Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Our 1968 coverage continues although, strictly speaking, this is October 1967. . .

Che was executed without trial in Bolivia on October 9, 1967.  The Cuban leadership declared 1968 “The Year of the Heroic Guerrilla” and supported revolutionary movements throughout Latin America in particular.  Che’s reputation, already very high among newly-radicalising young people around the world, grew significantly in 1968.

Below is the speech about Che delivered on October 18, 1967 by Fidel Castro to a rally of several hundred thousand people in Havana.

I first met Che one day in July or August 1955. And in one night — as he recalls in his account — he became one of the future Granma expeditionaries, although at that time the expedition possessed neither ship, nor arms, nor troops. That was how, together with Raúl, Che became one of the first two on the Granma list. 

Twelve years have passed since then; they have been 12 years filled with struggle and historical significance. During this time death has cut down many brave and invaluable lives. But at the same time, throughout those years of our revolution, extraordinary persons have arisen, forged from among the people of the revolution, and between them, bonds of affection and friendship have emerged that surpass all possible description. 

Tonight we are meeting to try to express, in some degree, our feelings toward one who was among the closest, among the most admired, among the most beloved, and, without a doubt, the most extraordinary of our revolutionary comrades. We are here to express our feelings for him and for the heroes who have fought with him and fallen with him, his internationalist army that has been writing a glorious and indelible page of history.

Che was one of those people who was liked immediately, for his simplicity, his character, his naturalness, his comradely attitude, his personality, his originality, even when one had not yet learned of his other characteristics and unique virtues.

In those first days he was our troop doctor, and so the bonds of friendship and warm feelings for him were ever increasing. He was filled with a profound spirit of hatred and contempt for imperialism, not only because his political education was already considerably developed, but also because, shortly before, he had had the opportunity of witnessing the criminal imperialist intervention in Guatemala through the mercenaries who aborted the revolution in that country.

A person like Che did not require elaborate arguments. It was sufficient for him to know Cuba was in a similar situation and that there were people determined to struggle against that situation, arms in hand. It was sufficient for him to know that those people were inspired by genuinely revolutionary and patriotic ideals. That was more than enough.

One day, at the end of November 1956, he set out on the expedition toward  (more…)


by Phil Duncan

This coming Monday (October 9) marks the 50th anniversary of the execution of the legendary Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara.

Che, a leader of the Cuban revolution, was captured in Bolivia where he was leading a guerrilla struggle against the dictatorship; rather than put him on trial the Bolivian dictatorship, in cahoots with Washington, decided to execute him.

He was shot dead, his hands were cut off and his corpse was buried in an unmarked grave.  It wasn’t until 1997, thrity years later, that the Cuban government was able to retrieve his remains and take them back to Cuba, where Che is a national hero.

Che was hugely popular in his lifetime, inspiring radicals, especially the younger generation, all over the world.

One of the organisations marking the 50th anniversary of Che’s execution is An Post, the postal service of the southern Irish state.  On October 5 (more…)

Che was an avid reader and student of the founders of scientific socialism.  At the end of his short political biography of Marx and Engels, Che presents the following recommended reading list:


Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844)

Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844; published in 1932)

The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism.  Against Bruno Bauer and Company (1845), written with Engels

The German Ideology (1845), written by Engels

The Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

Wage Labour and Capital (1847)

Manifesto of (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

While holidaying in Mexico I took a side trip to Cuba last week. Here are just some initial impressions.

The first impression getting a taxi from the airport was that the roads were good and the buildings looked adequate, but  nothing very new looking. Once we got to old Havana where we were staying the run down state of the historic area was very evident.  Closer to the centre of the old city there was a lot of really good restoration going on. Possibly 20% of the old buildings have been restored and look amazing.


Old Havana is very rundown but restoration is underway


The people were great, and the music was stunning. Really fantasticmusicians playing on the streets and in the cafes and bars. What talent. It struck me as rather like New Orleans where a whole city is dedicated to music.

The food was either not good, or extremely good. The food was more Spanish style than in Mexico, which makes sense as Cuba’s indigenous population was wiped out rapidly after colonisation. There was also a bit of Caribbean influence in the cuisine. Our hotel was grotty and overpriced. Generally it wasn’t expensive to eat, drink and get about (though we mostly walked).

Cuba is clearly a poor country, but the people look healthy, and the positive aspects of the revolution such as universal education, and excellent health system and a lack of disparity were evident.

The tourism industry has grown enormously and (more…)

Fidel and Che

Fidel and Che

Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution, died on Friday, November 25.  Below is an extract from the speech made in court by Fidel Castro Ruz, during his 1953 trial, following the revolutionaries’ attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26 of that year.  

Those who survived the attack and the state tortures and murders afterwards were initially jailed.  However, they became popular heroes and the dictatorship was forced to release them.  They then established the July 26 Movement.

 In Mexico, they began training and organising and in November 1956 they sailed to Cuba on the yacht Granma to launch the revolutionary struggle that just over two years later toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.  Batista fled on Thursday, January 1, 1959 and the following Thursday the Rebel Army entered Havana and quickly began implementing the changes that had been promised in History Will Absolve Me.  

This, indeed, was one of the crucial differences between the July 26 Movement and other radical-democratic movements in Latin America and elsewhere.  Under pressure from domestic ruling classes and the imperialists, most such movements backed down – often part of these movements organised a counter-revolution.  But the July 26 Movement was determined to implement their programme of sweeping reforms and when they found that would require carrying through a socialist revolution they did not hesitate to begin abolishing capitalism. 

Rebel Army enters Havana

Rebel Army enters Havana

. . .  In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we’re talking about the six hundred thousand Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don’t have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; the one hundred thousand small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it, who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of their parcel of land by giving up a portion of its produce, who cannot

Late August, Indian workers preparing for general strike, in  Sept;  160 million workers went on strike.

Late August, Indian workers preparing for general strike, in Sept; 160 million workers went on strike.

by Susil Gupta, 17 November 2016

I was warned that my controversial article (here) would raise some hackles but, to be truthful, I had hoped for some intelligent counter-blasts. 

Orwell once said that a Communist was “part gramophone, part gangster.” My old comrade Russell is not a gangster, but he is certainly all gramophone. Since his post is so paradigmatic of the rotting or ossified nature of Leftist western thinking, it is worth taking up his post (here) in detail. 

First, note that Russell does not engage with any point made in my article.  Like a tiresome Jehova’s Witness on your doorstep, he just repeats the same old religion.  Let’s take point by point. 

“I hadn’t realised you guys were so down on the metropolitan working classes!”

By ‘metropolitan’ Russell means ‘Western’, a usage that goes back to the 1960s where his thinking is firmly and obdurately stuck. In those distant times there were few non-western cities with a population of more than a million. As I have pointed out on this blog, (, China now has 105 cities with more than a million inhabitants, and by 2030 will have 148 million-people cities. Shanghai alone has 25 million inhabitants, which is about as ‘metropolitan’ as it gets. India has 58, and Latin America has 67. The EU has 34 such urban areas and the US 45. In China and many other Asian countries there are massive industrial areas and factories that have no parallel in the West. 

Russell, and much of the old Western Left, still seem to labour under the self-serving illusion that billions of people in the global ‘South’ live in villages, work in paddy fields, survive on a daily bowl of rice, and are incapable, poor things, of organised radical politics. What else explains such an obstinate refusal to face reality?  (more…)