Academic journal article Social Justice

Thinking about Cuba

Academic journal article Social Justice

Thinking about Cuba

Article excerpt

January 1992. I am in Havana and I Start to think about what is going to happen in the world and in this country. At the moment, I'm naturally more concerned about Cuba, but how can one separate Cuba from the future of the world?

The U.S. government has reaffirmed a decision taken 30 years ago: to reconquer Cuba. Its decision has hardened along with its power. Now that the Soviet Union and the group of countries it led have disappeared, the United States wants the world to carry out its own policies.

The U.S. blockade against Cuba is insane. Is it even conceivable that Belgium could be blockaded for 30 years? No one could imagine such a horror. Just thinking about it makes one see the injustice of U.S. policy toward Cuba. Despite this, the country has achieved notable development. It is not an exaggeration to say that Cuba has developed more than any other Third World country. Indisputable indicators of Cuba's development include its level of industrialization, its new technologies in certain sectors, the population's standard of living, and, above all, the complete elimination of poverty and extreme poverty. To these achievements one can add Cuba's policies of full employment, universal health care, and a level of education that averages 12 years or more. Cuba has not been able to overcome one aspect of underdevelopment: it still lacks the level of self-sufficiency achieved by the most advanced countries in the areas of science, fuel, and industry. Since the 1989 crisis, the government and the people have taken measures to increase food self-sufficiency and to survive even extreme deprivation. Yet what other country, similarly encircled, could have survived so long and under such difficult conditions? Now the U.S. is increasing every kind of demand and pressure on Europe and Japan to join the blockade.

Walking through the streets of Havana or down the roads of Cuba gives one a completely different picture than that painted by much of the media, of a country coming apart at the seams. Normal life continues more or less as it always has, but with more want and certainly some novelties, such as bicycles that multiply monthly, and also a certain preoccupation about how the island will confront and overcome the new offensive.

The Cuban Revolution has undergone several stages due to changes in the country and in the world. The first began in 1959 with a national, popular, and democratic movement that appropriated the ideas of Jose Marti, together with those of liberation and socialism; the axis of its power was the majority of the working people. This first stage was followed by a second, roughly from the mid--1970s to the late 1980s. It was marked by substantial support from the Soviet bloc; during this period, the Cuban Revolution, like so many others, tied its development ever more closely to that of the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe.

The current stage began with the unravelling of the USSR and the collapse of the Leninist project. It is as difficult, or more so, than the previous stages, and it is very similar to the first, because it has forced Cuba to radically rethink the project that will bring about liberation, social justice, and democracy. This problem confronts not only Cuba, China, or Vietnam, but also all underdeveloped and even developed or semideveloped peoples who are trying to contain the enormous inequalities generated by the world market and to limit the exploitation of human beings and nature that is endangering the survival of humanity. Under these conditions, one asks, what does Cuba mean for the world and what is Cuba doing to defend its right to survive? What is Cuba doing to ensure its sovereignty and to maintain or renew its project of social justice and democracy?

I wish to answer these questions first in a very conjunctural, immediate way, and with the idea that events will confirm my hypotheses. It seems to me that given the world's current conditions, the island has designed several policies that assure and augur well for its survival and expanded growth, its self-sustained and peaceful development. …

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