a complete collection of the articles in THE MILITANT starting with the
triumph of the Cuban
the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 through the editorial Cuba At The Crossroads which was published in January 1960. The photos haven't been
reproduced, but the captions have.
Bolding as in original nothing added or changed.
Highlighting by Walter Lippmann.
Volume 23, Number 2 January 12, 1959
Dancing in the streets of Havana. Waving a rebel banner, a Cuban girl dances in the streets of Havana to the cheers of throngs downfall of the hated Batista dictatorship. Throughout the capital city and across Cuba, mass demonstrations voiced popular demands for social and economic reforms.
by Lillian Kiezel
Cuba's hated Batista dictatorship was overthrown last week. Fidel Castro, leader of the 26th of July movement that waged the two-year guerrilla war against Batista, led his ragged forces in a dramatic triumphal march to Havana. Washington recognized the new liberal reform government headed Manuel Urrutia on January 7.
Batista and other top government officials fled to the Dominican Republic and the United States. Their escape touched off protest demonstrations in Havana.
Batista claimed that Castro had superior arms. But Castro had between 5000 and 10,000 troops when the civil war ended and this was the largest force he ever had. Batista had the government army of 50,000 troops. His troops with tanks, planes and heavy artillery obtained from the U.S. and England. Castro's guerrillas were armed with revolvers, rifles and even more primitive weapons.
100 TO 1
The ousted dictator told a Dominican newspaper editor that Castro's guerrilla tactics were impossible to lick: "An army would need 100 men for each guerrilla it fought. That was the case of Tito in Yugoslavia and the Chinese government."
Bertram B. Johanssen of the Christian Science Monitor said that Batista was right. Castro used the same tactics as were used by Communist forces in Indochina, Yugoslavia and China "and 182 years ago by colonial farmers in Concord and Lexington against the British in the American Revolution."
Johanssen reports how "local populations, especially in rural areas, aided rebels enormously with their friendliness. They hid them from Batista soldiers, gave rebels correct directions down obscrure roads and passages, provided wrong directions, flavored with sardonic humor, to government troops."
Since Batista seized power in 1952, Cuba's population had lived in terror. The regime was notorious for its jailing, torture and murder of political opponents. Abysmal pay, unemployment were the lot of Cuba's 5,000,000 inhabitants. The victory demonstrators have been depicted as "mobs of looters and gangsters." However, Johanssen reports (January 3) "Generally, the New Year's Day mob rioters were selective in their targets as they ransacked gambling establishments, looted homes of Cuban millionaires who obviously had become rich on political corruption.
The parking meters which the mobs battered with sledgehammers and emptied of their small coins had been installed by Batista relatives, who were suspected of reaping huge profits from them."
The Batista government was propped up all these years by American big business interests and the U.S. State Department. The resentment against American domination of Cuban life is tremendous.
American investments amount to $1 billion. This includes $285 million in agriculture, largely sugar; $316 million in public utilities and $51 in petroleum. The gambling syndicates, one of the main sources of corruption, were particularly galling to the Cuban people.
The financiers have worried over Castro's attitude toward their interests in Cuba. The semi-feudal owners of the large sugar plan- tations have been even more worried. In 1955 Castro's program called for: nationalization of U.S.-operated and financed utilities in Cuba; division of American owned sugar estates among Cuban peasants; confiscation of all properties acquired through "corruption in government"; distribution of 30% of all industrial and utility enterprises to Cuban workers; ownership of land to be granted to tenant farmers occupying less than 170 acres.
The program has suffered considerable alteration. For the past year Castro has sought in various ways to convince the State Department and plantation owners that he has repudiated the aims announced in 1955 and has no intention of nationalizing industry.
DON'T WANT DEEP CHANGE
Castro's movement is largely middle class. He is a plantation owner himself. By and large the leadership of this movement, as personified by Provisional President Urrutia, seeks a democratic reform government. It doesn't want a fundamental social and economic change.
However, the State Department and the plantation owners have only recently begun to understand Castro's real intentions. At the same time they recognize that he had the power to carry out his threat of destroying or preventing the harvesting of the crop of sugar cane. As a result, many plantation owners shifted from Batista to support of Castro as did a section of the State Department.
They are still cautious. Ed Cony of the Wall Street Journal (January 5) reports: "...State Department officials were understood to be watching for moves on taxes and other potential obstacles to business operations...they figured that currently the chance was slight the new government might swing toward nationalization of industry."
In this connection Castro told UP reporter, Charles Schuman, a few months ago: "Let me make this clear. Ours is a special kind of revolution. It is political, not social. It is not a revolution of class against class, but of all social classes against the government -- against a small army group."
He told Schuman last March: "With us, Cuba will have a stable government, without civil war. Industry will not have to pay us off as it [did] to the Batista government."
"FEAR FURTHER REVOLT"
Despite this the State Department is watching the revolution with reservations. What they fear is that Castro will not be able to control the forces set loose. The youth (which has constituted the most revolutionary wing of the movement, the peasantry and the workers, who were willing to fight for Castro's 1955 program want more than just the ouster of Batista.
They want a social revolution to oust not only American financiers but the home-grown oppressors as well -- all those who make possible the power of dictators like Batista.
Freedom-loving people can rejoice that another dictator has been kicked out. The Cuban people now have a chance to choose the kind of government they want.
Volume 23, Number 3
January 19, 1959
Big Business Sizes Up New Cuban Government
Despite promises of Castro's Provisional Government to stabilize the country and make it safe for foreign investments, American big business is still concerned over what is ahead in Cuba.
Ed Cony and Henry Gemmill, staff reporters for the Wall Street Journal, wrote an extensive analysis January 8 of the current Cuban situation. They report that many businesses are being operated as usual, Moa Bay Mining Co (subsidiary of Freeport Sulphur Company) is continuing at full speed to construct its $75 million new nickel and cobalt plant in Oriente province. Chrysler Corp. is setting up a new regional office in Havana to handle manufacturing and sales activities throughout Latin America.
An American in the offices of a big sugar company voiced a common reaction to the revolution: "The revolution so far has been the most pleasant surprise in years." And a top man in the sleek U.S. embassy enthused: "Long-term, the outlook for American investment in Cuba is terrific."
However, Cony and Gemmill report: "When all these nice things have been said, certain facts must be noted. To many businessmen these look like amber caution signals; to some the lights look red."
For example, one major existing U.S. investment in Cuba: [$300 million electric power subsidiary] is reported to have been virtually taken over by the Comite Central Revolucionario de Plantas Electricas, which is issuing orders and making decisions. "We are running the company," cheerfully announces Senora Delia Jerez who is a member of the 4-man revolutionary committee.
The reporters believe this to be something of an overstatement. However, they admit: "It is certainly true that the committee is putting back on the company's payroll employees who were dismissed during the Batista regime. It plans to do a lot of firing, too, and its blacklist includes some company executives. The corporation has been presented with a rather long list of proposed reforms -- including a 20% pay hike."
Company officials are reported reluctant to argue against guns and are considering rebel demands. The reporters continue: "If it turns out that the government does not endorse this particular form of takeover, that will not necessarily end the company's worries; it is considered possible that there will be outright nationalization of the public utilities -- or at the very least more rigid controls than under Batista."
While this is the only instance of its kind reported, the company fears that the revolutionary central committee may set a pattern which could be followed elsewhere.
Plenty of other problems and "unpleasant prospects" ahead are sighted [sic] by business men, diplomats and members of the new government. These include: devaluation of the Cuban peso, higher taxes, extensive repair of transport, communications and power lines destroyed by the civil war, an untested government "suffering from some confusion as to where power resides" and friction lurking within the revolutionary movement.
Hotel managers report a favorable impression of the rebel guerrillas. Though ragged they have not stolen so much as an ashtray. American Ambassador, Earl Smith [who has since resigned] says that the rebels are friendly and courteous and have exhibited not the slightest anti-American sentiment. "They're just nice kids."
MIDDLE CLASS LEADERS
Cony and Gemmill go on to report that the leadership of the Castro movement is predominantly middle class. While a source of reassurance, it remains to be seen whether they are politically skilled enough to fence in the labor movement. As one observer put it: "The middle-class nature of this revolution helps explain why Castro's people were not more aware of the dangers in the labor situation."
The Journal reporters acquiesced in the opinion that this new government will be the most "honest" Cuba has seen. The Provisional Government consists of men who were either leaders in the 26th of July Movement or who were part of the old Orthodox Party which was seeking elections at the time of Batista's coupe [sic] in 1952.
"Americans are accustomed to some dishonesty in their own domestic politics, of course, but it is hard for anyone on the continent to realize what a major disruptive factor has been in the Cuban economy. Estimates of graft during the Batista regime up to $600 million, and even in the final hours one senator, Rolando Masferrerr, found time to snatch $17 million which he threw in a boat to Key West. Quite apart from the actual money drain, the necessity of making payoffs has been a factor discouraging investments in Cuba."
However, it is not enough that Urrutia, the man appointed president by Castro, is honest. The Journal dismisses him as a "lightweight" of the political stature of a "provincial judge." Their hopes lie with others in the new government: Felipe Pazos, pre-Batista head of the National Bank, who is again in that key post; Jose Miro Cardona, a former head of the Havana Bar who is now Prime Minister; Rufo Lopez Fresquet "shrewe economist", who is now head of the Treasury Department.
"The best hope for Cuba," declare Cony and Gemmill, "in the opinion of political experts, is that they along with Urrutia will be setting national policy during the crucial 18 months or more provisional government by decree -- while Castro keeps them in power through his prestige and military power."
The first crisis which may confront the Cuban government is devaluation of the peso. "The psychological impact of devaluation could be severe; though many Latin American lands are accustomed to weakening their currencies, the Cubans have long counted on being able to exchange one peso for one dollar."
If war damage in the eastern part of the country could be quickly repaired, the crisis could be eased it is believed. Damage to railroads, roads, and power lines have been severe. To companies whose main commodities is Cuban sugar, this could mean disaster. "Rail transport is relied upon to move the sugar cane crop to mills and the sugar on to the ports and since the harvest begins this month time is running short."
More pressing than these economic problems that the revolution will continue, deepening in power and scope. Of the various tendencies that might take up where Castro leaves off, one of the most important is the Directorio Revolucionario, a group led by university students. Castro held this group responsible for the first major crisis to confront the new provisional government.
The group moved its militia into the Presidential Palace on New Year's Day. They hoped to pressure Castro into conceding a post to them in the new cabinet. President Urrutia declared martial law and the Directorio reluctantly backed down.
Cony and Gemmill report: "The Directorio is issuing pronouncements that all revolutionary organizations should participate in the formation of the provisional government and decrying the creation of a 'poltical army' an apparent crack at Castro's control of Batista's old military machine plus his own amateur warriors."
Other potential opponents such as ex-President Carlos Prio Socarras has also been ignored so far.
They sum up the political situation in the following way: "Not only must the Castro movement -- as the strength behind the provisional government -- ward off seekers of power but it must also find a way to keep its own house together. This promises to be anything but simple, since Castro's followers include individuals running through the political spectrum from right to left."
[photo caption: Gambling equipment from Havana's plush casinos shown strewn in streets by Cuban insurgents. Batista and his gang made a big part of their fortunes on takes from casinos run by American gangsters.]
Volume 23, Number 5
February 2, 1959
Cuban Resentment High Over U.S. Criticism
by Lillian Kiezel
Resentment over American intervention in Cuban affairs was high in Havana last week. The Castro government voiced the popular feeling by sharply criticizing the U.S. government.
The hysterical outcry in Congress and the press that the Cuban revolution is a "blood bath" merely reflect the opinion of big business that their interests are in jeopardy. In answer, Castro told the press in Havana that American officials are not concerned with human life: "They are afraid of the effect that a free Cuba will have on the rest o Latin America which has suffered so many indignities for so long."
Castro is consciously resisting the tendency of the revolution to continue in a socialist direction. But his colleagues are concerned that due to inexperience he will not be able to control the Cuban people. Thus Latin American statesman like president-elect Betancourt of Venezuela "are prepared to take Fidel Castro 'under their arms' and teach him some of the arts needed to preserve the reforms of the indepenent movement." (Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 26)
Carleton Beals, an expert on Latin-American affairs warns in The Nation (Jan. 31) that the United States is responsible for the pressure the Castro government is under: "If the Cuban people are aroused much further against the United States, then the government will be pushed willy-nilly to the extreme of confiscating the billion dollars worth of American property in Cuba. For all the large industries and most of the best arable land of the country are owned by American corporations."
Documents have been uncovered in the office of Batista agent Edmund Chester, Beals relates, which prove that when the Cuban Telephone Co. (American owned) raised its rates last year Batista received a pay-off of $3 million.
Popular indignation over this payoff did not prevent Dulles from naming Phillip Bonsal as U.S. Ambassador to Cuba. In Beals' opinion this was a "blunder": "for much of his life, he (Bonsal) was an officer of this same Cuban Telephone Company, which is currently under grave attack, the latest scandal being the theft from the national archives of all documents relating to the company's relations with Batista.
Volume XXIII, No. 6
February 9, 1959
Negro Press Backs Castro in Cuban Trials
Notes need to end Jim Crow
By Lillian Kiezel
The Negro press has been following the revolutionary upheaval in Cuba with close attention, with close attention, giving it big headlines. The newspapers of America's colored people have noted with particular interest how the government has answered the charges of "blood purge" leveled by such senators as Sparkman of Alabama and Fulbright of Arkansas; and also what the new regime proposes to do about discriminatory practices inherited from Cuba's past.
For instance, C.W. Mackay, editor of Afro-American, reported an answer by one official to Sparkman that did not appear in such papers as the New York Times: "Why is he so broken up over the just punishment of murderers here when he remains so silent while White Citizens Councils and Klan bombers were blowing up the homes and churches and castrating innocent colored people of Montgomery and Birmingham.?"
He also reported the reaction of another Castro spokesman to Fulbright: "When has something to say about the gross injustices committed by Governor Faubus, perhaps we can give him more respectful attention. If he can approve Faubus using armed soldiers to keep little children out of school out of school, he certainly should have no complaints about military trials in Cuba where confessed assassins are being dealt with justly."
The Kansas City Call, editorializing on the hysteria around the Cuban trials pointed to the contrast in the North Carolina case involving James Simpson, eight and David Hanover Thompson, ten. It is un-American, they declare, to hold two children and deny them the right of counsel. "Americans are incensed over the executions of Batista followers in Cuba, but sit by unconcerned when the constitutional rights of two innocent children are violated in our land.
John Young III, correspondent of Amsterdam News, who along with Mackay was among 350 newspaper men who went to Havana at Castro's invitation, declared, "Even persecuted Negro Americans will find it difficult to comprehend this suffering. The tortures, wanton killings, humiliations, and deprivation of liberty inflicted on Cubans by Batista add up to one of history's great crimes of man's inhumanity to man."
Young believes that "The Revolutionary Army and the whole population of Cuba, without speaking a word to each other, have decided that Batista and his leaders must never again rise to power. They believe that death -- and only death -- of the leaders can make this certain, at least in their time."
Placing responsibility for the persecutions suffered by the Cubans squarely on the United States, Young said: "We Americans, including the people of Harlem, must bear some of Castro's responsibility. Until a short time ago -- we allowed our Government to aid Batista by selling him arms with which to murder and bomb innocent people fighting for their freedom."
"But the U.S. Government has no excuse. Equipped with vast intelligence and information facilities, it could have stopped these atrocities years ago."
However, Young hopes that the executions will not go too far: "Castro and the people of Cuba have prescribed a violent remedy for a sick Cuba. They are certain to cure the ailment. But those of us who love freedom can only hope that in so doing, they do not kill the patient."
CUBAN JIM CROW
Unemployment and discrimination are two main problems confronting the new Cuban government, the editor of Afro-American noted. Both Mackay and Rep. Adam Clayton Powell have commented on the need for a fair employment practices law in Cuba.
When Cuba's Minister of Labor, Fernandez, indicated that unemployment remained one of Cuba's major problems, with about 600,000 or one-tenth of the population, unemployed in normal times, Mackay observed that "The bigger proportion of these jobless are colored Cubans."
After three days on the scene he said, "I am convinced Cuba needs an FEPC. From what I have seen, the better paying jobs, at least in Havana, are held by Cubans of lighter hue...I have yet to see one of the darker brothers in one of the better-paying posts, as a teller in a bank or clerking in a department store."
In response to Castro's declaration -- "We will see in Cuba our revolutionary movement eliminate all forms of discrimination." -- Mackay urged speed in delivering on the promise to end the hangovers of Cuban Jim Crow.
Dark-skinned Cubans marched by the thousands along with white-skinned Cubans in the 26th of July Movement. Mackay said of this: "They paid with their blood and courage for Cuba's new freedom from torture and tyranny. Will they now be given equal shares in its economic life? That remains to be seen."
[PHOTO CAPTION: Cubans of all colors danced in the street together celebrating the victory they had won through united efforts over the hated Batista dictatorship. On taking power, Castro promised to do away with discriminatory practices. The American Negro press is asking him to deliver on that promise without delay through fair employment practices legislation..]
Volume 23, No. 8
February 23, 1959
Cuban Workers Begin to Push Own Demands
by Lillian Kiezel
As Fidel Castro took the office of Premier of Cuba last week, in what many interpreted as a conditional step toward the presidency, the working class gave indications of pushing forward its own demands in the revolution that toppled Batista.
In a strike that closed 21 sugar mills, one owner was presented with 90 demands. "He figures it would cost $4 million immediately to grant what labor is asking," the Wall Street Journal's Ed Cony reported. "Sample: 500 men were laid off some time ago; they all must be reinstated with full back pay 'they might as well take the mill', says the owner."
Castro ordered the workers to return but they would not be persuaded until they were promised support for their demands after the sugar season is over.
In Havana and owner decided to close two restaurants and bars. "But the workers refused to quit when ordered off the job. That night to the vast surprise of management, the workers opened up the El Caribe and the Sugar Bar. They also gave the food and beverage manager orders not to set foot in the kitchen. He obeyed."
Castro has acceded to the pressure to open the gambling casinos to open the gambling casinos. This came from the American capitalists but also from 10,000 workers engaged in this feature of "tourism."
The Cuban Electrical Co., a $300-million subsidiary of American & Foreign Power, was forced to reinstate with full back pay hundreds of workers fired as long ago as 1952 because of their political ideas. The company also agreed to grant the equivalent of open "life insurance" to survivors of employees killed in the revolution.
Walter Amoss, company president, was the butt of an "Amoss go home" campaign. A slow-down strike won a fast general-hike. Said a top company official: "How much all this is going to cost us, I don't know."
American banks in Havana have been compelled to rehire 45 strike leaders they fired in a 1955 strike.
Vehicles belonging to the Cuban Telephone Co., a subsidiary of International Telephone and Telegraph are taken on motorcades by the workers, sides of the trucks chalked with the 20% wage boost. A strike of 300 construction workers has shut down construction of a $75-million nickel and cobalt plant of Moa Bay Mining since Jan. 31. High among 25 union demands is a wage-increase of 20-40%.
The Wall Street Journal quotes one of its "experts" in Havana as to what is going on in labor's ranks: "You now have Communists and non-Communists competing for power. Each attempt to outbid the other by making greater demands on management. Meantime, at the top, the new labor ministry is confused -- a lot of idealists in there with no conception of how to handle labor."
As for Castro, one business man said: "He likes to twist Uncle Sam's beard, and the people love it." However, he doesn't believe Castro is "anti-American". "After all, we just had a revolution, and Fidel has to sound like a revolutionary."
However, the popular pressure to move ahead is very strong. An un-named government figure was reported by the Wall Street Journal as saying: "The natural aim of a revolution is to improve the situation of the underdog -- the unemployed and the underemployed. Revolutions are not fought to improve the lot of the millionaires."
Vol. XXII - Nu. 9
March 2, 1959
Castro Probes U.S. Companies
by Lillian Kiezel
Two American-owned public utilities, Cuban Electric and Cuban Telephone are being investigated by the Castro government as part of a general probe into government contracts with private concerns. Minister of Communications, Enrique Oltuski, declared that the government will examine high rates and deficiency of service but will not intervene in company operations. Talk persists, nevertheless, that the two utilities may be nationalized.
Cuban Telephone was involved in a $3 million payoff to Batista after he granted them a rate hike last year. Documents revealing the scandalous deal have been uncovered by the government. Cuban Electric has hastily rehired hundreds of workers fired for political opposition to Batista.
Meanwhile the workers and peasants are pressing their own demands. The strike situation is still of major concern to Castro and American big business. In Oriente Province, groups of peasants are reported to have seized plantations belonging to United Fruit and to be dividing them up. Castro is seeking to block this trend. R. Hart Phillips of the N.Y. Times said: "Today he moves to halt premature seizures by decreeing that peasants who occupy land now will lose their right when the official distribution program gets underway."
United Fruit and other U.S. companies hold some of the best land in Cuba. Castro's land reform program calls for dividing up government-owned land first and then uncultivated lands which will be bought from the plantation owners by the government.
Although the sections of American big business with holdings in Cuba are acting with caution and circumspection at the moment in hopes of riding out the revolutionary storm, others with rival interests appear less concerned about moves that might provoke the Cuban people.
Senator Ellender, Democrat from the sugar-producing state of Louisiana, for instance, issued a thinly-veiled threat last week when he said that Castro is responsible for delaying extention of the quotas under the United States Sugar Act which assigns the amount of sugar other countries can market in the U.S. Castro was reported by Associated Press to have answered: "For the most significant reasons they threaten us with taking away the sugar quote. I am tired of that."
In a TV speech on Feb. 19 he declared: "If Russia wants sugar, we'll sell it to her. We have a right to solve our problems."
PARAGRAPH FROM EDITORIAL ALSO
[separate section: Headlines in Other Lands]
Paraguayan exiles emulate Castro
Pres. Alfredo Stroessner, dictator of Paraguay, is preparing to rush 20,000 members of his Colorado Party into the armed forces in case of an armed insurrection.
Students have been jailed and tortured on charges of plastering walls with such slogans as "Viva Castro" and "Down With Tyranny".
A Contingent of exiles preparing to make a Castro-type invasion of the country were arrested Feb. 24 by Argentine police before they could cross the Paraguay river.
Somoza continues efforts to soften dictatorial image
Pres. Somoza of Nicaragua is continuing his efforts to change the image of his regime from that of a dictatorship to a democracy. He told the press Feb. 20 that "critics keep talking about the Somoza dynasty. This is a hell of a dynasty. My political enemies publicly advocate on the street corners the overthrow of my administration. The papers attack me whenever they choose, and with some that is every day.
He complained that Castro of Cuba and Betancourt of Venezuela have scorned his overture to be counted with them as a "liberal".
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Thomas E. Whelan left for Washington for consultations. He has been the object of a "Whelan Go Home" campaign among Nicaraguans who charge him with being overfriendly with Somoza.
Vol. XXII - No. 9
March 9, 1959
List Batista Holdings for Confiscation
A new law authorizing the Cuban Government to confiscate all money and properties and money now in the hands of Batista's collaborators will become effective later this week. Bank accounts of three former officials ($356,959) in Matanzas have been reported confiscated by Faustino Perez, Minister in charge of recovery of stolen government property.
Under this law the government can confiscate money and property acquired by merchants, industrialists, cane and coffee planters, ranchers and mine owners.
The immediate targets are former dictator Batista and his Vice President Guas Inclan, all cabinet ministers since the Batista coup of March 10, 1952, all senators and representatives of both government and opposition parties who either held or sought office from 1954 to 1958, and municipal mayors who served under Batista. Their holdings run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
At the same time Castro has begun to institute his land reform program. Under it, sixty-seven acre plots are promised to landless peasants. The government agricultural development bank bought 15,000 acres of land for $430,000 to distribute among 346 peasants in Pinar del Rio province. Associated Press reported that 16,000 acres of this land can be used for grassland and growing tobacco. The rest is wooded or rocky.
Vol. XXII - No. 13
March 30, 1959
Castro, Kassim Deal Blows
to Pentagon Military Pacts
The U.S. government's military pact system received two stiff blows last week from Cuba and Iraq. Both countries are in the throes of national independence revolutions.
In Cuba, Premier Fidel Castro told a gathering of thousands of workers that Cuba should be neutral in the military line-ups. His declaration came about in the following manner according to R. Hart Phillips' account in the Marcy 23 New York Times:
Former President Jose Figueras of Costa Rica was speaking to workers who had marched to the presidential palace. His speech was carried over a radio and TV hook-up to all Cuba. When he said that Cuba and all Latin America should be on the side of the United States and the other "democracies," David Salvador, secretary general of the Confederation of Cuban Workers, who was on the speakers' platform, ran to the mike and shouted: "We cannot be with the Americans who today are oppressing us!"
WHY BACK EITHER SIDE?
When Figueras -- "visibly disturbed by the interruption," says Phillips - finished his speech, Castro took the microphone. "He voices his opposition to the idea expressed by Colonel Figueras and, by implication, attacked the United States. He was sorry, Dr. Castro said, that his old friend Colonel Figueras had been influenced by campaigns in the international press attacking the Cuban revolution.
"'Why should Latin America be with either side?' Premier Castro asked...
Declaring that Cuba is defenseless, Dr. Castro said the island had joined the democracies in World War II and out of that collaboration the Batista Government had received 500-pound bombs to be used against his revolution."
Under Batista's dictatorship, Cuba was enrolled in the Organization of American States -- the U.S.-inspired military agreement that embraces all 21 American countries, Canada excluded. The Castro regime has not made any formal moves as yet to withdraw from the organization. [The rest of the story is about the Iraqi government of Abdul Karim Kassim's withdrawal from the U.S.-sponsored Baghdad Pact.]
Vol. XXIII - No. 13
Headlines in The News
Latin-American exiles granted asylum in Cuba
The new regime in Cuba is welcoming revolutionary exiles from all Latin American countries ruled by dictators. Many organizations of these exiles have been formed in Cuba. There are at least three groups opposing the Duvalier regime in Haiti. Others opposed to dictatorships in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Paraguay. While Cuba's Castro regime announces that it will observe the diplomatic amenities of not permitting the actual organization of armed exeditions against dictators-governments to take place on its soil, it is protecting the exile groups and giving them moral support.
Vol. XXII - No. 15
April 13, 1959
American Capitalists Worried
Over Castro's Course in Cuba
by Alex Harte
The Cuban revolution is deepening. Three months after the fall of Wall Street's puppet, Batista, the government of Fidel Castro is carrying through land reform, turning toward industrialization, coming into sharper collision with the old propertied classes and their middle class supporters, granting concessions to the working class and calling upon it or support, and, at the same time, maintaining an outspoken anti-Yankee-imperialist position.
These developments have given rise to the deepest apprehension in the U.S. capitalist press. With the visit of Fidel Castro and his closest advisors to the U.S. this week the spotlight has been drawn on the "disturbing" continuation of the Cuban revolution and the interrelation of its anti-imperialist and social revolutionary tendencies.
The Castro government is far from having acquired a working class base and a socialist program. Nor has it closed the door to making a deal with U.S. imperialism. It is obviously jockeying between the contradictory class pressures at home and abroad. This, however, is not enough to reassure American capitalist opinion, since it is not a question of Castro's conscious plan but of a revolutionary process that is driving his government far beyond the vague middle-class reform program of the July 26th Movement.
The whole situation was illuminated by the violent reaction to a pro-American speech made by Jose Figueras, former president of Costa Rica, while he was in Havana recently. Figueras said that Latin America should be on the side of the United States in case of war with Russia. This declaration was sharply attacked by David Salvador, secretary-generation of the Confederation of Cuban Workers. He jumped to his feet and replied to Figueras, "We cannot be with the Americans who today are oppressing us."
The New York Times reports April 4 that Salvador was supported by Castro who spoke at the same meeting. Castro attacked Figueras as "a bad friend, a bad democrat and a bad revolutionist." The Times said, "Dr. Castro angrily declared that Cuba would be neutral in any war between the United States and the Soviet Union." He also said, that Senor Figueras' revolution in Costa Rica was not a revolution, since it had not touched any 'created any interests' and had not broken up an big estates. Dr. Castro charged that the reason for this was that Senor Figueras was a big landowner."
Castro's attacks on the failure of Figueras to lead an agrarian revolution in Costa Rica is understandable against the background of events in Cuba reported in the April 2 Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Castro's momentous land reform program also is stirring up a good deal of concern here. The idea is to take land, public and private, and distribute it among landless rural folk."
Interrelated with the land reform is a measure calculated to spur industrialization and relieve Cuba of her almost exclusive dependence on the sugar crop. "We must industrialize if the revolution is to be a success, " Castro said, according to the March 30 Times.
He told sugar mill owners that each mill must become a center of work during the entire year and not just for the three months of the sugar crop. He said that the big owners must turn over to the small cane planters all land now cultivated simply for domestic cane and invest profits from exporting sugar in new industries that will utilize derivatives of cane and sugar."
Another Times dispatch April 5 reports: "The new agrarian reform is receiving considerable support and the proposed reclamation of the vast Cienega Zapata swamp is applauded. The breaking up of the vast undeveloped estates has long been considered by most economists as necessary for the economy of Cuba. Nevertheless, the statement by the Cuban premier that after these are expropriated, the next land to be distributed will be those considered to be poorly utilized and low in productivity has disturbed owners of large cane and tobacco plantations and cattle ranches. So far there has been no talk of prompt and adequate indemnification."
The whole land reform and industrialization program is threatened by the sharp decline in the world price of sugar from a high of close to seven cents in 1957 to 2.91 cents a pound last week. Cuba depends on exports of sugar to cover 80% of her imports. U.S. imperialism has Cuba by the throat because it can arbitrarily either maintain or relax its limits on the amount of Cuban sugar it will import. Castro is demanding an increase in the tonnage of sugar Cuba will be allowed to export to the U.S. this year. He is also asking for U.S. financial aid to Cuban [the] economy undoubtedly the U.S. negotiators will attempt to use this situation as a club to force the Castro delegation to promise to halt their revolutionary measures and line up with the U.S. State Department in the cold war.
The Wall Street Journal carefully carefully assembles the different views about the Castro regime among Cuban capitalist and American business circles in Cuba. One view is that Castro is "naively" becoming a captive of the "Communists" and that his policies "discourage investment by Americans and Cubans."
Another, more widespread, view is that Castro "really isn't a radical, he's alert to Communist danger." The WSJ cites a "knowledgeable" American: "Any revolutionary needs a whipping boy and Batista is gone now. Castro diverts the Cuban people from their own people by attacking the U.S.["]
But it is Castro's economic measures, not so much his political pronouncements, that worry U.S. businessmen, the Wall Street Journal says. "Consider Cuba's new rent law that went into effect yesterday (April 1). The law cuts in half all rents below $100, in the $100-200 bracket are trimmed 40% and those over $200 are slashed 30%." The WSJ quotes an executive in the sugar industry: "What Castro's done to property values in Cuba is incredible. He's ruined them. We could have borrowed the $5-10 million on our property a few months ago. Today a banker would laugh if we asked for a loan."
Most disquieting to the capitalists is the appeal Castro is making for popular support among the workers and the concessions he has made to their demands. "Fidel rushed out of a cabinet meeting to address railroad workers in Havana who were threatening to strike," WSJ reports. "At the meeting the meeting the workers asked that the president and general manager of the road be fired. Even though they were both newly-hyphen appointed Castro men, Fidel fired them on the spot.
The N.Y. Times April 5 reports: "Premier Castro has assured the workers they will be given wages and better working conditions immediately. He recently ordered a raise of 20 per cent in the wages of the omnibus workers in the government-owned companies and in the private companies which have been taken over by the revolutionary government. Also the minimum wages of government employees has been upped to $85 from $60.
Vol. XXIII - No. 16
April 20, 1959
Headlines in Other Lands
Castro Appeals for Aid to Cuba
The American working-class housewife, trying to make a short-week paycheck meets the inflated prices at the grocery store, has a stake in Fidel Castro's visit to the U.S. this week.
Castro is demanding from Washington a larger share of the sugar market in this country. The Cuban Premier said April 6, "We can cheapen the price of sugar the American family consumes. We can sell them seven, eight, nine or ten million tons if they want."
The amount of sugar exports to the U.S. is regulated by federal law. Cuba is now allotted one-third of the U.S. market -- a cut from previous amounts. Undoubtedly the State Department will pressure Castro to promise an end to revolutionary social measures before granting his demands.
Vol. XXIII - No. 18
May 4, 1959
Castro Wins Cheers of U.S. People
Not since they greeted heroes of the 1905 Russian revolution have the American people extended the kind of welcome to a revolutionary they accorded to Fidel Castro during his 11-day tour of Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston.
In Washington, "High school students shouted from buses 'Hi, Fidel!'" In New York "...Dr. Castro received warm welcomes wherever he went." And in Boston, 10,000 people, mostly students, greeted him at a meeting near Harvard University. Thirty-five thousand New Yorkers turned out to hear him at Central Park.
Castro, for his part, played up to his role as a leader of a popular revolution. He did not change from his green "26th of July Movement" uniform into mufti at any time. Wherever he went, his supporters carried banners proclaiming "Long Live the Cuban Revolution!" and "Down with Trujillo!" (Trujillo is the Dominican dictator.)
In radio and TV interviews and all his speeches, Castro spoke about the liberationist aims of the Cuban revolution.
That despite twelve years of witch-hunting in the United States-designed to kill any open expression of sympathy revolutionary ideas - the American people cheered Castro as the symbol of revolution.
Not that witch-hunting directed against the Cuban was absent from his visit. Congressmen and TV interviewers pressed him repeatedly for answers about "Communist-infiltration" of the Cuban revolution and of his government. "Why are you worried about Communists?" he answered. "There are no Communists in my government. You should worry about our success as a nation. We are a democracy." Said Senator Smathers of Florida, "It is clear that he hasn't yet learned that you can't play ball with the Communists..."
However, this apparently didn't diminish Castro's popularity here nor the sympathy of the American people for the Cuban upheaval. In fact, to some Americans, the Cuban events seemed to contain food for further thought. "How do you make a revolution?" One New York taxi driver, for example, asked of his fare, following the Castro visit.
Vol. XXIII - No. 19
May 11, 1959
Headlines in Other Lands
State Dept. Deaf to Castro's Call for Economic Aid
Cuban Premier Fidel Castro put the U.S. government on the spot at the Economic Conference in Buenos Aires of the Inter-American Committee of Twenty-One on May 2. He urged the United States to provide $30 billion for Latin American economic development during the next ten years.
The U.S. delegation to the conference has refused to answer the Cuban leader. Thomas C. Mann, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, decided, according to the NY Times, "To push ahead with consideration of major resolutions, feeling that these will speak for the cooperative spirit of the United States."
Roy R. Rubottom, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs said he didn't feel that Castro spoke for all Latin America: "We don't intend to engage in polemics."
Vol. XXIII - No. 20
May 18, 1959
Outlook for Latin America
Luis Corvalan, Secretary-General of the Chilean Communist Party, said in a speech to the party's Centeral Committee, May 10, that Fidel Castro and his movement in Cuba are the best examples of the "progressive bourgeoisie." According to the NY Times May 11, he declared "We must march with the bourgeoisie, and Cuba is the example." The cold-war propaganda machine has picked up this statement to warn of an "intensified effort by international Communism to undermine the unity of the Western Hemisphere." By the unity of the hemisphere they mean, of course, its unchallenged subservience to Wall Street.
But there is another side to this question. It concerns those who are fighting
for the victory of the revolution against Wall Street rule. To them,
Corvalan's appraisal of Castro represents a dangerous trap.
movement must, of course, support every step that capitalist and middle-class
people in countries like Cuba take against imperialism. But the course that Corvalan outlines would result in leaving the masses unprepared whenever the
"progressive" capitalists decide to make a deal with Wall Street and sought to
crush the workers movement.
Corvalan made his speech upon returning from a recent visit to China. That country's revolution certainly does not validate marching with the "progressive national bourgeoisie." There was a time when the Chinese Communist Party leaders so characterized Chiang Kai-shek's party, the Kuomintang, which in 1925-27 stood at the head of China's national independence struggle. The CP subordinated the working-class and peasant movements to Chiang Kai-shek and lauded him as a dependable nationalist leader. In 1927 Chiang made a deal with British and US imperialism and turned his troops against the Communist-influenced working-class in Shanghai. In the blood-bath, 40,000 workers were slaughtered.
China's revolution against imperialism finally won out in 1949, when the CP-led armies crushed Chiang Kai-shek's forces and drove the erstwhile "progressive bourgeoisie" off the mainland. In the ensuing years, China abolished capitalist property relations altogether and instituted national ownership and planning. This is the course Latin America's revolution against Wall Street also has to take if it is to triumph.
Headlines in Other Lands
Continue seizures of land in Cuba
Cuban landowners were reported May 10th to be feeling "great concern" over "illegal occupations" of plantations by landless farmers.
What worried them especially is that local authorities are "closing their eyes to these illegal seizures." Castro has stated that illegal seizures will not be tolerated and that land can be turned over to tenants and squatters only under provisions of the Agrarian Reform Law. A measure approved by the Castro government specifically prohibits occupation of plantations such as has been occurring.
In Oriente Province, some of the seizures were reported to have enjoyed the protection of revolutionary forces.
Vol. XXIII - No. 21
May 18, 1959
Castro Regime Passes Law to Divide Estates
A revolutionary agrarian reform law was passed by the Cuban government May 17 stripping United States-owned sugar mills in Cuba of their cane plantations. The announcement has been met by consternation among American capitalists with large investments in Cuba.
The new law prohibits the operation of a cane plantation unless every stockholder is a Cuban citizen. It also provides that only citizens can purchase land and forbids foreigners from inheriting land.
The U.S.-owned sugar mills were given 90 days to comply with the law. After that their plantations will be expropriated if they have not met its provisions. The law also sets a limit of 1000 acres that any person or company may own. Anything above this amount will be expropriated and divided among the landless. Thus the law is aimed at both the imperialist interests and the large landowning class.
Compensation for the expropriation will be based on valuations which the press claims is far below the real value.
Vol. XXIII - No. 22
May 25, 1959
Vol. XXIII - No. 23
June 8, 1959
Wall Street Sheds in its Beer
"Disaster in Cuba." That 's the headline Barron's featured for the news about the law just passed by the Castro government reducing the legal maximum of estates to a pitiful 1000 acres.
"So-called Land Reform is Likely to Yield Bitter Fruit," continues the national business and financial weekly that is a favorite among bankers, stockholders and Wall street gamblers.
"It has caused vast consternation in circles which can recognize a naked threat when they see one," the magazine weeps. "For one thing, the terms are outrageous. In Cuba, as in many other places, the land tax valuation of property...is a far cry from it's true value; to award compensation on such a basis is tantamount to robbery. To compound the crime, moreover, Havana proposes to settle in Cuban government bonds, yielding less than comparable U.S. Treasury issues and payable after 30 years in a currency which, in the past few months alone, has lost roughly one-third of its value."
What makes the reform law particularly "disastrous" in Barrons' opinion is that it "may do severe harm to foreign investment on the island, ranging upwards of a quarter-billion dollars, including those of such large U.S. concerns as the Cuban-American Sugar Co. and United Fruit." What is most outrageous about the "ugly brute" it seems, is that instead of the Wall Street peasants who have working the land up to now, the veterans of Castro's army, many of whom happened to be city-bred also will enjoy a valid claim to the seized property."
Barrons' editor reached such pitch of indignation over "Havana's folly" and Castro's "bearded ones" that they ended up yelling for the U.S. to reaffirm "its own revolutionary creed" which they interpret as including respect for property and "abhorrent legalized theft."
Vol. XXIII - No. 25
Cubans Hit Wall Street Where It Hurts Most
by Lillian Kiezel
The new Cuban Agrarian Reform Law hit American financiers where it hurts most - in the bank account. An it looks as though United Fruit and Cuban-American Sugar companies will have their sugar plantations seize despite all the pressure that Wall Street and the State Department can muster.
The law prohibits foreigners from buying or inheriting land in Cuba and limits landholdings to 1000 acres except for sugar plantations and cattle ranches which may be as large as 3333 acres.
The State Department, not to speak of the United Fruit and Cuban-American Sugar companies, anxiously question the "adequacy of the provision for compensation" for land the Cuban government intends to expropriate. This was expressed in a note delivered by U.S. Ambassador Phillip W. Bonsal last week. The note pointed to Cuba's 1940 constitution which provides that expropriated property must be compensated by prior payment of the proper indemnification in cash."
There's the rub. "Compensation is to be base," reports the NY Times, "on valuation for tax purposes, a level far below actual market value in most cases." It seems that Batista and Co. had been very accommodating to U.S. sugar magnates and had evaluated their land so that taxes would be as low as possible. Now Castro proposes to use these tax evaluations against them.
Furthermore the Cuban government offers payment for expropriation in the form of
government bonds payable in 20 years at 4.5% interest. In its answer to the
State Department's note on June 15, the Castro government stood firm on the
conditions for land expropriation set down in the law. The Ministry of Estate
said that the millions of dollars stolen by the Batista regime plus the
unfavorable balance of payments between the U.S. and Cuba were the main reason
why Cuba is unable to pay cash.
"If it were possible to recover the funds withdrawn from the public treasury and deposit it in foreign banks," said the Cuban note, "the breaking up of the big estates and the agrarian reform could be carried out in more benign conditions for those affected."
Meanwhile, the law brought about the first major upset in Castro's cabinet. Five ministers resigned. They include Dr. Umberto Soy Marin, Minister of Agriculture an Dr. Roberto Agramonte, Minster of State. Both were reported by Bertram B. Johanssen of the Christian Science Monitor to be "conservative liberals in their political thinking." They believe that Castro's government has been developing "anti-free enterprise policies."
The U.S. robber barons and their stooges were the only ones to benefit from the kind of free enterprise "the conservative liberals" opposed. As a result, less than 1% of the population controls more than a third of the lan an less than 8% own nearly 3/4 of the land. U.S. sugar companies alone own 1,600,000 acres of the most arable land. Some plantations dominate up to 300,000 acres.
The Agrarian Reform Law proposes to begin breaking up the huge landed estates. It also abolishes share-scropping. It proposes to allot an average of 67 acres to each of 85,000 peasant families. 8000 farm workers who now work for the smaller farms will also receive an average of 67 acres each and will be allowed to purchase up to 100 acres more. 6000 cultivators who now possess between 165 acres and 1000 acres will be permitted to buy additional acres of land that will be up for forced sale.
A National Agrarian Reform Institute has been established which will control land distribution and help the peasants get started with equipment an technical assistance. The Institute will help to establish cooperatives among the peasants.
Evidently Castro hopes to promote the growth of a Cuban capitalist class through the agrarian reform program. This is indicated by the encouragement the law gives to richer peasants. However, his regime is now caught up in a contradiction. While the State Department tries to make a big show about how it is not opposed to land expropriation, its recent note proves that it isn't sympathetic to the development of a Cuban capitalist class, either. In fact, the State Department's sole interest in Cuba is to preserve the status quo which means domination of the island by U.S. big business firms as under Batista.
Headlines in Other Lands
Cattle Kings Provoke Castro
Provoked by the refusal of big cattlemen to buy cattle from small breeders except at low prices, Prime Minister Castro announced that all cattle lands in excess of 3300 acres would be seized immediately.
The Agrarian Reform Law passed early in June had not been expected to be put into effect until next September, however, Castro called the cattlemen's refusal to cooperate "passive resistance" to the law and therefore "counter-revolutionary."
Vol. XXIII - No. 30
July 27, 1959
Nationwide Rally Answers Attack on Castro Gov't
Cuba's workers and peasants are rallying in reply to the heavy attacks mounted against the Castro regime by U.S. capitalists, their press and governmental servants as the sixth anniversary of Castro's initial uprising against the Batista dictatorship approached.
On July 13, scarcely two weeks before the July 26 anniversary, Admiral Burke, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, told the National War College in Washington that "The revolution is being used by the Communists and the danger is still great that the Communists will take over."
The next day the former commander of Castro's air force, Major Pedro Diaz [Lanz], who fled to the U.S., appeared before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee to charge that "Communists" were seizing power in Cuba, with Castro's help.
At his July 15 press conference, Eisenhower chimed in, though more ambiguously, saying that the U.S. was watching the whole Caribbean area.
On July 13 Cuban President Urrutia joined the chorus in Havana, saying Communists "are doing horrible damage to Cuba...trying to create a second front against the U.S. and in favor of Russia." Wall Street had pinned its hopes of turning back the tide of the Cuban revolution upon Urrutia.
Castro energetically rebuffed this reactionary offensive by formally resigning
as premier, denouncing Urrutia as a near-traitor and calling upon the people to
demonstrate for the revolution. Over 1/2 million responded in Havana, forcing
the president's resignation. Castro designated a new president in his stead.
All week his supporters have been preparing a vast mobilization of the peasants. They have been marching from both ends of the island for days to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the July 26th movement.
The anti-revolutionary elements are trying to hald the application of the agrarian reforms and the expropriation of American companies. The agrrian laaws provide that no person shall own more than 600-odd acres. The government will soon take over 400 capital ranches totallying milllions of acres, many of them owned by American or mixed Cuban-American companies. Castro has given the big sugar planters a year's grace before expropriation.
The landowners have run into headlong conflict with the peasants and workers who
are pressing Castro to proceed without delay to implement the radical measures
of improvement he has promised.
Cuban Unions Call National Token Strike
The powerful Cuban Workers Confederation has called a one-hour nationwide work stoppage for July 24 to back up Castro and demand his return as premier. The labor confederation's chief, David Salvador, urged workers to hold meetings during that work stoppage to hear their leaders stress the importance of Castro's resumption of office.
The former premier was also informed tht the thousands upon thousands of peasants now streaming into Havana by train, bus, truck and foot would stay there until he withdrew his resignation.
This demonstration of unity between the workers and peasants is designed to set the stage for an overwhelming demonstration of loyalty to Castro and his program on the July 26th celebration.
Vol. XXIII - No. 32
August 10, 1959
Headlines in Other Lands
Cuba's Class Bias Against Cadillacs
The Castro regime in Cuba has ruled that Cadillac buyers will really have to pay for the snob status that goes with the car. Whereas the tax on Fords, Chevrolets and Plymouths will be about $36, purchasers of cars with a factory price over $3500 will have to pay an import tax of 5000 the first year and another $2500 the second year. After that they're in the clear.
Vol. XXIII - No. 34
August 24, 1959
Castro Denounces U.S.Role in
by Lillian Kiezel
Generalissimo Rafael Trujullo, U.S. puppet dictator of the Dominican Republic was tricked into exposing himself in the role of agressor in the Caribbean last week when he attempted to intervene in the first serious counter-revolutionary conspiracy faced by the Castro regime.
The trap was baited by Castro aides, Major William Morgan and Major Major Luis Orlando Gutierrez Menoyo, who succeeded in gaining the confidence of the counter-revolutionaries. Trujillo sent a planeload of arms and men to help their cause. When the plane arrived on Aug. 13 the trap was sprung and the plot which had been smoldering for months was thwarted.
Business groups, landowners and supporters of Batista initiated the conspiracy. It picked up steam after the Castro government passed the Agrarian Reform Law last may. Threatened invasion, economic reprisals and attempts on the lives of Castro and his brother Raul followed.
Here is what one of the broadcasts beamed to Cubans from the Dominican Republic sounded like: "This is a war without quarter. Fire! Fire at the demoniacal Castro and his assassin brother Raul."
Daniel James, NY Post correspondent, reports this was the most hysterical and bloodthirsty I have hear in a week of listening to every word sent out of Trujillo's radio."
Meanwhile Major Morgan, an American who fought on the side of the July 26th movement since 1957, convinced the counter-revolutionaries that he was just an adventurer who "would do anything for money."
The plotters were deciding how they were going to set up their new government. Arturo Hernandez Pellaheche, a former senator during the regime of Carlos Prio Soccarras (ousted by Batista in 1952) was to be the new president. Armando Cainas Milanes, former head of the National Cattleman's Association, would have been vice-president. The leader of the group was Eleuterio Pedraza, who had been an army general and police chief under Batista.
The arrest of these conspirators Aug. 9 touched off a general roundup of all those suspected of participating. After Trujillo's plans were exposed on Aug. 13 an estimated 4500 people were jailed in Cuba.
When things had calmed down Castro took to TV for five hours to tell the Cuban people what had happened. He accused the United States of having received as exiles the war criminals of the regime. Furthermore Castro declared that the U.S. had permitted them to organize a counter-revolution against Cuba and even had turned its back while they delivered arms to Major Morgan.
While Castro denounced Trujillo as the "financial boss of all those who are plotting against us" it is well-known that Trujillo receives arms and money from the U.S.
The trials of some of the prisoners have begun. Some were released after it was released after it was established that they were not involved in the plot.
The Cuban people rallied behind Castro. "Premier Fidel Castro," reports R. Hart Phillips, "already a heroic figure here, was the object of adulation throughout Cuba...the Cuban people applauded the way the conspiracy was exposed."
Vol. XXIII - No. 44
November 3, 1959
Cuba Furious Over Attack by Florida Plane
by Lillian Kiezel
Oct. 27- Hundreds of thousands of Cuban workers and peasants rallied to Premier Fidel Castro's call for a demonstration in Havana yesterday. Reacting against counter-revolutionary moves that lead to the death of two people of two people and the wounding of over 40, the angry demonstrators brandished placards reading -- "We demand respect for over sovereignty;" "Agrarian Reform Against Foreign Monopolies" and "We we demand more executions."
The counter-revolutionaries, using American-made planes, apparently based in Florida, showered anti-government leaflets on Havana and other cities Oct. 21. Castro charged that the planes also bombed Havana and Pinar del Rio. During the air raids in Havana, terrorists in speeding automobiles machinegunned and bombed people in the streets.
At the giant rally, which was organized by the Cuban Confederation of Labor, Castro appealed to the American people to protest the bombing. Castro declared that if the U.S. could not stop flights originating in Miami then its officials must either be considered "accomplices" or defenseless. "How is it", he asked, "that the United States, which feels strong enough to fight with countries which have atomic weapons, can not prevent these flights?"
The leaflets showered on Havana were signed by Major Diaz Lanz, a former fighter in Castro's 26th of July Movement who became head of the air force and then fled to Florida last July. The leaflets called on Castro to refrain from "dictatorship" and to eliminate "Communism" from his government. Lanz's counter-revolutionary activities are known to the FBI and Cuba has demanded his extradition.
Castro told the Cuban people that his government is being accused of Communism as a pretext, because "All the things we do, like reducing rent, distributing land to the peasants and growing rice injure foreign vested interests." But the Agrarian Reform Law, rent control, import restrictions and other reforms opposed by American vested interests, Cuban landowners and big business are not Castro's only concern. Shopkeepers and small businessmen are also becoming alienated. They are caught in a financial bind. The unstable economy is suffering from a drop in tourist trade (Cuba's second largest industry). About 20% of the population is unemployed.
To counteract the pressure from Cuban and American landlords and capitalists against his reform program, Castro has tightened his reins on the government. Raul Castro was made minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Oct. 17 and Major Ernesto "Chez" [sic] Guevara has been given a key job in the agricultural reform institute (INRA) where he will head a government program to industrialize Cuba.
The resignation of Major Hubert [sic] Matos, military Commander of Camaguey Province, Oct. 21 is one of the indications of growing tension. Subsequently arrested by Castro, he has been linked up with Lanz and former president Urrutia, both of whom are opposed to the agrarian reform law. Although Castro still has the support of the majority of the people, the Wall Street Journal of Oct. 27 reports that "counter-revolutionaries are now strong enough to embarrass the government whenever they see fit." The State Department, of course, is maintaining it is only an innocent bystander and has nothing to do with the the new moves of the counter-revolutionary forces. Its hypocritical protests, however, have been properly scorned by the Cuban government, which is thoroughly aware of how the State Department has supported and encouraged American financial interests in Cuba.
The mounting counter-revolutionary opposition has forced Castro to turn toward the workers and peasants. "Our reply to these air attacks, he declared, must be the training and arming of the peasants and workers, the professionals and even the women."
How far Castro is prepared to mobilize popular forces remains to be seen. The indicated course is to carry through the scheduled major reforms without further delay. The longer the reforms are put off, the more time is given counter-revolution to recover and to mobilize. But Castro, like many a nationalist before him, hesitates at unleashing forces that could take Cuba down the road to a socialist government.
Armed men lined the roof a a police station as demonstrating crowd seeks to get hands on Roberto Salas Hernandez, charged with attempting to assassinate Cuban Premier Fidel Castro during a one-hour work stoppage Oct. 22 which was part of a nation-wide series of rallies against counter-revolutionary moods. More than thirty people have been arrested on charge of plotting to bomb the bus station and assassinate public officials.
Vol. XXIII - No. 44
November 3, 1959
Castro Lays New Tax on U.S. Outfits
by Lillian Kiezel
The Cuban revolution pushed back last week at mounting pressure from the almighty dollar. After mobilizing a huge demonstration of workers and peasants Oct. 26 against counter-revolutionary plots and American interference in the island's affairs, the Castro government stepped up reforms.
Cuba rejected an Oct. 27 State Department protest of Premier Fidel Castro's accusation that the U.S. deliberately aided Cuban counter-revolutionaries who have been attacking the Castro government as "Communist".
A new mineral law was adopted Oct. 28 imposing stiff taxes on U.S.-owned mining operations in Cuba. In addition to the 5% of gross receipts on minerals used on the island, the law calls for 25% on gross receipts for exports.
Arthur B. Homer, president of Bethlehem Steel, which controls 125,000 acres,
the largest surface and mining concession and mining concession in Cuba squirmed
over the tax bite, labeling it "prohibitive" and "confiscatory".
The agrarian reform institute also took 10,000 acres of land from the steel corporation and 65,000 acres from the Cuban Development Co. and Compania Phillips, two outfits representing American oil interests. In addition 75,000 acres were recovered from two U.S.-owned cattle ranches. The land is scheduled for distribution among landless peasants.
Compensation for lands taken over is based on tax evaluations, much lower than
market prices, that were declared under the corrupt Batista regime. Payment will
be made in long-term government bonds in place of cash. International Harvester
has balked at this, declaring it won't give up its 4500-acre henequen plantation
"unless it is fully compensated."
Meanwhile, Castro has revived the military courts to help quell counter-revolutionary plots. Ward Cannell, Scripps-Howard correspondent, reported Oct. 31 that many groups of anti-Castro plotters are in the U.S., and American businessmen with Cuban holdings are "waiting to back a sure winner."
All the groups agree on one thing, says Cannell: "That American fears and interests must be played on (Communism, Russia, profits, etc.) if any anti-Castro movement is to get support.
American investors and Washington officials responded to last week's progressive move with thinly-veiled threats to cut Cuba's sugar quote.
Provocative flights over Havana by Cuban counter-revolutionaries in U.S.-based planes brought this giant demonstration of Havana workers Oct. 26 to denounce U.S. intervention in Cuba. Since then tere has bas been incrased agitation led by Premier Castro for return of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. leases the 28,000 acre area from the Cuban governent at he ridiculously-low rental of $3386.25 per year. That's less than a cent per acre per month. President Eisenhower says he can't understand why the Cubans aren't more friendly.
Vol. XXIII, No. 46
Cuba Inches Ahead With Land Reform
The Castro government inched ahead last week in applying its Agrarian Reform law. A 2,633-acre tobacco plantation was taken over Nov. 10 from the Cuban Land and Leaf Tobacco Co. of Trenton N.J. Company officials announced they would buy tobacco from former sharecroppers who'll divide up the land at $2,500,000.00
Meanwhile, the Cuban Foreign Ministry announced that it would continue to distribute a pamphlet linking the U.S. government to counterrevolutionary violence in Havana Oct. 21 when two people were killed and 45 wounded.
The pamphlet is entitled "Cuba Denounces Before the World!" The cover pictures U.S. planes flying over Havana. The caption reads, "as in Pearl Harbor." Ten thousand copies have been distributed and 150,000 in English and Spanish are ready for distribution abroad.
The State Department protested as "inaccurate, malicious and misleading" the accusation in the pamphlet that the U.S. government permitted planes to leave Florida to bombard Cuba.
The protest said that Cuba is deliberately spreading these charges throughout the world "to create an atmosphere of hostility" between the U.S. and Cuba.
Revolucion, official Cuban newspaper, countered with the charge that the U.S. protest was "lacking in respect, false and offensive." The privately owned Union Radio called the State Department "a liar" and the official Havana radio station accused Secretary of State Herter and the White House of "conspiring" against the Cuban revolution.
Concurrent with these developments, reports appeared of the mobilization of counter-revolutionary forces in the U.S. A considerable section of the American big-business press is beginning to support the reactionary cause.
"Erroll Flynn" Ruark
A typical example was a column by Robert C. Ruark of the Scripps-Howard chain, declaiming: "I wish to state right now that I will do a reverse Errol [sic] Flynn and help our guerrillas overthrow the Castro boys."
He mourned the disappearance of the romantic racket-and-graft-ridden Cuba where Batista's henchmen "whacked" their opponents "quietly in the dark of the moon."
Ruark blamed this sad state of affairs on the "bearded, noble, land-reforming, T.V.-happy murderers."
Vol. III, No. 48
November 30, 1959
"Land, Work and Hope" are Key Words in Cuba
The American press nowadays is filled with howls, lamentations and diatribes about the Cuban revolution and the Agrararian Reform Law which takes land from the rich and makes it available to the poor. It is hard to find anything reporting accurately the feelings of the Cuban people. But occasionally does manage to get past the editor's blue pencil. A recent instance was an article by Henry N. Taylor, a Scripps-Howard correspondent, who indicates how the horizon of the Cuban peasant has lighted up.
"The key words are land, work and hope, he writes. "For generations these values have been denied to the gaunt, sun-wrinkled, sugar-field workers. They were born beaten, lived hungry, died early..."
In glaring contrast to the profits cleaned up by the sugar barons, 450,000 sugar workers had an income of about $120 a year. According to Taylor, "a private American survey in 1957 estimated that 96 of every 100 Cuban farm workers never had eaten meat." It was found that 14% had tuberculosis and over 60% lived in dirt-floored, palm-thatched huts.
The U.S. government has threatened to curtail the sugar quota, because thousands of acres of American-owned farms and cattle ranches have been taken over. But the threats have failed to dampen the spirits of the peasants.
They are immersed in the task of making full use of Cuba's fortunate combination of rich soil and excellent climate which will produce anything, except wheat, abundantly. Given these conditions it is incredible that Cuba should have to import 30% of her food supply.
Up to the present, if a peasant wanted to buy land in order to plant his own beans he faced enormous obstacles. Landlords with huge amounts of wasted land "kept land prices high"; if a peasant had land he had to pay exhorbitant bribes to Batista's government to get permission to plant; finally seed was controlled by "the same people who made profits from imported vegetables. Naturally, peasants found seed 'unavailable.'"
All of this has been swept aside by the revolutionary government "for the first time," reports Taylor, "since the Spanish first came to Cuba soon after Colombus, soldiers are in the countryside for other purposes than to strut and steal and shoot. Many work in full uniforms side by side with peasants, to build new cooperative forms."
Despite these facts, however, Taylor refers to Castro's Agrarian Law as "drastic". The law gives farm workers a choice between joining government cooperatives or operating their own 67-acre plot of land.
Vol. XXIII, No. 49
December 7, 1959
Wall Streets Grits Teeth at Shift in Cuban Government
by Flora Carpenter
Bankers understand one another. Whether American or Cuba, they possess a common language when it comes to private property, profit and politics. Thus the men in the counting houses of Wall Street gritted their teeth in rage last week as Castro's regime moved to the left and kicked out Felipe Pazos as president of the National Bank of Cuba. Pazos was a professional banker with fluent command of the language Wall Street speaks.
When the Cuban revolution swept the dictatorial Batista regime off the island, Wall Street at once sought new points of support, hunting for them in the Castro government itself. Hoping that the revolutionary upsurge might finally be dissipated in endless talk and speeches, a role it was willing to grant Castro, the American imperialists looked to Pazos as one of those who could be counted on to restrain the government from actually carrying out its reform program.
The other figures that loomed high for such a role were Jose Miro Cardona, prime minister and Rufo Lopez Fresquet, head of the treasury department.
"These are not wildhairs, " the Wall Street Journal explained last Jan. 8. "The best hope for Cuba, in the opinion of political experts is that they along with Urrutia will be setting national policy during the crucial 18 months or more of provisional government by decree --- while Castro keeps them in power through his prestige and military power."
But it didn't work out that way. Urrutia who was Castro's nominal head of government went down, designated as an enemy of the revolution. Pazos has not been named an enemy: almost as bad to have him named Ambassador in Charge of European Affairs.
Mourning the shift of Pazos from his key position, the New York Times commented editorially, Nov. 27: "His training naturally imposes and orthodoxy in his thinking that sooner or later is bound to leave him out of line with the radical policies that are forcing... more and more Government intervention and perhaps, an eventual program of widespread nationalization."
What alarms the financiers most is that the shift was obviously based on political considerations. Pazos is replaced by Major Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a bearded hero of the 26th of July Movement who knows nothing about banking. Here is how the Wall Street Journal described him last January:
"One trusted Castro lieutenant is the colorful Argentine revolutionary, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara who many have called a Communist and who is now installed as commander of El Cabana, fortress overlooking the entrance to Havana harbor.
"Interviewed at the Presidential palace, the swashbuckling 'Che', clad in a black beret, green fatigues and a black neck sash, put down a long cigar and coolly answered a reporter's question: 'I have never been affiliated with the Communists' but he hastens to add, that's not to say I'm anti-Communist.' He goes on to explain that American reporters always ask if he's a Communist 'when the most important thing is the unity of all the people and all the parties here in Cuba here in Cuba.'"
By this shift in the spectrum of personalities, the Cuban revolution has indicated that it is still on the upsurge. You can also tell it from the fluttering in Wall Street.
Headlines in other lands
Dominican dictator "sentences" Castro to a 30-year term
Generalissimo Trujillo, frightened dictator of the Dominican Republic, is still trying to convince the world that the threat to his rule comes from outside "plotters," not the Dominican people.
So a Dominican court has sentenced Cuban Premier Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt to 30 years at hard labor for an "attempted invasion" of the island last June. Also convicted in absentia was Fidel Castro's brother Raul. They headed a list of 113 persons accused of participating in the "plan" to overthrow Trujullo. The court also fined $100,000,000.
Vol. XXIII No. 50
December 14, 1959
Headlines in other lands
State Dept. blocks Cuba from buying British jet planes
Striking confirmation of the truth of Castro's charges that the U.S. is intervening in Cuba's domestic affairs appeared in the news last week when the British Foreign Office refused to exchange 17 propreller-driven planes, sold to Batista last year for an equal number of jets.
The State Dept. informed the British embassy Oct. 16th that it objected to sale of the jets to Cuba. "It is no secret," the British were told, "that the United States does not like and is unhappy about the arms shipment into the Caribbean area."
Castro assured Britain that Castro wanted the jets for defensive purposes only. And it was known in London, according to Lawrence Fellows of the New York Times, that the Foreign Office had favored selling the jets to Cuba, contending that the fighters would modernize the Cuban Air Force but not enlarge it."
When the final decision was announced Dec. 2, Viscount Alexander, Labor Party leader in the House of Lords asked Lord Landsdown Foreign Office Under Secretary, whether the decision was made "after special representations by Washington." Landsdowne [sic] replied: "We acted independently of the United States, but reached a decision which they also share."
Meanwhile Dr. Antonio Nunez Jimenez, director of Cuba's Agrarian Reform Institute, announced that he had obtained $100 million worth of credit from France, the Netherlands and Germany. But he said that he found European countries wanted the same kind of coercion that prevented Britain from selling jets to Cuba.
"There was great pressure on European countries by North American interests, "said Nunez, "to prevent these credits from being granted to the Cuban revolutionary government."
Nunez said that the credit would be used to buy agricultural and industrial machinery and equipment to drain the Cienega de Zapata, a vast swamp, to enable Cuba to grow the rice she needs.
December 21, 1959
Can Dollar Threat Make Castro Halt?
by Lillian Kiezel
"The fate of Fidel Castro's revolution may ultimately be decided in Wall Street," says Ed Moure Germain financial writer of the New York World Telegram. In a series of articles that seek to tell the new Cuban government which side it had best look to find the butter on its bread.
"Unless the Premier can maintain his government's credit in the world financial market, primarily New York, he faces eventual overthrow by left-wing or right-wing elements, " Germain declared. "His underdeveloped island needs capital which Wall Street alone can provide."
Will Castro read the handwriting on the walls of the counting houses or continue his independent course? "The big question remains," says this financial pundit, "is Castro convertible?" Will he recognize before it is too late the need for "foreign capital" which Wall Street can supply.
What really disturbs Germain is the say the Cuban revolutionists have been laying profane hands on Wall Street's sacred holdings in Cuba. There's the agrarian reform law, the mining tax of 5% on all ores mined, the 25% levy on all minerals exported, the cut in electrical power rates, government intervention in the management of companies like Cuban Telephone.
How does Castro dare touch Wall Street's interests in that way? He "gains nothing by declaring open season on American interests...The task of evaluating American interests should not be difficult. Our businessmen go to Cuba to make a profit..."
Taking an optimistic stance, this Wall Street propagandist suggests that the Cubans will "still want to stay in business." He softens this threat by insinuating that money is available, points of difference can be "negotiated," if "Castro can see the light of reason" and that he "prefers to keep the familiar route of trade...and meet Wall Street on common ground."
Seeks credit in Europe
And if Castro can't be bought? Germain notes that the Cuban government is desperately trying to "obtain sorely needed credit from European financial houses," in order to "avoid the necessity of negotiating fair settlement with Cuba's traditional friends."
If the European bankers prove as stony as the Wall Street tribe, where else can Cuba turn for help? One possibility remains, according to Germain. Castro "may have to do business with Soviet Russia and Red China." In Wall Street's book that's where the "growing peril lies." If Castro doesn't make concessions to his kind "friends" in Wall Street, it "could be the beginning of the end."
Vol. XXIV, No. 2
January 11, 1959
The Cries of Alarm of Alarm About the New Cuba
New York., N.Y. Editor,
In city after city I have noted in the daIIy papers a propaganda-lynch campaign against the Cuban revolution.
Central to the attack is the usual capitalist theme: democracy must be defended against "Communist penetration" in Cuba; and something must be done about the "disintegration of orderly government" under the Castro regime.
The whole thing is so patently contrived that it makes the rigors of a TV quiz
look like rank amateurs by comparison.
No such excitement was shown about the brutal, corrupt, Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Batista suppressed democratic rights, jailed and murdered his opponents, and kept the Cuban people in a state of economic hardship. But that gave no cause for alarm because capitalist property interests were protected by the dictator.
No concern is expressed about democracy in Spain. On the contrary, the daily newspapers gave glowing accounts of General Eisenhower's insult to the Spanish people when he paid a friendly visit to the fascist dictator Franco and joined with him in a hypocritical pledge to unite for "peace, justice and freedom." Why look over Franco's shoulder at the hardships of the working class and the jails full of political prisoners? After all, his fascist regime protects capitalist property and makes him part of the "free world."
Castro, however, has taken some steps under the pressures of the working people which threaten the super profits of the imperialist exploiters of Cuban labor and resources.
Several big estates have been taken over and the land distributed to the peasants. A few capitalist-owned sugar mills and cattle ranches were confiscated in the interests of the people. To help finance social benefits, stiffer taxes were imposed on imperialist-owned Cuban industries.
Rates charged by the telephone and electric power monopolies have been cut by government order --- a step that would be cheered to the echo if it took place in the United States.
So far, the Castro regime has refused to let the imperialist government of the U.S. use Cuba as a pawn in its cold war against the revolutionary peoples of the world. Instead Cuba has justly demanded respect for it own national sovereignty; it has asserted its opposition to colonialism and called for the defense of the rights of small countries.
Recently the Cuban unions withdrew from the Inter-American Regional Organization of Labor, branding it an agency of United States
imperialism which opposes economic development and political liberty of Latin American countries.
When newspaper reporters ask for his comments, George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO, denounced the Cuban charges as "hot air" and said American labor felt it could get along very well without our "Cuban friends."
Meany's remarks are consistent with his policy of throwing to the wolves whole sections of the labor movement in this country when they come under capitalist attack. If he could read a million and a half Teamsters out of the AFl-CIO to prove to the bosses that his heart is pure, why should he bother about the rights of a few million Cuban working people? You just won't be accepted by the capitalists as a labor statesman if you get out of line with their policy.
When Meany, with his sources of information, says charges of imperialist intervention in Cuba are "hot air" the kindest thing to be said about him is that he is politically ignorant and unfit to lead labor.
Items on the financial pages of the daily papers indicate credit pressures against the Cuban regime on the world financial market. Capitalist politicians in Washington talk openly about cutting U.S. import quotas on Cuban sugar. Economic attacks of this nature are accompanied by other harsh measures.
Cubans have called attention to FBI activities in their country, protesting against the presence of these imperialist political police. Anti-Castro plotters are allowed to use Florida as a staging area for counter-revolutionary forces. Meanwhile the press conducts a national campaign of lies and slander calculated to arouse popular support in this country for action against the Cuban revolution.
With ample cause for concern, Premier Castro has expressed the belief an invasion of Cuba will be attempted in 1960. If it should be tried, the answer of the Cuban masses seems to have been indicated in a recent demonstration of almost a million workers and peasants who protested against any intervention by the United States.
Working people in this country should be urged by their leaders to uphold the right of the Cuban people to manage their own affairs without imperialist interference. The principle involved is in line with the just demand of labor in the U.S. that the capitalist government keep its hands off the unions and stop interfering with the right to strike. The question of United States policy toward Cuba should be made a central issue in the 1960 elections. Lies and slander circulated by the imperialists should be exposed and they should be told: Hands off Cuba!
Through its presidential campaign, the Socialist Workers Party will undertake this act of international working class solidarity and the party will be ready to cooperate with all others who want to take similar action.
Cuba at the Crossroads
January 18, 1960
Vol. XXIV – No. 3
The Cuban revolution has reached the crossroads. In one direction lies nationalization of industry and still more sweeping measures of 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 skins 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?
Managing Editor: Daniel Roberts
Business Manager: Karolyn Kerry
articles by contributors do not necessarily represent
the Militant’s policies. These are expressed in editorials.