Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 29, 2005

Update on NACLA attack on Cuba

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 10:14 am
(The first item appeared on Walter Lippmann’s Cubanews mailing list on Yahoo. The second was a private communication from a Mexican socialist in response to it.)
The way I read this is that in Mexico and beyond, the Zapatista support networks include a lot of fashionable “libertarians” who think they are onto something new, but are not. She states that Cuba “has no patience…with the Zapatistas”, and I suspect that this is based on the fact that when the Zapatista revolt first occurred in 1994, there were Zapatista admirers in and out of Mexico who hoped and expected that Cuba would support them and break off relations with the Mexican government. Unfortunately, that was unrealistic.

Fidel’s only comment (that I recall) on the Zapatistas at the time, given obliquely, was that given the world situation after the fall of the USSR, there was not much future for new armed struggles. But since the Revolution, Cuba has been cautious in its relations with Mexico, for reasons of simple survival. Mexican Marxists (former Mexican Communist Party, Popular Socialist Party and successor groups) understood Cuba’s practical needs on this basis and did not complain about it. Since the election of Fox in 2000, Cuba has been more openly critical of Mexico. Meanwhile, the task the Zapatistas have before them is very different from that of the Cuban state. It is very easy for outsiders to criticize Cuba’s effort to build or maintain friendly relations with Mexico, China or whomever, but for Cuba not to do so might be terminally self-destructive.
Efforts to play off Cuba against movements like the Zapatistas, or for people in the Zapatista support networks to play themselves off against people in international Cuba solidarity, may well continue. Nevertheless, there are elements in the world Marxist / Marxist-Leninist movements that are very supportive of the Zapatistas — the novelist Jose Saramago, who is active in the Portuguese CP, the late Gladys Marin, until her untimely death Secretary-General of the Chilean CP, and now the new Party of Mexican Communists which aspires to fill the political space of the old Mexican Communist Party (PCM) and the last Secretary General of the PCM, Arnaldo Martinez Verdugo, all have expressed themselves in support of the Zapatista movement/struggle especially in its present announced phase of re-injecting itself into the class and popular struggle in Mexico at the national level. In Mexico, the Popular Socialist Party was at first highly critical of the Zapatistas but now, as well as the Party of Mexican Communists, has shifted ground and is much more supportive of them.
Emile Schepers
Dear Emile,
To clarify some points in your response to Diana Spencer’s piece on Cuba:
1. The Zapatistas and the World Social Forum are not the same thing. In fact, the Zapatistas have never participated in the WSF. Recently some leading Mexican intellectuals have publicly called on them to do so, which would, in my opinion, be a very positive development.
2. Cuba has always participated with large delegations in the WSF. The WSF have always shown solidarity with Cuba. The Cuban press has not only highlighted the WSF, but have given them such prominent and positive coverage; in fact, one would think Granma was an official organ of the WSF. Cuba clearly sees the antiglobalization movements as a major strategic ally in the struggle for a better world. Spencer is utterly wrong on a factual level in this regard.
3. Cubans participated in some of the Zapatista international gatherings in Chiapas, notably the Intergalactic. The Cuban publishing house Editorial Caminos published a 373 page inexpensive edition of texts of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) entitled “Ansias del Alba: textos zapatistas” in 2001 (that is, a year BEFORE the incident with Vicente Fox that led to a deterioration of relations between the two countries). Spencer is wrong here as well.
4. For the past two years, the Zapatista National Liberation Front, the political wing of the EZLN in civil society, has endorsed the July 26 Cuba solidarity march in Mexico City. (Incidentally, the Mexican WSF group has actively participated in solidarity efforts, including with speakers at rallies organized by the Mexican movement in Solidarity with Cuba). FZLN leaders regular participate in solidarity activities as well.
5. Recently the EZLN through its leading spokesman Comandante Marcos has been more vocal is its support for and solidarity with Cuba. In the past, Marcos’ statements in support of Cuba have been aired on Cuban TV-
6. I cannot speak for other countries, but here in Mexico, support for Cuba is strong in civil society in general and the forces that participate in the anti-globalization movement in particular, including among human rights NGOs. Three hundred organizations, most of them civil society organizations, unions, neighborhood organizations (the urban popular movement) and NGOs- endorsed this year’s July 26th march, for example. Cuba is most definitely a reference point for such forces.
7. Cuba correctly maintains proper diplomatic relations with Mexico and as such does not interfere in our internal affairs. Unfortunately, such an approach is not reciprocal.
Hope these points can shed some light on the debate.
Fraternally, Pedro

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