Russell Blackwell (Rosalio Negrete) Archive

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The Overflow of the Cuban Revolt

Continued Strikes, Riots Burst Bounds
Set by New Deal Diplomacy

(August 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 40, 26 August 1933, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Cuban revolt to oust Gerardo Machado has been successful. So general was the opposition to the “butcher” that Ambassador Welles, who was attempting to eliminate Machado peacefully, was not given time to bring his “mediation” to the hoped-for conclusion.

The disaffection of the army was the last straw necessary to swing the scales against the dictator proving that the Cuban generals still recognize the master’s voice. American imperialism, after many months of bargaining with anti-Machadist elements, had at last spoken clearly and the army shifted its allegiance.

There is every indication that the rank and file of the army would have mutinied en masse against their officers and supported the already nation-wide general strike of the workers and petty-bourgeoisie, if their superiors had not come forward in support of the revolt at the time they did.

All the decisive forces were against the perpetuation of Machado’s Porrista regime. The workers and peasants together with the urban middle classes were the first to take up the struggle openly, American imperialism during the whole period since last February had given signs of its intention to peacefully replace Machado before a mass uprising that might carry the change too far could get under way. On July 1st, the imperialist representative, U.S. Ambassador Sumner Welles, commenced his negotiations for that end, with the frank cooperation of almost all of the bourgeois opposition elements. The masses however, understanding in a confused and general way that some maneuver was afoot, took the offensive under the leadership of Communist and radical petty-bourgeois elements. The general strike proclaimed in the first days of August received the wholehearted support of the Cuban working class, and was also utilized by the bourgeois oppositionists inasmuch as it was directed against the Machado regime. Wall Street’s “mediation” move had failed, and now the only way to check the mass revolt was to be found in going along with it. The army caught between two fires, both of which were directed against the government, joined the movement at the eleventh hour, and in the interests of Wall Street thus assuring the downfall of the dictator before the insurgent masses should get entirely out of control. Machado gone, Dr. Cespedes was hurriedly sworn in as provisional president and has already at this writing commenced to bring repressive measures to bear in order to check the mass movement, which barely commences to show the first signs of abatement.

Once unleashed, following the first reports of the “butcher’s” flight, the fury of the populace was uncontrollable. The National Palace was sacked as were also the private homes of many of Machado’s personal supporters and those of all his cabinet ministers. The offices of El Heraldo de Cuba Machadist daily were wrecked and the presses demolished. Many workers and soldiers under the leadership of members of the “ABC”, systematically hunted down and slew those who had most distinguished themselves as murderers and torturers of enemies of the old regime. The police were either neutralized or powerless to interfere. Colonel Antonio Jimenez, chief of the “porra”, Machado’s extra-legal strong arm force, infamous for its prosecution of revolutionary workers and students, was among the first to encounter the wrath of the enraged populace. Jose Magrinat, who was sent to Mexico by Machado in January 1929 to assassinate comrade Julio Antonio Mella, did not even have time to scurry for his hole like the proverbial rat. In all, a score or more of Machado’s “finest” have been killed. If the “butcher” himself escaped it was only due to his superior alacrity and better protection.

The deposed tyrant, now in refuge at Nassau in the Bahama Islands, may yet meet the fate of his cohorts. Meanwhile, he does not intend to suffer any unnecessary personal inconvenience, as is evidenced by the large sums of money mounting into millions of dollars, that have in recent years been deposited by him in foreign banks, doubtless in anticipation of such a contingency.

American imperialism will now be able to consolidate its forces in Cuba. A “new deal” for Cuba is already being spoken of quite opcnlju and the sending of four American warships to Havana is not so much an episode of it is symptomatic of the spirit of this “New Deal”. Attempts will be made to smooth over the differences and contradictions of imperialism and native capitalism at the expense of the workers. This new situation will open broad perspectives of struggle for the Cuban workers, as no possible arrangement under capitalism can solve the contradictions of Cuba’s economy except at the expense of the workers.

The new situation is pregnant with great possibilities for the Communist party and the proletariat. But in order to fulfill its role, our party must analyze realistically all the factors in the situation. The present mass movement raised by the general strike must be utilized to the limit in order to better entrench our party among the masses, democratic demands must be raised and consistently fought for in order to gain every possible advantage from the period of confusion that is bound to ensue, and which the “concentration” government of de Cespedes, even with Wall Street’s direct and complete support, cannot entirely eliminate.

Hundreds of exiles and political prisoners are returning to Cuba from their places of exile abroad, and from the detention colony on Isla do Pinos. Among these in addition to Communists are also many petty bourgeois aspirants for political jobs. Among these latter, a jockeying for power, hardly intended to calm matters, is bound to take place. All indications point to a period of internal struggles among the diverse sectors of the bourgeois and imperialist camps. If an attempt at a democratic regime is made, it can only be temporary as the continued crisis is not such as to permit of democratic forms. Some form of bourgeois dictatorship under imperialist tutelage is inevitable. The only road out of Cuba’s permanent economic crisis is that of the proletarian revolution. But if this is to be seriously considered the Cuban Communists must lay aside their opportunist slogan of an “anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution”. This slogan can only lead the proletarian vanguard deeper into the slough of nationalism.

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Last updated: 24 October 2015