For more than 50 years, the Cuban revolution has been an inspiration to millions around the world. Since the successful 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro with his younger brother Raul and Ernesto Che Guevara, many have studied, commented and debated its significance in the struggle for socialism. Similarly, since the victory of Hugo Chavez in the Venezuelan presidential elections of 1998, a discussion has raged around a new socialism of the 21st century.
In introducing his new blog on Cuba, Marce Cameron writes, “The Cuban Revolution is passing through a critical juncture. For the global solidarity movement, the ‘battle of ideas’ has always been a vital part of our solidarity work, since to defend the Revolution we must first of all understand it.” Cameron is president of the Sydney University Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Club. He was a coordinator of the Australian Youth-Student Revolutionary Tour of Cuba and Venezuela in July 2010, in collaboration with Cuba’s Union of Young Communists and Venezuela’s United Socialist Party youth organisation. He’s an activist in the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (Sydney) and a writer for Direct Action on Cuba and is studying towards a bachelor of arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies at Sydney University.
“Today, this demands more of us than at any time since the early 1990s. Many of the Revolution’s supporters feel uneasy about the changes underway on the island. This is understandable given that much of what we, and many Cubans, associate with ‘socialism’ in Cuba – universal state subsidies other than health care and education, egalitarian wages, state ownership and management of almost the entire economy – is now being dismantled in the name of socialism”, writes Cameron.
Cameron notes: “This blog has two aims. One is to open a window to the English-speaking world on the debates and changes taking place in Cuba. What makes this blog special is that I’ll be regularly posting original translations of selected documents, commentaries and letters to the editor published in Cuba’s revolutionary press, and inviting readers to comment on them. The other is to provide a space for discussion and debate among supporters, however critical, of the Cuban Revolution to sharpen our understanding and, hopefully, to inspire our ongoing solidarity.”
Most importantly, Cameron writes, “Cuba’s revolutionaries do not, of course, have a monopoly on wisdom. They have made, and will continue to make, mistakes, as they themselves acknowledge. We can learn a great deal from our Cuban comrades but they can also learn a little from us. The Cuban Revolution is internationalist in its essence. To the degree to which we act in solidarity with Cuba and strive towards emulating her revolutionary example in our own countries, a struggle that may take as many forms as there are circumstances, the Cuban Revolution is also our revolution.
“Our need to understand the debates and changes taking place in revolutionary Cuba in order to counter the torrent of lies, half-truths and ill-informed judgements – whether from the corporate media or from disillusioned or sectarian leftist critics – is not the only reason to engage with Cuba’s debate on the future of its socialist project. What is happening in Cuba today is, I believe, deeply inspiring.”
The articles that Cameron has chosen to translate so far give us a glimpse of the deep and thorough debate that is happening in Cuba over its socialist direction.
Owen Richards writes in introducing his blog: “Venezuela: translating the revolution aims to help promote solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution by providing translations of interesting and important Venezuelan news articles and opinion pieces. It welcomes genuine discussion and debate on the posted articles.”
Richards writes that he has “supported the Venezuelan revolutionary process for 8 years.” He was a member of the first Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela in 2005, and more recently helped initiate the Sydney University Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Club.
In one of the articles that Richards translates, “Government, consciousness, and practice”, Antonio Aponte summarises the current struggle that is unfolding in the revolution: “Arriving in government is indispensable for a revolution, because only from there can it socialise the revolutionary spirituality, radiate it across society, place it in the centre of the struggle for hegemony, for leadership.
“The revolutionary government is the command centre in the battle for the substitution of consciousness. As such, the spirituality that radiates from the government, will guide, will determine the meaning of partial actions. In other words, the way, the speed, the rhythm of the central battle of the revolution, which is the replacement of the capitalist egoistic consciousness, will be determined by the spirituality that the government reflects on society”.
“Nevertheless, in the government, a ferocious ideological and class struggle takes place in the heart of the revolution, and this ideological struggle reveals itself in the practice of the government: it is its reflection and is itself reflected in it. The dominant ideology in the government will be the dominant ideology in the practice of the government.”
Richards has also been translating sections of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s red book (party program). Section 4, entitled “From the bourgeois capitalist state to the socialist state”,proclaims, “The conclusion is clear: to end poverty, it is necessary to give power to the poor and to build socialism. This power is born in the participation and activism of the people.”
Each blog provides a fascinating and inspiring insight for English speakers into the revolutionary processes unfolding in these countries.