate was actually between different forms of bureaucratic planning within different Stalinist states.

Yaffe also discusses the significance of Guevara's advocacy of "moral incentives" in production. She argues that for Guevara, voluntary labour was "not obligatory".

This is rather naïve. Even TUC figures for the British economy estimate that five million workers are doing over seven hours unpaid overtime a week. It also contradicts Cuban reality. Yaffe states that by 1964, trade unions in the Ministry of Industries "agreed to accept 40 hours' pay for a 44-hour working week", what she laughably calls "creating another form of voluntary labour".

Guevara also considered "socialist emulation" to be a fundamental component of the BFS. Super-productive workers received material rewards including cash, but mostly goods such as refrigerators, housing, vacations and travel to Eastern Europe. He also believed that people were more inspired to participate in emulation by the example of outstanding workers. Yaffe cites the case of Reinaldo Castro who became famous in the 1962 sugar harvest for hand-cutting 11 tons a day in nationwide emulations. In 1963 he cut 25 tons in eight hours and the following year was named National Hero of Work. (2009) The problem for Yaffe is this kind of labour discipline is indistinguishable from Stakhanovism during high Stalinism in Russia in the 1930s.

It was the absence of workers' democracy, workers' control and workers' self-management that made these methods appear necessary in bureaucratic Cuba. Sam Farber made the key political point about how a real socialist society would deal with these issues: "Classical Marxism, besides assuming that socialism would take place in a society with a relatively high level of material abundance and cultural advancement, emphasised not 'moral', but what could be called 'political incentives' that involved democratic control of the economy, polity and society, including the control of the workplace by the workers.

"According to this approach, only by participating and controlling their own productive lives would people become interested and responsible for what they do for a living day in and day out; that is, only thus would they get to care and give a damn. In this sense, workers' democracy was seen both as a good in itself — people taking control of their lives — and as a truly productive economic force. ("Visiting Raúl Castro's Cuba", New Politics, 43, 2007)

Yaffe also makes a defence of another form of work discipline in operation in Cuba, namely labour camps. She argues that the Rehabilitation Centre at Guanahacabibes was not really coercive, because Guevara's ministry "sent only management personnel there, not production workers; second, going there was optional".

She admits that Guanahacabibes was an extension of the hard labour camp set up by the Department of of the Rebel Army on Cayo Largo in 1959 for soldiers under reprimand. From mid-1960 the armed forces ministry set up a work camp at Guanahacabibes and sent soldiers there as a form of punishment. They were joined by students who had abused foreign scholarships and been expelled from socialist bloc countries. In 1961, Guevara began sending MININD directors to Guanahacabibes to assist the labour force, as did other ministries. "The men slept in the open air until they had made tents, then wooden huts, then houses of cement and iron…. A report in November 1962 listed 56 people there under sentence… "

Guevara said in January 1962: "To Guanahacabibes are sent people who should not go to prison, people with more or less serious failings of revolutionary morality with the simultaneous sanction of removing themselves from their posts. In other cases it is not a punishment but a kind of re-education through work. The work conditions are hard, but not bestial… no one should go to Guanahacabibes who does not want to go, leave and work somewhere else." (2009)

Apparently, when one of the founding members of the Department of Industrialisation, Francisco Garcia Vals, was sent there, Guevara visited every weekend to play chess with him and ensure that he understood the reprimand. (2009)

Yaffe argues that the history of Guanahacabibes as a "rehabilitation centre", and one involving hard labour, "presents a conceptual challenge", "raising the spectre of the harsh reality of such camps in other socialist bloc countries". It does much more than that.

In an economy where the state was the main employer, the "choice" to work somewhere else rather than go to the camp was hardly a free one. More significantly, Guanahacabibes has to be put into the context of hundreds of other prisons where convict labour routinely takes place, producing clothing, construction, furniture, and other factories as well as agricultural camps at it maximum and minimum security prisons. It also needs to be put in the context of the military draft of 16 to 45 years olds, and the deployment of recalcitrant workers in the Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP). These all represent forms of systematic exploitation, oppression and coercion by a state that dominates its population.

The supporters of Che Guevara maintain that he somehow broke from Stalinism in his last years. They cite his remarks about the USSR after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and his view that Russia had imperialistic relations with the Third World.

Others such as Ernest Mandel have gone further, stating that Guevara and the revolutionary leadership were some sort of "unconscious Trotskyists". I have previously argued that Guevara may have become disillusioned with the USSR, but far from becoming a Trotskyist he instead moved closer to the Maoist variant of Stalinism. Yaffe's book provides some proof of this. Guevara stated in December 1964:

"There are some useful things that can be taken from Trotsky's ideas. I believe that the fundamental things which Trotsky based himself on were erroneous, and that his later behaviour was wrong and even obscure in the final period. The Trotskyists have contributed nothing to the revolutionary movement and where they did most, which was in Peru, they ultimately failed because their methods were bad. Comrade Hugo Blanco, personally a man of great sacrifice, [had] a set of erroneous ideas and will necessarily fail."

He added: "In many aspects I have expressed opinions that could be closer to the Chinese side: guerrilla warfare, people's war, in the development of all these things, voluntary labour, to be against direct material incentives as a lever, a whole set of things which the Chinese also raise…" (Yaffe 2009)

Further proof of Guevara's lasting commitment to Stalinism is also found in Yaffe's book. Between 1965 and 1966, Guevara made critical notes on the Soviet Manual of Political Economy, whilst in Africa. The notes were smuggled back into Cuba by his wife Aleida March, who passed them onto Borrego, who kept them under lock and key for forty years. (2009)

Although it is true that the notes were not written for publication, nor were they brought together as a text, it is fair to say they reflect Guevara's thinking close to the end of his life.

Guevara argued that after Marx and Lenin, "the fountain of theory had dried up", "leaving only some isolated works of Stalin and certain writings of Mao Tse-Tung as witness to the immense creative power of Marxism". He stated: "In his last years, Stalin feared the consequence of this lack of theory and he ordered a manual to be written which would be accessible to the masses and deal with all the themes of political economy up to the present period." (Yaffe 2009)

Guevara criticised Lenin for the original move towards market mechanisms. He wrote: "In the course of our practice and our theoretical investigations we have discovered the most blameworthy individual with the name and surname: Vladimir Ilich Lenin… Our thesis is that the changes brought about by the New Economic Policy (NEP) have saturated the life of the USSR and that they have since scarred this whole period." (2009)

This seems bizarre. The NEP was a limited opening by an emaciated workers' state recovering from civil war. It's possible to debate the merits of NEP, but the point here is that Guevara misses out the whole period of Stalin's forced industrialisation and collectivisation, where market mechanisms were largely obliterated. Stalin may have permitted them in the last years of his life, but not before presiding over a whole period suppressing the law of value in the USSR.

The Soviet Manual criticised Stalin's thesis that commodity production under socialism represents a break on the development of the productive forces leading to the need for direct exchange between industry and agriculture. Stalin, it stated, failed to fully appreciate "the operation of the law of value in the sphere of production, in particular as far as concerns the means of production". Despite Stalin's responsibilities for embedding capitalist levers, never mind his other crimes, Guevara still regarded him as less reactionary than the authors of the Soviet Manual. He wrote: "In the supposed errors of Stalin is the difference between a revolutionary and a revisionist attitude. He saw the danger in commodity relations and attempted to pass over this stage by breaking those that resisted him." (Yaffe 2009)

In any case Guevara did not spurn Soviet backing to Cuba. Guevara's notes also indicate how far he was from revolutionary Marxism, and inadvertently how far Cuba was from socialism.

According to Yaffe, he argued that, "In dependent (oppressed) countries, foreign investment turns the working class into relative beneficiaries compared to the dispossessed peasant class, whose plight they ignore". He also claimed that, "The working class in developed countries do not unite with national liberation movements in a common front against imperialism. They become the accomplices of the imperialists from whom they receive crumbs…" The dismissal of the working class in the main capitalist centres went further: "The working class in the imperialist countries strengthens in cohesion and organisation, but not in consciousness"; and: "Today we describe could describe as the labour aristocracy the mass of workers in the strong countries with respect to the weak ones". (Yaffe 2009)

Guevara also criticised the Soviet Manual's claim that under socialism trade unions were important organisations of the masses with the right to monitor the state on completion of work and protection legislation. He wrote that "trade unions appear anachronistic, without meaning" and complained of "the bureaucratisation of the workers' movement" (2009)

Of course, the Soviet "unions" were no such entities — they were state labour fronts tied to the bureaucracy, just like their Cuban counterparts. However Guevara's rejection of the role of unions under socialism was real enough.

Yaffe makes a great deal of Guevara's prediction that capitalism would re-emerge in the USSR unless it changed course. Of course this is what happened after 1991. But this was hardly a novel prediction in the mid-1960s. Semi-Stalinists such as Paul Sweezy, not to mention the Chinese state after the Sino-Soviet split, also made similar claims.

Yaffe argues that Guevara's outstanding contribution was "to devise a system of economic management that gave expression to his Marxist analysis in practical policies, applying his theory of socialist transition to the reality of 1960s Cuba and its level of economic development". Since she fails to prove Cuba has anything to do with socialism, and in fact indicates the anti-working class character of Guevara's political economy, the book must be judged a failure.

But Yaffe's interest in Guevara has a contemporary echo with greater pertinence. During the 1990s, the Cuban state allowed more space for the functioning of market mechanisms. Some 300 firms linked to the military, such as GAESA, Aerogaviota and UIM were set up, along with semi-autonomous state agencies, including Cubanacan, Artex and Cubalse. The Enterprise Perfection System (EPS), which measures production in capitalist management terms i.e. "profit", was generalised. Joint ventures in , nickel, telephone, oil and citrus, with capital from , Canada, Mexico, Italy, the UK and China were established. And 150,000 small enterprises were permitted.

Although much of this remains, the move towards the market has been heavily curtailed.

In 2003, US dollar payments between Cuban enterprises were abolished and replaced by payments in Cuban convertible pesos. In 2005 financial autonomy was removed from Cuban enterprises and their reserves transferred to the central bank. Yaffe says that the number of mixed enterprises (Cuban state and private/foreign capital) operating in Cuba decreased from 403 in 2002 to 236 in 2006, and accounts for less than 1% of employment. (2009 p.267, p.269)

Yaffe believes that the result of these measures is "a degree of financial centralisation not seen since Guevara's BFS" and is "to limit the sphere of operation of capitalist mechanisms introduced via foreign capital diminishing their impact on Cubans as producers and consumers". (2009 p.269) She denies that Cuba is undergoing a Chinese-style market-opening. In other words she appears to celebrate the stalling of the process as a vindication of Guevara's approach in the earlier period.

That the transition to capitalism in Cuba has slowed, stalled even, is indisputable. This is because Fidel Castro has lived longer than most expected. Raul Castro, the chief advocate of the Chinese road, will not press ahead while the Bonaparte is still alive.

Guevara's economics are no place of refuge for Cuban workers. They will not find a means to overcome their exploitation in the political economy of mildly dissident Stalinism. Cuban workers will need to break free of such icons and ideas and rely on their own self-organisation to overcome the twin travails of capitalism and Cuban Stalinism.

*According to the US SWP's Joseph Hansen, Guevara went on television the following day to apologise for misrepresenting the "Trotskyist comrades". (Dynamics of the Cuban Revolution, 1978). This does not detract from Guevara's assessment of the status of these bodies.

Guevara the economist? Workers short-changed | Workers' Liberty

Cuba is not a model for ecology

Cuba is not a model for ecologySubmitted on 9 September, 2009 – 22:26

The environmentCubaSolidarity 3/158, 10 September 2009

The environmentAuthor:Paul Hampton

: "Thus has been the story of mankind; to struggle to overcome the laws of nature; to struggle to dominate nature and have it serve mankind." (1966)

"Unless we conquer nature, nature will conquer us." (1970)

The AWL characterises Cuba as a Stalinist state, where workers do not hold power and cannot organise independently. Apologies for Castroism today — like this book — cite its environmental policies as proof it is historically progressive, even a model for climate activists. This is a mistake.

The regime inherited a disastrous legacy from capitalism in 1959. But in Conquering Nature — The Environmental Legacy of Socialism in Cuba, (2000) Díaz-Briquets and Pérez-López describe how during its first thirty years, the Castroites degraded the environment in much the same way as their Stalinist counterparts in Eastern Europe.

Castro admitted at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit that Cuba suffered from pollution of bays; soil erosion and degradation, particularly in mining areas; pollution of surface waters from the waste of the sugar industry; and erosion of beaches and coastal areas and salinization of low-laying coastal lands. The drive to produce 10 million tonnes of sugar deforested huge amounts of land, while mining left a lunar landscape. Desertification reached 14% of the land.

Then there was Castro's nuclear energy programme. Castro expressed enthusiasm for nuclear at his trial in 1953. In the 1970s the regime announced ambitious plans to build nuclear power plants based on Russian designs. Construction of reactors at Juraguá began in the early 1980s, overseen by Castro's son. Around three-quarters of the construction was completed and some equipment installed, before the programme was suspended in 1992 because of the withdrawal of credit and expertise by Russia. Although attempts were made to revive the programme, it was abandoned in 1997.

The Cuban "special period", after the collapse of the USSR and the tightened US , forced the regime to take an ecological turn. Unable to import and other raw materials, austerity forced the regime to buy millions of bikes and use more renewable energy sources. It broke up large state farms, ran down the sugar industry and continued with reforestation and clean up. Of necessity, Cuba became more green as it became more impoverished.

However since the mid-1990s the regime also signed joint ventures with foreign investors to exploit Cuba's mineral resources, such as the nickel ore processing plant at Moa and the oil industry. The expansion of has meant the construction of causeways bridging islands. These block the movement of water, exacerbating contamination and destroying marine habitats. Most significantly, it remains impossible to organise independently of the Cuban state around ecological issues, as on other matters such as workers' rights.

It would be churlish to argue that Cuba has made no progress on ecology. No doubt there may be things to learn from it experience, as there is from some bourgeois states. Many of the ecological improvements made by Cuban Stalinism in recent years are the result of necessity, some externally imposed, while others are the unintended consequences of other economic changes. None of them are sufficient to make Cuba a model for environmentalists or for socialists.

Cuba is not a model for ecology | Workers' Liberty (10 September 2009)

3 teenagers in solitary confinement

3 teenagers in solitary confinementCUBANET

ISLE OF YOUTH, Cuba, Sept. 14 (Lamasiel Gutiérrez, Isla Press / – Three teenagers who wrote anti-government slogans on the walls of their cells have been placed in solitary confinement, according to a political prisoners at the Guayabo Prison. Fabio Prieto, serving a 20-year sentence, said the trio has been in solitary confinement since August 30. He indentified them as Jorge Luis Estrada and José Alberto González, both17, and Sergio Manuel Rodríguez, 18. He said there were dozens of youths like them imprisoned while awaiting trial on alleged anti-government activities.

3 teenagers in solitary confinement – Cuba Dissidents – (14 September 2009)

El festín de las alternativas

Publicado el domingo, 09.13.09El festín de las alternativasBy JORGE FERRER

Algunos periódicos se hacían eco días atrás de una peculiar iniciativa en la red social Facebook. Allí, y partiendo de una idea que el cubano residente en Miami José Ramón Morales lanzó hace algún tiempo en un , Cuba española, ha surgido el grupo “Movimiento por la reincorporación de Cuba a España como comunidad autónoma''. En esencia, el grupo aboga por que Cuba se integre en el orden político español y, de paso, en el europeo. Cuando escribo este artículo, la iniciativa cuenta con unos 1,800 miembros en Facebook, una cifra nada desdeñable si se atiende a lo extravagante del propósito.

Imaginar la devolución de Cuba a los debates de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX –independentistas vs. autonomistas, por ejemplo– constituye un tour de force colosal. Pero me interesa menos pensar en esa idea de reversión colonial que lo que implica su aparición y circulación por las redes sociales, donde gana adhesiones. Interesa, porque constituye un testimonio de la extraordinaria avidez que la sociedad cubana –sea en la isla o el exilio– tiene por alternativas de futuro, así como de la creatividad que desplegará y ya muestra para imaginarlas y vocearlas.

Un asunto, por cierto, en el que no seremos innovadores. En buena parte de los países de Europa del Este, el fin del comunismo generó una caótica proliferación de caminos hacia el porvenir. En algunos de ellos, para sorpresa de analistas y ciudadanos, conjuntamente con las diversas propuestas de organización democrática desde la sociedad civil, los estamentos del ancien régime o una mezcla de ambos, aparecieron también pulsiones retardatarias. La tentación monárquica, por ejemplo, afloró con fuerza y aún goza de valedores en algunos países. Bulgaria vio cómo el rey Semión II, que volvió a Sofía desde su largo exilio en Madrid, se convertía en primer ministro, en un movimiento de veras excepcional en la historia europea.

Más conocidos, por el horror que generaron, son los trastornos padecidos por la geografía poscomunista. El estallido de la guerra en Yugoslavia o los conflictos que todavía enfrentan a países que antes integraban la URSS son apenas algunos ejemplos de cómo las sociedades que atraviesan procesos de transición después de largos años viviendo bajo la pax comunista resuelven el futuro multiplicando el grado cero de la democracia por las cifras más variopintas.

Una Cuba en transición no podrá estar ajena a esos juegos con las ucronías, los relatos nacionales que jueguen al “if'', las narrativas díscolas. Las tentaciones anexionistas que podría conocer una Cuba poscomunista en la que, como en la Rusia de inicios de los noventa, muchos ciudadanos se sientan abandonados por el Estado y, lo que es peor, crean a éste incapaz de generar prosperidad y seguridad pública, no habrán de sorprender a nadie. Querer escapar de la plausible indefensión del mañana nos devolverá a sueños de antaño. Si Hollywood es –así lo acuñó Ilya Ehrenburg–, fábrica de sueños, el poscomunismo es fábrica de febriles ensoñaciones y onerosas pesadillas.

La curiosidad política latente en esa Cuba que el gobierno de La Habana quiere uniforme o la evidente pluralidad del exilio cubano permiten adivinar un futuro por el que se pasearán freaks, improvisados catedráticos, opinadores de prime time, comisarios reciclados, excastristas, anticastristas, procastristas, y algunos que habrán transitado esos tres avatares paso a paso. Tendremos veteranos de las guerras en Africa o “internacionalistas'' disputándole indemnizaciones a los expropiados de la primera revolución, como tendremos anexionistas dispuestos a asimilarse a lo que sea y ceñudos valedores de la soberanía. Regionalistas furibundos y patriotas de novísimo cuño. Inmigrantes orientales en La Habana que acudirán a registrar sus asociaciones pidiendo turno en cola por la que pasarán los grupos que reivindiquen identidades raciales o de género. Habrá de todo, como en botica. Porque ya lo hay y asoma lo mismo en Facebook que en cualquier esquina de la isla o el exilio. Y cabe felicitarnos de que así sea.

JORGE FERRER: El festín de las alternativas – Opinión – El Nuevo Herald (13 September 2009)

Blogs en Cuba: más allá de Yoani

Blogs en Cuba: más allá de Yoani

En Cuba se llevó a cabo el primer concurso independiente de blogs que se producen en la isla. Deutsche Welle habló con la ganadora del premio por el mejor , acerca de la ósfera y la nueva ciudadanía cubana.

La blogósfera cubana ha cobrado celebridad en todo el mundo gracias a la figura de Yoani Sánchez y su espacio cibernético Generación Y. Pero desde hace ya algunos años, y pese a las dificultades que tienen los blogueros y blogueras cubanos para publicar sus escritos, la blogósfera en Cuba vive un momento de auge. Reflejo de ello es la reciente entrega del primer premio Una isla virtual a lo mejor de los blogs en Cuba. Hubo de todo, desde espacios afines al Gobierno de Cuba hasta blogs dictados desde la cárcel por prisioneros políticos del régimen castrista. La blogósfera cubana, sin , tiene un marcado carácter ciudadano, como el que destaca en Octavo cerco, premiado como el mejor blog de Cuba. Deutsche Welle entrevistó a su autora, Claudia Cadelo De Nevi, quien describe cómo los blogueros y las blogueras de Cuba logran superar la falta de posibilidades técnicas y, sobre todo, la censura que de muchas formas se da en la isla.

Deutsche Welle: ¿Qué papel juega en su opinión la escena en Cuba? ¿Es una vía hacia la transición?

Claudia Cadelo: La blogósfera cubana está creciendo, es un fenómeno muy nuevo, de menos de un quinquenio y que, sin embargo, ha crecido en los últimos dos años de manera impresionante. Teniendo en cuenta que la conectividad cubana según datos oficiales es de menos del dos por ciento de la población, es impresionante cómo la gente ha encontrado la manera no sólo de leer los blogs sino de crear blogs propios. Cualquier manifestación independiente que fortalezca la formación de una sociedad civil es, me parece, fundamental en las transiciones dentro de las sociedades totalitarias. No sólo la blogósfera, sino cualquier fenómeno social o cultural que nazca de los individuos en tanto que ciudadanos independientes será provechoso para un cambio democrático y civilizado.

¿Con qué dificultades se enfrentan los blogueros cubanos hoy en día? ¿Hay censura?

Sí hay censura, y mucha. Primero, los cubanos no tenemos derecho a tener una cuenta de : esto es un privilegio para extranjeros residentes en la isla (periodistas acreditados, empresarios o personas que están casadas con cubanos), cargos del Gobierno y funcionarios previamente autorizados por el Ministerio de la Informática y las Comunicaciones. La segunda opción de conectividad es en los hoteles, extremadamente cara, entre 6 y 10 CUC (moneda cubana. N. de la R.) la hora dependiendo de la calidad del servicio, aproximadamente un tercio del salario medio mensual. Hay cuentas de Intranet con servicio de mensajería internacional a través de cuentas de, pero no permiten navegar en la red y son otorgadas a artistas pertenecientes a la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, y también a algunos médicos. Se pueden encontrar cuentas de Internet en el mercado negro, pero no son seguras e implican un delito. Lamentablemente la censura no termina con el acceso a Internet, además hay numerosos sitios bloqueados. Dependiendo del proveedor de Internet, la censura será en mayor o menor grado. Por ejemplo, en los centros laborales generalmente no hay acceso a los servicios de yahoo, gmail o Hotmail, buscadores como Google etc. En los hoteles y en las cuentas de Internet otorgadas a particulares, sitios como,, cubanet, payolibre, cubaencuentro, entre otros, están bloqueados aunque se puede acceder mediante proxy.

¿Cómo superan ustedes todas esas dificultades?

Hay mucha solidaridad, desde enviar un hasta imprimir las noticias y llevártelas a la casa. La gente que por alguna razón tiene acceso a la red comparte su espacio y potencia la información a través de memorias flash. Para la administración de los blogs sucede exactamente lo mismo: amigos en el extrajero cuelgan los posts y amigos en Cuba envían correos. Es una red social que empezó con tres personas y creo que puedo decir que ya hay unos cincuenta en todo el mundo. Además están los hoteles que, aunque caros, son la opción más segura para nosotros.

¿Qué signfica para la sociedad cubana el premio Isla Virtual?

Es el primer concurso que se realiza dentro de la isla. En Cuba las manifestaciones artísticas y sociales están muy bien controladas por el Gobierno. Todos los concursos que se realizan dentro de la isla son autorizados y supervisados por algún ministerio, de manera tal que tanto los organizadores como los concursantes se ven obligados a rendir cuentas o a matizar su propuesta, so pena de quedar relegados al ostracismo. Por tanto, un concurso independiente, de carácter inclusivo (blogs independientes, blogs de artistas reconocidos por la oficialidad, blogs de periodistas oficiales), cuyo equipo de organización y jurado funcione independientemente de cualquier institución, no tiene precedentes dentro de la isla y demuestra, en mi opinión, que la sociedad civil cubana se desarrolla y evoluciona a pesar de tantos años de libertades reprimidas.

Entrevista: Enrique López Magallón

Editora: Cristina PapaleoBlogs en Cuba: más allá de Yoani | Gente | Deutsche Welle | 14.09.2009 (14 September 2009),,4684159,00.html?maca=spa-rss-sp-all-1122-rdf

Obama decide sobre el embargo a Cuba

Obama decide sobre el a CubaRedacciónBBC Mundo

El de , Barack Obama, podría firmar este lunes la renovación del embargo comercial a Cuba, vigente desde 1963. La decisión de Obama, que se enfrenta a ella por primera vez en su mandato, levantó expectativas en la isla.

La firma del acta de renovación del embargo estadounidense hacia Cuba es un gesto casi rutinario que todos los presidentes de los Estados Unidos desde J.F. Kennedy cumplieron puntualmente.

Sin embargo, este año –el primero que Obama se enfrenta a esta decisión- tiene matices especiales.Expectativas

La elección de Obama y sus recientes gestos hacia Cuba -la supresión de las restricciones que hasta ahora tenían los cubano-estadounidenses para viajar y para enviar remesas- levantaron grandes expectativas en la isla.

"En cierto modo, si Obama vuelve a firmar el acta, hace suya la que hasta hoy era una política heredada y esto puede tener repercusiones", señaló el corresponsal de la BBC en La Habana, Michael Voss.

"Obama habló de un nuevo comienzo en las relaciones entre ambos países y tomó medidas en esa dirección. Pero en el tema del embargo el sentimiento general es que no se produjeron cambios sustanciales a pesar de las enormes expectativas que levantó su presidencia", agregó el .

Según Voss, el sentimiento generalizado –tanto en Cuba como en los Estados Unidos- es que el presidente estadounidense renovará el embargo.

Algunos analistas sugieren que Obama no está dispuesto a desprenderse de la que considera una de las principales "monedas de cambio" que tienen los Estados Unidos para negociar reformas democratizadoras con el gobierno cubano.

En cambio, casi cincuenta años después de la Crisis de los Misiles, el embargo comercial a Cuba se convirtió para muchos en una de las últimas reliquias de la Guerra Fría, una medida en la que Estados Unidos se quedó prácticamente solo.

"Durante los últimos 17 años, la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas votó contra el embargo y sólo Israel apoya esta política estadounidense. Todos los países latinoamericanos quieren verlo levantado", indicó Voss.

Efectos del embargo

Por otro lado, las restricciones comerciales siguen teniendo consecuencias en la sociedad cubana, especialmente, en el acceso a determinados medicamentos.

"Aunque los EE.UU. pueden de hecho exportar medicamentos a Cuba, hay tantos controles y condiciones, que de hecho esto nunca sucede", indicó el corresponsal.

"Conocí a una madre cuyo hijo padece cáncer de hígado y no puede obtener muchas de las medicinas que necesita porque están fabricadas en los Estados Unidos", añadió.

Sin embargo, a pesar de que las restricciones podrían ser renovadas una vez más, apuntó Voss, existen síntomas de que la situación podría cambiar.

"Si el Congreso de los EE.UU. levanta las restricciones y a finales de año los estadounidenses son completamente libres para viajar a la isla, el sentimiento general es que ese hecho supondría probablemente un golpe para el embargo comercial y todo podría desmoronarse bastante rápido", sugirió el reportero.

BBC Mundo – América Latina – Obama decide sobre el embargo a Cuba (14 September 2009)

En América Latina la democracia no está para quedarse

"En América Latina la democracia no está para quedarse"Mario Vargas Llosa presenta su último libro, Sables y Utopías. Visiones de América Latina, y aprovecha para exponer sus opiniones sobre Cuba, Uribe, Evo Morales o la relación de España con Chávez

BORJA HERMOSO – Madrid – 14/09/2009

Mario Vargas Llosa ha reunido en su último libro, Sables y Utopías. Visiones de América Latina, medio siglo de artículos, reflexiones, cartas y semblanzas sobre todo tipo de personajes de la política y la cultura latinoamericanas. En la presentación, que ha tenido lugar esta mañana en el Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, el escritor ha hablado de los grandes la literatura. También ha aprovechado para exponer sus claras ideas sobre algunos de los actuales dirigentes latinoamericanos y sobre el papel que algunos gobiernos, como el español, están jugando con respecto a ellos:

"En América Latina, al contrario que en países como España, la democracia no está allí para quedarse. Siempre hay una posibilidad de dar pasos atrás. Esto se ve en la clara involución que ha habido en países como Nicaragua, , Ecuador y . En cambio algunos otros Gobiernos de izquierdas, como el de Brasil, se han mostrado con más sentido común y se han dado cuenta de que para progresar tenían que creer en la economía de mercado".

Sobre Evo Morales: "Lamento que el Gobierno español apoye a Evo Morales, alguien que ha dado a su Gobierno una clara orientación autoritaria y también racista. Evo Morales presenta la situación en Bolivia como una oposición de blancos e indios, pero introducir el elemento racial como juicio de la vida política y económica es un disparate y en América Latina puede ser explosivo. El problema no es de razas, sino de dictaduras".

Sobre Hugo Chávez: A la pregunta de si opinaba que el Gobierno establecía relaciones peligrosas con Chávez el escritor ha respondido de manera contundente. "Claro. Sé que el Gobierno español actúa así por razones pragmáticas, porque puede hacer negocios, pero Hugo Chávez no actúa así y, aunque el Gobierno de sea tan simpático y cordial con él, el puro pragmatismo es incompatible con la democracia. Lo que debería hacer España es solidarizarse no con Hugo Chávez, sino con los demócratas venezolanos".

Sobre Perú, Colombia y Brasil: "Son las espinas que tiene clavadas Hugo Chávez para su sueño bolivariano".

Sobre Uribe: "Ha hecho un magnífico gobierno pero al final ha caído en la tentación reeleccionista. Si le reeligieran una tercera vez tendría consecuencias muy negativas para Colombia. La tentación reeleccionista es una epidemia en América Latina".

Sobre Cuba: "Claro que me equivoqué. Defendí la revolución cubana. Creí que representaba lo que tantos buscábamos: una sociedad que entroncara con la . La verdad es que quise creer en lo que quise ver, pero he reconocido mis errores. Lo grave es perseverar en el error". Acerca de la Cuba actual, se pregunta cómo es posible que el pueblo cubano no haga lo mismo que hicieron el pueblo polaco y el húngaro de rebelarse. Ha llegado a la conclusión de que "una dictadura totalitaria como la cubana mata cualquier espíritu de ilusión y el ímpetu primario de la libertad. Hoy en Cuba la ilusión se reduce a coger un barco y largarse a Miami"

"En América Latina la democracia no está para quedarse" · ELPAÍ (14 September 2009)

Tras la muerte de Almeida, Cuba deberá rearmar su modelo político

Tras la muerte de Almeida, Cuba deberá rearmar su modelo político

La muerte del comandante Juan Almeida plantea la urgencia de avanzar en el relevo de la generación que gobierna Cuba desde hace medio siglo y en el diseño de un nuevo modelo socialista para la continuidad de la revoluciónVer galerias de imagenes

"Es un pistoletazo para la carrera generacional, de apuro, de aprovechar el tiempo real que queda para garantizar la continuidad'', declaró un analista cubano que no quiso dar a conocer su nombre.

Al posponer el primero de agosto el VI Congreso del Partido Comunista, que debió celebrarse en el 2002, el Raúl Castro admitió la necesidad "dar pasos inaplazables, como la renovación de los organismos superiores de dirección del Partido''.

Los hombres del poder en Cuba pasan de los 70 años y pese a la incorporación de los llamados ''hijos y nietos de la revolución'' a las estructuras, el poder sigue en manos de los dirigentes históricos, encabezados por , de 83 años, y Raúl Castro, de 78.

Fidel Castro, alejado del gobierno hace tres años por una enfermedad, conserva el cargo de primer secretario del PCC. La debacle soviética, tras sucesiones dentro de la misma gerontocracia comunista, es un referente a tener en cuenta.

La muerte de Almeida "es una señal de que se debe acelerar el paso de batón político a una nueva generación, con mucha más energía y capacidad, más adaptada a las realidades del mundo actual. Es un llamado simbólico y real a los demás que están en el poder ahora'', dijo el historiador Manuel Cuesta.

Según Raúl Castro, los círculos de poder en han hecho "una apuesta tenebrosa en torno al llamado factor biológico'', la desaparición de la vieja guardia.

Aunque asegura que las próximas generaciones "nunca se desarmarán ideológicamente'', apuntaladas por el Partido y las Fuerzas Armadas, Raúl convocó a realizar en breve una Conferencia del PCC para renovar su dirigencia, que lleva 12 años en los cargos debido a la demora del Congreso.

Las caras del relevo resultan menos visibles después de que en marzo pasado figuras relativamente jóvenes, pero con experiencia política, fueron destituidas, según Fidel Castro por ''indignos'', "ambición de poder'' y abrir espacios a la inteligencia extranjera.

Son los casos del ex vicepresidente Carlos Lage, de 57 años, y el ex canciller Felipe Pérez Roque, de 44, que llegaron a ser considerados posibles líderes nacionales.

La aceptación popular de la institucionalización como alternativa al liderazgo que trata de impulsar Raúl puede exigir tiempo, opinan sociólogos.

El VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba, último para los históricos según la propia cuenta de Raúl Castro, tendrá el complejo trabajo de diseñar un nuevo modelo de socialismo, con cambios económicos, que sustituya al actual, de corte soviético y ya agotado.

Tras la muerte de Almeida, Cuba deberá rearmar su modelo político (14 September 2009),-Cuba-deber%c3%a1-rearmar-su-modelo-pol%c3%adtico

Analistas: La muerte de Almeida recuerda a la ‘vieja guardia’ que se le acaba el tiempo

GobiernoAnalistas: La muerte de Almeida recuerda a la 'vieja guardia' que se le acaba el tiempo

Agencias | 14/09/2009

La muerte de Juan Almeida Bosque es "un pistoletazo para la carrera generacional, de apuro, de aprovechar el tiempo real que queda para garantizar la continuidad", del régimen, dijo un analista citado por la AFP que pidió el anonimato.

Al posponer el pasado 1 de agosto el VI Congreso del Partido Comunista (PCC, único), que debió celebrarse en 2002, el general Raúl Castro admitió la necesidad de "dar pasos inaplazables, como es la renovación de los organismos superiores de dirección del Partido".

Muchos de los hombres del poder en Cuba pasan de los 70 años y, pese a la incorporación de los llamados "hijos y nietos de la revolución" a las estructuras, el régimen sigue en manos de los "históricos", encabezados por Fidel (83) y Raúl Castro (78).

, alejado del gobierno hace tres años por enfermedad, aún conserva el cargo de primer secretario del PCC, figura central en regímenes como el cubano.

La muerte de Almeida "es una señal de que debe acelerar el paso de batón político a una nueva generación, con mucha más energía y capacidad, más adaptada a las realidades del mundo actual. Es una llamada simbólica y real a los demás que están en el poder ahora mismo", dijo el socialdemócrata Manuel Cuesta.

Según Raúl Castro, los círculos de poder en han hecho "una apuesta tenebrosa en torno al llamado 'factor biológico'", la desaparición de la "vieja guardia".

Mientras asegura que las generaciones sucesoras "nunca se desarmarán ideológicamente" apuntaladas por el Partido y las Fuerzas Armadas, el general ha convocado a realizar en breve una Conferencia del PCC para renovar su dirigencia.

Las caras del relevo resultan menos visibles después de que en marzo pasado figuras relativamente jóvenes, pero con experiencia política, fueran destituidas, según Fidel Castro por "indignas", "ambición de poder" y por abrir brechas a servicios de inteligencia extranjeros.

El ex vicepresidente Carlos Lage (57 años) y el ex canciller Felipe Pérez Roque (44) llegaron a ser considerados como posibles futuros sustitutos.

La aceptación popular de la institucionalización como alternativa al liderazgo, que trata de impulsar Raúl Castro, puede requerir tiempo, advierten sociólogos.

El VI Congreso, último para los históricos según las cuentas del propio general, tendrá el complejo trabajo de intentar diseñar un nuevo modelo de socialismo, con cambios económicos, que sustituya al actual, de corte soviético, agotado.

Pero el equipo económico que estructuró las reformas de los noventa salió del gobierno junto con Lage y no se vislumbra una cabeza directriz.

Entre los principales dirigentes de la vieja guardia, además de los Castro, están en el vicepresidente primero, José Ramón Machado Ventura, de 78 años; los comandantes de la revolución Ramiro Valdés (77) y Guillermo García (81); el jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, general Julio Casas Regueiro (73) y el ministro del Interior, Abelardo Colomé (70).

"Esa generación tiene mucho tiempo político, pues no existe una oposición real que presione", dijo un sociólogo, "el problema es el tiempo real", concluyó.


Analistas: La muerte de Almeida recuerda a la 'vieja guardia' que se le acaba el tiempo – Noticias – Cuba – (14 September 2009)

Militares mexicanos rescatan a un grupo de cubanos cautivos en Cancún

EmigraciónMilitares mexicanos rescatan a un grupo de cubanos cautivos en Cancún

Redacción CE | 14/09/2009

Un grupo de 14 indocumentados cubanos fue encontrado por el Ejército mexicano en una colonia popular de Cancún, en un domicilio en donde los tenían hacinados y eran víctimas de maltrato, informó el diario El Universal.

La situación de los cubanos fue denunciada por vecinos del domicilio en el que se encontraban. Versiones anónimas citadas por la agencia AFP indicaron que los cautivos pudieron lanzar hacia la calle algunos papeles con mensajes pidiendo ayuda.

Durante el operativo militar, en el que intervinieron unos 20 efectivos, fue capturado un traficante que presuntamente mantenía secuestrado a los emigrantes.

El grupo había tocado tierra firme el 1 de septiembre, a bordo de una embarcación de fabricación casera, de acuerdo con sus propios testimonios. Sus integrantes habrían pasado cuatro días en alta mar antes de alcanzar las costas del estado de Quintana Roo, donde se encuentra Cancún.

Según El Universal, la identidad del traficante no fue dada a conocer por las autoridades. Tampoco el nombre de los indocumentados.

Algunos integrantes del grupo dijeron que se les cobró la cantidad de 10.000 dólares por persona para concretar su salida de Cuba y obtener documentos oficiales que posibilitasen su estancia temporal en México y luego su ingreso a .

Sin , sus familiares no realizaron el depósito completo del dinero pactado, por lo que los indocumentados comenzaron a ser víctimas de maltrato.

Al grupo, integrado totalmente por varones adultos, le fue restringida la y algunos presentaban manchas de sangre en la ropa.

Reportes de la agencia EFE se refirieron a la detención, y no al rescate, de un grupo de cubanos y de un traficante de personas identificado como Tristán Barragán, que los ayudó a entrar en México y les dio cobijo.

Según esta versión, los cubanos fueron puestos a disposición del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) para su probable deportación, mientras que el traficante fue entregado a la Procuraduría General de la República (PGR, Fiscalía).


Militares mexicanos rescatan a un grupo de cubanos cautivos en Cancún – Noticias – Cuba – (14 September 2009)

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