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Vol. 80/No. 14      April 11, 2016

(front page)

Castro, Cuban people answer ‘sugar-coated’ words
of Obama

The U.S. government “is continuing the game of the carrot and the stick,” wrote Elier Ramírez in the March 26 issue of Juventud Rebelde, daily paper of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba. “There is no change in their strategic objective of regime change.”

Ramírez was responding to President Barack Obama’s March 20-22 visit to the island. Despite many “sugar-coated” words — as Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro described Obama’s comments — Washington’s goal of overthrowing the Cuban Revolution and restoring capitalist exploitation came through loud and clear. Numerous articles in the Cuban press have answered aspects of the U.S. rulers’ shift in methods.

In his March 22 speech, broadcast on Cuban TV, Obama said the U.S. government was leaving behind “the last remnant of the Cold War” because “what the United States was doing was not working.”

He didn’t spell out what it was that didn’t work: years of terrorist operations, the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, assassination attempts, as well as attempted diplomatic isolation and the unparalleled economic embargo that remains in place to this day, more than 55 years after it began.

And the commander in chief of U.S. imperialism conveniently left unsaid the failed goal: overturning the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the workers and farmers government it brought to power, taking land away from small farmers and giving it “back” to capitalist landlords, and bringing back the so-called free market so that Cuba’s working people and the island’s resources can be a source of superprofits for U.S. capitalists.

In an article in Granma, the paper of the Communist Party of Cuba, Enrique Ubieta Gómez pointed out that “during these decades of harassment, U.S.-based terrorists caused 3,478 deaths and left 2,099 people disabled.” Luis Posada Carriles, “the intellectual co-author of the blowing up of a civilian Cuban plane in mid-flight who is responsible for the death of all its passengers and crew, is living comfortably in Miami” to this day, he noted.

And “on the territory occupied against our will in Guantánamo for a century not a single word” from Obama, Ubieta said, referring to the U.S. naval base that U.S. imperialism forced down Cuba’s throat at gunpoint in 1903.

One of the most outlandish statements by Obama was his claim that “we took different journeys to our support for the people of South Africa in ending apartheid. But President [Raúl] Castro and I could both be there in Johannesburg to pay tribute to the legacy of the great Nelson Mandela.”

“I don’t know what support he is referring to,” Ubieta wrote, “because the government that jailed Mandela was a strategic ally of Washington.”

Under the U.S-backed white supremacist regime in South Africa blacks — who were some 80 percent of the population — could not vote, change jobs at will, own land, or travel from one side of a town to the other without permission.

“Cuba paid tribute to Mandela with the blood spilled by its men and women in the African jungle, while together with Angolan combatants they repulsed the invasion by racist South Africa,” Ubieta said, referring to the nearly 400,000 Cuban internationalists who voluntarily fought in Angola from 1975 to 1991.

Heart of Washington’s new tactics

To weather the storm created by the world capitalist economic crisis and challenges Cuba faces as the only country where the workers hold state power, the revolutionary government has implemented measures that increase the influence of the world capitalist market, while defending workers control, a planned economy and the social values of solidarity. The measures include promoting the growth of small businesses — cuentapropistas or self-employed in Cuban parlance — and encouraging more foreign investment in Cuba.

The U.S. rulers see this as an opportunity to create pressure from below, to create a capitalist class and get the Cuban government to make more concessions to U.S. and other capitalist businesses.

Throughout his trip Obama pushed the Cuban leadership to allow direct employment by foreign enterprises operating in Cuba. He wants those capitalists to have the right to hire and fire workers directly. Currently they must hire through a government-run employment agency. With more control, foreign capitalists —limited to a maximum 49 percent control of joint ventures with the Cuban government — can begin to undermine union protections and workers control of job conditions.

One day before Obama’s visit, Starwood Hotels & Resort Worldwide announced it had signed agreements to invest in and manage Hotel Inglaterra and Hotel Quinta Avenida in Havana and a letter of intent to manage the Santa Isabel, a “boutique” hotel. It becomes the first U.S. company since 1959 to do so.

Starwood “will be advocates for change; they will be forceful,” said John Kavulich of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in New York.

In his speech to an entrepreneurship and opportunity event in Havana, March 21, Obama told participants that being a small businessman means “if you’re willing to work hard, you can make your own way and improve your situation in life, for the next generation. It’s the spirit of youth.” In other words, “look out for number one” — the “me first” ethos that characterizes capitalism as opposed to the solidarity that is the product of the proletarian socialist revolution in Cuba.

Obama wants “to seduce the youth, stimulate selfishness within them and a desire for purely individual improvement to present capitalist growth as the universal panacea and not the cause of the crisis,” Darío Machado wrote in the March 25 Granma. “It’s our turn to explain this.”

“Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture,” Fidel Castro wrote in the March 28 Granma. “We are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything.”
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