“The dictatorship has been defeated. The joy is immense. And yet, there still remains much to do. We won’t deceive ourselves by believing that everything will be much easier from now on; perhaps it will be much more difficult. ”
This is what Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban revolution, told the people on January 8, 1959. Many people could never imagine the immense challenge that they would live to experience.
On Jan.1, 2009, Cubans celebrated 50 years of their triumph over the dictatorial regime of Batista and the declaration of their self-determination and heroic resistance against the US state, which has continuously sought to undermine this victory of the Cuban people. It is an undeniable truth that one way or another, with more or less aggressiveness, every U.S. administration has tried to impose a regime change in Cuba. The US has continuously attempted to isolate Cuba internationally and to threaten it militarily; it has violated all principles of international law and sovereignty of nations. An example of this is the preposterous and illegal occupation of the Guantánamo Naval Base on Cuban territory (today converted into a horrific prison camp), a part of Cuba rented out by force to the United States in the early 20th century and which the U.S. government refuses to return.
The declaration of sovereignty in 1959 by the people of this tiny island in its own backyard was a blow to the US state in its aims to control and plunder the entire region of South and Central America, to serve its geo-political interests. The degree of control exercised by the US bourgeoisie and its state over Cuba’s resources, prior to the revolution, must be seen to understand the significance of the declaration of self-determination by the Cuban people 50 years ago.
Up till Jan 1959, most of Cuba’s economic activity and its mineral resources were managed by U.S. capital, which controlled 1.2 million hectares of land (a quarter of the productive territory) and most of the sugar industry, nickel production, oil refineries, the electricity and telephone services and the majority of bank credits. Likewise, the U.S. market controlled approximately 70% of Cuban imports and exports.
There was a high degree of polarization and unequal distribution of income. There was high unemployment and illiteracy, a precarious healthcare system, abysmal differences in living conditions between urban and rural populations.
After the revolution, Cuba exercised its right to take control of these resources and assumed responsibility for the welfare of its people, investing in education, health care, industry and continuously enhancing the security of its population against devastating hurricanes and natural calamities that threaten the tiny island at frequent intervals. In such matters, the country has served as an example of what organised participation of the broad masses led by a state that places welfare of people at the centre, can achieve against all odds. The attempt of the Cuban state to raise the economic level of its population has been seriously impaired by the trade sanctions imposed over the past 50 years by the US state, that extend over foodstuffs, medicines, travel, trade and banking.
The revolutionary state in Cuba also embarked on efforts to establish a political system which would facilitate the right to self-determination through the people’s direct participation in discussions, analyses and the passing of the country’s principal laws.
The self-determination of the Cuban people is also expressed through the right to defend the nation against foreign aggression. Today, more than four million Cubans -- workers, campesinos, and university students -- are organized in militia groups in their campuses, factories and in rural areas.
The Cuban commitment to humanity is mirrored in the tens of thousands of medical personnel and educators who have served and continue to serve across the world, in the struggle against disease and illiteracy.
These 50 years of resistance of the Cuban people to such unceasing attempts at a stranglehold over its entire country and people is inspiring. The Cuban people decided to determine their own destiny, their own political and social system and have defended their right to do so against a very vicious enemy right at their doorstep. Through their heroic resistance they have, thus far, stood as an example for all the peoples of Latin America as well as anti-imperialist forces the wrold over.
People’s Voice joins the heroic Cuban people in celebrating their victories and in renewing our pledge to continue the struggle against imperialism, for national sovereignty and human dignity.