This long extract is taken from two articles which originally appeared in the American magazine, Liberation. They are by one of its editors, Dave Dellinger, who spent some time recently in Cuba, and who discusses, in this article, both the exciting achievements of the Cuban Revolution and the major criticisms levelled at the Fidel Castro government. It will be followed in a subsequent issue by a political analysis of the situation of Cuba between the two world blocs.
During my first few days in Havana, I was constantly amazed at the number of people in the streets and other public places at all hours of the day and night. Saturday night, October 29, I first witnessed a well-attended baseball game and then joined the thirty-five thousand people who attended the Feria de la Vaca (a fair to raise money to buy cows for the Cuban co-operatives), with its gay music and holiday atmosphere which reminded me of the Brazilian festival in the movie Black Orpheus. Monday morning when I was interviewing the editor of the anti-Castro Times of Havana, he volunteered the information that “all the small night clubs and public places are prospering like they never did before. Little places that used to be half empty are jammed every night.” An hour after I left his office, I picked up the New York Times (available all over Havana) and read two dispatches which said that “on a sultry Saturday night, the Cubans are silent and the streets are empty,” (Max Frankel) and “The country continues to be concerned today about an “invasion”. Few people were on the streets of Havana and traffic was light.” (R. Hart Phillips) I suppose that even this example is political in that the Times correspondents (who seem to cover very little territory and to talk mostly to other correspondents and a few upper-class Cubans) were trying to imply that morale is bad and the régime is cracking up. Every indication I found was that the Revolution has tremendous mass support and will continue indefinitely unless the United States intervenes in Cuba’s internal affairs even more extensively than she has already done.
not since I was in Spain in September, 1936, six short weeks after the outbreak of the Franco rebellion, have I been in such a heady atmosphere as that of Revolutionary Cuba. For the second time in my life I have seen man’s cynical and selfdestructive inhumanity to man being replaced by the spirit and practice of a kind of brotherhood that is unknown to those of us who live in a country whose idealism is behind it and where the “rights” of property override the rights of human beings.
As a reader of the American press (and as a life-long student of the deterioration and corruption of previous revolutions) I went to Cuba twenty-two months after the installation of the revolutionary régime, half expecting to find that I had gone “too late” and would see that once again the Revolution (and the people in whose name it had been made) was being sacrificed to the drives for power or the sectarian preoccupations of a handful of revolutionists. Not only was I greatly reassured about these questions, but I found a whole series of breathtaking accomplishments that are bound to have a permanent impact on the imagination of future generations even if the United States should succeed in destroying them or if, in attempting to combat counter-revolutionary pressure, Cuba should fall gradually into the hands of the kind of “revolutionist” to whom human beings are less important than dogmatic ideas or political control.
In all I spent three weeks in Cuba, and travelled from Pinar del Rio, in the west, to Santiago de Cuba, in the east, a distance of about seven hundred miles. I made a point of tracking down every kind of opposition to the régime (opponents are not hard to find) and spent hours at a time listening to religious, political, and economic objections to what is going on. Before analysing these objections, however, I would like to summarise a few facts about pre-revolutionary Cuba.
In 1898, after Cuba had been fighting for the greater part of thirty years in what was rapidly becoming a successful attempt to gain its freedom from Spain, the United States stepped in and completed the military defeat of Spanish forces in the Western Hemisphere. The United States proceeded to seize both Cuba and Puerto Rico, against the wishes of the people of these two islands, who had already formed the Joint Republic of Puerto Rico and Cuba. Cuba was not even allowed to be present at the signing of the Peace Treaty in Paris, and American military forces occupied Cuba for the next three years. During the military occupation, American business interests intensified the process that had already been begun in the war-torn 1880’s and ’90s of profiteering on Cuban misery, buying up the richest Cuban lands for a song. They also forced through their own version of a Cuban constitution and extorted the notorious Platt Amendment (first drawn up and passed by the United States Congress), under which the American government had the “right” to intervene militarily in order to protect American property and insure the stability of Cuban payments to American investors.
The troops came back again from 1906–9, in 1912, and again in 1917. (They have never left Guantanamo, although it is clear that they have no legal right to be there.) After the last American military occupation, the pattern of American control was well established. For example, Ruby Hart Phillips, the current New York Times correspondent in Cuba, writing of her experiences with Batista (that “charming” man with whom she and the American Ambassadors got along so well), comments: “with Cuban