CUBA 2007: SPEAKING WITH THE CUBAN LIBERTARIAN MOVEMENT (MLC):
There's an interesting recent article over at the Anarkismo.net site. This comes from the Russian newspaper Situation via the Russian anarchist site Avtonom . A Spanish version has been published in El Libertario #50. El Libertario is the organ of some anarchists in Venezuela. The website of the Cuban anarchists in exile is at http://www.mlc.contrapoder.org.ve/ .
Q: Fidel Castro is in his last throes. Who do you think will rule Cuba after his death ?
A: Fidel Castro is not dead yet, but even if he reappears his role as leader of the revolution and chief of government is over. Raul has for now inherited the dictatorship but with his brother's disappearance it's unlikely that he can exert power for long. Many factors indicate the opposite.
Q: Do you think Fidel is a dictator, yes or no ?
A: Somebody who's been in power for almost half a century, violently crushing any opposition may be considered as much of a dictator as Stalin.
Q: What was Fidel's policy with respect to other left movements (anarchists, Trotskyists,etc.) ?
A: In regards to the Trotskyites this question belongs to those who continue to romantically believe in Lev Davidovich. Some Cubans from that sect went into exile due to the repression following the death of Che Guevera. Anarchists were persecuted from the very beginning when some of our comrades were expelled from the unions; afterwards death, prison or exile was the medicine prescribed by the government against the Cuban anarchists.
Q: Brother Raul doesn't look like a strong politician. Is that so ?
A: He doesn't just seem weak, he is weak. He inherited the rank of Chief of the Cuban Army and Castro's successor in 1959 as he was the only person the dictator could trust. He has always been accustomed to taking orders from his brother, and when his brother is gone he will not have the power he now has. For now he has delegated some sort of committee that in reality runs the government due to his brother's incapacity. With the dictator gone Raul will be left alone in a country that crumbles slowly and urgently demands political, social and economic change. Raul is incapable of filling Fidel's shoes, and we can't rule out a violent popular uprising against the regime. At least it seems in Washington that they expect the worst and are preparing for these events.
Q: The history of the Cuban anarchist movement is unknown in Russia. How long has it been around ? How did it start ?
A: We should not be surprised that little is known about the Cuban anarchists event though Frank Fernandez left information in Moscow and Granada; but maybe it was with a different group. We recommend Frank Fernandez' book (in English) for more information.
Q: Except for your website we have found this other site http://libertario.lautre.net/ , but it doesn't work. Is there any other libertarian group in Cuba besides you ?
A: We don't think so, unless they have created another in Cuba.
Q: What is your relationship with the Cuban Communist Party ?
A: We maintain no communication nor relations with the PCC (Cuban Communist Party).
Q: Is change possible in the Cuban political situation after Fidel's death as happened in Russia between 1989 and 1993 after the fall of the USSR ? In that case how would the politics of the MLC change ?
A: It might be a possibility, but we can't answer the question for now. Political change implies a change in strategy, but the initial tactics will be dictated by our possibilities.
Q: What is Cuba's political structure today ? Soviet republic ? Dictatorship ? Something else ?
A: Cuban political structures were copied from the Soviet state in 1960. A constitution was drafted in 1976 which was a copy of Stalin's 1936 constitution and is still in force.
Q: Today's Russian elite are able to stay in power by grabbing control of oil and gas. What keeps Cuba's economy alive today ?
A: Today Cuba's economy is kept alive thanks to the free Venezuelan oil that Chavez sends and also because of the money sent to Cuba by Cubans in exile and also because of tourism.
Q: Are there many Cubans unhappy because Cuba is socialist ?
A: Over 10% of the population lives abroad. Inside Cuba there is a very weak civil opposition, but it's impossible to make a formal declaration by those opposed to the system. we can only site statistics of those Cubans who apply to emigrate (almost a million) and not because Cuba is socialist, but because it's a dictatorship outside of time and space, too long and too boring.
Q: How does the everyday citizen live ? Can they travel freely in and out of Cuba ? Can you criticize Castro ? Can any Cuban buy a car for his family ?
A: The everyday Cuban lives in poverty and with little hope of improvement unless there's a change of system, as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe. It is forbidden to leave the country and even travelling from one city to another puts you under surveillance. It is forbidden to criticize Castro as he represents the government, national sovereignty, the economy,etc.. Any criticism is very dangerous, and after a stern warning you can be thrown in prison, accused of counterrevolution. It's practically impossible to buy a car, although there's a black market salaries are too low. Only government or army functionaries have access to this type of transportation.
MOLLY NOTES: The article in Anarkismo has provoked a vigorous debate. Go there to follow it. For further information go to the short Wikipedia article on the Cuban Libertarian Movement. Some other sources available online include Sam Dolgoff's 'The Cuban Revolution: A Critical Perspective', the pamphlet 'Cuba: The Anarchists and Liberty' by Frank Fernandez, and also by the same author the book 'Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement'. If you want to order a print copy of the book it's available from See Sharp Press.