The Castros’ Excuses
The populist measures that the Cuban government launched immediately after the 1959 revolutionary victory were designed to blaze the trail for the implementation of a single-party regime, a concentration of resources in the hands of the State, and anti-American foreign policy. After all, these were the premises of national liberation and the accelerated development posited by Marxism-Leninism for the Third World.
It was necessary to concentrate power in the hands of the genuine representatives of the “people” (a category from which those who did not share the ideology of the victors were excluded, a priori), to nationalize wealth and the means of production, to invert international alliances in order to break the ties of subordination established with the US, and foreign capital, and modify the terms of commerce to achieve “fair trade.” This strategy would be executed, naturally, under the clear and unquestionable guidance of the victorious leader, who would guide the masses towards an authentic and definitive national liberation.
In later years government propaganda would exploit the idea of victimhood and portray the establishment of the totalitarian regime as a set of defensive measures that the regime was improvising in response to US aggression. According to this version, the 1959 revolution was democratic and nationalist, and it was only trying to reestablish the constitutional liberties trampled by Batista in 1952, and protect the interests of the population against the voracity of the Americans’ monopolies.
These good intentions at the outset took a bad turn due to an imperialist reaction that insisted on destroying the Revolution, which drove Castro into the arms of the Soviet Union. But those familiar with the accounts of contemporaries – from Elena Mederos, to Rufo López Fresquet, to Manuel Ray, who were ministers of the first revolutionary cabinet; to foreign observers, like the journalist Tad Szulc, and the historian Hugh Thomas – and who take note of the sequence of events that transpired from 1959 to 1962, will realize that the implementation of Communism in Cuba followed a scheme that had been meticulously prepared before the triumph of January 1, and that began to be applied as soon as political and military power was left in the hands of Castro and his closest collaborators.
Hidden behind the energetic and colorful diatribes of ??the Supreme Leader, which amused journalists and seduced the masses, there operated a discreet and disciplined team of commissioners, in charge of eliminating political opponents, confiscating the means of production, suppressing the unions, dominating the University, controlling the media, and quashing other entities of civil society.
The application in Cuba of the theories of Marxism-Leninism triggered, as expected, a break with Washington, the creation of a police state, and a militarized society. But he upper and middle classes did not meekly allow themselves to be expropriated and deported, so it was necessary to multiply the prisons and firing squad walls throughout the Island. Shortly after the imposition of the socialist model, thousands of everyday Cubans who, seduced by the populist messages, had applauded the initial measures of the regime, began to flee the country by any means possible. 60 years later, their children and grandchildren continue to do so.
Cuba is still suffering from the repercussions of those first decisions, which shattered the country’s coexistence, tore apart its social fabric, disrupted its productive apparatus, and rescinded the people’s fundamental rights and liberties. These consequences deeply affect life in the country and hinder the development of its economy. The Government struggles to alleviate them, but, since it does not go to the root of the problem, it is limited to applying superficial remedies and arbitrary measures. This is why the reforms introduced and the decrees pronounced have only marginal effects on the conditions under which most Cubans live today.
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