A U.S.-supported demonstration against the Cuban revolutionary government scheduled for November 15 failed to materialize on the streets of Cuba, as U.S.-made “leaders” confronted indignant, overwhelming rejection by the people.
They called a march, and nobody showed up
The inherent obstacles to the demonstration were apparent from the beginning, but they became increasing apparent as the date approached, with the Cuban news media increasingly providing evidence for the creation and support of the protest action by the U.S. government and by actors in the exterior known in Cuba for their history of counterrevolutionary and violent activities; and with mass organizations and organizations of Cuban civil society increasingly expression their indignant rejection.
As the date approach, Yunior García, the most well-known of the “leaders,” released a video in which he announced that he will march alone and in silence on November 14, the day before the scheduled march. He explained that he had no support or following in Cuba, and that he was concerned with his future as a professional. The video, in some aspects pathetic, appeared to be a capitulation.
Circulating in WhatsApp groups in Cuba on November 14 and in Facebook were photos and videos of the neighbors of Yunior García gathered outside his apartment building to repudiate his actions and intentions, chanting revolutionary slogans and disparaging slogans toward counterrevolutionaries. There was no sign of Junior. A young woman of slight stature knocked on his apartment door to inform him that the people were not going to permit a media show. Later in the day, videos were disseminating on Facebook accounts in Cuba showing a multitude in a park in Central Havana shouting revolutionary slogans as well as disparaging slogans toward counterrevolutionaries.
On the afternoon of November 15, Cuba broadcasted a four-hour special news report, which was dedicated to celebrating November 15 as an important day that marked the beginning of a new normality in the battle of COVID-19; with reporting on conditions in the streets in relation to the U.S. media campaign included as a secondary theme. The program reported on the opening of the schools and universities across the nation, celebrating the reestablishment of an activity that is the foundation of Cuban socialism. And it reported on the opening of international flights and international tourism, which constitutes a reopening of the nation’s economy. The discourse stressed that these important steps, causes for celebration, were made possible by the development and distribution of vaccines by the Cuban scientific research network and system of health; and by compliance with the health measures by the majority of the people.
The opening of the schools occurs under conditions of security. Seventy-five percent of the children and youth have been fully vaccinated, and the remainder with be by the end of the month. At the same time, health measures remain in place: face masks are required, and procedures for regular handwashing have been established. In the classrooms, the seating is arranged so as to maintain physical distancing.
Medical students in Cienfuegos will remember the day
International tourism also proceeds with health security. International travelers are required to have proof of vaccination or a PCR test within the past seventy-two hours. Appropriate health measures are in force in hotels and in private lodging. The opening of international tourism implies the revitalization of the economy, hard hit by the pandemic of nearly two years.
The special news program reported tranquility and happiness in the streets of Cuba. Tranquility, because the announced counterrevolutionary march did not materialize; happiness, because of the reopening of the schools, tourism, and the economy, made possible by the achievement of Cuban science.
The program reported on the scientific achievement of developing five vaccine candidates in “super-fast” time. Including the vaccination of children, who are beginning classes with the protection of the vaccine, and further protected by the application of health measures in all the schools and universities of the nation. A senior researcher stressed that the majority of scientific researchers are women, and a high percentage are young, who experience the profound satisfaction that comes from a life dedicated to service to the society. Personal satisfaction in the deepest sense is not measured in material terms.
The special news program reported on the expressions of solidarity with Cuba from civil society organizations in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. The were demonstrations in support of the Cuban Revolution in more than eighty cities throughout the world.
The opening of the schools, tourism, and the economy was described as a new beginning. There is much optimism that this turn to the new normality will be more successful than the effort a year ago, because much has been learned about effectively containing the virus during the experience of the past year.
The special news program stressed the tranquility of the people. A student at the University of Havana reported that he had not seen any indication of interest among the students in the counterrevolutionary call on the social media to march. Reports in various areas of the city of Havana and in the provinces indicated that the everything is tranquil, and that protest marches had not materialized. In Yunior’s neighborhood, the people reported on November 15 that there were neither protestors nor police; there had not been any kind of occurrence, and the neighborhood school had opened with calm.
Yunior’s apartment building on Nov. 15; his neighbors added a patriotic touch
A journalist caught up with Bruno Rodríguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, for an informal interview in the street in front of the office of the Ministry. The Minister declared that today is a day of happiness in Cuba, because the economy is reactivated. You can see the happiness in the streets of Cuba. He maintained that none of the hopes of the Biden administration plan for November 15 has been realized; the plan is “a complete failure.” He observed that Cuba’s own social media campaign, Vive Cuba, has had strong repercussions, whereas the “toxic platform,” which creates accounts supposedly in Cuba but actually are north of the Straits of Florida, has had poor results. We have had the support of demonstrations and events throughout the world.
The four-hour special news program was followed by a ninety-minute edition of the Mesa Redonda, the nightly Cuban program dedicated to news analysis. It too focused on celebrating November 15 as the day that Cuba launches the new normality. Arlene Rodríguez began the conversation by declaring, “How beautiful it is to see the reaction of Cuban youth, when they see that their country is under attack.” She noted that November 15 actually began on the fourteenth, when Díaz-Canel met with the youth of Pañuelos Rojos, who had responded to the call of various organizations of Cuban civil society to come to the defense of the revolution. In these two days, the country has been completely calm.
Rodríguez noted that seeing Díaz-Canel seated on the floor with the youth of Pañuelos Rojos reminded her that everyday the Cuban President visits the people in their various activities. He is always relaxed, moving among the people without fear, and continually received by the people with much enthusiasm, as Cuban news coverage documents on a daily basis.
Rodríguez quoted with approval a Cuban artist, “I have many doubts about people who protest with making proposals.” She observed that she is deeply troubled that people would tell lies about Cuba and about Cuban specialists who have played such a positive role in combatting the virus; and who would attack any person who defends the Cuban Revolution. These people have formulated a discourse that offends, she stated, a discourse that is ignorant of the Cuban reality, a discourse that forgets the people and their hopes and concrete needs. They speak of the people without knowing them.
Barbara Batencourt observed that we have seen images all day from across the nation. The entire country is calm. The schools are opening with tranquility, with health measures in place. Tourism is opening, which is important for the economy. There is much optimism. Batencourt further observed that she finds it absurd when enemies of the revolution call for change, because revolution is permanent change.
The Mesa Redonda program concluded with an interview with a Cuban father who accompanied his daughter to school on the memorable day: “We are convinced that our country is going to flourish.”
On the night of November 15, there appeared videos on Facebook circulating in Cuba that could be construed as challenging the narrative of the Cuban news media concerning the tranquility of the nation. There was a video of two small groups in the province of Santa Clara in a competition of counterrevolutionary and revolutionary slogans. Both groups were far outnumbered by neighbors observing, who appeared oriented to maintaining order. Meanwhile, there were a few other videos that were expressions of protest by individuals who appeared to be alone. The limited nature of these activities on social media confirms the Cuban government and media narrative that the planned protests were not realized.
The mainstream media forms alliance with U.S. imperialism
The November 15 Special News Report included an extensive studio interview with Jaime Gómez, Vice-President of La Casa de Cultura. He observed that the international media disseminates a culture of individualism, which serves imperialist interests. To resist, we have to continue reading and to develop a critical culture, critical toward imperialism and also toward our own system. Cuba has a culture of resistance, he maintained, a culture of hope but not of blind faith. In these days, we have many possibilities for renewing our culture, above all because of the guidance of Díaz-Canel, because of the confidence that he has, and because of his personal connection to scientists, journalist, and creators. We are going to overcome, he declared, the challenges of our concrete daily reality with more and more justice.
Gómez’s understanding of the media stands in contrast to the imperialist political orientation of the U.S. mainstream media, which has contributed to the unconventional war against Cuba. A November 13 article in the Website of NBC News, “Tensions Rise in Cuba,” describes the protest leader Yunior García as an actor and playwright, without mentioning his training by counterrevolutionary programs outside of Cuba, a fact widely disseminated in the Cuban media. NBC reports that hundreds of Cubans, including leading dissidents, are behind bars, without mentioning that these persons have been arrested and duly charged, in accordance with the law and the constitution, for vandalism and/or for advocating and instigating disruptions and violence in the paid service of a foreign power. The NBC story reports that the Cuban communist government (sic) accuses García of being financed and directed by the United States, without mentioning that Cuban news outlets have presented ample documentation of this charge, documentation that has included plans and reports of U.S. government entities and the recipients of U.S. funds. The support of the U.S. government for counterrevolutionary activities in Cuba and in other targeted nations is not a national security secret, and NBC has access to information concerning U.S. support for these activities, if it were interested in objective news reporting.
In spite of its pro-imperialist and counterrevolutionary bias, the mainstream international media acknowledged on the morning of November 16 that the planned protest in Cuba did not materialize. Declaring that “a nationwide protest fizzles,” The New York Times writes that “demonstrators largely stayed off the streets of Cuba on Monday during what had been a highly anticipated nationwide march.” Similarly, Reuters writes that protests in Cuba “fell flat,” as “most Cuban dissidents stayed home.” Reuters elaborates: “dissidents on social media called on supporters to launch protests at 3 p.m. in 10 cities across Cuba, from the capital Havana to Pinar del Rio and Guantanamo. More than three hours later, there was little sign of organized protests, though dissidents on social media shared videos of individuals or small groups who were quickly shouted down by pro-government supporters.”
The New York Times, however, is incapable of recognizing that its prior anticipation of the march was based on a lack of knowledge of Cuban reality. Instead of reevaluating the situation and its support for U.S.-financed political operatives in Cuba, The New York Times blames the fizzling of the march on government repression, as though it would be possible for a government to peacefully prevent a march by a people committed to attaining social justice. The New York Times reports that the political operatives (whom it calls “dissidents”) were surrounded by “uniformed police officers, plainclothes state security agents and government supporters,” not noting that it was “government supporters” who were overwhelmingly present, and that these government supporters might be more accurately described as the enraged and indignant neighbors of the political operatives, neighbors who are a small sampling of the people of the nation. The New York Times forgets that a couple days before the fizzled march, the most known of the operatives had declared that he had no support among the people.
The historic failure of the Cuban counterrevolution
The fiasco of the November 15 counterrevolutionary action is deeply rooted in the historic failure of the Cuban counterrevolution, in its long-standing incapacity to attain its fundamental goal of bringing down the Cuban Revolution.
In the era of the neocolonial republic (1902-1959), the Cuban national bourgeoise bourgeoisie was a figurehead bourgeoisie, totally subordinate to U.S. capital and its interests. As a result, following the triumph of the revolution in 1959, the national bourgeoisie was incapable of giving a positive response to the call of Fidel and the revolution to integrate into the revolutionary process in the development of an autonomous and more economically advanced national economy. Faced with the unwavering commitment of the revolutionary government to break neocolonial dependency on the United States and to foster autonomous economic development, the national bourgeoisie saw itself as unable to adapt, and it opted to abandon the country.
The abandonment of the country by the Cuban national bourgeoisie was a historic error. It expected that the economic, financial, political, and military power of the USA would make impossible the sustainability of the revolution, and that the national bourgeoisie would soon return to Cuba to participate in and ally itself with a U.S.-backed government. This error in political judgment was rooted in bourgeoisie’s lack of understanding of the Cuban people, always portraying them in pejorative terms, never seeing their true virtues and strengths. It therefore completely underestimated the staying power of a revolution forged by the people, especially when led by exceptional leadership. Once relocated in Miami, the members of this class falsely portrayed themselves as victims of repression, rather than as victims of their own political errors.
The Cuban counterrevolution, therefore, had since the triumph of the revolution a “Made in the USA” stamp. It was directed by Cubans who had abandoned the country and were directing the counterrevolution under the tutelage and financial support of the U.S. government. The U.S. stamp of the Cuban counterrevolution condemned it to weakness, for it gave it an unpatriotic image. It could not possibly generate a following among the people, inasmuch as it was putting forth a dream of a restoration of U.S. political-economic domination, while the revolution was proclaiming, in theory and practice, a much more patriotic ideal of the sovereignty of the Cuban nation, claiming for itself the heroes of the Cuban struggle for independence and against U.S. imperialism.
The Cuban counterrevolution committed a second historic error in the 1990s, continuing to ally itself with the U.S. government and successfully manipulating the U.S. government to intensify economic measures against the revolutionary government, thereby converting U.S. policy from an embargo into a blockade. It failed to take advantage of the opening afforded by the economic crisis in Cuba; it failed to formulate a policy for a new, post-socialist Cuba that would not be a U.S. appendage and that would be truly sovereign in some way. The counterrevolution, lacking in social ethics or intellectual maturity, was capable only of returning to the previously failed proposals, envisioning a restoration of property to owners that had abandoned the country and hoped for a return of unfettered U.S. capital in Cuba. Once again, it condemned itself to weakness by proclaiming a project that can only be seen as unpatriotic by Cubans living in Cuba.
The Cuban counterrevolution today continues under the ineffective paradigm of the 1990s. It is tied to and dependent on U.S. financing. It continues to have a “Made in the USA” stamp, an image that condemns it to failure. For any Cuban who is tired of economic hardship and who is lukewarm concerning the revolution, the counterrevolutionary message, with its subordination to U.S. interests, does not appeal. A certain degree of discontent is one thing; betrayal of the nation is another.
Raúl Castro and Barack Obama
Barack Obama tried to point to a more promising counterrevolutionary way. Obama’s strategy was to give practical support to Cuban small businesspersons, a class that had created itself out of the hardships of the post-Soviet period; and whose productive and commercial contributions are recognized and supported by the Party and the government in the new social and economic model of 2012. In the Obama plan, both the U.S. government and the Cuban Revolutionary Government would be providing economic and political support to the emerging Cuban entrepreneurial class.
The U.S. and Cuban governments would support the entrepreneurial class for different reasons. For the Revolution, the intention is to increase the productive and commercial capacity of the nation, so that the people would be more satisfied with the socialist project of the nation, and the Cuban Revolution would be consolidated. For the USA, the intention was to politically and ideological cultivate the entrepreneurial class, facilitating its transition to a class that would see its economic interests as different from the revolutionary project.
In the Obama plan, the entrepreneurial class would ultimately be the basis for a home-grown internal opposition, even though it would be ideologically supported from abroad. Being a home-grown movement, it would be capable of introducing reforms to the Cuban revolutionary project that would not have a “Made in the USA” stamp. It would gradually expand space for U.S. capital, always in accordance with the rhetoric of revolution and socialism. The Obama plan was, in essence, a plan of seduction, eroding the revolution from within. The intention was to incorporate Cuba in the neocolonial world order, even though its special revolutionary history and socialist practices could be permitted and recognized.
The Cuban revolutionary leadership understood the Obama strategy and its intentions. The revolution was prepared, however, to accept its challenge. It believed that the Cuban people would never permit the entrepreneurial class nor foreign capital to retake control of Cuba. The Cuban strategy was to allow space for Cuban entrepreneurship and foreign capital, but under the direction and regulation by the socialist state, which is oriented to the needs and interests of the people and the nation. The revolutionary leadership has confidence in the structures of people’s democracy that the revolution has created and developed during the last six decades, structures which ensure that power is in the hands of the people, guaranteeing policies that promote the will of the majority, and not the interests of a well-off minority or foreign capital.
The authors of the Obama plan never seriously studied the Cuban revolutionary project, and thus they did not grasp that the Cuban structures of people’s democracy can prevent the taking of power by the political representatives of the capitalist class, as commonly occurs in systems of representative democracy. The Cuban structures of people’s democracy, not seen from a U.S. “human rights” perspective, are the Achilles heel of the Obama plan.
But the Obama plan, in spite of its misreading of the political situation in Cuba, nonetheless offered a way out of the humiliating failure of the six-decade embargo/blockade, which is accomplishing nothing of benefit to the USA. So why did Biden, Vice-President in the Obama administration, not return to the Obama plan, as he indicated during the electoral campaign? Here we have to take into account that the Cuban counterrevolution is an industry, in which Cuban-American organizations receive considerable funds from the U.S. government. It doesn’t really matter that the organizations are not likely to accomplish their goals. The important thing is that the organizations give the appearance of moving toward the attainment of their goals, so that they can continue to receive financing and continue to participate in the political process as actors with a level of influence. Businesspersons and the new media activists in the industry of the Cuban counterrevolution see themselves as defenders of democracy and human rights, and in this self-proclaimed identity, they can marshal a level of economic and political support. They have found a way to make a living, and it is a more lucrative living than, say, being a revolutionary doctor, professor, or worker in Cuba.
But the U.S. government and the U.S. mainstream media ought to take note. The events of November 15 indicate that the Cuban-American counterrevolutionary industry is not likely to accomplish regime change in Cuba. The best that it could do is create problems in Cuba, and at the same time, further damage the already damaged international prestige of the USA. Jimmy Carter tried to cut ties with the Cuban-American counterrevolutionary industry, because of its tendency to direct U.S. policies toward Cuba and Latin America away from the objective long-term interests of the nation. Such a delinking is long overdue.
On the future of Cuban socialism
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of Cuba. The Cuban Revolutionary Government has managed the pandemic with intelligence. It has a comprehensive, scientifically-based plan for continuing to contain the virus, a plan that has the support of the people. It is now opening tourism, which will reactivate the economy. It emerges from the pandemic with a pharmaceutical industry that is prepared to sell vaccines and medicines to the world, perhaps becoming a major pillar of the economy, along with tourism. It has developed an intelligent plan for the economy, combining socialist state planning with space for private and foreign capital, in which the people are actively participating. Its political system of people’s power and its vanguard political party enjoy legitimacy among the people. Its opponents are driven by particular interests and have no proposal for the future direction of the nation; and they are politically weak inside Cuba.
A free subscription option is available, with capacity to read, send, and share all posts. A paid subscription ($5 per month or $40 per year) enables you to make comments and to support the costs of the column; full subscribers ($40 per year) also receive a free PDF copy of my book on Cuba and the world-system.