Among the opponents of the progressive government of 100 days was the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC for its initials in Spanish). This has been analyzed by Lionel Soto, who was part of the leadership of the Popular Socialist Party (the name of the Communist Party at the time) from 1947 to 1960. After the triumph of the revolution, Soto became a member of the Central Committee of the reconstituted Communist Party of Cuba, and he occupied many important positions in the government.
Soto maintains that the opposition of the Communist Party of Cuba to the Grau government of 1933 was an error. In his analysis, the error was rooted in the application of a political line, according to which the working class was to take power through the formation of soviets or popular councils of workers, peasants and soldiers, which would replace the political structures of representative democracy. To accomplish this transition to popular power, alliances should be formed among the various popular sectors, under the direction of the Communist Party, which was to function as a revolutionary vanguard (Soto 1995:447-48).
In accordance with the “extreme Left” and “sectarian” political line, during the Cuban popular revolution of 1930-33 in opposition to the governments of Machado and Céspedes, the Communist Party of Cuba considered any popular organization that did not place itself under its direction to be part of the “bourgeois opposition” to the government. Thus, the PCC interpreted the movement against the government as consisting of two sectors: the popular councils and parties directed by the PCC; and everyone else, dismissed as pertaining to the “bourgeois opposition.” Soto writes that “the PCC conceived the popular triumph as a struggle between two well-defined poles: ‘soviet’ power, and the power of the landowning bourgeois oligarchy. There did not exist the possibility of a transitional power formed by a radical or radicalizable petit bourgeoisie” (Soto 1995:448). In Soto’s view, this conception devalued alliances with popular organizations that were democratically less advanced than the popular councils led by the PCC, alliances that could have opened the road to a more advanced development within these popular organizations. José A. Tabares (1998:301) concurs, noting that, in dividing the popular sectors into those that followed PCC and those that did not, the PCC undermined the possibility of putting into practice an effective policy of alliances among popular organizations (Tabares 1998:301). According to Soto, this political line had the effect of isolating the proletarian struggle, because in Cuba, the revolutionary peasant movement was weak, and the number of socialists from the petty bourgeoisie was small (Soto 1995:448).
In accordance with the sectarian political line, the Communist Party of Cuba considered the government of 1933 to be a landholding bourgeois government, and it attacked all sectors of the government, without making any distinction among the factions led by Batista, Grau, and Guiteras (Soto 1995:737). As we have seen (“Guiteras & the ‘government of 100 days’” 8/11/2014), there were significant differences and conflicts among the right, reformist, and revolutionary factions of the government, led by Batista, Grau, and Guiteras respectively.
PCC opposition to the revolutionary government of 1933 was in part fueled by the repressiveness of the government with respect to the PCC, which occurred in spite of the efforts of the revolutionary faction of Guiteras to prevent it. PCC opposition, therefore, was understandable to a certain extent. Nevertheless, it was an error, for it undermined the possibility of an alliance between the Revolutionary Union of Guiteras and the Communist Party of Cuba, a possibility that could have derailed Batista’s consolidation of power. As Soto concludes, “the PC struggled sincerely and hard for the agrarian and anti-imperialist revolution and the socialist revolution. . . . But it was wrong, and its erroneous concept impeded working for its unity with the Guiterist forces in order to give battle—which would have been truly historic—to the Batistist right” (Soto:1995:737).
Our task is to learn from historic errors, and not to discredit or dismiss our heroes. And they were indeed heroes, taking into account their sacrifices for a most just world. They confronted difficult decisions over complex issues, decisions that had to be made in the heat of battle. Certainly, the Revolutionary Union and the Communist Party of Cuba should have become allies. But the differences between them were deep. The PCC was seeking power through the formation of popular councils, having success particularly among workers; the Revolutionary Union sought to take power, first, by a guerilla struggles from the country to the city, fought mostly by peasants, and later, by participating in a government that included representatives of bourgeois interests. And the Revolutionary Union had adopted a policy of execution of government officials, a controversial practice that was not supported by the PCC (Tabares 1998: 287, 294-97, 301, 310-12, and 325-28; Arboleya 2008:99).
The issue would revisit the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. In the tradition of Guiteras, Fidel Castro led a guerrilla struggle with a strategy of taking power from the country to the city, and with the intention of establishing a government of national liberation as a first step toward socialism. This was not the approach of the Popular Socialist Party. But the exceptional theoretical and practical insight of Fidel enabled his 26 of July Movement to become the leading force of the revolution, which facilitated tactics of cooperation. Following the triumph of the revolution in 1959, a new Communist Party was formed through the integration of the three principal organizations that had combated the Batista dictatorship: the 26 of July Movement, the Popular Socialist Party, and the 13 of March Revolutionary Directory (a student organization, named for an assault on the Presidential Palace on March 13, 1957). As a result of the charismatic authority of Fidel, the revolutionary factions would become unified, a necessary precondition for their success and sustainability. We will be discussing these developments in future posts. Further information on the reconstituted Communist Party can be found at “The Cuban revolutionary project and its development in historical and global context.”
Arboleya, Jesús. 2008. La Revolución del Otro Mundo: Un análisis histórico de la Revolución Cubana. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales.
Soto, Lionel. 1995. La Revolución Precursora de 1933: Un momento trascendental en la continuidad revolucionaria de José Martí. La Habana: Editorial Si-Mar.
Tabares del Real, José A. 1998. “Proceso revolucionario: ascenso y reflujo (1930-35)” in Instituto de Historia de Cuba. 1998. La neocolonia. La Habana: Editora Política.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, colonial, neocolonial, blog Third World perspective, Cuban Revolution, neocolonial republic, Guiteras, Revolution of 1933, Communist Party of Cuba