Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 08:06:18 -0500
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>>> Item number 8129, dated 96/08/20 18:14:23 -- ALL
Via Workers World News Service
Video Review: Cuba's most powerful weapon
By Bob McCubbin, Workers World, 22 August 1996
[Workers' Democracy in Cuba: the 17th Congress of the Cuban Workers' Federation (CTC), video edited by Gloria La Riva and Tahnee Stair.] International Peace for Cuba Appeal and the People's Video Network, 1996.
In its almost 40-year war against revolutionary socialist Cuba, the U.S. ruling class has used just about every weapon at its disposal: direct military aggression, most notably the Bay of Pigs invasion. The economic blockade that has made it almost impossible for Cuba to conduct normal trade relations with other countries. Assassination and repeated attempts on the lives of Fidel Castro and other leaders.
Terrorism like the 1976 bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner. Sabotage with repeated bombings of factories and burning of crops.
Germ and chemical warfare, including introducing dengue fever and swine fever virus into Cuba. And unremitting anti- socialist propaganda directed first and foremost at the heroic Cuban people.
More than just covering an important national gathering, "Workers' Democracy in Cuba" highlights Cuba's most powerful weapon in the struggle against all this aggression: the class consciousness and revolutionary determination of the Cuban working class.
The 17th Congress of the Cuban Workers' Federation took place in Havana in April of this year. Present were 1,900 delegates representing Cuba's 19 national unions--97 percent of Cuban workers are organized--and 600 international guests.
Pedro Ross Leal, the general secretary of the Cuban Workers' Federation, presided over discussions that had started a year earlier in every work place and neighborhood on the most important issues facing Cuba: how to overcome the U.S. blockade, how to increase productivity and efficiency, how to implement the limited capitalist measures while defending socialism, how to fight corruption and strengthen equality, and how to maintain full employment.
Until 1990, Cuba conducted 85 percent of its trade with the Soviet Union and its allies. After their collapse, Cuba faced an unprecedented economic decline usually referred to as the Special Period. But the country has pulled through the worst of this period.
Not one of the clinics or hospitals in its national system of free health care has been closed. Not one school in its totally free national education system has been shut down. The most recent sugar-cane harvest was up 30 percent over the year before. And economic growth for 1996 is projected to be about 5 percent.
WORKERS SPEAK FOR SOCIALISM
Gloria La Riva filmed workers addressing the congress and interviewed others. Their attitude explains how these continuing achievements have been possible in the face of severe difficulties.
A profound commitment to the Revolution shows clearly in the face of every speaker.
With calm determination and deep class consciousness, these women and men explain the differences between capitalism and socialism--and choose socialism.
They are proud of their class's accomplishments in Cuba. They are aware of the very different kinds of problems faced by the working class in the United States. They express solidarity with U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Asked about the charge that Cuba suffers under a dictatorship, one worker responds indignantly: "Here the workers and the government are the same thing. It is the working class in power."
Characterizing the United States, he charges, "It's a capitalist dictatorship against the workers."
At the congress, the workers discuss a campaign against marabu weed, continuing housing needs, reports of special production efforts, the high prices at farmers' markets, and donations of tips by the country's tourism workers to buy medicines.
Pedro Ross Leal attributes this dynamic process of Cuban socialist democracy to "constant communication and dialogue, discussion and analysis with the workers about every important step the country takes."
Do the Cuban workers support the system? "Workers Democracy in Cuba" ends with footage of this year's May Day celebration in Havana. On May 1, the day after the end of the congress, 1.3 million people--the most ever--marched in Havana.
The editors have produced an eloquent document. It is a video by, for and about workers. It is a significant contribution to the struggle to defend Cuba.
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