Cuban workers celebrate salary rise as new economic measures are announced

Special education class in Cuba

‘Today is Cuban workers’ day!’ a Cuban friend told me in late June, beaming at the news that all employees of the island’s ‘budgeted’ state sector would receive sig­nificant salary rises, commencing from 1 July 2019. Cuba’s budgeted sector incorporates entities which operate with a state budget and mostly provide services free to the population without returning revenue to the state. This includes health, education, culture, sport, public administration and com­munity services. Every one of the 1,470,736 workers in this sector will receive the pay rise, at a cost to the Cuban state of over seven billion Cuban pesos annually. Simultaneously, 1,281,523 pensions will rise, costing an additional 838 million pesos a year and taking the number of direct beneficiaries to over 2.75 million Cubans.


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Cuba stands firm against storm of US aggression

Growing US aggression against progressive governments in Latin America is being accompanied by Cold War rhetoric from Washington. Speaking to right-wing Venezuelans in Florida, President Donald Trump proclaimed on 18 February that ‘the twilight hour of socialism has arrived’. Visiting the country at a decisive moment, we brigadistas learned first-hand that Cuba is getting ready to prove Trump wrong. Will Harney reports.


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Brigade to Cuba - 60 Years of Revolution

In April 2019, Rock around the Blockade sent its 14th solidarity brigade to Cuba, celebrating 60 years of the socialist revolution. Our visit coincided with the inauguration of Cuba’s new constitution, supported by 86% of voters, produced by an outstanding exercise in participatory democracy in which 8.9 million Cubans took part. In our visits and exchanges, Cubans from every walk of life shone with determination to resist the US’s attacks on socialism and continue to construct a sustainable socialist society.


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The arrogance of George Monbiot

Overweening self-regard appears to be one quality essential to becoming a Guardian columnist and George Monbiot, who has written for many years for The Guardian newspaper on environmental and climate change issues, is no exception.  ‘For most of my adult life’ he writes in an article on 25 April, ‘I have railed against “corporate capitalism”, “consumer capitalism” and “crony capitalism”. It took me along time to see that the problem is not the adjective but the noun.’ Does this mean that his Damascene conversion has put him on the side of socialism? By no means; part of the reason he says it has taken him so many decades to arrive at his conclusions (he started writing for The Guardian in the 1990s) ‘was that I could see no alternative: unlike some anti-capitalists I have never been an enthusiast for state communism’ adding sniffily ‘I was also inhibited by its religious status.’


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Cuba: A political system chosen by the people

On 24 February 2019, the people of Cuba approved a new Constitution. The last full constitutional referendum in Cuba was on 24 February 1976. The Cuban socialist revolution, now 60 years old, is defined by its progressive and uniquely democratic character which enables the Cuban people to shape their political system in response to their own needs and new circumstances – an ideal which is never achieved, despite lip service paid, in capitalist Britain or the US. The democracy of the Cuban system is shown by the processes involved in developing the Constitution, during which the demands, questions and suggestions of ordinary Cubans were incorporated into the supreme law. Will Harney reports.


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Trump administration escalates sanctions against Cuba

UPDATE: On 17 April, US National Security Advisor John Bolton announced in a speech in Miami that the suspension on Title III of the Helms-Burton Act would be fully lifted, a dramatic expansion of the US's illegal blockade. This will allow US nationals to sue foreign companies that do business with Cuba. Bolton also announced: individuals who 'traffic' in property that was nationalised by Cuba will not be issued visas to travel to the US; all travel to Cuba from the US will be restricted only to those visiting their immediate family; and limits on remittances (money sent by individuals in the US to their families in Cuba) will be tightened from $1,000 per month to $1,000 per three months. These policies will not only put greater pressure on the Cuban economy, but due to their illegal extraterritorial nature, they will increase tensions between the US and Cuba's trading partners including Canada and the EU. The Revolutionary Communist Group stands in solidarity with the people of Cuba in the face of this aggression. More news and analysis of Cuba's resistance to US imperialism will appear in the next issue of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! as we report on our 14th solidarity brigade to Cuba which visited the country in April 2019.

As of 19 March, Title III of the Helms-Burton Act has been partially implemented, allowing United States (US) citizens to file lawsuits before US Federal Courts against over 200 Cuban companies included on the List of Restricted Entities set out by the US government in 2017. Since 1996, Title III has always been fully suspended for six-month periods by every US President, including Trump in 2017 and 2018. This practice of suspension was started by President Bill Clinton as a compromise when the Act was first introduced, due to heavy opposition from some of the US’s closest allies; it is a formality that Trump has been able to easily jettison. This is just part of US imperialism’s increasing efforts to unleash reactionary forces against Latin America’s progressive and socialist governments. Billy Rapley reports.


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60 years of revolution

Young Cubans defend the revolution

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 268 February/March 2019

1 January 2019 marked 60 years since the triumph of the Cuban revolution, when on New Year’s Day 1959 the dictator Fulgencio Batista fled from Cuba after the battle of Santa Clara, and the forces of revolution declared victory. This was the beginning of the end for US imperialist control, and the start of a process to transform society that, from the outset, has methodically improved the lives of people within and outside Cuba. As Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara declared: ‘The victory of the Cuban Revolution will be a tangible demonstration that peoples are capable of rising up, that they can rise up by themselves right under the very fangs of the monster.’ The US has never forgiven Cuba for showing the world an alternative to capitalism. In this time of growing reaction against Latin America’s anti-imperialist movements and governments, we have a duty to celebrate the enduring achievements of Cuban socialism. Will Harney reports.


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US hypocrisy on display at the UN

On 16 October US delegates to the United Nations announced a political campaign called ‘Jailed for What?’. The campaign aims to portray Cuba as a politically repressive country. The US asserts falsely that Cuba has 130 political prisoners who are being punished for exercising their right to free speech. Cuban and Bolivian delegates disrupted the campaign’s launch meeting at the UN, banging tables and chanting ‘Cuba sí, bloqueo no!’ (‘Cuba yes, blockade no!’) to drown out the allegations coming from US delegates. Cuba dismisses the allegations, saying that the US aims to use this as an excuse to maintain the economic blockade of the island. Referring to the Trump administration’s renewed hostility towards Cuba (see FRFI 259) the Cuban Am­bass­ador to the UN, Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, released a statement after the meeting: ‘the United States lacks the morals to give lessons, much less in this matter’ and ‘It is part of the actions aimed at subverting the legitimately established constitutional order and of the interventionist agenda that has gained renewed momentum under the current administration, whose fascist, racist and xenophobic ideas are a matter of grave concern in the international community’.


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The world stands with Cuba in condemning genocidal US blockade

The US blockade of Cuba has been in place for almost 60 years

Once again the resolution presented at the UN General Assembly on 1 November 2018 calling for the ‘necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba’ received overwhelming support, approved by 189 countries and opposed by only two – the US and Israel. The resolution condemning the US blockade has been presented to the Assembly for 29 consecutive years. The US and Israel are its only die-hard supporters. The blockade began in July 1960 when the US first forced import reductions on Cuban sugar, despite having a set quota. It reflects the US’s attempts to bring about the fall of the revolutionary Cuban government by exerting economic pressure. RIA AIBHILÍN reports.


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The US expands its propaganda war against Cuba to Facebook

The US is expanding its propaganda operations against Cuba to Facebook

The US has plans to make use of Facebook and other social media in order to generate political dissent in Cuba. The US government has charged the Miami-based network Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) with the task of overseeing the spread of propaganda and disinformation through social media. The OCB is a subsidiary of the state-owned Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency which owns and supervises other networks that broadcast pro-US propaganda overseas, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.


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Cuban women lead the way in science

Cuban medical workers on an international mission in Kenya

Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the status and quality of life of Cuban women has improved dramatically with women now constituting almost 60% of all professionals and more than half of scientists. Women are also becoming increasingly represented in government, and in the national parliament 53.2% of members are women. The ministers for Education, Finance and Pricing, Domestic Trade, the Food Industry, Labour and Social Security, Science, Technology and the Environment, and the Minister and President of the Central Bank of Cuba are also all women, as well as the heads of the National Environmental Agency, and eight out of 15 provinces in Cuba are led by women.


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Cuba strides ahead with renewable energy ambitions

Solar energy plant in Cuba

The Solar Photovoltaic Park of the Central University 'Marta Abreu' in the Las Villas province of Cuba.

Cuba’s new constitution will incorporate articles enshrining Cuba’s commitment to sustainable development and the protection of the environment. This is a long-standing commitment of which the most recent major iteration was an announcement in 2014 that the country aims to source 24% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Currently about 5% of Cuba’s energy is produced by renewable sources, but there is huge potential for renewable energy development due to Cuba’s geography giving it access to a variety of biofuel sources, a windy coastline and generous amounts of sunshine. Luis Hilario Berriz Perez, president of the state enterprise Cubasolar, explains that ‘Cuba’s territory, of about 111,000 square kilometres, receives solar radiation equivalent to the energy produced by 50 million tons of oil, every day. That is, the solar radiation Cuba receives in a single day, is greater – in its energy value – than all the oil consumed in five years.’ However, there are major barriers to energy development; not least the US blockade. Cuba has been forced to look outside of the US’ sphere of influence for solutions to its energy needs.


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Cuba debates new Constitution

Delegates to Cuba's National Assembly review the proposed constitutional changes

On 22 July, over 600 delegates in Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, the country’s highest decision-making body, approved the draft of a new Constitution after two days of debate in which more than 100 delegates made interventions. Now the Constitution will be distributed throughout the island and between mid-August and mid-November the population will debate it in grassroots meetings, in communities and centres of work and study. A second version of the Constitution will then incorporate opinions expressed in the popular consultation. Following approval of this second version by the National Assembly, the new Constitution will be put to a nationwide referendum based on a secret ballot, probably early in 2019. HELEN YAFFE reports.


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The revolution renewed

President Diaz-Canel meets with voters

On 19 April 2018 Cuba inaugurated its new Council of State, including the new President, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez. He is the first leader of Cuba’s government to be born after the revolution of 1959. At this event which concluded the six-month long general election, outgoing leader Raul Castro addressed the National Assembly of People’s Power, expressing optimism about the suitability of the country’s new leadership to continue the programme of economic, social and political reforms, as well as the significant progress made in rejuvenating and diversifying the National Assembly so that it reflects the demographics of the nation it serves. Raul also expressed his hope that Diaz-Canel would succeed him as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, indicating that the ties between the Party and the government of Cuba will remain strong in the years to come. Will Harney reports.


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Death of Luis Posada Carriles, CIA terrorist

A protest for justice for the families of flight 455 victims

The self-confessed terrorist bomber and CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles died a free man on 23 May in Miami, Florida where he had been sheltered by the US government since 2005. He was a counter-revolutionary responsible for the deaths of innocent people throughout Latin America.


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As Cuba goes online, the US plans subversion

Undersea fibre-optic cables surround Cuba but only the ALBA-1 cable is accessible to Cubans due to the US blockade.

‘The internet appears to have been made for revolutionaries’ – Fidel Castro

Far from seeing the internet as a danger to be controlled or censored, the Cuban government recognises its potential for empowering oppressed peoples in the revolution against global capitalism (Granma 16 February 2018). The new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel urged in his maiden speech to the National Assembly of People’s Power on 19 April that Cubans must be ‘more creative with spreading our truths’ and start using new technologies to publicise life in socialist Cuba, to counter the lies and misinformation spread by their enemies. This is why development of Cuba’s internet infrastructure has continued apace despite its primary obstacle: the US-imposed economic blockade of Cuba. Meanwhile, US President Trump has ordered the creation of a task force to explore the potential of using the internet to undermine the Cuban revolution. Will Harney and Conan Underhill report.


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Cuba carries the banner – Interview with Carlos Tablada

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no.99 February/March 1981

carlos tablada

The Cuban economist CARLOS TABLADA addressed a packed Conway Hall in London on 30 November. Pathfinder Books, publishers of Tablada’s major work on Che Guevara: Economics and Politics in the Transition to Socialism, organised the meeting. We had the rare and inspiring opportunity to hear a committed communist tackle the problems faced by humanity today. Tablada examined the crisis of socialism, explained the vital contribution of Cuba’s experiences and discussed the global balance of class forces and socialism’s future. The following day FRFI had the opportunity of talking to Carlos Tablada personally. Below we print extracts from the interview.


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Cuba Elections: the revolution prepares for a new chapter

President Raul Castro (left) and First Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel (right)

Cuba’s 60-year-old revolutionary democracy is at a historic milestone as it prepares to elect a leader on 19 April who will be part of a new generation taking over from those who originally took part in the 1959 revolution. For the people of socialist Cuba, the careful process of electing a new President and Vice President began back in September with nominations for the 168 Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power. These basic components of Cuba’s participatory democratic system are composed, not of career politicians, but of ordinary Cubans who are put forward by their neighbours and communities. On this broad base the parliament is built, in a political system rooted in a long revolutionary tradition and designed above all to empower the working class. Cubans’ choice of new leadership will be crucial in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. Will Harney reports.


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Cuba’s gay revolution: normalising sexual diversity - book review

cuba mariela cartro gay revolution
Mariela Castro, head of CENESEX, on a LGBT parade in Havana

Cuba’s Gay Revolution: normalising sexual diversity through a health-based approach

Emily J Kirk, Lexington Books, 2017, 167pp, £60

In 1992, Fidel Castro was one of the first heads of state to openly support LGBT liberation, declaring: ‘I am absolutely opposed to any form of repression, contempt, scorn or discrimination with regard to homosexuals.’ He later expressed personal regret for historic persecution of homosexuals in the country: ‘Yes, there were great injustices... if someone is responsible, it’s me... We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death. In those moments, I was not able to deal with the matter. I found myself immersed, principally, in the Crisis of October, in the war, in policy questions.’1

Internationally, the history of LGBT politics in Cuba has received little in the way of serious attention which often takes the form of generalisations or thinly veiled attacks upon Cuban socialism. Emily J Kirk’s book, therefore, is hugely significant. Drawing from the archives of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) and interviews with its staff, she sets out an objective and insightful analysis of how LGBT rights have developed through the history of the Cuban revolution.


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Acoustic illusion: pretext for renewed US hostility to Cuba

sonicattack cuba

On 8 November 2017, the United States government launched new sanctions against Cuba, releasing an updated list of Cuban entities – from hotels to agricultural suppliers and from soft drinks to retail stores – which US businesses and citizens are banned from engaging with. What do they have in common? The US Department of State list states that they are all ‘entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba’. Jack Lukacs reports.

It is an untenable proposition to distinguish between civilians and the military in a revolutionary state under siege. By attempting to starve the Cuban government of revenue from travel, remittances and trade, these measures hurt all Cubans on the island. Trump appears to be dancing to the tune of his key electoral allies in Florida, Miami. Extreme right-wing Cuban-American Senators Marco Rubio and Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart are the architects of the ban on transactions with military-linked enterprises. But they are not easy to please. Following the publication of the State Department’s list, they complained that it was too short because US ‘bureaucrats’ were ‘refusing’ to carry out Trump’s policy.


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Close Guantanamo! Free or put on trial the final prisoners

close guantanamo

Nine years after President Obama promised to close the US torture camp in illegally occupied Guantanamo Bay in eastern Cuba, 41 prisoners continue to be held there. At least four are on hunger strike and, as we go to press, the campaigning charity Reprieve is warning that they are ‘edging close to death’.

The camp is situated within a US naval station at Guantanamo Bay, which dates back to the US-Spanish War of 1898. The Cuban people have always opposed this blatantly imperialist occupation and, since the Revolution, Cuba has demanded an end to the US presence. Lease payments have been sent annually from the US but since 1959 the Cuban government has not cashed any of the cheques.


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Cuba puts the US to shame as hurricanes wreak destruction

The succession of hurricanes which hit the Caribbean Americas in August and September were some of the most immense and devastating on record. Climate scientists warned that warming ocean surfaces are exacerbating the conditions that produce such extreme weather events. After the storms had passed it was clear that within the region only Cuba, thanks to its socialist central planning, had been equipped to adequately prepare and protect its people, putting even the US to shame. Barnaby Philips reports.

When it was announced that Hurricane Irma was going to be a Category 5 storm, Marien, a Cuban who has been living in Miami for four years, decided to take her family back to her home country for a week even though they wouldn’t escape Irma’s path there: ‘We know we’re going to be safer.’

Indeed, according to the Centre for International Policy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, ‘a person is 15 times as likely to be killed by a hurricane in the United States as in Cuba’.


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Supporting working mothers: Cuba’s achievements bring new challenges

mothers in cuba

Earlier this year, two new laws concerning Female Workers’ Maternity and Special Social Security Regimes were enacted in Cuba. They aim to address the demographic challenges Cuba faces through its ageing population and strengthen support for working mothers who are central to discussions about the workforce, fertility and productivity. Haydee Franco Leal, director of Policies and Projections at the National Institute of Social Security, outlined the objectives as: encouraging Cuban women to have more children in order to replace the ageing population; ensuring the active participation, in all aspects of society, of the growing population of those aged over 60; and encouraging the employment of all those able to work, including women with children.

The changes are accompanied by a rise in the social security budget to 6bn Cuban pesos, which is set to double by 2030. They include: increasing and extending maternity benefits; allowing other carers to share these benefits; new and reduced charges for childcare centres, and ensuring benefits for mothers employed outside the state sector.


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Trump’s Cuba dilemma

trump cuba
Cuban celebrating National Rebellion Day on 26 July

On 16 June US President Donald Trump announced his intention to roll back the Obama administration’s policy toward Cuba in order to ‘seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and the United States of America’. His speech, delivered to an ensemble of reactionary Cubans in Miami, promised to enforce greater restrictions on travel and trade. Trump denounced Cuban socialism as the ‘Cuban people’s oppressor’ and praised previous US interventions on the island. However, he stopped far short of reversing Obama’s Cuba policy or of breaking off diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States re-established in 2015. James Bell reports.

President Trump faces the same problem that Obama confronted in 2014. Put bluntly, the strategy of economically and politically isolating socialist Cuba in order to destroy it, adopted by US imperialism since 1961, has not worked.


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Conceptualising Cuban socialism

Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power

On 1 June 2017, an extraordinary session of Cuba’s National Assembly of Peoples’ Power approved important documents which define the character, objectives and strategy of Cuban socialism into the post-Castro era. Since 2011, a programme of ‘updating’ the Cuban economic and social system has been underway, and these documents aim to establish the parameters within which those developments will take place. Helen Yaffe reports.

Such measures are imperative given the greater space being opened up for market relations: private ownership and business, self-employment and foreign investment. Establishing social welfare and national development priorities will be essential to prevent market forces asserting a capitalist logic over Cuban development. Raul Castro will step down as President of the Council of State in February 2018,1 and the Cuban leadership is working to strengthen the institutional basis of socialism to help safeguard its future when Cuba is no longer led by the ‘historic generation’ who carried out the Revolution.


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Socialist Cuba: old obstacles and new challenges

mariel port
Cuba's Mariel port

On 25 and 26 March the first National Cuba Conference to be held in the United States since 1979 took place at Fordham Law School in New York. The conference demanded the full normalisation of US-Cuba relations; the elimination of the US blockade, the return of US-occupied territory in Guantanamo and an end to US regime change programmes. These are essential demands for the international movement in solidarity with socialist Cuba at this complex juncture; with the possibility of renewed aggression from the new Trump administration, and with the challenges faced both in its process of economic restructuring and the pending transition to a post-Castro era. Helen Yaffe reports.


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Cuban socialism not up for negotiation in the post-Fidel, Trump era

KeniaSerrano PhotoVirgilioPonce
Kenia Serrano, Photo by Virgilio Ponce

Interview with Kenia Serrano, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), by Helen Yaffe, Havana, 4 January 2017

Helen Yaffe: Why has the United States changed its strategic focus towards Cuba?

Kenia Serrano: The United States came under international pressure from different states, including Latin American and Caribbean countries. Fundamentally those countries recognised Cuba’s contribution to the development of their people; training human resources in different sectors; medical education; engineers; teachers; or developing literacy campaigns. Cuba does this without seeking anything in exchange, based on principles, our commitment to internationalism. This has made an important contribution in those countries, which don’t have political, economic or social systems similar to Cuba’s socialist system. From within those countries a strong consensus has grown in favour of Cuba’s reincorporation into the structure of the Americas.

The United States was isolated from the world, not only from Latin America and the Caribbean which it has always considered its ‘back yard’, but also in its policy of the blockade, its policy of terrorism, its policy of pressure which, as well as the blockade, was expressed by the precondition that Cuba should change its political system before the United States would re-establish relations. This is something that characterised the US approach for more than 50 years. As a country suffering directly the impact of the global crisis of the economic system, the United States needed to renew its influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. It had lost space and influence with the victory of different progressive processes in the region. This was after a stage of savage neoliberalism that favoured the United States but then created the conditions for important progressive changes that occurred in Venezuela, in Brazil, in the ALBA countries – Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, also in Argentina.


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Defending Cuban culture, defending Cuban socialism

(Alfredo Guevara, Director General of the ICAIC with Che)

Review: To Defend the Revolution is to Defend Culture: The Cultural Policy of the Cuban Revolution

Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt

PM Press, 2015, 398pp, £17.99

This book assesses what Gordon-Nesbitt calls revolutionary Cuba’s ‘Marxist-humanist’ cultural policy, ‘the most ambitious reconciliation of art and society to have taken place [in the world] to date’. She describes the conscious democratisation and radical rethinking of the role of the arts by revolutionary Cubans from the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 onwards, without idealising her subject matter.

Its publication coincides with the escalation of further US attempts to foster regime change in socialist Cuba by a combination of increasing cultural influence and financial investment, having failed to bring this about via its 56-year economic blockade. The US State Department agrees some $30m to be spent every year on ‘democracy development’ programmes, in Cuba, such as those developed by USAID and NED (see FRFI 239 and 241).


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Fidel Castro: 1926-2016

Fidel pointing

‘I am a Marxist-Leninist and I shall be a Marxist-Leninist until the day I die.’ – Fidel Castro after the defeat of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

On 25 November, Fidel Castro Ruz, Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, died aged 90. The Revolutionary Communist Group pays tribute to this great revolutionary communist and sends condolences to his family, the Cuban people and those millions of people from every region of the world who claimed Fidel as their own.

The news comes three months after Fidel’s 90th birthday was celebrated in Cuba and internationally. As we said at that time: ‘His longevity is a source of comfort and pride.’ Fidel risked his life on the front line in Cuba’s revolutionary armed struggle against the Batista dictatorship in the 1950s, he faced hundreds of assassination attempts and acts of terrorism over the subsequent 50 years, and he pulled through a grave illness which took him to death’s door in 2006. And yet, he died a natural death in peace in Havana, having seen off nine hostile US Presidents. Cuba faces many challenges today, with economic changes underway and the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States, but the revolutionary society built under Fidel’s leadership remains solid, as does the political commitment to the path of socialist development he led it down following the Revolution of 1959.


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Cuban revolutionary scientific advances continue

cim researcher holding vaccine super

Despite the US blockade and other attempts to undermine the socialist revolution, Cuba has continued its phenomenal scientific and medical progress. ELAM, Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine, is now the world’s biggest medical school and has graduated over 25,000 doctors from low-income backgrounds, from 84 countries mainly in Latin America, Asia and Africa, to serve in disadvantaged, neglected communities. Cuba continues to develop innovative biotechnology products to improve the quality of life of Cubans and other people around the world. Cuban biotechnology products are exported to more than 50 countries and earn Cuba over $300 million annually. Charles Chinweizu reports.

Cuban biotech

By 2012, Cuba had produced 33 different vaccines, 33 anti-cancer drugs, 18 products to treat cardiovascular disease and seven to treat other diseases (Baden, Davis, Wilkinson, 2015, In December 2012 Cuba’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries were merged into a single 100% state-owned entity BioCubaFarma, to combine and focus efforts to improve Cuban health and generate exportable good and services. Cuba has developed a raft of innovative unique drugs. It is the first country to develop two therapeutic vaccines against lung cancer, a disease that causes 1.3 million deaths globally each year: CimavaxEGF and Racotumomab (Vaxira) were developed at the Center for Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana in 2008 and 2013 respectively. 5,000 patients worldwide have been treated with CimaVaxEGF which has no known side effects and costs the Cuban government $1 per shot to manufacture. It is for those in advanced stages who’ve already been treated with chemotherapy. CimaVaxEGF prolongs life for up to five years, something almost unthinkable for those in advanced stages of lung cancer, whose normal survival rate does not exceed 18 months. Heberferon for the treatment of skin cancer, is another scientific breakthrough developed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana. In Cuba skin cancer is on the rise. In April 2015, the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) awarded a Gold Medal for Cuba’s Itolizumab, a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease affecting 125 million people globally. It was Cuba’s tenth WIPO Gold Medal.


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