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El Libertario
Venezuela-Cuba relationship: What can be said from an anarchist perspective?
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* This text appears in the June-July 2010 issue #59 of El Libertario,
describing the position this voice of the Venezuelan anarchist movement
takes regarding the close links between the governments of these two
countries.

To those of us who identify as anarchists, brotherhood/sisterhood
among activists who struggle for a radical transformation of society
towards freedom and equality must be a cardinal principle in theory
and practice. Likewise, for anarchists the links between States can
only create suspicion, since we’re talking about links between
structures of oppression, inequality and injustice which anarchism
has always denounced and fought against, as we have also fought
against capitalism. Therefore, the general political line of
anarchists has been –with a few polemical exceptions that confirm the
rule – to promote and practice international solidarity among the
exploited and oppressed, which demands the repudiation and opposition
to those instruments of oppression and exploitation that are the
States, both against their repressive expression domestically in each
country as well as against their association, as this usually yields
unfavorable results for the populations under their control.

But, what happens when the States that enter into a relationship are
progressive, revolutionary or proclaim themselves as such? This would be
the situation in the case of Cuba’s and Venezuela’s governments’ tight
connection. This begs the question: does this suspend or cancel the
classical anarchist position of struggling against the State or against
alliances among States?

There will be some who will say yes, out of ignorance or wanting to
falsify anarchism. They’ll say that those socialist States constitute an
advance on the road to the social revolution we desire, therefore even
though we might have criticisms or objections, these will always be minor
compared to the goals achieved or possible under these governments. They
will bring up the bogeyman of how terrible the failure of such States
would be, how political control would fall in the hands of the most evil
pro-imperialist neoliberal right wing, a nightmare that must be avoided
even at the expense of accepting authoritarianism, repression, corruption,
technical and administrative inefficiency and all those evils that seem to
flourish as the socialist State gathers strength and longevity as has been
obvious in all Marxist-Leninist regimes that have ever existed.

- From words to actions

Our concrete experience – 51 years for Cuba, 11 for Venezuela – of what
these so-called socialist States have been and still are certifies that
the anarchist position of repudiation of any form of institutionalized
state control can not allow for the “progressive” or “lesser evil”
character of the governments that rule our countries. Whoever wants
fail-proof evidence, in the case of Venezuela, of the falsehood of such
pretensions can read what we have been publishing since 1999 in El
Libertario (our web site is written in Spanish and we also have sections
in English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese). A similar
corroboration in the case of Cuba can be found in the six web pages at the
end of this article where you can read the thoughts of Cubans in the
island and in exile. In both cases the red herring of anti-imperialism
that both regimes boast of is dismantled. The opportunist anti-Yankee
screaming hides many shameful agreements and compromises with big
transnational capital, disguised as modest mixed enterprises in both
countries.

With States such as these, in no way can one hope that their relationship
will be beneficial for the common citizen of either nation. Looking at it
from the perspective of the Cuban people, it could cynically be argued
that thanks to the massive economic subsidy the island receives from
Venezuela, estimated by several sources as even larger than what in the
past Cuba received from the Soviet Union, the standard of living has
improved, overcoming the disastrous situation of the “Special Period”
after the fall of the Soviet block and the end of its economic support to
Cuba. The truth is that Cuba has gone from a form of economic dependency
to another as Cuba depends on what the Chavez regime can and wants to
provide. For more precise information and available figures on the current
economic situation in Cuba and her dependency of Venezuela’s help go to
www.cuadernodecuba.com/2009/10/decrecimiento-economico-venezolano.html,
http://convivenciacuba.es/content/view/158/56/, and
http://economiacubana.blogspot.com

Although either government’s propaganda attempts to convince the gullible
that there is interchange and cooperation between partners with equivalent
resources, with Cuba contributing knowledge and human resources in
exchange for a similar value in oil and other Venezuelan products, suffice
it to look objectively at where Cuban professionals and technical experts
work to see that their knowledge and competency contribute very little to
what was there previously, and that they are usually there because the
Chavez regime is politically suspicious of the majority of the local
equivalents, who also demand salaries and working conditions that are out
of limits for these Cubans.

In any case, the worst result of this relationship for the Cuban people is
that this has provided an oxygen tank to a regime that was drowning, one
that went from being a guest at the Soviet table to being a ward of the
“Bolivarian” sanctuary. The transition from one situation to the other
doesn’t mean that the State has ceased to be a dead weight on the long
suffering backs of the everyday Cuban.

- But, isn’t Chavez different?

On the Venezuelan people’s side, they try to sell the canard that thanks
to Chavez’s regime and the Cuban government’s collaboration, their access
to health and education, besides other things like sports and culture has
improved. The truth is that here, the available figures (see PROVEA yearly
reports in www.derechos.org.ve) as well as the multiple testimonies heard
daily show that the situation is quite different than the official myth,
and if it ever appeared to approach the truth, as for instance the initial
support of Mision Barrio Adentro in the health field, the deceit is now
clear.

As one can ascertain day to day, the very visible role of the more than
40,000 Cubans has less and less to do with the collective needs mentioned
above and more and more with the instruments of State control and
repression. They are notorious in identification offices, registries of
public documents as well as assessors to the political commissars in any
official department, not to mention their role in security as body guards
in mansions and work places for the Big Boss and the high bureaucracy.
Chavez publicly admitted on Sunday 4/25/2010 their presence in the armed
forces, in a way that dwarfs the past USA military mission.

To conclude, anarchists today must be clear that the Cuban State, in order
to survive has become a parasite of the Venezuelan State, who in turn
needs Cuba to maintain control over the society it governs. Let’s remember
what we said at the beginning about positions essential to anarchism such
as solidarity from below among the peoples who struggle against the State
and against any other form of oppression. This is the reason why
anarchists in Cuba and Venezuela try to foster links among the social
base, because solidarity is essential to confront common challenges.

- Six Cuban anarchist web sites

In and out of Cuba the anarchist scene speaks via:
º www.mlc.acultura.org.ve, web site of the Cuban Libertarian Movement
(MLC) of Cuban anarchists in exile.

º http://movimientolibertariocubano.entodaspartes.net MLC blog, in Spanish
and English

º www.nodo50.org/ellibertario/cubalibertaria.html Cuba Libertaria
bulletin, published by GALSIC (Grupo de Apoyo a los Libertarios y
Sindicalistas Independientes de Cuba)

º http://observatorio-critico.blogspot.com blog of the network
Observatorio Critico, of Cuba

º http://elblogdelacatedra.blogspot.com blog of the Catedra Haydee
Santamaria, of Cuba

º www.polemicacubana.fr web site in solidarity with Cuban anarchists, in
French and Spanish

In addition, in the text section of the El Libertario web site
www.nodo50.org/ellibertario as well as in several issues in print there
are available a large quantity of documents relating to Cuba and Cuban
anarchism.

El Libertario, Venezuela - ellibertario@nodo50.org

Translation Luis Prat




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