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When they talk to Cubans today about the benefits of capitalism and plans are drawn to aid them in the transition to that socio-economic order, they are assuming Cuban citizens suffer from a historical amnesia against which they are vaccinated.
At the birth of the twentieth century, Cuba began a direct transition from its colonial condition to a neo-colonial situation in which all consciousness-forming factors –including education, the media and entertainment– pointed to the model of a capitalist nation with the US consumer society as a paradigm.
Deeply divided internally –on the basis of race, gender, income, political parties and other factors– everything took shape according to the dominating interests of the powerful neighbor.
Governments were elected following nominations by political parties representing different sectors of the bourgeoisie, almost all depending on their ties with the United States.
Cuba’s elections were tragi-comic spectacles, initiated with promises and advertisements escalating to blackmail, bribery, scams, fraud and embezzlement. These were occasionally interrupted by cycles of violence that could include US interventions, coups d’état and repression with torture and murders. There would be the corresponding responses of rebellion; until the start of a new cycle… similar to the one before.
The recent restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba ended a fierce asymmetric war between two neighboring countries, with a clear victory by resistance of the Caribbean nation. Cuba had endured the violent hostility of the only global superpower for over half a century: the richest and technologically most developed country of the present. The US was determined to reverse the course of Cuba’s history of revolutionary struggles for national independence which had begun in 1868 and peaked in 1959.
Cuban historian and sociologist Fernando Martinez Heredia, in a recent work on the 55th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution, explained:
“At the onset of the second great revolutionary wave of the twentieth century –whose center was in the Third World but which included a cycle of large protests in many countries of the so-called developed world– Capitalism, to go on the offensive and reverse the situation, appealed to such manipulations as weakening the institutions and coordination initiatives that could serve the Third World. It waged “low intensity wars”; increasing conservative practices and political rhetoric, waving flags such as that of human rights, and launching campaigns such as the supposed struggle against drug trafficking and corruption … “.
The powerful US media machine has tried to hijack such words as “democracy” and “freedom“, which expressed the objectives of their struggles, from the peoples fighting for their second and true independence in Latin America. The US media put these words precisely into service to interests more in conflict with the semantic and true value of these terms.
“Cuba is entering a stage in which the great dilemma is to develop socialism or return to capitalism,” says Martinez Heredia. “What is being waged is not a cultural struggle between neo-liberalism and state economy. It is between a socialism, that will have to transform itself and become even more socialist or perish, and a capitalism that has opted to accumulate more and more social force by conquering society through make-believe and by getting Cubans get used to capitalist deeds, relationships and social consciousness.”
“Capitalism continues to exist, and not passively. It is always attacking –sharply or chronically. It will attack mainly by entering, returning, reliving, soaking, infecting the institutions, groups and individuals who want the new and socialist.”
In the battle between these two ways of living, that of capitalism has been receiving many reinforcements in recent times. Its main battlefield is in everyday life: social relationships, the growth and expansion of private businesses and their constellations of economic and social relations, ideas and feelings.
“The current US strategy toward Cuba will deploy a good number of soft and intelligent resources as modern “fool-catchers” in the 21st Century war. They will attempt to erase all of Cuba’s greatness and reduce the country to the nostalgia for “the good old days” before the rule of rabble and the Castros.”‘
“This is the enemy that Cubans now have to fight. An enemy that is trying to seduce Cuba to regain the control it had on the island. It will attempt to do this by means of a cultural war after the resounding failure of the genocidal blockade it still clings to,” says Fernando Martinez Heredia.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.