Saturday, 18 September 2010

Dissemination of false information

On Sept 18th, Louis Proyect (see his blog here) wrote on Marxmail:
The fact is that despite Castro's errors 
on one thing or another, he is still the most ethical and humane world 
leader. Just look at his latest article on the Roma:
My reply to Marxmail, which Louis moderates :
Yes, Fidel is one of the most ethical leaders in history, isn't he ?

Sending 30 000 people to re-education camps, internationally opposing a
world-wide moratorium on the death penalty, decreeing that "the total
fusion of State and society" must be achieved through the MNIR (Police),
placing CDR spies at every level of society, that's ethical, that's

In Cuba, opposition to Fidel is simply outlawed by the constitution.

According to article 144 of the Penal Code (desacato), you can be sent
to prison for 3 months for "disrepect" if you verbally slander or insult
the dignity of an official of the Communist Party.

According to article 208 (asociation ilicita), you can get sent to
prison for up to a year for participating in a meeting that has not been

According to article 103 ("propaganda enemiga"), you can get sent to
prison for 8 years for verbally disseminating "ennemy propaganda", the
exact definition of which is voluntarily not provided (so that it can be
used as a "catch all" repressive law). 

According to article 115 (crime of difusión de falsas informaciones
contra la paz internacional, or "dissemination of false information
against international peace."), anyone who spreads "false news with the
aim of putting in danger the prestige of the Cuban State" can be
imprisoned for up to four years.

Articles 72-90, which define the crime of peligrosidad, or
"dangerousness." These articles come under the heading, "The Dangerous
Status and Security Measures," a section of the Penal Code under which
someone can be sentenced for up to four years in prison on the grounds
that the authorities believe the individual has a "special proclivity"
to commit crimes, even though he or she might not have actually
committed a crime. These articles broadly define "dangerous" people as
those who act in a manner that contradicts "morality", "are lazy" or
"engage in anti-social behavior." 

Fidel's Cuba is the most ethical place imaginable. Despite those nasty
reports by former political prisoners that describe the daily beatings,
starvation rations and despair in the re-education camps. Why, people
who disseminate such lies should be imprisoned for "dissemination of
false information with the aim of putting in danger the prestige of
Yes, Cuba is an example of workers' emancipation. Reports that the
corrupt nomenklatura control workers through fear and violence are again
ill-informed. We all know, and it is the common perception on this list,
that the Cuban revolution should be defended for it is a place where
Socialism is strong and vibrant. 

I don't want to be unsubbed from this list (although it's better than a
stint in prison), so I will go-along with the general sentiment
regarding Cuba, and post no more "enemy propaganda" and "false
information with the aim of putting in danger the prestige of Cuba". 
Presidio Prison, where up to 8 000 Cuban dissidents were imprisoned in the 60s. It was a "model prison" built on a panoptical design under Batista.

Workers' rights in Cuba

The Cuban authorities only recognise a single national trade union
centre, the Confederación de Trabajadores Cubanos (CTC), heavily
controlled by the State and the Communist Party which appoints its
leaders. Membership is compulsory for all workers. Before a worker can
be hired they have to sign a contract in which they promise to support
the Communist Party and all its representatives. The government explicitly
prohibits independent trade unions.

There still is no freedom of association and the right to strike is
still not recognised in law. Six of the seven independent trade union
leaders sentenced to lengthy terms in 2003 remained in prison.

Workers who initiate cat strikes have been sentenced to up to seven
years in prison. The Cuban government is ferocious in its repression on
grassroots movements and independant (non government sanctioned) unions.

Violations of unions' rights are well-documented, you can find a
depressing list of all the crackdowns by the cuban authorities on
workplace organizing at numerous websites. See for example the 
UNHCR 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Cuba
Now for some sarcasm directed at those that maintain that "we must defend the Cuban
Revolution in the face of US Imperialism".
Of course, their answer is that we must understand that the Cuban government has no other
option but to violently supress strikes : it's just one of the prices to
pay in order to resist US imperialism. Those advocating the right to
strike are just silly Utopians with no understanding of the historical
circumstances.  Given the historical development of Cuba, strikes are
counter-revolutionary. Things are what they are because things are what
they are.Class antagonism cannot take the form of strikes in Cuba
because class antagonism is in the process of disappearing in Cuba,
because Cuba is led by Socialists because everybody says so. 
Again, things are what they are because things are what they
are. QED.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Autumn of the Driveler

On the Marxmail list, Louis Proyect posted an article from Counterpunch (September 17 - 19, 2010) by Alexander Cockburn entitled Autumn of the Driveler.
If President Raúl Castro wants to defend Cuba’s record on human
rights, all he needs to do point to the fact that his brother has
not been deposed from his formal position as First Secretary of
the Communist Party, and carted off to an isolation ward in the
Casa de Dementes, Havana’s psychiatric hospital. Instead he has
unstinted access to the state radio and the newspaper Granma.

In both of these media Castro, now 84, has spouted a steady stream
of drivel. Memorable among these forays intonutdom was his outburst of
conspiracism on the sixth anniversary of the Trade Center/Pentagon
attacks with the whole slab of nonsense read out by a Cuban
television presenter.
Castro claimed that the Pentagon was hit by a rocket, not a plane,
because no traces were found of its passengers. "Only a projectile
could have created the geometrically round orifice created by the
alleged airplane," according to Fidel. "We were deceived as well
as the rest of the planet's inhabitants." All nonsense of course.
There were remains of the passengers on the plane that hit the
Pentagon, in the form of teeth and other bits traced through DNA.
Hundreds of people saw the plane -- people who know the difference
between a plane and a cruise missile. The wreckage of the plane
was hauled out from the site
 Of course Fidel never showed any sign of mental instability or paranoia 
prior to his 80th birthday.
He was just a guy who enjoyed 6-hour long speeches in which "Fidel 
connects to the people in a way much more profound than democracy. He is 
the Cuban people. They respond to his every word with shouts, with 
cries, with drumming, with dancing, with the thousand expressions of the 
Cuban psyche. Truely Fidel is the Cuban people and the Cuban people is 
Fidel" (Che Guevara)
His long TV appearences would tell people how their island was 
constantly under attack (true enough), how they had to beware of 
saboteurs (true enough) and how mistakes had been made , how socialism 
could not be rushed, and why they had to help make next year's zaffra 
(sugar cane harvest) the biggest ever.
He was just a guy who believed that Khrutshev had made the biggest 
mistake (true enough, it cost him his job) in his life by not forcing 
the US exclusion zone on nuclear missiles. "They  the Soviets] must 
press on the button first, goddamit ! The first nuclear strike 
guarantees a win. So what if the world is reduced to ashes. From these 
ashes socialism will be born. It is the shame I cannot live with, not 
the nuclear war !" (Castro in 1962)

Anyway, Raul is still as sane as you or me (well maybe not you and me, 
given that we are for the emancipation of the working class) so it's 
natural that he should be in charge.

By the way, talking of conspiracy theories, how exactly did Cienfuegos 
meet his untimely demise ?
A Havana worker and one of the first leaders of the Cuban revolution, he 
was, as well as one of Che's friends, the son of Spanish Anarchists who 
had fled Spain. His politics were Marxist with "Libertarian 
leanings". He vehemently opposed the rapid infiltration of Communist 
elements in positions of power following the Cuban revolution. 
 He died in "an airplane accident" in 1959. Since the late 1990s, many 
new elements have come out implicating Fidel in the mysterious 
disappearence of "a great son of the revolution".
Camilo Cienfuegos