Fidel Castro’s illness in August has nurtured the hopes of Miami-based Cuban émigrés and the U.S. ruling class that a “transition in Cuba” will soon be possible. It is often implied that this is a question of a transition to “democracy” and “free elections.” However, what is actually being planned in Washington, as part of a decades-long strategy, is an immediate transition back to capitalism in Cuba—at whatever the cost to the Cuban people.
As Paul Baran said on KPFA radio in Berkeley, California on April 21, 1961, only days after the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba: “What our government is setting out to defend [through its interventions in Cuba and the rest of Latin America], cost what it may, is not the process of free elections, not democratic freedom, not civil liberties of any kind. What our government is setting out to defend is private property in the means of production. What our government is setting out to defend in this hemisphere, under the name of the inter-American system, is the American empire exploited by American corporations. If we want historical evidence for this proposition, such evidence is amply available…” (The Longer View [Monthly Review Press, 1969], 421).
Today evidence of such avaricious goals on the part of those threatening Cuba from the United States is just as “amply available.” Washington’s concrete plans for a transition in Cuba are explicitly documented in the reports (2004, 2006) of its Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba,, which detail policies for the privatization of the Cuban economy and the dismantling of decades of revolutionary gains in such areas as agrarian reform, urban reform, health, and education.
On August 27, 2006, USA Today ran a story entitled “Cuba’s Economic Fate Up in Air,” reciting a list of possible future loot for economic interests in the United States. Cuba, it said: “has potential crude oil reserves of up to 9 billion barrels and vast natural gas reserves, reports the U.S. Geological Survey.” Likewise USA Today’s readers were told that Cuba was of immense interest to U.S. agribusiness. Additionally, Cuba could once again be a “hot tourist” resort. The article closed by suggesting that in envisioning a transition it would be well to remember that Cubans may want the creature comforts of capitalism more than “wholehearted democracy like the U.S.” In other words, this dreamed of “transition” could involve expanding Guantánamo to cover the whole island.
The Miami Herald ran a story a few days earlier (on August 20, 2006) on the former Cuban ruling class’s attempts to reclaim their lost properties, highlighting the hopes of one family to regain a mansion that has now been turned into the National Center for Sex Education. President Bush, the article notes, has declared that once a transition occurs in Cuba “then Cuban Americans can…redress the issues of property confiscation.”
Author Alice Walker—1983 Pulitzer Prize winner—summed up in an August 28, 2006, interview for Prensa Latina how we feel about the reports of some Miami “Cuban Americans” celebrating the news of Castro’s illness, and the U.S. media drooling about a future “transition” to capitalism in Cuba. Ms. Walker said that she stands with her friends in Cuba and “with people everywhere-in our billions-who understand perfectly well that it isn’t democracy the U.S. wishes to impose but domination and destruction of what many of us believe is a crucial example of a different way to exist, with dignity, in the world.” (For an earlier article addressing Cuba by Alice Walker see “The Story of Why I Am Here: Or, a Woman Connects Oppressions,” Monthly Review, June 1994.)
On August 18, 2006, John Negroponte, U.S. director of national intelligence, announced that a veteran CIA operative, J. Patrick Maher, was to be appointed as acting mission manager for a new special CIA mission with the task of overseeing intelligence activities in Cuba and Venezuela-reporting directly to President Bush. The only other countries with such specific, high-profile CIA missions directed against them are Iran and North Korea. There is no doubt that this is part of a new Washington campaign to destabilize Cuba and Venezuela-not stopping short of plans for direct intervention. The primary goal here, it is worth reiterating, is to take back for capitalism what it has lost. Washington’s latest attempts to undermine the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions must therefore be taken seriously and actively resisted by all those opposed to imperialism and forced privatization throughout the world.
Correction: In this space in September we suggested that those wishing to integrate MR’s contributions to the critique of capitalism and imperialism into their college-level courses might want to contact Alan Nasser, who has been very successful at building the magazine into his classes at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Regrettably, we misstated his e-mail address, which frustrated some attempts to contact him. It should have read: alannasser [at] harbornet.com.
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