By Miguel Angel Hernandez, leader of PSL-Venezuela and IWU-FI
17 November 2021. Monday 15 November was a day of great tension and expectation in Cuba. On that day, activists and dissenters scheduled a march to take place in Havana and other cities on the island, called by the group Archipielago, led by the playwright Yunior Garcia.
Since the previous days, the dictatorial and single-party government of Diaz Canel had been arresting, persecuting and harassing various activists and dissidents, both from Archipielago and from organisations of the so-called Cuban critical left. All to prevent the meeting from taking place.
On Monday, the accumulated tension turned into impotence. The marches couldn’t take place. That day, the government, through state security, developed a vast police operation and groups of civilians from the Communist Party and other organisations controlled by the regime, intimidated those who intended to march.
Between Sunday and Monday, they arrested several activists; They stationed plainclothes police in the homes of others, placing them under house arrest to prevent them from marching; They did the same with well-known journalists, to prevent them from reporting on the repressive situation that was taking place. Independent media outlets were surrounded, as of La Hora de Cuba in Camagüey. They cut off the internet and mobile phone communications. In addition, militants of the Communist Party, the Young Communist Union (UJC), the Cuban Workers’ Central (CTC) and members of the CDR were mobilised to carry out aberrant “acts of repudiation” in front of the houses of activists and organisers of the demo. The government did the same thing on Sunday with Yunior Garcia, who was prevented from walking that day, as he had previously announced.
From the International Workers’ Unity/Fourth International (IWU-FI), we reject all these repressive measures exercised by the authoritarian one-party regime of Cuba against the people who tried to march on Monday 15th. Our international current differs from the political positions of the Archipelago group and the organisers of the march planned for last Monday, but we vindicate their right to protest, an activity no one can do in Cuba, on pain of being fired from their job, being arrested or sentenced to long prison terms, as has already happened to some people who went out to march on 11 July.
On 11 July, an unprecedented and massive protest took place in the poorest and most neglected neighbourhoods of Havana and other cities. Thousands of Cubans took to the streets fed up with the poverty and inequality they suffer, aggravated by the austerity package euphemistically called “Reorganisation Task”, which the Diaz Canel government has been applying since January, deepening hunger and shortages.
Undoubtedly, the imperialist blockade that persists also influences the social situation. While we reject the criminal blockade and the most recent sanctions, we consider that this is not the fundamental cause of the ills suffered by the Cuban people.
There is no more socialism in Cuba. For years, there has been “Cuban-style” capitalism with foreign investments and joint ventures with multinationals. A repressive and totalitarian system where social inequalities have deepened. While the workers live in dilapidated housing and earn miserable salaries of 30 or 40 dollars a month, the party leaders, the heads of the CDR, the heads of the trade union organisations and the military live in luxurious mansions and build large hotels for the tourist industry exploited jointly by the government and the transnationals. They have high incomes, access to dollars and to exclusive Currency Convertible Shops (MLC), where they can buy all kinds of imported goods.
Since the July protests, the government has increased its persecution and repression of dissidents, including activists from Cuba’s critical left organisations. They argue that these are “destabilising” protests, the same as the right-wing governments of Piñera in Chile and Duque in Colombia, faced with the recent popular rebellions in those countries.
From the IWU-FI, we vindicate the right of the Cuban working people to mobilise for democratic freedoms and against the government austerity plan, and we support and stand in solidarity with the popular struggle for Full freedoms for the Cuban people and workers! Freedom for political prisoners! For the right to dissent and protest; for the right to strike, for the freedom and autonomy of trade unions, students and popular organisations; for an end to the one-party regime, for the free organisation of political parties!! No more racist discrimination! Full rights for the women’s and LGBT movement! Freedom of expression and information; free use of the internet and social networks. No more censorship, full freedom in art and culture; full academic autonomy in universities!
We support all mobilisation of the working class and the Cuban people against the poverty wages agreed between the government and the transnationals. Freedom of wage and contract discussions in the Grupo de Administracion Empresarial, S.A. (Gaesa), which gathers over 57 companies and is controlled by the military, as well as in all mixed, non-mixed and public companies. For a minimum wage in dollars! No more privileges for the bureaucrats and officials of the regime! No more shops and markets for the rich that are paid in foreign currency with special cards! No more privileged salaries for the officials of the government, the PCC and the Armed Forces! No to capitalist enterprises, mixed or private! For a national emergency economic plan, with workers’ and popular democracy, that puts an end to social inequalities, and the corruption of the prominent officials!
For a food production plan, based on consultation with producers, agrarian cooperatives, peasants and workers in the food industry, to put an end to shortages and the importation of 80% of what they consume! For the recovery of the gains in health and education achieved in the first years of the revolution! Less spending and investment in luxury hotels and more investment in wages, food, housing, education and health.
The real fundamental change in Cuba is to achieve a government of the working class, the youth and the people that advance in real socialism without repression and with democracy for the working people.