Lippmann: A reflection on this 1960 editorial (2005)
THE MILITANT: All articles there prior to this one, starting January 1959
Cuba at the Crossroads
Monday, January 18,
Vol. XXIV – No. 3
The Cuban revolution has reached the crossroads. In one direction lies nationalization of industry and still more sweeping measures of a progressive character. In the other, counter-revolution.
This is our estimate. It is also the estimate of other forces. Here is a report that appeared in the Wall Street Journal: "Businessmen, many of them already convinced that almost complete nationalization of Cuba’s basic industry is in the offing, have a new worry: The possibility of counter-revolution."
According to the same source, "opposition groups are busy collecting funds to buy arms and…the wealthy and middle-class Cubans, who have suffered the most under Castro, are ripe for revolt."
An American businessman in Havana told the Wall Street Journal, "Now I have reason to hope Castro will be overthrown…"
The Lesson of Guatemala
A crew of adventurers was put together under a Lt. Col. Armas. They were a miserable lot, but they enjoyed powerful support; behind them stood the banana kins of United Fruit and – the State Department. The American embassy was directly involved in the conspiracy that succeeded in overthrowing the Guatemalan government by force and violence.
Can an overturn like the one in Guatemala now be engineered in Cuba? Our imperialist masters seem to hope so. While the Cuban counter-revolutionaries collect funds in the skyscrapers of Manhattan to buy arms, the State Department is utilizing its worldwide influence to cut off sources of modern arms to the Cuban government. In one scandalous instance that came to light, British spokesmen acknowledged that their government had bowed to Washington’s wishes.
True enough, the Wall Street plotters may decide to keep their Cuban Armas under wraps for a time. Tad Szulc, in an informative series of articles in the New York Times, explained that those who determine State Department policy are afraid that any "drastic United States action" today would arouse all of Latin America. So they are taking it on the slow bell. "They feel it is necessary to let the wind of extremism blow themselves out."
Behind the Plotters
To take such diplomatic delay as signifying an indefinite extension of time would be about the worst mistake the Castro forces could make. Evil as it is, the baleful gaze which the press has turned on Cuba gives little indication of the true fury and malevolent intent which the world center of imperialist capital is measuring the revolution that broke out on its Latin-American doorstep.
Yankee investments in Cuba are estimated by banking circles as worth somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion. That’s not a philanthropic fund set up for the benefit of the Cuban people. It represents an intricate network of economic control threatening the rich Caribbean island like the gray mycelium of a monstrous parasite.
How powerful the forces are to which the counter-revolutionaries look for support can be judged from the following partial list of companies holding property in Cuba: Abbott Laboratories, American & Foreign Power, Atlantic Refining, Bethlehem Steel, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chrysler, Esso, First National Bank of Boston, First National City Bank of New York, Freeport Sulphur, Gulf Oil, International Harvester, International Telephone & Telegraph, Lykes Bros. Steamship, Pan American World Airways, Shell Oil, Standard Oil of California, Texaco, united Fruit.
Besides that the Catholic Church has begun to organize "action groups" in each of Cuba’s 66 parishes.
The Revolutionary Forces
The power of the Cuban landlords and capitalists, who acted under Batista as venal agents for the foreign masters, lies shattered.
The class forces pressing the Cuban revolution forward are of great scope and depth. The peasantry wants a clean sweep of the feudal-like estates. The workers, elated by the victory over Batista, have already begun to reorganize, foreshadowing their entrance in the arena as the socialist force needed to assure the final success of the revolution.
Despite a rightward swing in many countries, the international setting favors the Cuban revolution. It is part of the world-wide upheaval which began at the close of World War II and which is now shaking the Mideast and Africa. From China to Cuba the revolutions tend to strengthen each other as they weaken capitalism.
The Castro Leadership
These aims coincided with those of small business and therefore attracted support from sections of the Cuban bourgeoisie smarting under the Batista dictatorship.
When Castro’s peasant forces swept into the cities, the bourgeois wing of the leadership sought strategic government posts where they could best influence economic and financial policies. Wall Street viewed these figures favorably.
The more revolutionary-minded elements projected far-reaching reforms, especially against the big landholders. But they procrastinated. And they failed to consider such fundamental measures as nationalization of industry, government monopoly of foreign trade, and the expropriation of the capitalists.
Turn to the Left
In this Castro turned leftward. He ousted the most suspicious figures from their strategic posts, staged great mass rallies and opened a campaign against the counter-revolutionaries and their American backers.
The agrarian reforms were speeded up. Along with division of the land, the formation of co-operatives received fresh impetus. The National Institute of Agrarian Reform was given greater weight among the government institutions.
Steps were also taken against the capitalist owners of industry. One of these is a transitional measure called "intervention." Ownership, with its tapping of profits, still remains as before, but the owners’ control is "intervened." Control is shifted to representatives of the government.
A transitional step that cuts still deeper is a "request" to businessmen to begin training army men in the operation of their business; in other words, to prepare a substitute management.
In addition, the government was authorized to take over temporarily any business which as a serious labor dispute or which discharges workers. The squeeze was increased from another direction by levying higher taxes on mineral concessions and imposing stiff regulations on exploitation of petroleum resources.
Which Will It Be?
To consolidate the revolution, no choice is open but to take the road of nationalizing the key industries, instituting socialist property forms, constructing a planned economy and undertaking an active policy for a similar course throughout Latin America. The aim of Cuba’s foreign policy should be the formation of a United States of Latin America that could unite all countries below the Rio Grande in an interlocking socialist economy of enormous productive capacity.
The alternative to that grandiose perspective is stagnation, demoralization and decline of the Cuban revolution, an eventual counter-revolutionary victory and the restoration of a dictatorial regime even worse than that of Batista.
Which will it be?
Editor: Joseph Hansen
Managing Editor: Daniel Roberts
Business Manager: Karolyn Kerry
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