[Masthead of El Productor, a 19th century Cuban anarchist newspaper]
Interview by the Russian newspaper SITUATION from libertarian collective Autonomous Action regarding the current political picture in the island. From the Anarkismo website.
– Fidel Castro is in his last throes. Who do you think will rule in Cuba after his death?
º 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 he can exert power for long. Many factors indicate the opposite.
– Do you think Fidel is a dictator, yes or no?
º 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.
– What was Fidel’s policy with respect to other left movements (anarchists, Trotskyites, etc.)?
º 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 Guevara. 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.
– Brother Raúl doesn’t look like a strong politician, is that so?
º 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’s 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 they expect the worst and are preparing for these events.
– The history of the Cuban anarchist movement is unknown in Russia. How long has it been around? How did it start?
º We should not be surprised that little is known about the Cuban anarchists even 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.
[I highly recommend Kirwin R. Shaffer’s work especially Anarchism and Countercultural Politics in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba (University Press of Florida, 2005). Sam Dolgoff’s The Cuban Revolution: A Critical Perspective (Black Rose Books, 1996) is worth reading as well–The New Centrist].
– Except for your web site, 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?
º We don’t think so, unless they have created another in Cuba.
– What is your relationship with the Cuban Communist Party?
º We maintain no communication nor relations with the PCC (Cuban Communist Party)
– 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?
º 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.
– What is Cuba’s political structure today? Soviet republic, dictatorship, something else?
º Cuban power 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.
– Today’s Russian political elite were able to stay in power by grabbing control of oil and gas. What keeps Cuba’s economy alive these days?
º Today Cuba’s economy is kept alive thanks to the free Venezuelan oil that Chavez sends, also because of the money from sent to Cuba from abroad by Cubans in exile and also because of tourism.
– Are there many Cubans unhappy because Cuba is socialist?
º Over 10% of the population lives abroad. Inside Cuba there’s a very weak civil opposition but it’s impossible to make a formal declaration by those opposed to the system, we can only cite statistics of those Cubans who apply to emigrate (almost a million) and not because Cuba is socialist, but because it is a dictatorship outside of time and space, too long and boring.
– 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?
º The everyday Cuban lives in poverty and with little hope of improving unless there’s a change of system, as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe. It is forbidden to leave the country and even traveling from a 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 if you persist, 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.
* Interview by the Russian newspaper SITUATION from libertarian collective Autonomous Action http://www.avtonom.org regarding the current political picture in the island. A Spanish translation was published in El Libertario #50, Venezuela, 2007. For more info go to: www.mlc.contrapoder.org.ve -cuban anarchist website- and www.nodo50.org/ellibertario