Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gloria La Riva answers the Democratic and Republican candidates on Fidel Castro's stepping down

The PSL stands in solidarity with the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people

Fidel with Che

Today's statements by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain on Fidel Castro's stepping down are more of the same. Each candidate would continue the same policy of the last 11 U.S. administrations: a policy of blockade, aggression and counter-revolution. Each promises to lift the blockade and normalize relations only if the sovereign government of Cuba is overthrown.

Obama remarked that Fidel's announcement "should mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history," and praised the pro-U.S. counterrevolutionaries in Cuban prisons as "heroes." Clinton pledged that as President she would do "everything possible" to overthrow Cuban socialism and "advance America's values and interests." In thinly veiled language, McCain wrote that the United States must seize upon Fidel's stepping down to "hasten the sparking of freedom in Cuba."

The capitalist candidates speak of bringing "democracy" and "freedom" to Cuba. But what they mean is the kind of "democracy" that the U.S. government has imposed on Iraq, which so far has killed more than two million Iraqis and destroyed the country. It is freedom for the corporations, banks and militarists to exploit and to rule.

In the name of democracy and freedom, recent U.S. administrations have passed laws to punish—not help—the Cuban people for daring to to build socialism and be independent of the United States.

The 1992 Torricelli law, signed by George H.W. Bush, is officially titled "The Cuban Democracy Act." The 1996 Helms-Burton law signed by Bill Clinton, is known as the "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Law." George W. Bush's plan, inaugurated in 2004, is called "The Plan for Assistance to a Free Cuba" of 2003.

Each of these U.S. laws—whose expressed aim is to overthrow the Cuban revolution in the name of "democracy'—has deliberately targeted the Cuban people and created suffering for millions.

In a subtle recognition of majority U.S. public opinion—which opposes the U.S. blockade—Obama and Clinton claim that democratic changes and free elections in Cuba could be the basis of renewed relations with Cuba.

No one should be fooled by such rhetoric. For the Democrats and Republicans, acting on behalf of the corporations, banks and militarists, the only Cuban "democracy" they will accept is the kind that returns the island to capitalism, as a neocolony of the United States. But in a country that is struggling to overcome centuries of underdevelopment and colonialism, it is socialism that has provided the basic rights of free quality healthcare and education, and housing for all. Here in the United States, the richest country in all of history, such rights are only a dream.

Obama, Clinton and McCain call for free elections in Cuba. How can candidates who together will spend more than $1 billion in the presidential race demand "free" elections in Cuba? In Cuba, on all levels—municipal, provincial and national—the elections are truly free, and campaign spending by candidates is prohibited.

While members of the U.S. Congress give themselves large salaries and huge payoffs from lobbyists, elected officials in Cuba maintain their regular jobs, and serve without additional compensation for their responsibilities as legislators.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands in solidarity with the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people. Our candidates understand that the first real democratic act in Cuba was the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Despite the blockade, war and terrorist attacks promoted by the U.S. government, the Cuban people and leadership have struggled to build a socialist revolution, which they will continue to develop and defend.

Fidel Castro's statement is not a retirement from the struggle. It is an honest assessment of his physical limitations to hold government office.

Fidel Castro is admired and loved in Cuba and the world over. His legendary courage and profound belief—from the earliest days—in the heroism and capacity of the Cuban people to make history, is what now enables him to retire from his official posts with confidence.

Read his complete statement here:

Thank you Gloria and Alice. I'm more optimistic about Fidel's retirement than considering it largely(?) based on " honest assessment of his physical limitations..." -as Gloria writes.

The man was and is a political genius, and I can't help thinking he also believes there's very much something in the air in the Western Hemisphere....that makes this particular moment a uniquely auspiscious one for promoting progressive change by retiring.

- Lloyd
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