Idalberto Ferrera Acosta (1918-2013),
Photo by Sebastian Brulez (December 2006)
Wednesday, July 24 2013 12:18
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Last July 2, 2013, Idalberto
Ferrera Acosta, age 95, died in Havana. Idalberto devoted his entire
life to the Revolution. In 1933-1934 he joined the Bolshevik-Leninist
Party, the Cuban Trotskyist organization. He was a militant in the union
and political movements in Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba. The actions
of Cuban Trotskyists were very important in the 1930s because they had
significant influence in the unions in several regions in Cuba,
particularly in the East (Guantanamo, site of the U.S. Navy base, and
Santiago de Cuba) and in Havana. Idalberto Ferrera made active
In Guantanamo, during the 1950’s, with his partner Guarina Ramírez and
his three sons (Juan León, Ricardo and Idalberto), he joined the
political and armed struggle headed by the Movimiento 26 de Julio
(M-26J) . Meetings of clandestine M-26-J were regularly held in his
home at Number 1453, Calle de Manuel de Céspedes, Guantánamo. His family
and comrades enthusiastically joined the early years of the Revolution
while they openly defended their Trotskyist ideas. The issues of
self-organization of the people, freedom of organization and deepening
of revolutionary structural changes were in the center of their combat.
In 1960 or 1961, he settled with his family in a popular Old Havana
neighborhood, in a humble apartment in Calle Monte where he lived until
the end of his days. Idalberto Ferrera and a group of Cuban Trotskyists
rebuilt a Trotskyist organization named Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR)
(Trotskyist). The activities of this party were legal at the beginning.
Its members were involved in productive tasks (in agriculture and
industry) and in the defense of the Cuban Revolution. The POR (T)
received support from Latin American militants who offered their support
to the Cuban Revolution. At the time, Idalberto Ferrera was Secretary
General of the POR (T) which published the newspaper Voz Proletaria. POR
(T) was affiliated to an international Trotskyist organization: the
Fourth International Posadista. This organization had previously severed
links with the International Secretariat of the 4th
International led at the time mainly by Michel Pablo, Ernest Mandel,
Pierre Frank and Livio Maitan.
In 1962, the 4th International Posadista and the POR(T) took an extreme
position during the Missile Crisis and demanded that the Cuban
leadership and the USSR launch a nuclear attack against the U.S.A. to
destroy imperialism. The demand was published in all the international
Posadista media as well as in a special issue of the Cuban Trotskyist
paper Voz Proletaria/3 (Title: “Let the Soviet Army Strike the First
Blow”, Havana, October 23, 1962).
Several times along 1962-1963, Idalberto Ferrera and his comrades, both
in Havana and Guantanamo, were victims of police intimidation instigated
by the PSP [Partido Socialista Popular], the Stalinist party that was
gaining influence in State echelons and was attacking Trotskyists as
enemies of the Revolution.
Jose Lungarzo (metallurgic workman and Argentinian Trotskyist) was
arrested on October 30, 1962 and deported to Argentine on December 21,
Finally, in 1965 the POR(T) was banned.
In March 1965, several comrades of Idalberto Ferrera, including one of
his sons, Idalberto Ferrera Acosta, who had been sentenced to several
years in prison, were released after a few months in prison/4. Among the
concrete causes for the incarceration was the publication of the Cuban
edition of Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed and the activities
of the POR(T). Che Guevara, returning from Africa, intervened in favor
of the Trotskyists and obtained their liberation. Che set a condition:
the dissolution of the POR(T).
The situation deteriorated strongly in 1967. The international Posadista
media affirmed that Che had died in Cuba/5. Juan Posadas stated in
October 1967 that “Guevara did not die in Bolivia”/6. Obviously these
allegations as serious and unfounded could only complicate the situation
of the Cuban Posadista Trotskyists.
In the 1970s, pressures by the USSR and its followers in Cuba were very
strong and in many areas. In 1973, Idalberto, his son Juan Leon and
Jesus Andres Vazquez were sentenced again.
The accusation record of the Public Ministry of the Revolutionary Court
No. 1 against Idalberto Ferrera Acosta, Juan León Ferrera (one of his
three sons) and Jesús Andrés Vázquez reads as follows: “The defendants
(…) were members of the political bureau of the Partido Obrero
Revolucionario Trotskista and their main tasks were the preparation
and reproduction of Trotskyist propaganda of a diversionist and
defamatory nature against the Cuban Communist Party and
Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz; the creation of Trotskyist cells in
the provinces; proselytism activities to attract new militants and
sympathizers; and close links with the Fourth Trotskyist Posadista
International abroad from which they received instructions for their
activities and followed them to the letter. They received from abroad
all kinds of Trotskyist propaganda and also sent to the different
sections of the Fourth Trotskyist Posadista International political and
economic information about the country. This was aimed at the
ideological weakening and confusion in the Marxist-Leninist approach of
the Cuban Communist Party as the ruling body of the Cuban Revolution.
All these actions as well as creating conflicts and divergence between
Cuba and the Socialist countries headed by the Soviet Union against
which they directed all types of lies and slander saying that the
Communist Parties in Cuba and in other countries were bureaucratic
castes that ruled to serve their interests, exploiting the working
In 1993, I met Idalberto Ferrera, his partner Guarina, his sons Juan
Leon and Ricardo and his grandchildren. They still lived in Calle Monte
just a stone’s throw of the East Station that joins Havana and Santiago.
He was 75 years old and had not lost any of his revolutionary
convictions. He was in systematic contact with his old Trotskyist
comrades, in particular with those in the east of the island (Santiago
and Guantanamo) and wrote –just as did his son Juan Leon- analytical
works. Even before the collapse of the USSR, the Castro leadership had launched a
rectification movement. Idalberto and Juan Leon sent frequent proposals
to the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party on how to deal
with the crisis. They showed me the delivery receipts they got from the
Central Committee Secretariat.
Almost every year until 2011, I
returned to see Idalberto, Guarina, Juan León and other members of his
family. In each one of our encounters Idalberto commented on the
international political situation, tried to analyze in it everything
that could represent possible revolutionary victories. Usually we did
not agree on the assessments of the struggles, because I believed he had
a tendency to embellish them. He was eager to receive information about
the evolution of Trotskyist organizations in the world. He regularly
received comrades from different parts of the world. He was
indefatigable: in 2008, being 82 years old, he worked five afternoons a
week as a switchboard operator. He and his family always lived modestly.
They lived and acted for political action and for social emancipation.
They were very concerned about the role of bureaucracy in Cuba and the
obstacles that stood in the way of a real socialist experience on the
island. If my memory serves me well, it was in 2008 that he could travel
abroad for the first time (he was 90 years old) to visit Caracas in
August and attend a homage to Leon Trotsky organized with the support of
Hugo Chavez’ government.
Among the biographical elements
he told me there is one that I believe particularly reflects his
political commitment and the specific features of the Cuban process. He
told me that his years in prison in the 1960s were among his most
treasured experiences. He was incarcerated in La Cabana (an 18th
Century fortress in Havana) with some of his comrades and –he said- with
hundreds of right-wing inmates. As an unjustly incarcerated militant,
Idalberto struggled in prison to defend and reinforce the ongoing
revolution. This is how, independently from the prison authorities, he
organized with his comrades educational conferences and debates in
defense of the revolution. He said that more than 100 inmates
participated. He also pushed so the prisoners could work for the
revolution in the fields or wherever they could be useful. With their
action, Idalberto and his comrades tried to convince undecided convicts
of revolutionary ideas. And according to Idalberto, they were very
He stressed that, on the other hand, the re-education courses organized
by the prison authorities were a failure. The impact of the actions of
Idalberto and his comrades was such that the right-wing and
counterrevolutionary prisoners began to physically threaten the
Trotskyists saying they were infiltrated Castro agents. One day, the
prison warden gathered all the inmates in the yard, asked Idalberto to
stand next to him and threatened all the right-wing prisoners with
retaliation if they touched but one hair of comrade Trotskyist Idalberto
Ferrera whose militant courage he recognized in front of the “true”
traitors of the homeland. Idalberto finished his anecdote telling me,
“This is the difference between a Stalinist gulag and a Castro prison.”
The story Idalberto told me in the late 1990’s could be a little
embellished, but Juan Leon confirmed what his father had said.
At the end of his life, Idalberto had not abandoned his critical
attitude towards the Cuban regime, nor his struggle for the emancipation
of the peoples. He was convinced the conquests of the Cuban Revolution
had to be defended and deepened; and this implied fighting bureaucracy.
He made mistakes of appreciation: his position during the Missile Crisis
in October 1962 and the accusations of his international movement on the
disappearance of Che are examples. He was unjustly incarcerated at
different times in 1960 and 1970. Since the 1930’s to the end of his
life, he was a convinced revolutionary militant. He is one of those
militants, men and women, who remain faithful to the struggle along
Translated by Alberto Nadal [From French to Spanish
from which this was then translated to English, wl]
1/ Per inquadrare la vicenda nel contesto della storia si veda:
Trotskistas cubanos - Eric Toussaint
2/ The Movimiento 26 de Julio was created in the summer of 1953 by Fidel
Castro to organize the armed struggle and the revolutionary mass action
after the assault on the Moncada garrison in Santiago de Cuba on July
26, 1953. This marks the acceleration of the struggle against the
dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The struggle led by the M-26 would
lead to the overthrowing of Batista in January 1959 and the victory of
the Cuban Revolution.
3/ Tennant Gary, The Hidden Pearl of the Caribbean. Trotskyism in Cuba,
Socialist Platform, London, 2000, p 202.
4/ We must point out that in the same period several members of the
Stalinist fraction (called the micro-fraction led by communist Anibal
Escalante) were sentenced to several years in prison. See the interview
of Trotskyist leader Roberto Acosta Hechavarria who declared the Castro
leadership attacked the Trotskyist left and the Stalinist right
(Tennant, p. 250).
5/ “La liquidation de
Guevara : Un coup à la Révolution cubaine” en Lutte communiste 10
6/ Lutte communiste, 25 octobre 1967, pp 2-3.
7/ Causa n°270 de 1973 de la radicación del Tribunal n°1 de La Habana,
Eric Toussaint, historian PhD in political sciences, author of
See Eric Toussaint
“Revolucionarios olvidados de la historia.
Los trotskystas cubanos de los años
1930 a 1959 », The text was written in 2000 and published in the book by
Yannick Bovy and Eric Toussaint, Le pas suspendu de la révolution,
Approche critique de la réalité cubaine, Edition du Cerisier, Cuesmes,
Belgique, 2001, 387 pp. With a preface by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán.
The book contains contributins from Fernando Martinez Heredia, Abel
Prieto, Mayra Espina Prieto, Julio Fernandez Bulté, Yannick Bovy,
Janette Habel, Frangois Houtart, Jean Lazard, Maria Lopez Vigil, Osvaldo
Martinez, Julio Carranza Valdes, Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, Silvio
Rodriguez, Maya Roy, Eric Toussaint, Laurence Weerts. See presentation
of the book in French: http://risal.collectifs.net/spip.php?mot742y
The Movimiento 26 de julio (M-26-7, M-26) was created in the summer
of 1953 by Fidel Castro to organize the armed struggle and the
revolutionary mass action after the assault on the Moncada garrison in
Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953. This marks the acceleration of the
struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The struggle led
by the M-26 would lead to the overthrowing of Batista in January 1959
and the victory of the Cuban Revolution.