Cuba: 64 Years of Revolution! ¡ 64 Años de Revolución y Más!

By Isaac Saney on January 1, 2023

photo: Bill Hackwell

The people of Cuba enter 2023 celebrating the 64th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. How can the singular meaning, the seminal nature, the effervescent history of the Cuban Revolution be sufficiently encapsulated? How can speeches, essays and ceremonies adequately convey the transcendent essence and substance of the work of Fidel, Che, Raúl, Vilma, Celia and so many other heroes and protagonists of this historic transformative event?

Perhaps, it suffices to say that the significance of the Cuban revolution extends beyond the physical boundaries of the island. Indeed, the political and human geography of the Cuban Revolution is the planetary geography of the global struggle for justice, social development, and human dignity. The Cuban Revolution, flesh, bone, and idea is part and parcel of the wave of anti-colonial and national liberation struggles that swept Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean in the second half of the 20th century. Under the leadership of Fidel, the Cuban Revolution amplified the island nation’s profound historical international revolutionary and anti-imperialist tradition, theory and practice, stretching from and organically tied to, among many others, the Taino cacique, Hatuey, Toussaint L’Overture, Simon Bolivar, José Martí, Karl Marx, Vladmir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Fanon, Ho Chi Minh, Amilcar Cabral, Claudia Jones, Malcolm X.

In the 64-years since the triumph of the Revolution on January 1st, 1959, the Cuban people have shown what it is possible to achieve when a united people defends its independence and right to control its own destiny. After a century long struggle for national affirmation, liberation and independence, Cuba embarked on a path that established authentic self-determination, placing the Cuban nation firmly in the hands of the people of Cuba. In these 64-years of struggle, trials and tribulations, the Cuban people have resisted all attempts to take away their independence and freedom, and the machinations to reimpose foreign domination.

They have repeatedly repelled the unceasing all-sided, military, economic, financial, and propagandistic assault by U.S imperialism.

The Cuban Revolution is, therefore, the crystallization and consummation of the historical aspirations of the Cuban people, manifested time and time again in their re-affirmation and determination to defend, strengthen and perfect the revolutionary project.

However, the empire has never accepted the verdict of the Cuban people; it has waged an unceasing economic war and campaign of destabilization aimed at restoring U.S. imperialism’s domination and tutelage.

Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Washington has waged an unceasing assault, both military and economic, against the Cuban people, organizing an invasion, assassinations, terrorist attacks against civilians and systematic economic sabotage. Many of these acts were directly launched from and/or planned in the United States. These acts of terror against Cuba include the 1976 bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner that claimed the lives of 73 people and the 1997 Havana hotel bombings, which claimed the life of Fabio Di Celmo, a young Montrealer of Italian origin. As a point of fact, 3,478 Cubans have been killed and 2,099 injured, because of these terrorist acts.

The objective of Washington’s strategy is the negation and extinguishment of Cuba’s right to self-determination, sovereignty, and independence: to reimpose U.S. domination, hegemony, and tutelage.

The malign goal is to starve the Cuban people into submission by suffocating the economy for the purpose of generating shortages, hardships and exacerbating social inequalities – that the Cuban Revolution has been working resolutely to eliminate – in order to lead to Washington’s longed-for massive social unrest that would then serve as a pretext to intervene in Cuba.

This was unambiguously articulated by Lester D. Mallory, Vice Secretary of State, and an architect of U.S. Cuba policy. He wrote in a now-declassified U.S. State Department April 6, 1960, memorandum:

“The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba … denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation, and the overthrow of government.”

But what is it that Washington seeks to destroy? What is the society that the U.S. government is so zealously committed to undermining?

Cuba is a society where universal education and health care, housing, food, and access to culture are fundamental human rights, and the state — within its limited resources — does its utmost to transform these aspirations into reality.

The island nation is not a haven for the economic violence that reigns in so many countries. In Cuba no one is “disappeared” or the victim of extra-judicial execution. Indeed, in Cuba there are no homeless children roaming the streets eking out an existence in a dog-eat-dog society where everyone fends for themselves, so characteristic and defining of profit driven and capital centred societies.

This commitment is affirmed and ratified by and through Cuba’s system of popular power which provides consequential, concrete, and meaningful input into decision-making by the citizenry. Through mass participation and consultation these historical aspirations are expressed in a political consensus to defend, strengthen, and perfect the revolutionary project.

Cuba is the country that despite worldwide attacks on fundamental human rights has created a family code that guided by José Marti’s dictum, “with all and for the good of all”, guaranteeing respect for family diversity and defending the rights of all.

Cuba is also the country that has a vibrant biotechnology sector as its own highly effective vaccines and treatments against the corona virus have abundantly demonstrated. Indeed, Cuba’s successful vaccines are a direct challenge to the West’s monopoly over this vital medical technology, especially as these vaccines continue receiving international recognition.

Cuba is one of the most prescient and powerful voices in both word and deed as humanity faces an ecological catastrophe, developing a 100-year plan to address the ravages of climate change by 2100. Indeed, in 2006, the World Wildlife Fund designated Cuba as the only country with sustainable development.

Besieged by the empire, the heroic island nation has made invaluable contributions to the well-being of the world’s nations and peoples, having established an unparalleled legacy of internationalism and humanitarianism.

More than 400,000 Cuban medical personnel have served in 164 countries fighting disease.

More than 2,000 Cubans gave their lives in the struggles to liberate Africa from the scourge of colonialism and the racist apartheid South African state. As Nelson Mandela emphasized: “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom, and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.”

It is internationalist Cuba which has selflessly dispatched tens of thousands of medical personnel to dozens of countries across the world to fight disease, be it Ebola or COVID-19.

What Cuba has done nationally and internationally is no small feat. Its impressive achievements have occurred amid an all-sided brutal aggression by Washington.

As the Cuban people confidently march forward renewing their Revolution, their example assumes even greater significance as the 21st century continues unfolding: a century increasingly fraught with crimes against peace and humanity, the rights of peoples and nations, and global ecology – dangers and crimes that threaten the well-being and the very existence of humanity.

For any country to confront and try to overcome this ever-deepening worldwide crisis in a manner that favors its people, not the global imperial powers, would be no small feat. This is all the more true for a country like Cuba which is subjected to a brutal all-sided commercial, trade and financial embargo from the United States, with extra territorial consequences that even affect businesses from other countries which trade or would like to trade with Cuba. The U.S. economic blockade is the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development, constituting a flagrant violation of the human rights of the people of Cuba and having cost the island nation more than $1 trillion U.S.

Cuba’s path of social justice, human dignity, and international solidarity, is an inspiration to humanity, establishing an unparalleled legacy of internationalism and humanitarianism that makes manifest in deeds the immortal words of José Martí: “Homeland is Humanity. Humanity is Homeland.” In southern Africa, for example, more than 2,000 Cubans gave their lives to defeat the odious racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Today this Cuban commitment to humanity is mirrored in the hundreds of thousands of medical personnel and educators who have served and continue to serve across the world, battling in the trenches against disease and illiteracy.

In the midst of profound challenges, Cuba refutes those who argue that relations among the world’s nations and peoples are — and can only be — determined by self-interest, the pursuit of power and wealth. Cuba demonstrates that it is possible to build relations based on genuine solidarity and social love; it is a living example of the alternatives that permit people to realize their deepest aspirations for peace, justice, and dignity. By holding aloft, the banners of Justice, Peace, Internationalism and Socialism, Cuba is a living example that another better world is possible.

64 years of revolution!

64 years of resisting the empire!

¡64 Años de Revolución y Más¡

Isaac Saney is a Cuba specialist at Dalhousie University, and the author of Cuba: A Revolution In Motion and Cuba, Africa, and Apartheid’s End: Africa’s Children Return! From 2008-2022, he served as co-chair and national spokesperson of the Canadian Network On Cuba, with which he now serves in an advisory capacity.