I went to Cuba this year from January 19 to January 30 on a special political tour organized by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society, We were the first group of Australians to visit Cuba, at least since the revolution. I had been there once before, in January 1981.
As before, I was struck by the friendliness and openness of the Cuban people. A man who had fought in Angola told us that in any fight against imperialism, we could count on the Cubans.
The Black Cubans we talked to seemed amazed by racism in Australia and the U.S., explaining that this was not the situation in Cuba. Like most Cubans we talked to, they were 100% behind the revolution.
Cuba has a way to go in solving women’s oppression. Its Family Code, for instance, sets a moral standard for equal labor within the family, yet there are no legally enforcing mechanisms. Certain jobs-childcare, nursing, etc.-are considered effeminate, and men don’t do them.
Anti-gay attacks have lessened recently, but the militia still occasionally raids gay meeting places. It is still impossible for an open lesbian or gay man to teach or join the Cuban Communist Party.
Cuba’s economic problems are caused primarily by the U.S. blockade, and its economic dependence on the USSR results in political concessions to the Soviet bureaucracy. I think this accounts for Cuba’s refusal to fight wholeheartedly for feminism and against lesbian/gay oppression, issues which Stalinism abhors.
But Cuba has broken with capitalism and the gains of the revolution are apparent. Travel through any other Latin American country and you will see (as I did in Mexico) Cuba’s advantages.
On our final day in Habana, we participated in a demonstration celebrating the 130th birthday of national hero Jose Marti. We marched in the sweltering heat with hundreds of thousands of people. It was thrilling to be a part of such a manifestation of belief in the international socialist future.
Viva la revolución Cubano!