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The Cuban Revolution dared to win

July 2, 2017

Introduction

The following text is based on the notes for a presentation by Felipe Stuart Courneyeur to the Canada-wide convention of the Canadian Network on Cuba, held at Toronto’s City Hall June 3-4, 2017[1]. He shared the panel with Sandra Rodríguez, head of the North American Bureau of Cuba’s Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

Stuart Courneyeur has dual Nicaraguan-Canadian nationality; he divides his time between the two countries. He is an active member of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.

People cheer for the "Cuban Five" in Havana

Celebrating the release of the ‘Cuban 5’ political prisoners from U.S. jails, Havana, December 2014.

His participation in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution began in 1959. He participated in the founding of the British Columbia Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), based in Vancouver, in 1961. The FPCC in Canada’s Pacific Coast province encompassed a network of small support groupings ranging from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland (Vancouver), Prince Rupert and other coastal towns, and the Kootenays to the east. Stuart Courneyeur acted as the Secretary of the B.C. FPCC for most of the 1960s decade. His memoir of that period –

Cuban Palm Trees under Vancouver’s Lions Gate: A memoir of the 1960s Fair Play for Cuba Committees in Western Canada (Copyright © Felipe Stuart Courneyeur 2014)

– is available on this blogsite.


 

Felipe at Cuba event-2

Felipe Stuart Courneyeur

By Felipe Stuart Courneyeur. Buenos días a todas y todos. Bonjour tout le monde. Good morning everyone.

Greetings to our sister and brother diplomats of the Republic of Cuba, and to our sisters and brothers from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples. We should all applaud ourselves for devoting such a nice summer weekend to this convention.

I should first mention that although I am an active member of the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front, the FSLN, I am speaking here in a personal capacity and as part of my commitment to the work of the Latin American/Caribbean Solidarity Network[2] that recently celebrated the opening of its Toronto centre on Eglinton West. The FSLN, as a revolutionary anti-imperialist front, is in full solidarity with socialist Cuba. This is something that our Nicaraguan Sandinista leaders make clear at every opportunity.

Fifty-eight years ago, January 2, 1959, registered the definitive victory, on the level of the nation state, of the Cuban workers, farmers, and student youth. Those three social forces of men and women constituted a broad national class of oppressed and exploited people, mostly poor and mostly deprived of culture as they came to know it through the advances of their revolution. Imperialism oppressed them as a nation through a world system centered in and controlled by the ruling class of the United States of (North) America. Added to that was their exploitation by their own ruling class of cronies, parasites and pimps, all vende patria,[3] sell-out servants and agents of Uncle Sam.

Fidel-Che-Dorticos-2

Fidel and Che with Cuban president Osvaldo Dorticós, at head of Havana demonstration 1960.

Yes, for the first time in the Americas, in our history, the workers and farmers took state power, arms in hand, and initiated an uninterrupted revolutionary process heading towards socialism. In April 1961, the revolutionary democratic government, led by Fidel Castro and the July 26th Movement, declared the socialist character of the revolution and the class character of the new state – a state resting on the toilers of the nation and committed to their social and economic interests. A new state dedicated to the advance of anti-imperialist struggle at home and abroad.

 

That is how the Cuban people answered the insult and injury of the Playa Giron/Bay of Pigs invasion – a disaster, to be sure, but not for us but for Washington and its hired gusanos (worms). The Cubans defeated that mercenary assault within hours – an historic victory for us and a humiliating defeat for parasites everywhere.

So, as we say, the rest is history. What a ride it has been, and still is!

Most if not all the compañeras and compañeros present in this event will know that history, hence there is no need for me to trace it here this morning. Instead of that, I want to take up the critical question for us now.

How should we assess this nearly six decades of the wielding of class power by the majority class of toilers in Cuba? I think this question can be answered summarily in six points. I leave it to you delegates and our Cuban co-combatants to decide how well I do on that.

  1. The Cuban revolution was and has continued to be a victory for the national sovereignty of the Caribbean island country.
  2. It was a victory for popular grassroots democracy.
  3. A victory for the toilers of Cuba and of all continents.
  4. A victory for socialism.
  5. A victory for the peoples of the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.
  6. And a victory for peace and economic, social and cultural development both in Cuba and in culturally akin countries. If this last point escapes you, I suggest you look into the phenomenal work of the Cuban Casas de las Americas Institute or the Cuban health teams’ work in the Americas and around the globe.

So there we have six big victories. Now we come to a defeat – but not ours!

Fidel and Che-2

‘Fidel told me many times he dreams with Che. He dreams he’s with him and in the dream he sees Che as he was,’ says Dr Aleida Guevara, the oldest of Che’s four children with his second wife. Above, Fidel (left) with Che in 1959.

The Cuban Revolution was a blow against and defeat for imperialism and its structures of minority rule. That means it was our victory, a victory for majority rule; one that, over the decades, has rippled through other countries like Bolivia. This new century saw the victory of Indigenous majority rule in that landlocked Andean country, of indigenous democracy for the first time since the European conquest and genocide. And, we will see a victory for the Haitians where the daughters and sons of Toussaint l’Ouverture are struggling to shake off their modern shackles that are not made of metal, but of hunger, poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

Above all, the socialist revolution, still waged even today by the Cuban people, was and is a victory for the deepest yearnings of peoples everywhere – to live in a new worldwide society based on internationalism and solidarity, based on fairness and respect among people.

Finally, Cuba – her people and their vanguard (and ours) – have demonstrated for more than six decades – ever since 1953 and before – that anti-imperialist nationalism and anti-capitalist internationalism go hand in hand like a couple of young lovers who walk together enduringly, ever in solidarity.

So there you have my ongoing, open-ended take of an unprecedented human experience – solidarity-in-power, vanquishing the enfeebled power of greed and gluttony, of violent oppression and exploitation that Marx and Engels diagnosed as capital and the fetishism of money, gold, and shareholder wealth; of the individual against all; of private competition against Mother Nature.

Cuba continues to defy a system rooted in the simultaneous pillage of the product of the toilers and of the earth. They are challenging a system shot through with permanent wars and unnecessary plagues and diseases. Rife with gluttonous consumption in the face of starvation and misery for the majority. The rulers cling to a system geared to produce obscene concentrations of wealth for a tiny cohort of parasites; an economic system that is driven by the necessity for unhampered growth, entailing the production of waste, of instruments of mass destruction, and of permanent wars – all for greater profit for the few.

That is why the Empire must and will continue to fight back against the majority.

That is why they must keep on trying to destroy the Cuban revolution. And to smash those that followed it – like the Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Bolivian revolutions.

Imperialism cannot co-exist with Cuba’s socialist internationalism any more than the capitalist-motivated European settler colonies and states could co-exist with the communalist Indigenous societies of the Americas and of other lands like Australia and New Zealand.

That, too, is why the Cuban Revolution belongs to the global human family.

That is why we, together with Cuba’s dedicated majority will fight to the death – “come dungeons dark and gallows grim” – to preserve this profoundly human achievement.

Fidel said, “Patria libre o muerte.” (Free country or death).

Sandino said, “Only the workers and farmers will go all the way.”

Che said, “Hasta la victoria siempre.” (Ever onward to victory).

Following Che Guevara’s murder, Fidel said to the Cuban people and to liberation fighters everywhere, “If we wish to express what we expect our revolutionary combatants, our militants, our people to be, we must say, without hesitation: let them be like Che! If we wish to express what we want the people of future generations to be, we must say: let them be like Che! … If we wish to express what we want our children to be, we must say from our very hearts as ardent revolutionaries: we want them to be like Che!”

Today, we should add to that – if we want to win, to form a government of the toilers, to defend our victories from imperialist-driven counterrevolution, then we say, “Let us be like the Cubans, let us learn from their experiences, from their communist leadership.”

Above all, let us never abandon our Cuban brothers and sisters. Our tasks here in Canada – a rearguard if you like – are vital.

And let’s hear it for President Raúl [Castro] who has reminded us that now is the hour of defense of the Venezuelan Bolivarian revolution; and of Bolivia’s newly achieved system of Indigenous majority rule – both under vicious attack by Washington-inspired forces.

Let’s keep our eyes on the prize – that we have also to strive for our own victory here in Canada and in Quebec; indeed in North America as a whole. And, across the Indigenous (or “First Nations”) lands from sea to sea to sea.

Lastly, as we look back on July 26, 1953 and as we look forward (as always, we must) let’s recall the unforgettable words of Rosa Luxembourg when she summed up her appreciation of the achievement and gift of the Greater Russian 1917 revolution. In Chapter 8 of her work The Russian Revolution, dedicated to the issue of “Democracy and Dictatorship”[4] Red Rosa wrote:

What is in order is to distinguish the essential from the non-essential, the kernel from the accidental excrescencies in the politics of the Bolsheviks. In the present period, when we face decisive final struggles in all the world, the most important problem of socialism was and is the burning question of our time. It is not a matter of this or that secondary question of tactics, but of the capacity for action of the proletariat, the strength to act, the will to power of socialism as such. In this, Lenin and Trotsky and their friends were the first, those who went ahead as an example to the proletariat of the world; they are still the only ones up to now who can cry with [Ulrich von] Hutten: “I have dared!”

This is the essential and enduring in Bolshevik policy. In this sense, theirs is the immortal historical service of having marched at the head of the international proletariat with the conquest of political power and the practical placing of the problem of the realization of socialism, and of having advanced mightily the settlement of the score between capital and labor in the entire world. In Russia, the problem could only be posed. It could not be solved in Russia. And in this sense, the future everywhere belongs to “Bolshevism.”

The same – all the more – must be said for Cuba’s socialist heritage. The Cuban people have stood up to Goliath – the imperial monster to the north. They dared – like Hutten, like the toilers in the Tsarist Empire – and they keep on daring. They refuse to surrender.

It is also true that the Cuban people cannot, and have never tried, to solve all the problems of the world. They do what they can, at great sacrifice, and thereby provide us with an unprecedented, incessant, ongoing example of human solidarity. The big problems facing humanity will be solved, above all, in the most powerful imperialist countries where industrial, financial and military strength and capacity are concentrated. They will be solved there or not at all.

We will dare – like our Cuban brothers and sisters – to solve them. We have to! And we will indeed resolve them.

Long live the Cuban people and their revolution!
Long live friendship between people in Canada and in Cuba!
Long live internationalism and human solidarity!

Felipe Stuart Courneyeur, Toronto City Hall, June 4, 2017.

Notes

[1] The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) brings together organizations and networks in Canada that work in solidarity with socialist Cuba and promote friendship between the peoples of the two countries. The CNC website address is http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/

Quebec has its own independent solidarity movement, the La Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba (TCSQ-C). . Its email address is tableqccu@gmail.com

[2] LACSN – See http://lacsn.weebly.com/

[3] Vende Patria – sellouts, traitors to the nation

[4] See Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, Chapter 8: Democracy and Dictatorship at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch08.htm

 

 

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