Hands Off Cuba!

Soldiers and Students Oust Gov’t.; U.S. Sends Navy

(September 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 42, 9 September 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The rapidly developing events in Cuba have found an answer in the “democratic” regime of Roosevelt. Warships are steaming full speed ahead to Cuban waters. Marines are being mobilized – not for intervention ! – just to protect American lives and property. At the first serious threat to the money bags of the Wall Street oligarchs the mask is stripped from the face of the “liberal” administration and it reacts like the most honored of the reactionary regimes in United States history. For the workers in the United States the central problem is the tight at home against intervention.

The Cuban situation is developing with hurricane speed. De Cespedes and his concentration cabinet have been swept away. The regime was not one month old when the military, the students and the ABC dissident wing blew it into eternity.

The coup d’etat was accomplished without bloodshed and with remarkable ease. The De Cespedes regime offered no resistance. Quietly and with “dignity” it abandoned the seat of power, saying only that the responsibility for the “burden of government” rested on other shoulders.

The painless amputation of the De Cespedes regime is to be explained by the fact that it failed entirely to enlist the support of the workers. Although the general strike came to an end with the return to work of the Havana bus drivers and later the stevedores and dock workers, strikes continued throughout the island in the cities and on the sugar plantations. These movements became ever deeper in character. Here and there the military attempted to put down the strikes but the soldiers, for the most part, FRATERNIZED WITH THE WORKERS. This strike movement cut away the ground under the feet of the government.

On the other hand the De Cespedes regime revealed its sympathies with American imperialism and the Machadistas. Not only had the De Cespedes regime organized Machado’s escape, but it revealed a great reluctance to satisfy the popular demand for the arrest and trial of all the agents of the former dictator and the removal of his supporters in mayoralties and governmental posts. This infuriated the anti-imperialist elements of the petty bourgeoisie.

Finally the government signified its intention of cutting the soldiers’ pay. This was the last straw. The soldiers rebelled. The movement developed with remarkable speed and immediately swept beyond its initial objectives. The soldiers of Camp Columbia, a Havana post, took to the radio and asked for the support of all enlisted men. The response was immediate. The entire army and later the navy joined the movement.

The rebellion of the military is a rebellion of the rank and file against the government carried, out against their own officers. Their first action was to arrest all commissioned officers. And now for the first time in the present revolution the soldiers and sailors are putting forward THEIR OWN LEADERS. At the head of the army and navy stand non-commissioned officers. Throughout the army and navy the same selection is taking place.

The soldiers and sailors by themselves cannot constitute a regime. They need political leadership. In the present situation that has been supplied by the petty bourgeoisie Under the slogan of the immediate convocation of a Constituent Assembly the petty bourgeoisie have erected a junta of five: four professors and a banker.

What will the petty bourgeoisie demand in the Constituent Assembly? The petty bourgeois masses are inflamed with anti-imperialist sentiments. The press reports that they signify their intention to fire on American marines should they be landed. A student jumps to the roof of an automobile and denounces American intermeddling.

The situation indicates that the demand will be raised for the abrogation of the Platt Amendment in the Cuban Constitution giving the United States the right to intervene with military forces in Cuba. The demand will also be made to denounce the treaty between the two countries which gives the United States that right.

But the leaders of the new movement, the Junta, do not dare to say this openly. They are afraid of intervention by the United States to “protect foreign lives and property”.

This lack of plain speaking characterizes the program of the non-government. How could it be otherwise? The petty bourgeoisie have no social program. They cannot cope with the problems of modern society. Their position in society is a desperate struggle for existence between the capitalist and proletarian grindstones of the social process. They are incapable of conceiving, let alone carrying through, the revolutionary transformation of capitalist society: that involves the obliteration of their own existence as a class.

In the Cuban revolution the summit of their social vision is the Manifesto of their junta of professors and a banker. On the one hand they stand in awe of the American imperialist colossus: “Strict respect of the debts and obligations of the republic.” This is assurance to the Chase National Bank and the House of Morgan that their loans and the magnificent interest rates have nothing to fear from the revolutionary junta. At the same time it is a pitiable attempt on the part of these near-sighted revolutionists to stave off intervention.

But as great as is their awe of the imperialist bourgeoisie still greater is their fear of “riots” and “bloodshed”; that is to say, to translate these phrases into the language of the class struggle, of the proletariat, of civil war to oust the imperialists and the native bourgeoisie. Between these two giants the petty bourgeois junta is caught as in the jaws of a vise and is doomed to early extinction.

Already on the third day of its existence it has begun to retreat before the revolutionary ascent of the masses of the proletariat and even recoils before its own supporters. An Associated Press dispatch of September 7 says that the Junta has “secretly resolved to disarm all civilians and began to try to restore to their former positions officers ousted Monday night and Tuesday.” So cowardice breeds treachery!

That is the road which the Junta is travelling. But that is not the road of the proletariat. Slow to move in the present overturn, it is now raising its voice. Its demands, are, as yet, essentially democratic and not incompatible with the existence of capitalist society. But there are signs that the workers will not stop with demands for higher wages and better conditions. Already in the interior they have seized sugar plantations to force the owners to comply with their demands. A majority of the plantations seized are owned by American interests, who own sixty percent of the plantations in Cuba. The lives of American executives are being threatened by the workers.

Thus the struggle for better conditions and higher wages leads to the struggle against American imperialism. Anti-imperialist sentiments are deeply rooted in the proletariat and in the entire nation. Will the proletariat rise to give leadership to the anti-imperialist struggle? That is the question that the next weeks will decide.

But the workers of Cuba cannot by themselves defeat the imperialist intervention. The economy and politics of Cuba are inextricably intertwined with the economy and politics of the United States. The same capitalists oppress the worker masses of both countries. The fate of the proletariats of both countries are inseparably connected. The struggle against American imperialism is a fight against the oppressors here at home.

The workers of the United States must come to the support of their Cuban brothers. That is the first point on the agenda of the American working class today – a demonstration of the solidarity of the American proletariat with the struggles of the Cuban workers for better conditions and higher wages against the Cuban bourgeoisie and the American imperialists.

Green and Woll, Dubinsky and Hillman will not organize the movement. They are bound to the imperialist state by their position in the labor movement and through the NRA. It is not their job to stir the masses to action and organize the movement of protest and solidarity.

The Communist movement must take the initiative in building the movement. It must approach every working class organizations of whatever political shade or trade union philosophy with the proposal for a united fight against the intervention of the United States in Cuba, in solidarity with the Cuban masses.

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