Because of the repression on the protests that have taken place in Cuba, there was a balance of 150 detained persons and even a death one. Although the release of some detainees has been announced, they remain in house arrest. Another part ot the detained persons stays in prisons. The government has deployed a large contingent of security forces and it has and has carried out a militarization in the country.
What are the causes and the significance of these protests?
It´s true that the economic blockade that the United States has exerted on Cuba is a permanent source of political extortion. The hardships of this economical and political situation have been accentuated by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemia. Cuba suffers from deprivation of medicines and essential items. So the pandemic has had a peak in recent weeks. According to some versions, the health system has began to be saturated in various locations. The pandemic, on the other hand, has paralyzed tourism, which was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Cuba.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel tried to hold that the Yankee blockade is solily responsible for the situation. Nevertheless the Cuban regime has been adapting the political actions to the pressures of the imperialist countries. Nowadays there is a growing process of capitalist restoration in Cuba.
This course was accelerated under the current presidency of Biden in the United States. The Cuban leaders expect that the relationships with the United States could improve. The rapprochemnt with the United States had began under Obama’s presidency and was truncated under Trump’s presidency.
The Castro regime has implemented a series of economic actions with the aim of improving the relationships with the United States in order to open the possibility of creating a flow of economic investment. This situation have involved a severe blow to the cuban population.
Reforms similar to those adopted by China
As of January 1, 2021, the Cuban government proceeded to unify the currencies it used. The Cuban «peso convertible» was linked to the US dollar. The parity was established at 1 dollar equivalent to 24 Cuban pesos.
However, the parity was quickly exceeded because the dollar value on the «black mark» doubled and tripled the original equivalence. Wages and salaries are paid in this depreciated currency. So that the population of Cuba decreased the access to goods and services. Commodity prices roses at the rate of devaluation.
The offer of products, including some basic ones, has mostly been transferred to «freely convertible currency» stores (MLC). These stores are foreign ones, where only hard currencies are accepted as money. Outside of this economic circuit, a growing shortage prevails. This is what explains the greater concurrence of buyers towards the stores that sell in U$S dollars. First, not only the prices of the imported products (such as medicines), but also the prices of the basic products (such as food and services), increased a lot. Second, the costs of basic services (such as the electrical energy provision, as an example), increased five times. The residential consumption started to have an averaged cost of U$S 60 per 1000 kW per month (1459 Cuban pesos), up to five times the original cost (that is U$S 302, what is equivalent to 7267 pesos). This cost represents an equivalent of 3.5 times the minimum wage. (The New Herald, 12/18). Third, the increaments in the minimum wage and pensions (that were promoted up to 2100 Cuban pesos), does not compensate for this rise in prices.
Other reforms in the same orientation
The Cuban government has eliminated the requirement of majority participation of the State in joint ventures. Two exceptions were the participation of the State for the extraction of natural resources and in the provision of public services. This reform was preceded by the opening of an «special economic zone» for the development of private businesses -in the port of Mariel, some years ago. This special economica zone has extensive benefits in labor, tax and commercial matters. The conformation of this special zono replicated what China did when it took the first steps in the capitalist restoration process. Raúl Castro and his current companion in the presidency of Cuba, have been insistently pointing out that China and Vietnam are the role models that Cuba should adopt.
At the same time, the Cuban leadership enabled the non-state sector to export and import. This political decision represents an abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade. The Labor Code was also modified, allowing dismissal without cause and extending the working day from 8 hours to 9 hours. “Currently, 30% of the Cuban workforce works in the self-employed sector. This category includes both self-employed workers and micro-enterprises. But it is not ruled out that the permitted private activities and the formation of private companies of a much larger number of employees will be extended.
In the opinion of Samuel Farber (a recognized political scientist), the managers of state industrial companies, which now enjoy greater autonomy -together with business cadres of the Armed Forces, who are owners of the Gaesa business emporium-, could be favored by the latter reform and set up their own ventures. [These reforms are, he wrote] «…the nucleus of a developing Cuban capitalist bourgeoisie that is emerging from within the communist apparatus itself» (The New Herald, 11/15). This has a translation in the cabinet of ministers of Cuba, where the Minister of Tourism and the head of Gaesa have become the strongmen of the regime that support Díaz-Canel in the Cuban regimen. (More information about this issue can be found in Prensa Obrera’s article «Cuba, the impact of monetary unification»).
Considering this scenario, it is necessary not to forget about a probable wave of layoffs that poses as a threat. The perspectives of bankruptcies that could emerge due to the elimination of the special regime through which public companies agreed to import at parity from 1 to 1.
However, the expectations of the Cuban authorities with this package have been disappointed. President Biden has beached his promises to operate a turn in United States policy in relation to Cuba. Internal political reasons weigh in his attitude. The Cuban-American community exerts an important lobby on the White House. They have also a considerable electoral weight in the future elections.The tight electoral result that the past presidential elections produced, might have worried the Democrats party members.
Another reason with equal or greater weight is the development of the world capitalist crisis itself. The global economic crisis has caused a withdrawal of investments on a global scale. This is especially true for tourism, one of the links most affected by the crisis, and in which Cuba placed its greatest hopes. Capitalist bankruptcy has produced a devastating effect on this area.
The opening of Cuba to international capital -including the promotion of tourism-, far from reporting a benefit to the Cuban economy, has accentuated its collapse. It is not even a source of foreign exchange, but it does operate to finish dismantling the already damaged internal productive fabric. The most likely scenario that opens is the certain posibility of closures of economic companies in Cuba.
The opposit of the clousure of economic companies should be be to advance in a robust industrialization plan. An advance in an industrialization plan based on the modernization of industrial its park; and the reconversion of itsexisting infrastructure, also.
Instead of a development of the Cuban’s productive forces, the island is advancing towards an economic involution. The reforms undertaken by the Cuban regimen will condemn the Cuban population to new sacrifices, hardships and deprivations.
Popular reaction versus mercenaries traitors of the Cuban people
This is what is at the base of the popular protests in Cuba. The popular reaction has been a rejection that has been expressed by sectors that defend the Cuban revolution. An expression of the genuine exhaustion of popular sectors in the face of the described situation.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel must have recognized this in his press conference -in reference to the events. [He said that among those mobilized there were] «…people from the people who are experiencing part of the shortcomings and difficulties» and «revolutionaries who may be confused» (Cuba Debate, 7/11).
Nevertheless, this was not an impediment for President Miguel Díaz-Canel to attribute the events to the work of «mercenaries».
Along with the hardships and adjustment, what was most revolting is a more marked growth in inequality: the adjustment does not affect the entire population equally. As never before in Cuba, the abyss and social distance between the ruling elite and the people of Cuba has been accentuated, A minority bureaucracy -nucleated around the ruling elite-, have maintained and increased their privileges. A minority -that have the possibility of accessing North American currencies, which is prohibited for the general population-, and most of the people of Cuba.
This is directly associated with capitalist restoration, the hallmark of which is growing social differentiation. The accusation of «mercenaries» to which the president appealed is not enough to cover up this reality. Although the Cuban authorities try to hide it, the protest is not the result of an external conspiracy, nor it was orchestrated from Washington or Florida. Conversely, the protest is the result of a huge internal popular reaction.
It is appropriate to point out that the government has accentuated the persecution against dissident sectors and currents of the left that vindicate the socialist revolution -but that criticize the course that the ruling elite of the island has been promoting.
The consequences of this policy of hardship, adjustment and greater inequality have ended up leading to the current outbreak. In this sense, we can affirm that the protests in Cuba are part of the wave of popular rebellions that have shaken Latin America that have come out to face the brutal adjustments and attacks on the popular sectors.
Prospects and challenges
The protests express a heterogeneous movement and lack a defined political direction. Of course we cannot escape the political exploitation that the «worms» and the imperialism try to carry out abased on the protests.
In the mobilizations, the slogan «Patria and life» has made its way. It is a counterpoint to the slogan «Patria or death», that is emblematic of the Cuban revolution. Obviously, the enormous sufferings to which the Cuban people are subjected is a factor that favors the United States’ preaching.
On the other side, the Castro government tries to carry out capitalist restoration, but «in its own way». That is to say, under its tutelage and control. The bureaucratic caste will try to be a main sector that benefits from the capitalist restoration. It is for such reasons that it collides with the imperialism.
In the midst of this collision between the bureaucracy and the direct agents of imperialism, is that the need to set up a revolutionary socialist organization becomes more current. The aims of a revolutionary socialist organization shuld be that the workers assume and take the leadership in their hands. A workers’ government that take on all the economic and political matters of the country of Cuba. A workers’ government that can put into motion a plan that prioritizes popular needs and addressess An harmonious and comprehensive plan for the development of Cuba’s productive forces.
To perform this purpose it will be necessary to to displace the bureaucracy that currently governs the country of Cuba. Under these premises, it will be able that that the people of Cuba can resume the role it had as head of the social revolution in Latin America. Leadership that can lead to establishing the Socialist United of Latin America. In the progress of this perspective lies the best defense of Cuba against the blockade of imperialism. And the best defense of Cuba against any aggression of imperialism.
The challenge is to give a revolutionary political direction to the popular protests that are just beginning on the island. And to prevent the the popular protests from being dragged into a trap. A trap that could result in a situation contrary contrary to the immediate and historical interests of the workers.
Freedom of the detainees in the mobilizations!
Down with the North American blockade!
For the right to union and political organization of workers!
For a workers’ government!
Versión en español.
Versión en francés.