By Germán Sánchez
Editor’s Note: As U.S. citizens most of us have precious little knowledge or understanding of revolution. Through our educational systems and the corporate media in the U.S. we have received either no information or distortions about historical revolutions. It certainly is not in the interest of the corporate oligarchy to teach it’s citizens about the nature, dynamics and processes of successful revolutions in human history. They have trained us to think red … blood in the streets … lawlessness … anarchy when we hear the “R” word. They have trained us to fear.
We must teach ourselves and one another about successful revolutions if we are to take control of our lives and truly govern ourselves. One such successful revolution occurred only 45 years ago and only 90 miles off our southeast shores in Cuba. Germán Sánchez offers us a primer in his comparative analysis of the Cuban Revolution and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. The book is Cuba and Venezuela and it will be on the shelves in English in a few months. The pamphlet below contains a chapter in the book. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our country to read and learn more about the true nature of revolution. – Les Blough, Editor
Aug 28, 2005
[Germán Sánchez has been the Cuban ambassador to Venezuela from 1994 to the present. This is the first part from a new pamphlet from Ocean Press, published in both English and Spanish-language editions. The pamphlet contains a chapter from the book Cuba and Venezuela by Germán Sánchez, which is forthcoming in English from Ocean Press in early 2006.
A Spanish-language edition of the book will published by Ocean Press in September 2005. Cuba and Venezuela is a comparative historical analysis of the Cuban Revolution and the process of change and
revolution currently unfolding in Venezuela. Another pamphlet taken from the same forthcoming book is Barrio Adentro and Other Social Missions in the Bolivarian Revolution. For further information visit Ocean Books.
The Cuban Revolution and Venezuela — Part 1
By Germán Sánchez
In the heat of the change led by President Hugo Chávez, speculation that Venezuela intends to replicate the revolutionary course Cuba initiated in January 1959 is steadily proliferating. Those who promote such a distortion are nearly all adversaries of President Chávez, who have an interest in creating confusion, and who themselves are distorted by hatred. It is only on rare occasions — including on the part of the Bolivarian revolution — that logical and balanced comparisons between the two nations are made.
This has motivated me to put together this analysis of the Cuban Revolution in its initial, decisive years. It is an attempt to contribute to the memories of older Venezuelan readers and give younger ones a quick view. It is devised for people who would like to make an unprejudiced historical comparison between our revolution in Cuba and the process of change currently occurring in Venezuela.
The Cuban revolutionary evolution of the 1960s cannot today be repeated in other countries of the region. This is as much due to the geopolitical circumstances in which the revolution occurred and the heady speed of its transformation, as to the far reach of core measures it adopted in a very short space of time. The Cuban Revolution’s unique complexion is located in those factors.
That does not, however, mean that Cuba’s initial decisions, or the revolution’s impact on Cuban society, are irrelevant in the case of other Latin American or Caribbean nations. On the contrary, given that it has been the most complete historical rupture to occur in any country in the hemisphere, the Cuban Revolution represents a paradigm — a laboratory of indisputable relevance for the peoples of our region.
This comparison has the objective of contributing information and reflection; it in no way seeks to replace anyone’s own thinking or their own process of drawing conclusions. More than 40 years of socialist discourse in our homeland confirms that the option chosen by Cubans was and is still appropriate.
No revolution in the Americas has generated so many crucial changes in such a short period of time. In less than 24 months — from January 1, 1959, to April 16 and April 19, 1961, symbolic dates in the insurrectionary triumph (the proclamation of the socialist nature of the revolution and the first military defeat of US imperialism in Latin America) — profound changes took root, initiating a new stage in the history of Cuba and the entire region.
The revolution was not conducted according to a precise plan, although the majority of its actions were contemplated in the Moncada program of 1953 (“History Will Absolve Me”). Given that the United States furiously began to clash with Cuba from the triumph of the revolution and the initiation of its first measures, nobody could really foresee how the process would develop. Still, the revolutionary leadership and Fidel Castro in particular had a strategy and clear objectives, which facilitated strong, accurate guidance of the Cuban people and the integration of the revolutionary organizations. Even faced with that forceful, complex confrontation, the decisions of the Cubans were not made recklessly. Years later Fidel summed up the effective formula for the triumph of any revolution in three words: people, weapons, and unity. In Venezuela, on February 3, 1999, he put it this way:
“Revolution is the daughter of culture and ideas.”
Fierce struggle against the domination of the island by the United States and its allies contributed to the acceleration of revolutionary actions. From the early days of 1959 the United States attempted to crush the revolutionaries and prevent the development of the process in favor of the people and national sovereignty. During that year it exerted pressure, issued warnings, and began to organize and execute plots against the stability of the country, the economy, and even Fidel himself. In 1960 the great power’s plan to defeat its neighboring government and abort the incipient project of the new Cuba was unambiguous.