Wednesday, 30 November 2016

1959 And All That

Trotskyists have always said that the 26th July Movement, although it had nothing to do with the Soviet Union at the time, was some tiny band of outlaws up in the mountains, and that it just got lucky. Anyone still coming out with that one has not changed in anything up to 57 years.

Look, it is really very simple.

The human rights abuses are real, and they used to be worse, although you do mostly have to go back a bit for that, and the legal persecution of homosexuality ended earlier there than in Scotland, or in Northern Ireland, or in several American states.

There are no independent trade unions in Cuba, and there is no right to strike. Denis Thatcher wanted those things to be the law in Britain, and a number of the people making loud anti-Castro noises at the moment still do.

From a relatively high base, although not a dazzling one, educational standards have been brought up to First World levels, as anyone who has ever met people who were educated in Cuba can testify, and adult illiteracy has been eradicated entirely, which has never been achieved in Britain.

Healthcare has been transformed out of all recognition, to the point that the Durham Miners' Association, which has particularly close ties to Cuba through the late Davey Hopper, has occasionally been known to send members of its communities there for the treatment that they had been denied by the degradation of the NHS under all Governments since 1979.

The quality of healthcare is astounding in view of the blockade, which is also the blindingly obvious reason for the food shortages and for the antique cars. Imagine how much better it would be without that policy, which has been wholly unsuccessful in its objective of removing the regime that nationalised the Cuban sugar industry.

Cuban medical internationalism is justly legendary, with Cuban doctors even going to African villages where local doctors will not venture. If they felt like stepping in as services were reduced dramatically here in the land of the Durham Miners' Gala, which always features a Cuban Embassy speaker and a prominent display of Cuban flags, then they would be more than welcome.

The Cuban intervention in Angola destroyed the myth of white supremacist invincibility in Southern Africa, thereby delivering a body blow to the apartheid regime, which was on the way out from that moment, in 1988. Even Britain ended up having to recognise that fact. And no, that is not a partisan point.

The Cuban intervention in Ethiopia was, however, rather less heroic.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a long time ago. It was just that, almost unbelievably, one of the main protagonists was still alive this time last week. Not for want of attempts to kill him.

The "exiles" in Miami seriously want Cuba to have to pay compensation for expropriated Mafia assets.

And almost nothing has ever happened in Cuba to compare to what happens every day in Saudi Arabia, whose successive tyrants the British, American, Canadian and numerous other Western States, as such, have mourned in the most extravagant fashion.

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