Augustin Souchy is a veteran German Anarcho-Syndicalist. He was a delegate of the German Syndicalist Union to the Red International of Trade Unions (a Russian Communist Party front set up to dominate the world labor movement) in Moscow 1921. During the duration of the Spanish Civil War and Revolution (1936-1939) he was in charge of the International Information Bureau of the Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalist National Confederation of Labor (CNT) and in other capacities. Souchy observed at first hand the rural libertarian collectives and urban socialization and wrote extensively on this subject. He is an outstanding authority on collectivization, cooperatives and other problems of agrarian organization.
With the Franco victory in Spain and the coming of World War II, Souchy lived as a refugee in France. He came to Mexico in 1942 and for many years traveled extensively in Latin America, Israel, etc. to study at first hand rural collectivization and cooperative experiments in semi-developed countries.
In 1960, Souchy toured Cuba, gathering direct information about the Cuban Revolution, particularly agrarian cooperatives and land reform measures set up by the Castro government. Although his reports were in many respects very favorable, the authorities could not tolerate adverse criticism, however well intended. The printing of Souchy's observations was prohibited, and Souchy himself left Cuba just in time to escape arrest. His articles were published in pamphlet form, by the excellent libertarian bi-monthly Reconstruir (Testimonial Sobre la Revolucion Cubana; Buenos Aires, December, 1960)
This pamphlet falls into two parts. The first is Souchy's over-all evaluation of the Cuban Revolution. It was written when Castro's gradual moves toward full-fledged totalitarian rule first became apparent. While acknowledging what turned out to be the Revolution's temporary positive aspects, Souchy's observations reflected his growing concern about the authoritarian deformation of the Cuban Revolution. The second part, a direct report of his visits to various peasant 'cooperatives,' government 'collectives,' etc. is a concise critique of the disastrous consequences of Castro's Agrarian Reform program. Since 'Agrarian Reform' is considered the Revolution's major achievement, Souchy's analysis takes on added significance. [S.D.]
Part One: Overall Evaluation of the Revolution
The Cuban Revolution is much more than a mere political change in the form of government. The Revolution initiated a vast economic-social transformation, which to a certain extent resembles what took place in Spain after the 19th of July, 1936 [beginning of the Civil War]. There are, nevertheless, certain important differences. While the Spanish Revolution, in the period of struggle against the existing order as well as the period of social-political reconstruction, was the work of the great masses of workers and peasants, the Cuban Revolution was propelled by a minority of self-sacrificing dedicated revolutionaries. . . The character of both revolutions springs from these differences.
In Cuba, the old professional army was replaced by workers' and peasants' militias [this is no longer the case]. The Revolution attacked the economic poverty of the masses, cultural backwardness and expropriated big private enterprises.
In Spain, the masses organized collectives. In Cuba, the state created and controlled cooperatives. In Cuba, as in Spain, rents were lowered in the cities, but in respect to changes in rural property, there was an important difference While in Spain, the confiscation of the land and the organization of the collectives was initiated and carried through by the peasants themselves; in Cuba social-economic transformation was initiated not by the people, but by Castro and his comrades-in-arms. It is this distinction that accounts for the different development of the two revolutions; Spain, mass revolution from the bottom up; Cuba, revolution from the top down by decree--i.e. Agrarian Reform Law, etc.
The old motto: 'The Emancipation of the Working Class is the Task of the Workers Themselves,' is still eminently relevant. The Cuban Revolution will advance only with the participation of the people and only if the revolutionary spirit will penetrate all social stratums. Centralizing tendencies exist in every revolution and can be dangerous for liberty. The surest way to prevent centralization of power in the hands of a few, is the initiative and action of the masses of the people. In Cuba, the revolutionary fighters, the men of the Sierra Maestra, constituted a strong fighting force, and it was they, not the professional militants who 'temporarily' constituted the new government.
The new regime came to power on a wave of popular enthusiasm and admiration for the heroic fighters. . . But enthusiasm comes and goes. Emotions are fickle. A power acquired by past exploits, however heroic, is not a firm base for the establishment of a permanent government. And if in the course of events, as is always the case, certain discontented popular groupings threaten or question the leadership, the 'de facto' government, to remain in office, and carry out its program, resorts to threats of outright violence. The inevitable consequence of this situation is revolutionary terror, whose classical representatives are Robespierre and Stalin. . .
The revolutionary government of Cuba is making enormous efforts to legitimate and justify its existence by enacting deep and popular economic and social changes. The liquidation of the old corrupt administration, 50% reduction of the salaries of the new ministers, drastic reduction in rents, telephone and electric rates, construction of new hygienic housing for the masses, the installation of public beaches and recreation centers, and finally, the crowning of all these reforms by the Agrarian Reform Law, are enthusiastically applauded by the majority of the Cuban people and the whole world. . .
But in the radiant revolutionary springtime [Souchy wrote before the storms of winter] there are some dark clouds and shadows: censorship of the press, unilateral indoctrination by radio and television, the new foreign policy which is placing the country under the de facto domination of red imperialism, and above all, the organization of a state dominated economy, are naturally not liked by the people [in spite of propaganda to the contrary!. One has but to speak to Cubans in all walks of life, in the Capital and in the provinces, to plainly see the growing disillusionment and discontent. An infinite number of workers, thousands of people who have always fought for freedom now oppose the policies and conduct of the government. . .
The Cuban Revolution achieved great social progress for the people, with a rapidity unmatched in any other Latin-American country. But all this is not the work of the people themselves. We must insist that the Revolution is rapidly turning into a dictatorship. The dictators, Mussolini, Peron, Perez Jimenez, (and how many others!) to justify their tyrannies and glorify their names, also built houses etc. for the poor, (public works in Russia).
The social-economic agrarian revolution achieved by INRA [National Institute of Agrarian Reform] are truly remarkable. Protected by privileged legislation the INRA is the most powerful State
Monopoly not only in Agriculture, but almost all economic activity. INRA is Cuba's number one trust.
Part Two: 'We Visit the New Rural Cooperatives'
The road to the Sierra is very rough. In certain places our jeep almost overturned and so detracted somewhat from the pleasure of viewing the beautiful panorama of hills and beautiful valley with its luxurious tropical flora. After some hours of difficult travel, we reached the shore of a stream. A group of peasants were harvesting malangas and we soon learned that they belonged to a cooperative.
'We decided ourselves to work collectively,' declared one of the peasants, 'Work together is so much easier than working alone. Before we worked because we were hungry, but now, we work because we really enjoy it. We share our income equally and expect good results.' He beamed with joy.
We were escorted to the 'Bohio' (hut) of the peasant Nicola's Pacheo. His courteous wife, with typical Cuban hospitality, served coffee. . .The modest 'guajero' (peasant) could not give much of an explanation about the organization of the cooperative, and the other peasants, even less so. The peasants knew only about their work. For more information we had to wait for the arrival of the sergeant who represented the INRA.
The sergeant finally arrived. He made no reference to the cooperatives, but spoke only about the orders he received from his bosses, the higher executives of the district INRA. He offered no new details, but merely repeated what we already learned about other cooperatives. Though lacking positive constructive information, his remarks were interesting from a negative point of view. Cuba is the only Latin American country in which agrarian cooperatives are managed by military personnel.
If the sergeant were wearing a Russian uniform, the impression that we were conversing with a supervisor of a Sovkhoz [Russian State Farm] would have been perfect. Except for the team working on the outskirts of the village itself, we got the feeling of the standard routine procedures of an immense impersonal organization with branches all over the country, whose watchword is 'Bread is more important than Freedom. '
But we must never forget that there are two different freedoms! National freedom which refers to the autonomy of a nation, and personal freedom which is much more important. In brutally oppressed countries, with violent upheavals, and little or no experience of national sovereignty, the first national autonomy, is more valued than the second, freedom of the individual. Cuba belongs to the first. Bread there is, but we must point out on the basis of the most meticulous observation, that the rationing of human freedom has already begun. [Souchy, of course, wrote before the full impact of the disastrous economic policies of the revolutionary government brought about acute shortages and rationing of food products that before were always in plentiful supply.|
Between Bayamo and Manzanillo
The Sheltered city of Bayamo was one of the provision points for the rebels of the Sierra Maestra while they were fighting the Batista dictatorship. Situated in the fertile valley, Bayamo, the commercial center of a rich agricultural area, is today the district headquarters of the INRA. Most of the land is owned by relatively more affluent proprietors, but the creation of cooperatives by the INRA is making rapid progress. The 8 cooperatives in the district consist of 11,858 hectares (one hectare is about 2 1/2 acres) worked by 2,700 agricultural laborers.
The administrator, Senor Carbonell, is a young man full of energy and enthusiasm for the Revolution. The army is inextricably interwoven into the whole INRA network. The army is deemed indispensable to the proper functioning of this gigantic and complex organization. The soldiers help to build houses and do other useful work. But as in all armies, a lot of time and labor is wasted on perfectly useless, even socially harmful projects.
There is also a well-equipped machine shop for the repair of agricultural machinery. The district INRA headquarters called a meeting to arrange the expansion of facilities to include the manufacture of certain agricultural tools and equipment. In addition to the workers, the meeting was also attended by the district manager, two lawyers, and two army officers.
The plans for the organization of an industrial cooperative to be managed by the INRA were presented to the meeting. When the workers asked about wages, the manager replied that wages were of secondary importance and that to speed up the industrialization of Cuba, certain sacrifices will have to be made for the sake of the revolution. The workers plainly showed that they did not like the project. Finally, the exasperated administrator laid down the law: with or without the consent of the workers, the 'cooperative' project will be organized as planned. The lawyers drew up the necessary legal documents and the cooperative was officially established.
The cooperative will be patterned after the state enterprises of the 'socialist countries' behind the 'iron curtain.' The Ministry of the Economy will organize production and distribution and manage all nationalized enterprises. And the workers will, if the 'revolutionary' bosses allow it, be given a restricted share in management. The economic situation of the workers will be more or less the same as in privately owned enterprises.
Statization of Manzanillo Shoe Factories
In Manzanillo, in addition to fisheries, there are also many small shoe workshops, equipped with old machines, manufacturing shoes for the regional market. Wages were low and there were few, if any, wealthy employers.
After the Revolution conflicts broke out when the workers demanded labor laws providing minimum wages, social security and other benefits. Revolution came to the shoe industry. The employers voluntarily gave up ownership and decided to work together on equal terms with their former employees. The small workshops were consolidated into the newly organized Shoe Manufacturing Collective of Manzanillo.
A quarter century before, during the Spanish Revolution, similar collectives were established in Spain. In Catalonia, the Levante and Castille, the isolated workshop collectives later organized themselves into socialized industries. These developments were based upon the old libertarian tradition that gave the Spanish Revolution its distinctive character.
Unfortunately, this popular initiative of the Manzanillo shoe workers was soon squelched. The Manzanillo section of the Communist Party was against free cooperatives which clashed with their authoritarian ideas. They therefore urged Russian style absorption of the voluntarily collectivized workshops by the INRA. This proposal was enthusiastically endorsed by the INRA bureaucrats, and the cooperative shoe industry was taken over.
This destruction of the cooperative is not an isolated example of how a movement which began by abolishing private ownership to establish free cooperatives, was finally swallowed up by the state agency INRA, indicating the fast growing trend toward the Russian variety of state capitalism mislabeled 'socialism.'
The Primavera (springtime) Rice Cooperative
Cuba consumes enormous quantities of rice. To meet demand, great stocks of rice must be imported. As part of the campaign to make Cuba self-sufficient in rice by placing great new areas under cultivation the district INRA organized the Primavera rice-growing cooperative. The hundreds of new 'cooperators' will be lodged in barrack-like structures equipped with two-decker beds and fed in one huge dining hall. While displaying the new accommodations, the manager went into raptures about how the new cooperative will improve production while bettering quality.
The improvements will no doubt increase production. In other parts of the world, similar projects under approximately the same conditions and procedures are in operation: there too, the workers sleep in barracks and eat in huge dining halls supplied by the companies. The only new or original feature of this semi-militarized labor army is the name 'cooperative;' a description that no true cooperative anywhere will accept.
I visit an elementary school. Childrn are marching, chanting: 'Una--Dos--Tres--Cuarto--Fi--Del--Castro.' (one-two-three-four etc.) The proud Principal exclaims: 'Behold! Tomorrow's soldiers of The Revolution! And this beautiful rebuilt school was once an old, ugly army barracks.' Alas! The Principal does not realize how little things have really changed--how the old military spirit still remains.
The Hermanos Saenz Cooperative
When the Vice Minister of the Soviet Union, Mikoyan, visited Cuba, Castro, to impress him with the achievements of the revolution, showed him the Hermanos Saenz cooperative--the pride of the new Cuba. The Hermanos Saenz cooperative, in Pinar del Rio province, is named after two brothers, 15 and 19 years old, who were tortured and murdered by Batista's executioners.
The cooperative was organized and built by the INRA. INRA advanced construction and operating finances. The complex consists of 120 elegantly landscaped houses for the tobacco workers and their families. A typical dwelling consists of three bedrooms, a dining room, tile bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen. The buildings are 'functional,' but the roofs are too low and the old peasant 'bohios' (cottages) are better ventilated. Apart from this, we must praise the revolutionary government for its efforts to wipe out slum housing.
The cooperators make no down payment, nor are there wage deductions. Construction and maintenance costs are paid for, not by the individual cooperator, but collectively from the profits of the tobacco industry. The Hermano Saenz debt to INRA will probably be paid quickly--about six to ten years. In other places a worker who wants to own a house would have to make monthly payments for 15 to 20 years.
The pride of the cooperative is the magnificent new school, with its spacious gardens and playgrounds, an auditorium, an immense dining hall and fully equipped kitchens where wholesome meals are prepared for the children.
On the day when Castro inaugurated the new School of the Hermanos Saenz cooperative a group of 20 peasants of the tiny village of San Vincente petitioned Castro to help them form a cooperative and new housing. The peasants had been tenant farmers who were forced to hand over two thirds of their crops to the landlord. They had no money, no farm machines, no fertilizers. As Castro promised, the INRA immediately began the construction of a new cooperative village for the 20 peasant families of San Vincente. With the help of the revolutionary army and the peasants themselves, construction was completed in the record time of only two months. The individual peasants do not own the property of the cooperative nor the agricultural equipment. They hold shares in the cooperative. The cooperative (like the rest of the rural economy) is not administered by the peasants, but by the INRA in accordance with a national plan. The 'cooperative' is actually financed by wages, disguised as 'advances' [payments for construction, maintenance and equipment furnished by INRA] paid to the peasants by their de facto employer, INRA.
My guide, the bearded revolutionist, Captain Alvarez Costa, provincial delegate of INRA, furnished me with information about the cooperatives in his district. It seems that in the Cuban cooperatives the peasants sacrifice their autonomy in exchange for economic security. Although the economic situation of the peasant 'cooperator' is better than before, it is nevertheless inferior to that of the free cooperator, particularly from the moral point of view. 'Is there not a danger (I asked my guide) that this situation would create a dangerous dilemma: bread without freedom or freedom without bread?'
The captain, conceding that such a dilemma is indeed possible, replied:
. . . our Revolution is based upon the concepts formulated by Fidel Castro. If we build cooperatives, those who benefit must accept the conditions stipulated. There are hundreds of different cooperatives in our province. Some sell their products to INRA, others in the free market etc. In general, the cooperatives are directly administered by INRA. However, in this district, the cooperative in the village of Moncada works collectively, on its own initiative. I suggest that you see how it works.
The School City: 'Camilo Cienfuegos'
In the field of education the Castro regime is inordinately proud of what it considers its greatest achievement: the construction of Ciudad Escolar--School City--an immense complex named after the great hero of the Revolution Camilo Cienfuegos. The complex is being built at the foot of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, Castro's famed stronghold. This grandiose project, meant to astonish the world, was conceived while Castro's guerrilla band was still being hunted by the Batista army.
Although the construction was begun only a few months ago, many buildings have already been erected. The project is truly unique. It will accommodate 22,000 children of both sexes from 6 to 18 years of age; most of them from peasant families in the Sierra Maestra region. The complex will consist of 42 units, each with a capacity of 500 pupils, including dining rooms, class rooms, 4 athletic fields, a motion picture theater and swimming pool. The central kitchen will prepare meals for all the 22,000 students. . .
The project will be financed by the government and built by INRA. 9,000 hectares [about 25,000 acres] will be devoted to the growing of rice, malangas, beans and other vegetables, and the raising of cattle, poultry etc. The pupils themselves will do the work, and all this vast area will serve as a school for agriculture. It is expected that the products will pay for the education and subsistence of the students without a state subsidy. Thus, 22,000 young people will live by their own labor.
One of the officials boasted: 'This will be the greatest educational project ever built.' But quite a few highly qualified educators voiced serious misgivings about the educational value of the project. A well known teacher whom I interviewed declared:
educationally speaking, to construct an educational apparatus of this magnitude is pure insanity. It would have been far better to build a school in every village in the Sierra Maestra region and the schools would at the same time constitute a local cultural center and a separate technical agricultural school could far more easily and usefully be erected in the provincial capital. . .
The opinion of the veteran teacher makes sense. To separate 22,000 children from their homes and parents is to deprive the children of the love, affection, and maternal care which is indispensable for their emotional and mental health. The close rapport between the old and the new generations will be loosened and perhaps irretrievably severed. The whole scheme is based on erroneous and distorted concepts. The aim of education is not only the accumulation of technical-scientific knowledge, but also to introduce the youth into the life of adults. In social life, there should be no artificial separation between old and young, but rather, an inter-penetration, a welding together, a social-personal bonding which makes possible the co-education of both the older and the younger generations.
Experience acquired by tradition and confirmed by modern science teaches us that family life, the rearing and education of children must constitute a truly harmonious community of love and mutual understanding.
The School City Camilo Cienfuegos resembles the military training camp of a modern Sparta; not the free community of scholars in the tradition of ancient Athens.
This account of the Cuban Revolution was written by the veteran anarchist, Abelardo Iglesias, who lived through the events he describes. While still a young man Iglesias dedicated his whole life to the struggle for freedom and social justice. He was particularly active in the labor movement of his native Cuba, and much later, for many years in Spain, where he fought against Franco fascism and for the Social Revolution from the beginning to the final catastrophic defeat.
Returning to Cuba after the debacle, overcoming the pessimism which for many militants signified the end of their hopes for the realization of our ideals, Iglesias again took up the struggle against capitalist exploitation, political oppression and the monumental corruption of national life--particularly within the labor movement.
This attitude, shared by all the militants of the Libertarian Association of Cuba (ALC) led naturally to the struggle against the corrupt, dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista and his friends and collaborators; the very same leaders of the Communist Party, who now occupy the same high posts in the Castro-communist dictatorship.
In the crucial period preceding the downfall of Batista, the Cuban anarchists strove to defend the conquests of the workers and the independence of their organizations against the corrupt leadership of the Batista-Communist dominated Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC).
The following articles by Iglesias were published in pamphlet form by the Argentine anarchist bi-monthly Reconstruir (Buenos Aires, 1963).
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Cuba is a series of articles written in late 1960 and early 1961, a few months before I left Cuba. Unfortunately, subsequent events have only confirmed their contentions.
Erroneous ideas about the Cuban Revolution are to a great extent due to the lack of reliable information. Instead of the objective evaluation indispensible to an understanding of events, the views of the critics are distorted by their political prejudices and economic interests.
The reactionaries proclaim the sanctity of private property and religion as essential for the preservation of the 'full dignity of man.' Almost all North Americans extol the virtues of 'representative democracy' and 'free enterprise.' In Latin-America, opinion is divided based not on the facts, but on how the critics interpret 'American imperialism.'
Many Cubans detest Castro, not for his totalitarian methods of government, but for the communist character of his dictatorship. Many of those who now oppose Castroism, supported his personal dictatorship from the time of the Sierra Maestra until they began to suspect that he was inclined toward Marxist remedies. For them, the totalitarian method of government was less important than its COLOR. The big landlords, the big capitalists, the heads of the church and the professional politicians fully backed Castro as long as they believed that he would be a 'blue' dictator like Franco; they immediately turned against him when he became a 'red' dictator like Stalin. But liberal democrats and revolutionaries from all social classes, especially in the universities, enthusiastically accepted Castro in good faith, fought in the Sierras and in the underground for the immediate restoration of the democratic regime, which had been overthrown by the Batista coup of March 10, 1952. And it is they who now constitute the most vocal opposition to Castro in Cuba and in exile. [Since this was written, most of the opposition has come from workers and peasants.]
That militant anarchists everywhere hailed the Revolution when it first began is understandable. It looked like a true social revolution, and they took the libertarian pretensions of the leaders seriously because they lacked regular and complete information about the real situation in Cuba. Another factor was psychological. With the defeat of the Spanish Revolution (1936-39) the era of popular revolutions seemed closed. Inevitably, disillusionment set in. To some extent, the Cuban Revolution rekindled the old revolutionary flame. The spectacle of a heroic handful of people struggling against seemingly insurmountable odds, disorganized, poorly armed, carrying on a guerrilla war and defeating a formidable, powerfully armed force of professional soldiers, was bound to arouse the sympathy and enthusiasm of all sincere revolutionaries.
But if these facts explain the attitudes of libertarians in 1959, the first year of the Revolution, they cannot now  justify the attitude of certain individuals and groups, in several countries, who still deny the facts and obstinately maintain a position diametrically opposed to libertarian ideas and traditions.
That which compels us to fight for freedom, should also alert us to the presence of a barbaric regime, even when it hides its true nature behind revolutionary libertarian slogans.
At first sight, the expropriation of the holdings of the big landlords seems logical and correct to a movement that does not believe in private property, or recognize the validity of rights unjustly accorded to privileged minorities. But we must realize that the conversion of the expropriated land into state property creates a slavery infinitely worse than private capitalism. Libertarians should know that class privileges are subjected to the state as the supreme regulator of social relations. And we should know also that the conversion of private into state property automatically concentrates enormous political power into a reduced number of men, thereby creating a revolutionary oligarchy wielding unlimited power.
Fidel Castro has established a typical totalitarian oligarchy. In the name of liberty, he has shamelessly betrayed a politically naive people who have allowed themselves to be taken-in by the legendary 'hero of the Sierra Maestra. ' This is no mere supposition. It is a crude, brutal, monstrous fact which libertarians will have to face in all its magnitude, if they really want to comprehend the immense tragedy now being enacted in Cuba.
Apart from byzantine discussions, there are these objective facts which no one can deny. We list briefly the main points:
1. The so-called revolutionary regime is essentially an oligarchy dominated by a handful of men accountable to no one for their actions.
2. In line with their sectarianism they have abolished all individual rights.
3. Centralized political and economic power to an extent never known before.
4. Constructed an apparatus of terror immensely more efficient than Batista's repressive agencies.
5. The land has not been distributed to the peasants, for individual, family, collective or cooperative cultivation, but has become the 'de facto' property of the state agency, the Institute for Agrarian Reform (]NRA).
6. The nationalization of private enterprises has not benefited the workers. The industries are administered not by the workers' unions, but have been taken over to reinforce the power of the state, converting the former wage slaves into slaves of the state machine.
7. Public education has become a state monopoly. The state arrogates to itself the right to impose its kind of education upon the young, regardless of the opinion of the parents.
8. The legitimate necessity to prepare against counter-revolutionary aggression has been the pretext for the unnecessary militarization of children and adolescents as in Russia and other totalitarian states.
9. The right to strike has been abolished and the workers must, without complaint, obey the decrees imposed upon them in their work places. The unions have lost their independence and are actually state agencies, whose sole function it is to cajole or force the workers to obey the commands of the state functionaries without protest.
10. There are no genuine judicial tribunals. Oppositionists are punished not for alleged offences, but for their convictions and revolutionary ideas.
11. Fidel Castro's government is conducted in accordance with Mussolini's notorious dictum:
Nothing outside of the State!!
Nothing against the State!!
Everything for the State!!
History of a Fraud: The 'March On Havana'
The romantic aura surrounding Castro's legendary exploits must be dispelled. The myth of his alleged 'March on Havana' captured the imagination of his deluded sympathizers, must once and for all be debunked. We who lived in Cuba, who witnessed, and to a certain extent participated in the events, have too much respect for the truth to remain silent in the face of such serious misconceptions.
The facts of the 'March on Havana' are the following: Weeks before Batista fled Cuba, when the rebel forces advanced in Las Villas Province without meeting serious resistance from government troops, Fidel Castro, almost immobilized in Oriente province, contacted Colonel Rizo Rubido, military commander of the fortress at Santiago de Cuba, and began negotiations with this officer of the Batista army for the surrender of the city, the capital of Oriente Province.
When the negotiations reached an advanced stage, Colonel Rubido arranged a personal interview between Castro and his superior officer.
The interview took place in an abandoned sugar mill in Oriente Province. With the help of a Catholic Priest, Father Guzman, Fidel Castro and General Cantillo reached full agreement and General Cantillo surrendered Santiago de Cuba and the whole Province of Oriente to Castro. These events were related by Castro himself on television and reported in the first weeks of 1959 in the magazine Bohemia, which reproduced actual photographs of the notes exchanged between Fidel Castro and General Cantillo.
Fulgencio Batista then summoned General Cantillo to Havana and told him of his decision to abdicate and appoint him (General Cantillo) as Commander-in-Chief of the army to maintain order and return the country to normalcy. General Cantillo accepted Batista's offer and immediately contacted Fidel Castro, informing him that he was ready not only to surrender Oriente Province, but the whole country. A few hours later, Batista, together with his entourage, left Havana for Santo Domingo in three military planes. This happened at dawn, January 1st, 1959.
With the flight of Batista, all the armed forces surrendered immediately without firing a single shot. General Cantillo transferred command of his army to Colonel Ramon Barquin who had just been released, after being sentenced to imprisonment for conspiring against the Batista government.
Upon assuming command of the armed forces, Colonel Barquin told Fidel Castro that the army and he personally was at his disposal and under his orders and that he [Barquin] would remain only as long as Castro wants him to or until he was replaced.
Fidel Castro immediately ordered his rebel troops to occupy all installations, barracks and fortresses. In line with these orders, Camilo Cienfuegos with a force of only 300 men, occupied Camp Military City after 12,000 Batista troops, including aviation, artillery and tank units, surrendered without firing a shot. Commander Ernesto Guevara took over the La Cabana Fortress. Castro's brother, Raul, became Provisional Commander of the Marina de Guerra naval station. Faure Chamont was appointed Commander of San Antonio de los Baños air base and of the Presidential Palace. Other appointees filled the other posts.
Fidel Castro finally entered Santiago de Cuba only after the city had been peacefully occupied by his troops, commanded by Huber Matos, the real hero of the armed struggle against Batista. [Major Huber Matos, military commander of Castro troops who blockaded Santiago de Cuba, was the Commander of Oriente and Camaguey rebel forces. Because Matos urged Castro to halt communist penetration of his government he was brought to trial with 38 other officers and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Despite international appeals for his release and the pleas of his family he has not yet been freed. His family lives in New Jersey.]
Castro's activity at this time was intense: He designated Santiago de Cuba as temporary Capital of Cuba; appointed Manuel Urrutia Lleo to be Provisional President of Cuba; ordered a general strike (which collapsed for lack of support;) appointed the list of ministers and appointed Dr. Jose Miro Cardona as Prime Minister; and delivered the first of his interminable harangues to a carefully staged mass rally.
Only then, when all the power was in his hands; when he was hysterically acclaimed all over Cuba; only THEN did Castro stage his massive publicity stunt, the fake 'March On Havana; ' a 350 kilometer parade down the Central Highway, escorted by rebel army troops, tanks and planes etc. Castro could have flown directly to Havana in a few hours at most. But he deliberately arranged this ostentatious, garish display of military power, to fool the world into the belief that he had taken by armed force, a city that voluntarily accorded him a tumultuous welcome.
On January 8, 1959, Fidel Castro entered Havana, without firing a shot, acclaimed by delirious mobs, a military spectacle which had nothing to do with a victorious assault on Havana; a vulgar imitation of Mussolini's 'March on Rome.'
Castro: The Anti-American Imperialist
One of the most controversial issues debated in revolutionary circles is the spurious nature of Castro's 'anti-imperialism.' According to his sympathizers, Castro was provoked into defying the American imperialist government which strove to perpetuate the economic interests of the capitalist monopolists in Cuba and to force the Castro regime to submit to its dictates and policies. . .
We need not produce too many arguments to demonstrate that the question is not quite so simple. There is evidence that while the United States did not seriously block the illegal shipment of arms to Castro's rebel army and anti-Batista resistance groups in Cuba, it slapped an embargo on arms already paid for on the Batista regime Batista bitterly protested this policy. The most widely circulated and influential American capitalist magazines: Time, Life, Coronet, Newsweek, etc. as well as leading capitalist newspapers like The New York Times, glorified Castro and his famous 'barbudos' (bearded ones) depicting them as romantic Robin Hoods, gallantly fighting for the freedom of the Cuban people.
Another widely circulated myth cleverly concocted by the Castro propaganda mill is that the peasants enthusiastically support his 26th of July Movement and 95% of Castro's rebel 'army' were peasants. The fact is, that although Castro's stronghold in the Sierra Maestra was practically encircled by cane fields and sugar factories and there are at least three million peasants in Cuba, Castro's 'army' numbered only 1500 men when the fighting ended with the flight of Batista. Where were the peasant masses? The truth is that the most powerful force upon which Castro depended from the outset was the middle class. Most of the young insurgents came not from the peasantry, but from the middle class. (1)
The Catholic Church also backed Castro, mobilizing thousands of clandestine militants. The Accion Catolica and its affiliated workers and student organizations spearheaded violent anti-Batista action all over Cuba. The press, the radio, and television networks provided free unlimited propaganda, stirring the masses against Batista.
In spite of its anti-Batista sentiments, the Cuban bourgeoisie was nevertheless resolved (with certain modifications) to continue the de facto subordination of Cuba to the overall interests of the United States, the 'Colossus of the North.'
The financiers and the upper clergy, hoped to seize political power by turning the pro-Castro sentiment of the masses to their account. As the first step in this direction, they gave ample aid to the Castro movement.
For all these elements, Castro became the 'Lider Maximo,' the 'Caudillo' of a popular bourgeois revolution. Castro had at that time given them no reason to think otherwise. In 1959, only a few months after his victory, Castro vehemently denied that he was a communist, denying that he was plotting to replace military dictatorship with 'revolutionary dictatorship.' 'capitalism may kill a man with hunger; communism kills man by wiping out his freedom. . . ' (2)
Scarcely a month after the revolution, Castro cautiously began to reveal his true intentions. Unleashing a violent campaign against the United States he manifested his sympathy for Soviet imperialism. Any one criticizing life in the 'socialist' countries was reviled as a 'counter-revolutionist.' Castro's own comrades-in-arms, Manuel Urrutia Lleo, Jose Miro Cardona, Manuel Ray Rivero and Huber Matos who held key positions in his administration were dismissed from office, imprisoned, or driven into exile when they tried in the latter half of 1959 to oppose Castro's pro-communist policies: The mysterious death of Castro's second-in-command, Camilo Cienfuegos, was one of the tragic consequences of this fierce struggle between the top leaders of the new Cuban government. An apparently ideological dispute became in reality a war to the death for the conquest of power.
In exposing Castro's duplicity, we want to make it crystal clear that we do not in any way intend to justify American policies in Cuba, or anywhere in Latin-America. We do not for a moment overlook the age long exploitation of American imperialism and atrocities against the liberty of the peoples of Latin America. For us, who participated actively in the Revolution and know the facts, the incorporation of the Castro regime into the Russian, Chinese and 'third world' imperialist bloc, was due neither to circumstances, nor the U.S. pressure. It was deliberately put into effect in accordance with treacherous Bolshevik tactics.
Fidel Castro is not an anti-imperialist. He is anti-American and pro-Soviet. He carried through a series of maneuvers to justify his total surrender to the Russian-Chinese imperialist camp. (3) To galvanize public opinion into accepting his duplicity, he not only provoked the crisis confrontation with the Washington government, but also renounced that which we libertarians consider most essential: the possibility of forging unbreakable links of solidarity between the oppressed people of Cuba and the other oppressed peoples of Latin America, the only ones who can render unselfish and effective aid to the Cuban Revolution.
The Cuban people now suffer the horrors of a totalitarian 'communist' regime, massively subsidized by the Soviet bloc with arms, technicians, military and police experts etc. But the Cuban people have in a thousand ways demonstrated their unquenchable will to emancipate themselves from the dictatorial regime that exploits and oppresses them.
The old spirit of independence is not yet crushed. They are determined to fight for their complete freedom against both their native exploiters and the dominatiom of their northern neighbor the United States.
Our comrades in Cuba and in exile adhere to and fight for this revolutionary policy, against both the reactionary emigre forces and the politicians in exile who would not hesitate to sell their souls to the devil himself, in order to reconquer the political and economic power they lost in the January 1st Revolution.
How Castro's Clique Rules Cuba
Without taking into account some of the psychological characteristics of the 'Lider Maximo' (as Castro likes to be known) it is impossible to explain how a regime built around the 'cult of the personality' functions.
The messianic obsession which dominates Castro's personality also characterizes his official behavior. Even a brief survey of his political history leads immediately to the conclusion that we are dealing with a super-authoritarian, pathologically conceited individual, taken up with an insatiable lust for personal power.
The way he treats his friends and collaborators convincingly reveals this condition. He goes to extremes in persecuting those who dare question his orders or dissociate themselves from him; he insults collaborators in public; is enraptured to the point of hysteria by public ovations; basks in the adulation and servility of his subordinates. His ideology is, in effect, 'the cult of personality.' He is an unscrupulous political dilettante. If it suits his purposes, he professes any ideology. He affirms in public what he repudiates in private; deliberately falsifies known facts and constantly contradicts himself, affirming today what he denied yesterday and vice versa.
To curry favor with the peasants, Castro catered to their religious prejudices. His own religious education alerted him to the tremendous propaganda value that religious mysticism and ritual exercise over the masses. During the whole of his two-and-a-half year stay in the Sierra Maestra, Castro never once failed to display the conspicuous, colorful crucifix he wore around his neck. During his 'March On Havana' escorted by the 'heroes of the Revolution,' the famous 'Barbudos' (bearded ones) Castro ordered them to display brightly colored medallions and other religious ornaments on their uniforms.
In this and in many other ways, Castro projected a godlike image of himself, as a sort of earthly Messiah. He encouraged the illusion that only HE and his select group of 'disciples' and the 'heroes of the Revolution' have earned the right to wield unlimited power over the people of Cuba.
Once the undisputed right of an elite group to dominate the economic political, social and individual life of a nation has been established, the personnel of the ruling groups is of secondary importance. At the beginning, Castro's legendary 'Twelve Apostles' who disembarked with him from the Granma to begin the guerrilla war against Batista constituted his government. Later, the 'Commandantes of the Sierra' were allowed to join the club. Still later, Castro allowed the leaders of United Party of the Socialist Revolution--a coalition of the 26th of July Movement, the Revolutionary Directorate (mostly students) and the Popular Socialist Party (communist) to join the elite.
Castro purged, jailed, banished and tortured hundreds of his adherents, who had distinguished themselves for bravery in the Revolution, only because they were too independent; he replaced them with former enemies, who, for a few grains of power, recanted and became his fanatical disciples.
The technique employed by this little gang of dictators to dominate the people of Cuba is simple: Castro's junta appoints and discharges the President of the Republic; likewise all the ministers. It enacts or repeals all the laws. It also appoints Provincial Governors and Mayors; determines who shall administer the labor unions; the industrial federation of unions and the armed forces. The junta dictates national and foreign policy without consulting the formal, established government; appoints and discharges 'revolutionary' tribunals and civilian judges; and administers the economy without being accountable to anyone. Further, it convokes 'spontaneous' mass meetings to 'consult' the people about government measures which have already been put into effect. It exercises exclusive and absolute control over all channels of information and communication and intervenes in all matters (including what it knows nothing about).
The top rulers aside from Fidel Castro and his brother Raul, a member of the communist youth organization in 1952, are the late Che' Guevara, fanatical Argentine communist who was with Castro in Mexico; Osvaldo Dortico's Torrado [President of Cuba], a lawyer, in his youth a Communist Party member, later a trusted friend of Batista who rewarded his services with a high post in the municipality of Cienfuegos; Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, former Minister without Portfolio in Batista's first 'constitutional' government, a former editor of the Communist Party daily Hoy; Blas Roca, another corrupt Stalinist bureaucrat and personal friend of Batista in whose cabinet he was also Minister without Portfolio; the late Lazaro Pena Peña, boss of the CTC (government controlled labor organization) under Batista and at his death occupied the same post under Castro; Raul Roa, who to win favor with Castro, became a Communist Party hack after 30 years as a virulent anti-communist; Juan Marinello, head of the Communist Party under Batista with whom he shared the electoral slate when he ran for mayor of Havana in 1940; and Armando Hart Davalos, a lawyer and faithful Castro sycophant. [At this writing almost all of them are high officials in Castro's government.]
The absolute monopoly of power exercised by this little group can logically be called a 'revolutionary oligarchy.' All the functions of government, traditionally divided into legislative, judicial, and executive branches are now concentrated in this little group. They intervene in everything. In a workers' assembly they connive to dismiss officials elected by the membership, as they also do in meetings of students, where they dictate the curriculum.
Nothing escapes their control. Everything and everybody is subject to their orders. The political parties who make up the coalition United Party of the Socialist Revolution are orientated and directed by them. The simple rank-and-file members are not given the least opportunity to question their arbitrary decisions. [All reliable reports substantiate these facts--if anything, the situation is even worse, since the dissolution of the coalition, Cuba is now OFFICIALLY a one-party dictatorship, and the party is in turn subjected to the personal dictatorship of Fidel Castro.]
Cuban Labor In A Straitjacket
The Cuban labor movement was absolutely independent of governments and political parties from its foundation by the anarchosyndicalists in the 1880s, the last days of Spanish domination, until 1938, when the communists in alliance with the Batista Government, subordinated action of the working class to the interests of the Party and the State. With the creation of the only government sponsored union, The Cuban Confederation of Labor (CTC), the unions lost their autonomy and became totally dominated by the communist labor bureaucracy and the Batista Ministry of Labor. [Before the Revolution, the CTC consisted of 1,200,000 members organized into 33 industrial federations and 2,490 local unions.]
In spite of repression, in spite of the fact that strikes were forbidden by law, the workers, to a certain extent, still influenced by the anarchosyndicalist traditions of the Cuban labor movement, refused to renounce their independence as a class, and fought back with strikes and other direct action tactics, many times against the will of the leaders of their union, the CTC. In the course of years of bitter struggles, the workers defended their organizations and wrested from their employers greatly improved conditions and many other substantial gains.
With the fall of Batista, the working class expected that the injustices would be corrected and the obstacles to a free and beneficial development of the labor movement would be swept away by the triumphant revolution. But this was only 'the dream of a summer night.' The reality was, that the new regime also prohibited strikes, and urged the workers to wait patiently until the governtnent would study their demands and decide whether to grant them or not. Raul Castro tried to convince the workers that 'the best union is the State -- the workers don't need unions when they have a friendly government, THEIR government, to protect them.'
This attitude was endorsed by the new labor leaders who after the Castro Revolution had been placed in control of the labor movement. The workers were told that in order to 'defend the revolution,' they must cease demanding better conditions and wages will be frozen. While the new government subordinated the needs of the workers to the plans of the governmetn, the unions were denied the right to play their rightful part in the revolutionary transformation. Instead of allowing the labor organizations to administer the expropriated industries. which would have been correct and constructive, the Castro government, without consulting the workers, appointed state administrators. In most cases these administrators knew little or nothing about the industry and were absolutely incapable of managing them efficiently.
The 10th Congress of CTC, which took place in November, 1959, was marked by a bitter battle between the workers who had openly and freely elected their representatives who were anti-communists. But the dictators, especially Fidel and Raul Castro, insisted on placing the unions under the control of the old-line Communist Party fakers. The workers were forced to accept hand-picked communists or communist sympathizers who control the CTC (1). This signifies that the interests of the labor movement are subordinated to the interests of the new totalitarian state and the elimination by foul means of the militant unionists who refused to accept dictatorship. Cuban labor is imprisoned in a straitjacket (2).
The communist officials are determined to liquidate all the conquests gained by the workers in 80 years of struggle. Among the list of benefits and rights eliminated by the eleventh Congress of the CTCR (the word 'Revolutionary' was added to the original name) were the right to strike, job security, sick leave, 30 days paid vacations, four paid holidays, the 44 hour work week with 48 hours pay, overtime at time-and-a-half, double or triple rate, the summer work-schedules under which employees in commercial establishments and office personnel are entitled to two paid afternoons off during the hot months of June, July and August -- and many other improvements.
The workers are being constantly pressured into making 'voluntary' sacrifices to finance the experiments of the government:(3) The offices of the unions have been converted into recruiting centers for Militiamen and workers are threatened with the loss of their jobs if they don't join the militias. The labor officials also help to form Committees of Vigilance for Defense of the Revolution, who spy on the workers on the job, reporting what they say and do to the police. The reaction of almost all the workers to these provocations, is passive resistance: non-cooperation, absence from work, absence from all meetings called by the Castro-communist bosses, etc., etc. It can be affirmed without fear of contradiction, that 80% of all the Cuban workers are against Castro.
In June 1960, the anarchists reiterated their conviction that the workers themselves, through their own union organizations, should undertake the revolutionary control and administration of all expropriated indusstries and enterprises, for the simple reason that no one can possibly be better or equally fitted, by reason of know-how and experience, to operate and administer the industries than those who work in them. This proposal, favorably received by the organized workers, was, of course, rejected by the 'new class' who today exploit the people.
Baptizing Dictatorship: 'Direct Democracy'
A revolutioriary minority seeking to govern without the explicit endorsement of the people or the confidence of the revolutionary organizations whose militants fought to overthrow the old regime and make the Revolution, cannot consolidate its dictatorship if it does not 'legitimate' its right to govern. Castro tried to justify his abuse of power by camouflaging his dictatorship as a genuine people's democracy. For these reasons he organized frequent brainwashing sessions. The sole purpose of these gigantic demonstrations was the projection of his personal power as the symbol, the perfect deification and incarnation of the popular will.
To stay in power Castro desperately sought the support of both the liberal democratic and revolutionary masses. He adopted the classical techniques used by all totalitarians from Caesar to Franco, including the manufacture of mass support by staging delirious massive demonstrations spurred on by his fanatical followers.
The man destined to baptize Castro's dictatorship was the existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre. On one of his 'impartial' fact finding visits at the invitation of the 'Revolutionary Government,' Sartre, inspired by his reception, struck just the right note. Castro's dictatorship was defined as a 'direct and concrete democracy.' Sartre explained: ' the revolutionary rulers converse directly with the people, thus establishing a direct and permanent bond between the will of the great majority of the people and the government minority '
It is a fact, well-known in Cuba, that by the middle of 1959--only six months after the revolution began--more and more people were beginning to realize they had gotten rid of one bloddy dictatorship only to fall into another brutal dictatorship. The honeymoon between the Cuban people and the 'revolution' proclaimed by Castro was over. And the rulers, to hide this fact, began to imitate the same procedures prevailing in the other totalitarian regimes. To insure an audience of half a million people, that he could not otherwise get, Castro resorts to the following draconic methods:
a) suspend economic activities throughout Cuba.
b) close all public entertainment; movies, theaters, cafes, etcetera.
c) command all radio and television stations to suspend all regular programs, and broadcast only publicity for the meeting.
d) suspend all public transpotation leaving the city for places outside of Havana.
e) all available transport mobilized to bring people to the rally.
f) order all employees, workers, peasants, university professors and students to report to a designated official who will assign each one to the rallying point from which they will proceed to the meeting.
g) 30 days before the meeting all propaganda organs must, 24 hours a day, urge the people to attend the meeting.
And Castro boasts: 'The people, the real revolutiotiary people, are here uith us, helping by their spontaneous presence and determination to fight for the revolutionary government; this is genuine, real democracy, a direct and permanent, concrete democracy'!
The Militarization ot Cuba
The Cuban people have always been allergic to uniforms. At every opportunity, they have persistently violated rules of dress prescribed by employers of certain enterprises. For years bus drivers fought obligatoty wearing of uniforms during working hours. In other industries, employees refused to wear work clothes if the garments advertised the company or its products. The average Cuban considered the wearilig of uniforms degrading.
One of the strongest reasons for the popular opposition to Batista's regime was the instinctive aversion of Cubans to its overweaning militarism and its vulgar display of martial finery and pomp. With the triumph of the Revolution, the masses expected a return to civilian rule, and the dismantling of the military apparatus. It seemed at first that this was being done. The rebel troops, in plain unobtrusive olive-green uniforms, numbered less than 2,000, while Batista's troops had exceeded 40,000. In his famous speech delivered on the triumphal arrival in Havana, Castro pledged an end to militarism: 'Arms? What for? .. The military barracks will be converted into schools.'
Castro's acts belied his words. A few weeks later, the Cuban capital was swamped with thousands of young soldiers hastily mobilized into the new military and police forces by the 'revolutionary' government. Almost all important posts in the new government were filled by officers of the Rebel Army. Many provincial executive committees of labor unions and industry-wide federations were militarized, and committee people ostentatiously displayed their uniforms and insignia of rank. All government delegates of expropriated landed estates and factories were members of the Rebel Army. When Fidel Castro appointed himself Chief of the Revolutionary Government, ('maximum leader') he gradually eliminated nearly all civilian ministers, replacing them with high-ranking officers of his army, mainly the Commandantes de la Sierra. All key government posts were filled by military people loyal to Castro. Castro himself intertwined his political and military functions so that it was almost impossible to differentiate one from the other.
Popular reaction against the new militarism made itself felt very quickly through practical jokes, sarcastic cartoons, etc., exposing the contradiction between what Castro had said while fighting Batista, and the military arrogance of the new government. Castro's second-in-command Commandante Camillo Cienfuegos, in defense of his chief, appealed to the famous slogan 'the people in arms.' The slogan was widely circulated in a vain attempt to justify the hated militarism of the new regime. Castro, who had promised to convert barracks into schools, was actually converting Cuba itself into one vast military camp.
The pace of militarization, which at first was justified on the pretext that the government must be ruled by 'tested revolutionaries,' such as the veteran 'combattants of the Sierras,' was accelerated by the threat of counter-revolutionary invasion from the U.S. This threat, though real enough, was nevertheless exaggerated beyond all possible limits. It served no useful military purposes but it did expedite domestic totalitarian regimentation.
The 'revolutionary' government militarized the lives of men, women, adolescents, and even children. The regime created the National Revolutionary Militias, the Association of Pioneer Rebels, the Mariana Grajales Women's Batallions, the Conrado Benitez Brigades, etc., etc.--all of them decked out in colorful uniforms, similar in design to those worn in the 'socialist' nations. The uniform craze was so great that the then-chief officials of the C.T.C. ordered all union officials to wear uniforms. Day and night, the streets of Cuba's cities, towns and villages resounded to the tramp of marching military trainees, to the incessant yells of drill-masters: ONE, TWO! ONE, TWO! ONE, TWO!
The anarchists watched the military policies of the government with growing apprehension. We understood perfectly the dangers threatening the Revolution, but we could not permit ourselves to be fooled by the bombastic phraseology of the new rulers. We are also convinced that to train revolutionary forces it is not necessary to resort to harsh disciplinary measures. In our Declaration of Principles (Havana, June 1960) we stated that, 'We are unalterably opposed to the militarization of the young, the creation of professional armies and military groups for adolescents and children. Fewer soldiers and more teachers; fewer arms and more plows; tewer cannons and more bread for all.'
Our anti-militarist declaration was denounced as 'counter-revolutionary, reactionary, and an insult to the 'glory of the Red Army.' The Secretary-General of the P.S.P. (Communist Party), Blas Roca, accused us of sabotaging the 'defence of the Revolution.' In a letter to Blas Roca, we refuted his base accusations and slander:
. . . libertarians maintain that the Rebel Army must not be converted into a professional army, that the militias should not become instruments for brainwashing, creating a militaristic mentality in the workers and peasants, and that it is neither necessary nor desirable that youth patrols and work brigades should transform children and adolescents into soldiers.
The Secretary-General of the P.S.P. Communist Party confounds mere technical information on the use of arms and mere training in strategy with the professional militarization of the young: he confuses youth patrols and revolutionary 'voluntary' work brigades with the military indoctrination of women and children. . . Blas Roca's authoritarian mentality violently rejects the ideas that a revolutionary army can possibly function without commanders and barrack discipline; that the Revolution can be successfully defended by soldiers who are not professional militarists; by soldiers who fight gallantly because they are motivated by their revolutionary convictions; an army without bemedaled generals and marshals.
When Blas Roca hears thc expression 'army,' he automatically envisions the gigantic parades in Moscow's Red Square, in brilliant uniforms adorned with gold epaulets, gilded helmets. varnished chin straps and shiny spurs.
Naturally, as in all totalitarian regimes, our reply was not published. The censored press and governmental control of all commercial printers prevented the libertarian voice from being heard. The regime continues its breakneck militarization of Cuba.
In the first months of the Revolution, the military forces numbered half a million. This does not mean that the Cuban people voluntarily agreed to serve the Castro dictatorship. At least 80% of those in the army were forced to join by threats ranging from outright violence to loss of jobs if they did not 'volunteer.' [Although Iglesias wrote before enactment of compulsory military service for all men between the ages of 17 and 45, he accurately detected the drift toward conscription.]
In contrast to the obscurantism imposed by Spain during centuries of despotism, Cuba's public education system [during the first 25 years of the Republic] provided for every child--with exemplary vigor and dedication--an ample, well-rounded, progressive education, free from all political and religious domination. To provide 300,000 children with free quality education--including food and clothing for poor children--in a country which, at that time, numbered only 1,500,000 people, was indeed a stupendous achievement.
During the Machado dictatorship [1925-33] both the quality and availability of public education declined. This was due to the dependence of jobs on political connections, the poorly trained teachers, crowded, unhealthy school buildings, the scarcity of educational equipment, and the location of school buildings far from poor neighborhoods most in need of good schools. Eventually, widespread and monumental administrative corruption, and other failures of the state, as well as rapid population growth, brought about the collapse of public education. This led to a proliferation of all kinds of parochial schools--Masonic, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, etc.
Castro's much vaunted anti-illiteracy campaign was used to glorify his regime and to indoctrinate children, teenagers and adults with adoration of the state and the 'cult of personality' a la Stalin.
The system was designated to militarize the mentality of children. For example, in teaching the alphabet, the letter 'F' was introduced with 'el Fusil (the gun) de Fidel Fue (was) a la Sierra.' The letter 'R' was treated thus: 'Raul el faRo' (Raul Castro, beacon, bearer of light). 'CH' was the pretext for constructing the following phrase: 'Los MuCHaCHos y muCHaCHas quieren muCHo al CHe' [The boys and girls like Che Guevara very much]. Similar techniques have been used in teaching other subjects. Thus, in geography, photographs of Castro and his companions were placed on maps to indicate the Sierra Maestra.
History was, and is, taught from the Marxist point of view. Before the establishment of the 'Revolutionary government,' Cuban parents had something to say about the kind of education their children got. Now they must accept the curriculum imposed by the state without protest. Anyone venturing even the slightest disagreement is immediately denounced as a 'counter-revolutionaty agent of imperialism' and treated accordingly.
Teachers are obliged to faithfully follow the official curriculum, methods, and policies meticulously worked out by the 'orientators,' whose indoctrination sessions they must attend. To further insure enforcement of the rules, every educational center is under the constant surveillance of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, which in this case serves as a sort of academic police, made up of teacher and student stool-pigeons, Who faithfully obey the orders of the government.
The technical schools, the secondary schools, trade and professional schools, and the universities are subjected to the same procedures. Autonomy of the university--won after years of struggle and immense sacrifice, and of which Cuban students were justly proud--has been totally destroyed. The University of Havana is ruled by the arbitrarily imposed Junta de Gobierno [Administrative Council], whose membership can be revoked each year in order to guarantee the 'revolutionary fidelity of the faculty.'
The fake 'university reform' was put into effect by intimidation and violence. The old Stalinist and Batistiano sycophants, Juan Marinello and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, fill the most important posts in the University with their hand-picked appointees. The Federacion Estudantil Universitaria [F.E.U.--Federation of University Students] that fought so valiantly for freedom and autonomy against all oppressive governments has lost its liberty. The students no longer have the right to elect their own officers. From his office in the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Raul Castro dictates who shall be the president of the student organization--in flagrant violation of all the rules and regulations of the F.E.U. [For details see 'How the Communists Took Over the University of Havana,' below.]
An emphasis on the monstrous intervention of the state in all academic activities may appear exaggerated to readers not acquainted with the bitter reality of the Cuban tragedy; but it is a truly serious situation. It is most distressing for a man like myself, nearly 50 years of age, to be led around by a boy of 12, uniformed and shouldering a small size rifle of Czechoslovakian make. It is shocking to see boys barely 15 years of age standing guard, guns in hand, in front of public buildings. It is disgraceful to contemplate teenagers parading through streets and along highways all over Cuba, marching in step and singing martial hymns full of hate and venom
The Propaganda Machine
The following was included in the Report of the Libertarian Association of Cuba (A.L.C.) for September 12, 1960:
At present, Communist Party people hold key posts in the government propaganda machine, which they run with the technical help of native and foreign-born Communist experts. Through the 'cultural' departments created in every government ministry, in the armed forces, etc., they organize courses in so-called 'revolutionary doctrine,' which are actually Marxist indoctrination courses. For example, the 'cultural' chief of the military camp of La Cabana [one of the most important in Cuba] is Ramon Nicalau, who for years was financial secretary of the Communist Party. Among the lecturers with him on this project are Juan Marinello, President of the Communist Party, and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, Editor of the Communist newspaper Hoy [Today], organ of the Party. [its well-equipped printing plant was donated to the Party by the Castro government after confiscation from the Batista newspaper Alerta]
The Cinematic Institute is the statist agency directing and controlling the movie industry. It is managed by Dr. Alfredo Guevara, another Communist Party member. Through the Film Review Board, he decides what films are acceptable for exhibition in the country. The People's Consultation Library of the National Capital is another agency which spreads only Castro Communist propaganda. All these projects are financed by the government.
The organization of Youth Patrols has been undertaken by the national police. It recruits children from the age of 7 years. They receive military trainitlg under the guise of 'revolutionary indoctrination.'
Official Declaration of Educational Policies
. . .we must orientate education according to Marxism-Leninism. Marx's CAPITAL must should be studied in all primary grades. . . the teachings of Marxism-Leninism in the universities is obligatory. . . (Armando Hart; Minister of Education, July 11, 1963)
The Union of Young Communists and the Federation of University Students must see to it that the curriculum follows thc orientation of Fidel Castro(Ex-President of the Federation of University Students, Jaime Crombat, speech in the University of Havana, May 26, 1965)
the creation of the Communist Party cells will facilitate the campaign of the University to eliminate counter-revolutionists and homosexuals (Blas Roca, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, speech in the University of Havana, June 14, 1965 -- Source for all above quotes -- Este y Oeste; June 15, 1966, Caracas)
This is the title of a revealing first hand report by Andres Valdespino which appeared in the April 1, 1962 issue of Cuba Nueva, part of which we translate below. Valdespino was an active fighter in the anti-Batista movement. In the first months of the Castro government he served as the Under-Secretary of Finance, and later, Professor of Criminal Law in the University of Havana. He resigned from the faculty in protest of the destruction of the University as an independent center of learning, and against the regime's disrespect for human rights. [S.D.]
Autonomy and Totalitarianism
An autonomous university not subjected to the political interests of the state, is necessarily incompatible with the conception of a totalitarian society--a society in which nothing is allowed to exist outside thc control and domination of the state. . .autonomy of education is a genuine revolutionary conquest, and no revolution worthy of the name has the right to limit or abrogate this constitutional right granted in the Magna Carta of the Republic.
In its plans for the conquest of the University, and in order not to arouse strong mass resistance and student revolt, the Castro-communist regime decided to proceed gradually, in three stages: first, by taking administrative control of the student organization; second, by militarizing the University; and third, by replacing the legitimate governing bodies of the University with state controlled bodies.
Control of Student Adminitration
To carry out the first stage, it was necessary to find a suitable puppet as candidate for President of the Federation of University Students (F.E.U.). The candidate selected, Rolando Cubela, was a Commandante of the Rebel Army who enjoyed the absolute confidence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Raul Castro. [Cubela had heen an early leader of the Student Revolutionary Directorate and fought with the Directorate on the Escambray Front. He was famous for having killed Batista's chief of military police in the busiest intersection of Havana.]
Cubela's opponent, Pedro Boitel, was very popular with -- and favored by -- the students, who feared an installation of an army officer as President of the F.E.U. would lead to the militarization of their organization.
The authorities could not risk the defeat of their candidate. On the day before the F.E.U. elections, Castro himself came to the University and addressed the students. So as no to antagonize them, he feigned impartiality and did not directly urge them to vote for Cubela, but subtly prepared the ground for the victory of his candidate by urging revision of the old electoral system: 'Do away with party factional rivalries and agree on the unanimous proclamation of a single candidate.' But this time the 'Maximum Leader' encountered open opposition. The students, true to their traditions of democratic procedures and academic independence, rejected Castro's proposal. The decisiolt of the students was 'THERE WILL BE ELECTIONS.'
But a few hours before the voting was to take place, Boitel suddenly withdrew his candidacy. The reason was not hard to find. He was forced to step aside. The confusion created by his withdrawal and above all, the fact that Cubela was the only candidate, automatically guaranteed his election. With Cubela as President, the capture of the FEU seemed certain. [Some months later, Boitel, falsely sentenced to 42 years imprisonment as a 'counter-revolutionist' in the dreaded Castillo de Principio Penitentiary, died after a prolonged hunger strike. Castro also got rid of Rolando Cubela some time later. On March 10, 1966, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for plotting the assassiliation of Castro]
Militarizing the Universities
The 'election' of Cubela was followed by the creation of the University Student Militias. The government mobilized its propaganda apparatus to convince the students that it was their 'heroic mission' to wear the 'uniform of a militia member.' But the students were not easily fooled. Out of more than 20,000 students, only 300 voluntarily joined the newly organized University Student Militia.
But, what was lacking in numbers was made up for by military fanfare. Day and night, little bands of students in uniform strutted through the University grounds, carrying pistols, rifles and machine guns. The stentorian shouts of the officers echoed with provocative insolence all over the campus, desecrating the academic community dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and the preservation of culture. The military boot returned to profane the terrain of culture. But this time, more than before, not only did the barrack invade the University the University itself was converted into a barrack!
Neither the fraudulent election of Cubela as President of the F.E.U., nor the militarization of the University [via the organization of the militia], sufficed to stem student rebellion. In February, 1960, the Russian leader Anastas Mikoyan, on his visit to Havana, placed a ceremonial wreath on the statue of the revered 'apostle' of Cuban independence, Jose Marti, in Havana's Central Park [as is the custom for foreign dignitaries]. Outraged that the representative of a tyranical, totalitarian government should be invited to insult the memory of Marti, a group of students dramatized their indignation by placing their own wreath on Marti's statue. [They carried signs reading 'Viva Fidel! Down with Communism!']
The students were immediately arrested and branded 'counter-revolutionary agents of yankee imperialism.' [Among those arrested were Juan Muller, a leader of the fighting in Las Villas Province during the Revolution, and his brother, Alberto Muller, Secretary of the Havana University Student Federation. See the first-hand account of Ruby Hart Philips in her book, The Cuban Dilemma; New York, 1962, p. 153].
The incident became the pretext for a ferocious offensive by the Communist minority in the University against those who manifested their opposition to the Castro regime. The slogan coined by the former leader of the Communist Party, Juan Marinello, Rector of the University of Havana, 'To be against Communists is to be a counter-revolutionary,' became the battle cry of a tiny group who publicly burned student publications critical of the Communists.
And it was the Communist, Marinello, a Minister under Batista, who declared that there is no need for autonomy under a 'revolutionary regime,' where the 'people are the government.'
When I was Under-Secretary of Finance, I wrote an article refuting Marinello's argument, which was published in the magazine Bohemia. Marinello replied in the [then] official organ of the Party, Hoy, with insults, libeling me as a 'counter-revolutionary in the pay of imperialism,' and 'an agent of the reaction infiltrating the ranks of the revolutionary government.'
Marinello's blast set of an intensified government sponsored campaign to discredit the opposition and capture the university. The University Student and Faculty Council fought back. But this only intensified the attacks not only against the autonomy of the university but also against the faculty, accusing it of sabotaging plans for university reform.
The accusation was false and unjust. After months of painstaking effort the joint Faculty and Student Commission worked out a comprehensive Reform Project which was overwhelmingly and democratically approved by the students and faculty of the whole University.
In April 1960, a joint meeting of the communist dominated chapters of the universities of Havana, Oriente and Las Villas proposed that the delegates from the three universities, the Minister of Education and the INRA (National Institute for Agrarian Reform) should jointly rule and dictate the policy of the university. This plot to capture the university was decisively rejected by the students and faculties of the three universities.
The pretext for the takeover of the university came when a few Castroite students, without consulting anyone, expelled two engineering professors on the false, now familiar charge that they were 'counter-revolutionists.' Again, without consultation the expelled professors were replaced by two non-teachers; Che Guevera's brother-in-law and an active communist. The professors protested this outrage by going on strike. The communist dominated FEU (Federation of University Students) then occupied several university bulidings, and the government legalized the seizure. Recalcitrant faculty and students were purged and the freely elected administration was usurped by appointed 'Revolutionary Juntas' faithful servants of the state.
The junta assumed dictatorial powers and commanded all the teachers to obey their decrees. More than 80% of the professors who refused were expelled and replaced by docile sycophants, strict followers of the 'party line' This spelled the end of the university as an independent entity. It turned out to be the prelimitiary step toward the invasion of the University by hordes of Castro-communists.
Roy Finch resigned from the editorial board of the libertarian-pacifist magazine Liberation because he disagreed fundamentally with its pro-Castro policy. While the editors insisted that the Cuban Revolution was taking a libertarian direction, Finch maintained, on the contrary, that Cuba was fast becoming a totalitarian state. In the ensuing debate, Finch supported his position by arranging an interview with Cuban anarchist exiles, lately arriving in New York. We extract the following excerpts from Liberation, March, 1961. [S.D.]
the interview took place in the present New York home of Jesus Dieguez, in Batista's day, head of the Revolutionary Insurrectional Union, an old-revolutionary group which worked with Castro and with which Castro was once affiliated. Mr. Dieguez is obviously a man of great courage. He threw himself whole-heartedly into the revolutionary struggle against Batista as far back as 1940. He showed me newspaper stories about the Revolutionary Insurrectional Union and newspaper clippings with photgraphs of himself standing beside Castro in the pre-revolutionary training days in Mexico. All members of the group I met were life-long foes of dictators, and all of them were in the underground fight against Batista
Most of the following interview was conducted with Jesus Dieguez and his son Floreal Dieguez. Other members of the group broke in occasionally, and it was clear that they were in substantial agreement with what was said
Q. What is the point of view of the Cuban Libertarians about the Revolution?
A. From the outset the Libertarians supported many of the things that were done: the expropriation of private property, land and factories and taking over industries. They opposed the government's becoming the new landlord, the new capitalist. In June, 1960, A Statement of Principles of the Libertarian Syndicalist Group was issued [see below].
Q. How many libertarians left Cuba?
A. Between 20 and 30.
Q. Would it have been dangerous for you to stay in Cuba?
A. We would probably be in jail by now.
Q. What is the situation in the Cuban labor movement now?
A. All the national and provincial unions have been taken over by the communists.
Q. What happened to the libertarians in the unions?
A. The libertarians were particularly strong in the Food Workers union. When the communists came to power, they expelled the libertarians not only from the leadership, but from the union itself the union is 100% communist controlled now.
Q. What has been the public reaction to the communists taking over the unions?
A. There has been considerable reaction of workers against the Stalinists and against the government. Many union meetings have ended in riots. Workers have demonstrated in the streets. Three men, all of whom fought against Batista, have received thirty-year jail terms for signing a declaration against the communist domination of the unions. They are Lauro Blanco, a leader of the Transport Workers Union; Salvador Estavalora, a Castro military man; and Mario Paierno, who had been very active in the anti-Batista underground. Padierno had been picked up and then turned loose Then the secret police returned and took him away. They told him that he had been sentenced 'in absentia.' (Mr. Dieguez said that he had been picked up at the same time, but was released, apparently upon personal intervention of Castro himself, probably for 'old times sake.')
Q. On the question of civil liberties -- is there a secret police now in Cuba?
A. No one knows. We believe that they have a thousand people working for them in Havana. They have informants in factories, unions and schools.
Q. How does the secret police function?
A. The head is a man named Ramiro Valdes, a Communist Party member. There are two divisions under him: D.I.E.R. (Army Intelligence) and D.I.R. (Civil Intelligence.) The D.I.E.R. is run by Raul Diaz Argelles, a mand names Lavandiera, a French communist who was the right hand man of the communist Arbenz in Guatemala. The head of the D.I.R. is Angel Valdes -- also a Communist Party man -- no relation to Ramiro Valdes. But the man who really runs the whole thing is a Russian agent called Fabio Crobat. He is the Communist Party's over-all control man in Cuba. He has been in an out of Cuba for thirty years now. He is never mentioned in the press. No one ever sees a photgraph of him
Q. Who are some of the democratic oppositionists (anti-Batista, anti-communists) in Castro Cuba who have been shot?
A. Plineo Orieto, one of Fidel Castro's commanders, was shot. They said he was organizing an insurrectionary plot, but there was no proof. Porfirio Ramirez, President of the Student Federation of Santa Clara was shot because they (secret police) said he was organizing an opposition. Again there was no real proof. Gerardo Fundora, a labor leader in Mantanzas, was shot.
Q. You mentioned the communists in the labor unions and the secret police. Just how important are the communists over-all in Cuba today?
A. They control education, the army, the secret police, the trade unions, the press and mass media, the agrarian reform and the tourist inrdustry
Q. What about Castro himself?
A. Fidel came to a coincidence of interests with the communists from about 1956. When I was in Mexico with Fidel in the training camp of the 26th of July Movement there was always more communist literature than any other kind. Now Castro is working completely with the Communists [Further questions about the communist orientation of the Cuban regime, as well as education, censorship, political prisoners, the army and militarization etc., are here omitted as they are discussed in much greater detail throughout the text.]
Roy Finch sums up the lessons that could not be learned from the experience of the Cuban Revolution:
Though the connivance of the American blindness and Cuban Communism, the Cuban Revolution has all but been stolen from the Cuban people [and quotes Albert Camus] ' None of the evils which totalitarianism claims to remedy is worse than totalitarianism itself '
The following reports were sent from Cuba by anarchist militants active in the anti-Castro underground resislance movement who also fought against Batista. [S.D.]
Those who organized the April 1961 invasion of Cuba misunderstood the reality of the Cuban situation. The failure of the invasion points up the need for a thorough re-evaluation of the means for the liberation of Cuba. For the moment we shall try to describe the situation.
The invasion caught us by surprise. There was a total lack of information and the underground were not consulted or notified. The government immediately proceeded to detain anyone suspected of being opponents of the regime. Only those able to go into hiding escaped arrest. There is no way of knowing how many were seized but we believe that in Havana alone there were over 40,000. There must have been at least half a million nationally In one of the phony 'cooperatives' 800 workers were hauled in. Detention centers in Havana and in the provinces were surrounded by machine-gun troops. And the prisoners were warned that at the first sign of trouble they would immediately be shot down. Nevertheless in many places the prisoners attempted jailbreaks. In one case--the Palace of Sports--prisoners were machine gunned and a number were killed and wounded. Prisoners in the Castillo del Principe Fortress were so sadistically tortured that many became seriously ill and some had to be placed in insane asylums. . .
it was the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution CDR who conducted most of the house by house raids. No one can escape their vigilance. These block and neighborhood stoolpigeons are a permanent danger
a people that has sent such a huge proportion of its sons, daughters, and friends into exile because they cannot tolerate the regime; a people in armed opposition to the dictatorstlip with over half a million imprisoned for opposing the dictatorship are decisively rejecting the tyrannical social regime which they are being forced to endure. A detested regime maintains itself in power through terror supported by the armaments and military technicians of foreign imperialist powers. Rather than submit to such domination the people will, if necessary, die fighting to overthrow the totalitarian usurpers of the Revolution
LIBERTY OR DEATH!
'Antonio'. Cuba May 13, 1961.
(source: Bulletin of the Cuban Libertarian Movement in Exile (MCLE), Miami, May-June, 1964.)
on the accusation of any stoolpigeon anyone can be imprisoned, even shot, without being given the least opportunity to defend himself or engage counsel. We know of many cases where persons detained were later murdered on the pretext that they were killed while fighting against government forces
On July 31, 1962, inmates of Principe prison hung up a poster, 'We Are Hungry!' in a corridor. The guards retaliated by opening fire on the protesters, killing some and wounding many. Some of the inmates were placed in solitary confinement, without sun, in damp cells which seriously affected their health
In the Cabana Fortress--an ancient Spanish colonial prison--protesting prisoners were stripped naked and exposed to the tropical heat others were locked up for months in gloomy dungeons
'Antonio'. Cuba, August 5, 1962
(source, ibid. August-September, 1962)
In addition to scarcity of food and other necessities the people are subjected to arrests and house searches at any hour of the day or night, the CDR are now invested with police powers. Shootings grow more numerous each day. In the night people are herded into concentration camps recently more than a thousand from the little town of Paguay Grands were herded into the public square, converted into a concentration camp, seventy were shot
Antonio. Cuba, March 18, 1963.
(source ibid., March-April, 1963)
Salvador Garcia, a veteran Spanish anarcho-syndicalist militant fought the Franco-fascists on the Aragon front from the beginning of the Civil War in 1936, until the fall of the Republic in 1939, when his column was interned in a French Concentration camp. During World War II, Garcia fought in the underground resistance against the Nazi occupation army in France. Later he and his family emigrated to Cuba where he was active in the libertarian movement and was for years Secretary of the C.N.T. Spanish refugee organization.
When the sadistic persecution of revolutionaries, by Castro's totalitarian regime, made life unbearable, Garcia found refuge in Mexico. The following excerpts from an interview given a few days after Garcia's arrival in Mexico (Summer, 1963) depicts the emotional upheavals endured by revolutionaries forced into exile. [S.D.]
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans are risking their lives, trying desperately to leave Cuba. Embassies are swamped with individuals and families seeking refuge in foreign lands. Streets are cordoned off, heavily armed troops guard the docks, ready to open fire on the hordes of desperate Cubans frantically trying to board the first American ships, returning to the U.S. after unloading medical and other supplies to ransom prisoners taken during the aborted American invasion.
Havana International Airport is crowded with high-level bureaucrats (provided with ample funds) traveling to the 'socialist' and many other countries. The most expensive restaurants and luxurious accommodations are reserved for the thousands of military 'advisors,' technicians, specialists and visitors from Russia, China, and other 'third world socialist countries.' They shop in special stores, with unrestricted access to the rarest liquors, the finest clothes and luxury products. All this, while the ordinary Cuban is forced to subsist on meager rations of coffee, rice, plantains, poultry, meat, fruits and vegetables abundantly available before Castro. Even the communists cannot deny that the Cuban standard of living was among the highest in Latin America.
It is not easy to convey the haunting feeling of despair, frustration and fear that pervades every aspect of Cuban life. . . the daily provocations, the incessant brutalities of the 'revolutionary' tyrants poisons the atmosphere. One can hardly breathe. I have fought for freedom and socialism all my life. One still hopes: perhaps some miracle will yet rescue the Revolution from its usurpers? Perhaps Revolutionaries will smash the state? Perhaps Fidel Castro will change? Perhaps. . . ? All in vain. The walls are closing in
. . . I still hope for the eventual freedom of Cuba. But there are times when I am beset by doubts and fears. I realize how difficult, if not impossible, it is, for a people all alone to extricate themselves from the totalitarian clutches without powerful help from the outside
(Reconstruir; anarchist bi-monthly, Buenos Aires. January-February, 1964.)
Strangling the Opposition Press
To explain why the anarchists were forced to break with Castro it is first necessary to depict the cruel, unbearable harassments which made it impossible for any of the opposition groupings to function. The situation is graphically sketched out by a consciencious eyewitness report in the following extract: (Yves Guilbert; Castro l'Infidele, Paris, 1961, pp. 174-180) [S.D.]
[Fidel Castro said on television, April 2, 1959] 'When one newspaper is closed down, no newspaper will feel safe; when one man is persecuted because of his political ideas, no one can feel safe.' Officially there is still freedom of the press in Cuba. There is no law limiting the right of expression. However, Castro's dictatorship could not tolerate the existence of a press not entirely devoted to him
Shortly after the beginning of the [January 1, 1959] Revolution, Castro requisitioned the newspapers Alerta, Pueblo, Atajo, El Comercio de Cienfuegos, El Diario de Cuba of Santiago, and also closed down the journal El Camagueyano, founded in 1902 Although Castro pretends that the press is not being shackled, there is a great deal of unofficial, but no less harmful, harassment and sabotage . . .
To create a subservient press, Castro subsidized Revolucion [former organ of the July 26 Movement], Combate, Diario Libre, La Calle of Havana, Sierra Maestra, etc. Journals that he could not, for the 119 moment, entirely suppress were neutralized by an ingenious system of camouflaged censorship. The newspaper workers' union tried to nullify the impact of articles that did not strictly echo Castro's party line by printing a coletilla a sort of disclaimer warning the reader that the article is 'counter-revolutionary.' It usually reads, 'By virtue of the freedom of expression which exists in this country, this article has been printed according to the will of the owners of this publication. But, by virtue of this same freedom of expression, we, the employees of this journal, alert the public that this article is contrary to the truth.' Another tactic has been to shut down an obstreperous publication by cutting off its supply of paper or other necessary materials.
Castro was not at all pleased with coletillas, which had the opposite of the intended effect, leaving the government open to the accusation of censorship. Early in 1960, he therefore launched an all-out offensive to liquidate, once and for all, the independent press.
[for example] . . . the editors of Prensa Libre, savagely attacked by the Castroites, realized that it too would soon be compelled to cease publication, and sounded the alarm in a hard-hitting article titled 'The Hour of Unanimity.' [Guilbert here quotes from the article] ''Unanimity reigns supreme in Cuba--totalitarian unanimity there must be no discordant voices, no possibility of criticism. The control of every avenue of expression will facilitate the brain-washing of the public. Dissident voices will be bull-dozed into silence: the silence of those who CANNOT speak out or the silence of those who DARE NOT speak out'
The great illustrated weekly magazine, Bohemia, of Havana, one of the most widely read Cuban magazines in Latin-America, was edited by Miguel Angel Quevado. Under Batista, Bohemia constantly fought for freedom and democracy, and denounced the dictator's outrageous violations of human rights. Castro considered Quevado one of his close friends. In the columns of his magazine, Quevado [initially] backed Castro and the Revolution to the limit. But he could not tolerate the increasing totalitarianism of Castro's government. [Bohemia, the only non-censored magazine after 1960, was preparing its 'Liberty Edition,' with a painting of Castro on its cover over the inscription 'Honor and Glory to the National Hero!' when] . . . He closed down Bohemia and, on July 18, 1960, left Cuba. Quevado explained why he had to do so in a farewell message to the readers:
[Guilbert quotes] ' . . . a diabolical, skillfully prepared plot to impose a Communist dictatorship on the American continent has been organized under the close supervision of Moscow. After listening to the declaration of Nikita Khrushchev, there can no longer be any doubt that Cuba is being used as a tool to promote the foreign policies of the U.S.S.R Cuba is being pictured as a weak little nation whose very existence is being safeguarded by the guns of revolutionary Russia, the 120 greatest military power in the world. After Castro's enthusiastic pledge of solidarity with the U.S.S.R. and the 'socialist countries,' Castro's part in this attentat against freedom has become obvious
. . . 'In making our own revolution, it is not necessary to subject our people to the oppression and vassalage of Russia. To make a profound social revolution, it is not necessary to implant a system which degrades people to the lowly level of state serfdom, to wipe out the last vestige of freedom and dignity. This is not a genuine revolution
'These lines should have appeared in the pages of Bohemia, but this is no longer possible. Barred from publishing this message in our own magazine, acutely conscious of its moral obligation to the people, to whom Bohemia has always been honest and faithful, the editor of Bohemia has made the only decision which these circumstances permit: to proclaim in these lines the sad truth of what is happening to Cuba, and to go into exile. . .'
Many other collaborators of Bohemia also left with Quevado. The magazine was immediately taken over by a gang of Castro Communists--while Castro hypocritically deplored 'the exile of Quevado as one of the hardest blows to our Revolution.'
The Anarchist Press Fights Back
Guilbert is perhaps the only witness who not only mentions the Cuban anarchists, but appreciates their unflinching dedication to the principles of freedom and justice.
. . . in the Cuban night some light still flickers. As far as circumstances over which they have no control permit, the little anarchist journals still valiantly defend freedom to the utmost. Their papers, El Libertario and Solidaridad Gastronomica (Organ of the Anarcho-Syndicalist food and restaurant workers union) still courageously project their gleam of hope that Castro fears. They, too, will soon be suppressed(ibid. p. 178)
In the face of the growing oppression, the libertarian movement while constrained to modulate its criticism so as not to be confused with the counter-revolutionary reactionaries or the more liberal bourgeoisie, nevertheless succeeded in making its position unmistakably clear. For example, both papers prominently displayed provocative headline slogans:
WE ARE AGAINST ALL IMPERIALISMS! PRIVATE PROPERTY IS THE SYMBOL OF SLAVERY! SOCIALISM WILL BE FREE OR THERE WILL BE NO SOCIALISM!
THE LAND AND THE INDUSTRIES TO THE SYNDICATES! FOR FREE COLLECTIVES AND COOPERATIVES!
The anarchist papers were compelled to cease publication about two years after the revolution. Since Solidaridad Gastronomica appeared monthly and El Libertario (organ of the Libertarian Federation of Cuba -- ALC) irregularly, the following excerpts from the more important articles, though few, should nevertheless give a fair idea of how the anarchists viewed events during this short period.
The Anarchists and the Revolution
From the Libertarian Association of Cuba to the International Anarchist Movement Havana, June 1959
What follows are our first tentative impressions of the situation in Cuba on the morrow of the Revolution.
With the triumph of the Revolution, many of our comrades released from prison have been joined by ALL our exiled comrades, who have returned to participate in the revolutionary reconstruction of the new Cuba.
It is still too early to predict what orientation the Revolution may take in our country. But there can be no doubt--in view of the adequate measures taken--that the murderous Batista dictatorship will never again be restored to inflict itself upon our people.
The Revolution is preeminently a true people's revolution. The thousands of armed men fighting in the mountains, through their audacity and courage, demolished the dictatorial fortress. Our armed militants enjoyed the full moral and material backing of the masses. The widespread clandestine propaganda and militant actions and uprisings of popular movements all over Cuba, and the fighting solidarity of all groups, undermined the morale and will to fight of Batista's army and his civilian allies.
We feel that a new epoch in the life of Cuba has been opened. But we have no illusions about the character of the institutional changes now taking place. For the time being--how long nobody knows--we still possess civil rights, as well as the possibility of reorganizing our forces and making our ideas and ideals known to the people.
In a widespread revolutionary movement such as this, all sectors are represented; different groupings, often with conflicting aims, strive to exert maximum influence. And it is not always those helping libertarian conceptions that exert the greatest influence.
The doctrine of state centralization has, in Cuba as in so many other countries, had the most harmful effects. Many who sincerely desire a 122 regeneration of society are unfortunately obsessed with the notion that a successful revolution is possible only under a rigid and authoritarian regime. Among these are the extreme nationalists and fanatical patriots -- a very dangerous tendency which could facilitate degeneration of the revolution into a sort of Nazism and Fascism, particularly here in Latin-America.
The formidable Catholic influence is equally dangerous for the Revolution. The duplicity of the top of the Church hierarchy has been amply demonstrated in recent years. In return for supporting Batista, the Church was subsidized with donations of hundreds of thousands, even millions of pesetas Nevertheless, many Catholics fought heroically against Batista, and the lower 'rank and file' priests and other clergy fought bravely on all fronts to topple the Batista regime. When normal life has been restored, the Church will surely take advantage of this fact to curry favor with the new regime.
The Communist Party of Cuba is just as dangerous for the Revolution as are the extreme nationalists and the upper echelons of the Church. Fortunately, their influence is limited because they are discredited by their association with Batista and their servility to the Russian totalitarian dictatorship. Hiding behind the banner of liberalism, patriotism, mutual tolerance and the coexistence of all anti-Batista forces, they have been able to infiltrate a number of organizations and some sectors of the labor movement. Though small in number, the Communists are skillful connivers, well-organized and totally unscrupulous; their counterrevolutionary potential must not be underestimated.
The role the labor movement is to play in revolutionary reconstruction is a particularly crucial problem. From the fall of the Machado dictatorship in 1933 to the present, the unions have been the tools of, and one of the main pillars supporting, the government. The fact that the new Revolutionary government is moving to consolidate the labor movement into a single rigidly dominated centralized organization has fortunately--at least for the time being--not weakened the determination of the workers to fight for the autonomy and integrity of their own organizations against dictatorship. The Communists, naturally, are striving to reconquer their controlling position in the labor movement, which they enjoyed for so many years under Batista and the others. But the circumstances are not the same; they are not favorable, and we hope that, in spite of their efforts, the Communists will not succeed in dominating the labor movement.
Despite these and other obstacles, we will continue to struggle for the maximum realization of our libertarian alternatives--in accordance with the realities of the situation and with unflagging dedication--and against Statism and the deformation of the Cuban Revolution. 123
Manifesto to the Workers and the People in General
As early as January 18, 1959, only a few weeks after the Revolution, the Libertarian Association of Cuba already detected the first signs of the authoritarian character of the new regime and sounded the alarm in its Manifesto to the Workers and the People in General. The Manifesto reads in part:
In this historic moment of the nation and the working class, the ALC is obliged to call attention to certain fundamental problems
The Revolution that recently freed the people of Cuba from the bloody tyranny of Batista is a people's revolution for liberty and justice, made by the people. The labor movement of our country was captured by the tyrants, who used it to promote their own sinister purposes. The voices of the rebels and the non-conformists were stilled by the prison officer, the persecutor and the assassin. Unions which dared question the authorities were immediately taken over by the Secretary-General of the [collaborationist] Confederation of Cuban Workers (C.T.C.) and/or the Ministry of Labor. Their freely elected representatives were ousted [or even arrested] and replaced by hand-picked faithful servants of the dictatorship, who were imposed upon the membership without the least semblance of democratic procedure. The workers themselves must see to it that such atrocities are never again revived in Cuba
We are alarmed that the allegedly 'temporary' administrations of the unions and their officials are being installed without consultation or agreement of the membership or of the various organizations that made the Revolution
In the midst of the revolutionary turmoil, we do not expect everything, including the labor organizations, to function normally in so short a time. But it is our duty, and the duty of all the workers, by militant action, to see to it that the democratic procedures, the freedoms, and the rights gained by us with the triumph of the Revolution are respected
We must immediately hold free elections in the unions, where the workers will freely choose their representatives It is absolutely necessary that general membership meetings be called immediately to freely discuss and deal with the great and urgent problems
It is absolutely necessary that the workers themselves elect, dismiss or reinstate their officials. To permit any other procedure would be to allow the very same dictatorial practices which we fought against under Batista
We, the people who fought a bitter war against the old dictatorship, must now make sure that the Revolution will built a new social order that will guarantee liberty and justice for all, without exception
We workers, who felt on our own bodies the blows inflicted by the old tyranny, must now, again, defend our fundamental rights.
RESOLVE NEVER AGAIN TO INSTITUTE A REGIME OF SUBMISSION AND SLAVERY!
From Solidaridad Gastronomica
THE WORKERS MUST BE ALERT NOT TO FALL INTO THE SAME ERRORS TWICE!
The heroic fighters who, with so much effort and sacrifice, defeated the Batista tyranny, merit the eternal gratitude of the Cuban people. Never again must the Cuban people be subjected to horrors such as the Batista tyranny.
We are tremendously disturbed to see swarms of adventurers and other phonies taking advantage of the victorious Revolution, and, by strong-arm methods, taking over control of the unions Far from signifying a real revolutionary change, these methods only repeat the institutionalized violence of the Batista dictatorship The Communists wait in the wings, all too anxious to repeat their betrayals of the workers--as when they collaborated with Batista to subjugate them.
Now, with the triumph of the Revolution, is precisely the time for the workers to be doubly alert and watchful not to repeat the same errors, not to allow the democratic assemblies to be destroyed by tolerating decrees from above, edicts converting the unions into agencies of the all-embracing state. The destructive power of the state is the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the workers.
We must avoid centralization. We must impede the surge of new hierarchies which are no better than the old ones. We must have free and open assemblies where the will of the majority of the workers can determine the future of our class and its organizations. (Jan. 15, 1959)
The Labor Racketeers and the Gangsters Return--Beware!
Barely two months after the Revolution overthrew the dictator Batista and his faithful lieutenant, Eusebio Mujal [fascist thug and Secretary-General of the Batista 'labor front,' the C.T.C.], the new dictators are already conniving to seize control of the unions, and, like their predecessors, rule the workers by decrees from above.
These tyrants are packing the union meetings with their stooges--strangers who are not even members--brought in to vote for 125 the labor racketeers. The workers are being intimidated by the presence of armed militiamen. These and other practices constitute flagrant violations of the elementary rights of the workers.
The Revolution must guarantee and defend the right of the workers to freely conduct their affairs without intimidation or interference. The fate of the Revolution is in our hands; the destiny of our class is in our own hands! (March 15, 1959)
Warning! Juan Marinello Is Moscow's Stooge and Batista's Friend!
It is reported in the press that 'yesterday afternoon, in a simple ceremony, Dr. Juan Marinello was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Languages and Literature in the Escuela Normal de la Habana [Havana School of Education], the same position from which this well-known writer and political leader had been ousted by the Batista Ministry of Education'
This announcement deliberately gives the one hundred per cent FALSE impression that Marinello consistently fought the Batista dictatorship. The phony comrades [of the Communist Party] who now enjoy such great influence in the new revolutionary government were the staunchest and most faithful friends and supporters of the Batista dictatorship and were rewarded for their services by being appointed to very good posts in Batista's corrupt government. To deny this incontestable fact is absurd.
Is there a single Cuban who does not yet know that Juan Marinello head of the Communist Party of Cuba (P.S.P.) was instructed to collaborate with Batista by his masters the Russian Communist Party officials?
From El Libertario
The following article was published in El Libertario, June 20, 1959 shortly after the promulgation of the Agrarian Reform Law. It accurately predicted the disastrous consequences of massive seizures of land by the state, which led to the establishment of state farms (granjas) and the total domination and subjugation of the agricultural workers and peasants. [S.D.]
Plows Tractors and the Guajiro
Under the watchwords 'Land and Liberty' and 'The Land to Those Who Work It,' the anarchists pioneered the organization of agricultural workers. Such men as Niceto Perez, Sabino Pupo, Casanas and Montero were in the struggle for the emancipation of the agricultural workers and peasants.
In contrast to the Marxist bias for the urban industrial workers [based on the fatalistic theory that the realization socialism will depend exclusively on the technical-scientific development of industry]], our conviction that the will of man to create his own social structures is paramount, leads us to attach special importance to the struggles of the rural masses.
The fact that the two greatest upheavals of our century have taken place in predominantly agrarian countries, leads us to place our greatest hope for social change in the vast peasant masses. And it is precisely because it is too often forgotten that the rural masses have always been the most downtrodden victims that we passionately encourage and sustain all measures which promote their rights.
All these considerations lead US to regard them not as passive automatons and lifeless pawns but on the contrary as dynamic human beings who are capable of great revolutionary achievements when inspired by a just and noble cause.
We have been dedicated champions of agrarian reform which we have been demanding for many years. Nevertheless we view with increasing alarm the Agrarian Reform Law which gives priority to the purely mechanical as opposed to the human factors. We view with alarm the government's mistrust of the peasants the enactment of measures which inevitably lead to the creation of a state superstructure ruinous to the creative self-activity spontaneity and initiative of the agricultural workers and a certain tendency to dismiss the small peasant proprietor as a conservative-minded 'kulak'.
We must realize that for every machine and every technical blueprint to work there must be human beings ready and willing to make the necesssary try sacrifices for the triumph of our cause. If we lose sight of this fact our cause is lost.
We must realize that the worst possible danger to the Revolution is the bureaucratization induced by the deification of technology and the consequent downgrading of the peasants.
Without underestimating the importance of huge cooperative farms to meet the need for agricultural products it must be stressed that the small peasant proprietors can also contribute greatly to agricultural production by organizing themselves into collectives for the intensive cultivation of the land in common
(The reader will note how closelly El Libertario anticipated the constructive recornmcndations of the agricultural scientist Rene Dumont--see introduction.)
Generally speaking, those who now demand that political prisoners be tortured and locked in concentration camps became 'revolutionaries' only AFTER the Revolution. Many ot these ''Johnny-come-latelies' were a short time ago humble lackeys of the Batista dictatorship. These vindictive sadists are far more severe than are the humane, magnanimous revolutionary veterans who fought on the Sierra Maestra and Escambray fronts.
The fact that the Revolution must defend itself against the most vicous and intractable counter-revolutionaries does not mean that it should become a blind, vindictive nemesis, totally impervious to human kindness.
The Revolution must not be sullied, corrupted and ultimately undermined by toleration of the concentration camps and the forced labor characteristic of the odious regimes of Hitler and Stalin! (June 20, 1959)
Children in Uniform
In the streets of Havana, in towns and villages, all over Cuba teenagers, and even children, are on parade: goose-stepping like Prussian soldiers, strutting, puffed up with their own conceit that they are training to 'defend the country.' And their commanders boast about how 'revolutionary' they are. How vain their pretensions that they are really defending the Revolution! How far removed they are from the road to freedom!
These juvenile patrols remind us of Mussolini's Fasci Combattenti, and the parades of Franco's Blue Shirts. In no way do these little boys resemble the valiant fighters of the mountains, or the brave underground fighters of the French Maquis. For a future of oppression and servitude they are needed: but never to forge a tomorrow of fraternity in a free and happy community. They represent the militarization of the future, the poisonous herb of the barracks--that which the Revolution must abolish forever.
It is one thing to train the masses in the use of arms for self-defense. But it is a grievous error to militarize and corrupt the minds of youth, to inhibit the unfolding of their personalities and to turn them into a herd of mindless animals.
Are professional armies really better equipped to meet the hazards of war and invasion? History demonstrates that a people determined to defend its rights has been able to defeat regular armies. We who boast of 'military glory,' remember the Germany of the Kaiser and Hitler--their pompous, corseted, goose-stepping generals committing their most odious crimes! Remember the France of Laval and Petain betrayed by the militarists! REMEMBER! (Nov. 25, 1959)
Is There Real Freedom Of The Press in Cuba?
More than two weeks ago the C.N.T. exile organization in Cuba received an urgent appeal from the C.N.T. underground in Spain, asking for internationa solidarity on behalf of 99 imprisoned anarcho-syndicalist militants now facing very heavy sentences for opposing Franco-fascism. [The C.N.T.--Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, National Confederation of Labor--was the anarcho-syndicalist confederation which fought in the Spanish Revolution and Civil War, 1936-39.] C.N.T. comrades here in Cuba personally delivered topics of the appeal to the daily newspapers of Havana, as well as the radio stations, requesting publication and announcement. But not a single word has thus far been published or broadcast. Is this freedom of the press? Isn't the nonsectarian revolutionary press maintained by the public obliged to print something of general interest, to serve all the people without discrimination? Or arc the libertarians not liked by those who control the press?
Those who rightly condemn capitalist monopoliers of the press for their partisan, reactionary policies, must not sink to their level. They must not impose their own brand of 'revolutionary' monopoly and go so far as to renounce all moral obligation and refuse to help those who are fighting fascist barbarism, only because they do not like their revolutionary ideas
It would indeed be criminal to deny freedom of the press to a movement like ours, whose struggles for the emancipation of the oppressed have been unequaled in the history of the Cuban Revolutionary movement. But if this sabotage and boycott continues, we will have to ask, IS THERE REAL FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN CUBA? ( July 197 1960)
Declaration published in the Bulletin of the MECE; Miami, July-Aug. 1962.
. . .All militant Cuban libertarians fought for the downfall of Batista and enthusiastically hailed and assisted the Revolution. We hoped that the Revolution would bring more liberty and social justice to the men, women and children of Cuba. We tried to help the people's voluntary organizations (cooperatives, cultural groups, peasant and student groups, etc.) assume a decisive part in the construction of the new l.ibertarian Cuba. Little by little, we saw our hopes dissipated as the new rulers became more and more arrogant, ruthless and dictatorial.
While we saw the outrages and bestialities committed daily by the members of the revolutionary oligarchy, we remained silent because we did not want the people to confuse our revolutionary criticism with the criticism of reactionary elements? who attacked the regime only to safeguard their economic and political priveleges. We criticized the Castro-Communist dictatorship, not because it was TOO REVOLUTIONARY, but because it was NOT REVOLUTIONARY ENOUGH.
Between the spring and the summer of 1960, we exposed ourselves to the persecution of the regime by attempting to initiate a widespread discussion which would have given us the opportunity to expose before the Cuban people the ideological bankruptcy of rhe new dictatorsllip and present our constructive solutions to the problems of the Cuban Revolution.
The rulers made a free and open discussion of issues and principles impossible. We were accused by Blas Roca [leader of the Communist Party, ex-friend of Batista] of hiding behind the mask of extreme revolutionism, the better to serve the interests of the American State Department. 7 (In August, 1960), he said, 'Today in Cuba we have anarcho-syndicalists who publish Declarations of Principles, that are of wonderful assistance to counter-revolutionthey help counterrevolution from extremist positions with phraseology and arguments that look leftist.'] When we wrote a fifty-page pamphlet replying to these slanders and outlining our viewpoint, the State Publishing House refused to publish it, and private publishers were strictly warned not to do so. We, and other non-conformist groups, were not allowed to print anything. Our paper Solidaridad Gastronomic was so hounded by the authorities that it ceased publication March 20, 1961. The best equipped print shops confiscated from the bourgeois press were opened to the Communists. A veritable flood of Marxist books and pamphlets were used to brain-wash the workers and peasants of Cuba.
This, together with appointing Communists to key posts in the government, the unions, the schools, peasant and cultural organizations, etc., convinced us that the Revolution was lost. ~ his was the bitter end of our hopes, and from that time on our opposition to the increasingly brutal totalitarian regime began.
[The Bulletin also published the following notice dispatched from Cuba:]
Havana, August 16, 1962
Through this little note, we are letting you know that, for reasons too long and too complicated to explain at this time, the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Association of Cuba has decided to suspend publication [of its journal and other activity].
Behind these few lines of lie shattered hopes, the despair and the tragedy of the aborted Cuban Revolution.
Anarchists in Castro’s Prisons
This is a partial list of anarchists imprisoned because they refused to serve the Castro totalitarian regime, just as they fought its predecessor the Batista tyrannt, remaining always faithful to their ideals.. (From Boletin Informacion Libertaria--Movimiento Libertaria Libertario de Cuba En Exillio: Miami, July-August 1962) [S.D.]
Plácido Mendez: Bus driver, delegate for routes 16, 17, and 18. For many years, fought against the Batista tyranny and at various times imprisoned and brutally tortured. In 193X he was forced to go into exile, returning secretly to Cuba to fight in the Cuban underground movement against Batista in the Sierra Escambray. With the downfall of Batista, he resumed his union activities refusing to accept the totalitarian decrees of the so-called revolutionary government. Comrade Mendez is serving his sentence in the National Prison on the Island of Pines, built by the bloody dictator Machado. Mendez has been condemned by ( Castro's Revolutionary Tribunal to twelve years at hard labor. His family is in desperate economic difficulties.
Antonio Degas: Militant member of the glorious National Confederation of Labor of Spain (CNT): living in Cuba since the termination of the Spanish Civil War, working in the motion picture industry. This comrade conspired against the Batista tyranny and with the triumph of the Revolution, unconditionally placed himself at the service of the new Castro regime. Because of his activities against the communist usurpers of the Revolution, he was imprisoned by the lackeys of Castro without trial. Antonio Degas is imprisoned in the dungeons of Cabana Fortress and subjected to inhuman treatment. His wife and children, under conditions of at-owing poverty, must also find ways of helping him in prison where he is under medical treatment.
Alberto Miguel Linsuain: Comrade Linsuain is the son of a well-known Spanish Revolutionist, who died in Alicante towards the end of the Spanish Civil War. Linsuain was extremely active against the Batista dictatorship and joined the rebel forces in the Sierra Cristal, under the command of Castro s brother, Raúl Castro. For his bravery in battle he was promoted to Lieutenant in the Rebel Army. With the end of the armed struggle, he left the army and dedicated himself to the union movement of his industry. He was elected by his fellow workers as General Secretary of the Federation of Food, Hotel and Restaurant Workers of the Province of Oriente. When the communists subtly began to infiltrate and take over the organized labor movement, Comrade Linsuain fought the communist connivers. This aroused the hatred of the communist leaders in general and Rau'l Castro, in particular he had violent quarrels with Raúl Castro even when he had first met him in the Sierra Cristal while fighting against Batista. Comrade Linsuain has been in jail for over a year without trial. His family has not heard from him for months and fears for his life. (A later Bulletin reported that Linsuain was either murdered or died in jail.)
SondalioTorres: Young sympathizer of libertarian ideas, who, inspired by our comrades, fought bravely in his native Cuba, against Batista. With the triumph of the Revolution, Torres threw himself, body and soul, into the consolidation and constructive work of the Revolution, moving to Havana on government construction projects. On the job, he openly voiced his fears that the Castro government was gradually, but surely, becoming a ferocious dictatorship. For this, the stool-pigeon members of the local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) accused him of counter-revolutionary activities. Sondalio was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. To force him to falsely accuse other fellow-workers of counter-revolutionary acts, Sondalio was subjected to barbarous torture. Four times he was dragged out to face the firing squad and four times he was retrieved just as he was about to be shot. Torres is serving his sentence in the Provincial prison of Pinar del Kito.
José Acena: Veteran libertarian militant; employed in the La Polar brewery; Professor (at one time) at the Instituto de la Vibora. For thirty years Acena carried on an uninterrupted struggle against all dictatorships, including the first as well as the second periods of Batista s tyrannical regimes. For his bravery in the underground revolutionary struggles of the 26th of July Movement, he was made treasurer of the Province of Havana. With the triumph of the Revolution, Acena collaborated fully with the new Castro regime, particularly in the labor and political movements. Acena soon realized that a totalitarian Marxist-Leninist system was being established in Cuba and quarreled violently with the new rulers, denouncing Castro personally and telling him plainly why he hated his regime. From that time on, he was hounded and persecuted by Castro s henchmen and imprisoned various times. Finally, after a year without trial, he was accused of counter-revolutionary acts and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. This, in spite of the fact that he still bears on his body the scars of wounds inflicted on him by Batista s jailers. He is desperately ill and in need of surgery.
Alberto Garcia: Comrade Alberto Garcia, like so many other militants of our movement, fought against Batista in the ranks of Castro's 26th of July Movement. Because of his well-earned prestige earned in the course of hard underground struggles, Garcia, after the fall of Batista, was elected by the workers of his industry to be Secretary of the Federation of Medical Workers. For his uncompromising opposition to the super-authoritarian conduct of the communists, he was arrested and sentenced to thirty years at hard labor, flasely accused of 'counter-revolutionary' activitiees. Comrade Garcia is one of the most valiant young militants in the Cuban Liberation Movement.
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