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Chapter 13 - Structure of Power in Cuba

In the first phase of authoritarian revolutions, the revolutionary elite (sometimes commanded by a personal dictator) seizes and consolidates power on the pretext that it is acting in the "name of the people." But in order to govern the country and carry out the decrees of the leadership, every regime must eventually institutionalize its power by creating a permanent, legally established bureaucratic administrative apparatus.

To implement institutionalization, Castro, in 1970, launched the reorganization of his government and the drafting of a new constitution, proclaiming that the Revolution had now come of age and the people could now be trusted to more self-rule. Castro promised the enactment of measures to expedite the decentralization of his adminstration; expand local autonomy and worker's self-management of industry, democratize the mass organizations and create new state agencies designed to encourage more participation of the people in local and national affairs. (We list the more important changes and our comments under appropriate headings.)

Reorganization of the Governmental Structure

In 1973 the top governmental structure was reorganized in the following manner: 1) The division of the government into legislative, executive, and judicial sections was rejected as "bourgeois." The functions of the three branches are concentrated into the Council of Ministers, "... the supreme ... organ of State power ..." In addition to the Council of Ministers, there are a number of affiliated national agencies such as Agriculture and Husbandry Development, the Fishing and Forestry Institute, the National Poultry Board and a number of cultural bodies (the Institutes of Cinema, Literature, the National Council of Culture and similar groupings).

2) Actually, the real power is exercised by the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers (equivalent to a Cabinet) composed of ten Deputy Prime Ministers who control and coordinate their respective departments and agencies. These departments include: basic industry and energy; consumer goods industries and domestic trade; the sugar industry; non-sugar agriculture; construction; transportation and communications; education and welfare. "... The Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers was created pursuant to the orientation of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba ..."

3) At the intermediate levels, Coordinating Provincial Councils appointed by the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Executive Committee in "... coordination with the Provincial Delegates of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party will carry out ... the directives issued from above ... by the corresponding central authority ..." (i.e., the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.)

4) "... the Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers, Fidel Castro Ruz, who also presides over the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers will be directly in charge of the following agencies: Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), Minsitry of the Interior, National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) and Ministry of Public Health ..."

Since Castro is also the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) and since every major ministry and agency head is a member of the CPC and is appointed by Castro, Herbert Matthews (a Castro sympathizer) reluctantly concludes that: "... all the organs of state power are under Castro's direct command. He is all-powerful and it is his Revolution ... Castro does not want -- or dare -- to create a self-governing administration, a managerial apparatus, an autonomous political party, a powerful military elite; because any one of them could threaten his power ..." (1, for continuity of the text all notes for this chapter have been placed at the end of this chapter).

Following the Stalinist pattern, the Cuban State is a structured pyramid in which absolute power is ultimately exercised by an individual (Castro) or by a collective dictatorship as in post-Stalin Russia.

The Judicial System

There is no independent judiciary. "... the courts [reads the law] receive instructions from the leadership of the Revolution which are compulsory..." The judicial system is only an agency of the Council of Ministers, which regulates and controls all courts and legal agencies. The highest judicial administrative body is the Council of Ministers of the Supreme People's Court, which transmits to the lower courts the "... instructions of the leadership of the Revolution which are compulsory..." (2) The system centralizes all four judicial branches: ordinary, military, political, and the People's Courts for minor offenses. The judges of the People's Courts are laymen. The President of the Republic, the Ministers, and the members of the Political Bureau of the CPC are exempt from the jurisdiction of the courts and can be tried only by special Party courts. (3) Private law practice is prohibited. Defendants in court cases can be represented only by state appointed lawyers even when the State itself is being sued. Judges, juries, and other judicial personnel must be ideologically reliable. (4) "... knowledge and study of Marxism-Leninism, Marxist sociology, and the materialist interpretation of history are indispensible prerequisites for the true integral education of a revolutionary judge..." (5)

The Communist Party of Cuba (CPC)

Under the name "People's Socialist Party" (PSP) the Communist Party was organized in 1925. Under Castro, it was known as Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI); the United Party of the Socialist Revolution (PURS) and, since 1965, as the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC).

The Communist Party was never on good terms with Castro, not only because of its collaboration with Batista, but also because it ridiculed Castro's historic July 26th, 1953, attack on the Moncada Barracks (now commemorated as a national holiday). The communists called the attack a "bourgeois putschist adventure." Moreover, the communists took no part in the fight against Batista and sabotaged Castro's call for a general strike to unseat Batista. The communists came to Castro only a few months before the overthrow of Batista, when they saw that Castro was going to win.

The revolution was made in spite of the opposition of the Party. Since the Party did not, as in Russia, initiate revolutionary action and seize power, it was in no position to dictate terms to Castro in exchange for its collaboration. The Party was accepted only on condition that it acknowledged Castro's leadership and accepted without question all his ideological, political and economic policies.

Castro dominates the CPC, much like Stalin. The members of the Communist Party's Central Committee belong to Castro's clique. Castro himself (as already noted) is the First Secretary of the Party and his brother Raul ranks next. There is, of course, no democracy within the Party. Thus, when Anibal Escalante was accused of "micro-factionalism" (a crime that is not even listed in the penal code), because he tried to subordinate Castro to the discipline of the Communist party, he was sentenced to 15 years at hard labor. "...Escalante and his lawyers were deprived even of the right to address a single word in self-defense to the court and the public documents contain no defense pleas of any kind..." (6)

The CPC does not make policy. Its function is to carry out government orders, not to govern, or, as Maurice Halperin puts it: "...the function of the CPC is to mobilize the population for goals set by Castro himself..." (7)

In Cuba, the CPC fulfulls the same preponderent role as in Russia and the other "socialist countries." The expanding role of the CPC in the reorganization process is manifested in its growing membership, which increased from 55,000 in 1969 to 200,000 in 1975. The estimated membership of the Union of Communist Youth is about 300,000. 85% of armed forces officers also belong to the CPC. An interesting sidelight: according to Verde Olivio (organ of the Armed Forces) the composition of the Central Committee of the CPC was 67% military (including 57 Majors), 26 professionals and only 7% workers. In addition to the 6 secretariats of the CPC in the provinces, there were in 1973, 60 district secretariats, 401 in the municipalities and 14,360 party cells in mass organizations, factories and rural areas.

The Communist Party governs Cuba and Castro rules the Communist Party. The Stalinist subservience of the CPC to Castro was stressed by Armando Hart (in 1969, Organizing Secretary of the CPC) in a speech at the University of Havana:

...can anyone analyze or study theoretical questions, raised, for instance, by philosophy, the roads to Communism; or any field of culture, mainly those of social science and philosophy, without taking into account the ideas and concepts of Fidel [Castro] and Che [Guevara]?...(8)

The first post-Castro Congress of the CPC (Dec., 1975) ratified the new constitution drawn up by the veteran communist leader Blas Roca and the juridical committee of the Party Central Committee. The CPC was proclaimed as the "... supreme leading force of Cuban society and the State." The national program of the Party was approved and the tentative first five year economic plan for 1976-1980 inclusive was also recommended.

Pending implementation of the new directives of the Congress, the CPC is headed by a 100 member Central Committee. Below the Provincial Committees are the Regional and Municipal Committees down to the factory and farm cells. At every level of this complicated, autocratically centralized organization, the orders of the high command (Castro's clique) are faithfully carried out.

Driven by the necessity to remain on good terms with his saviors, the "socialist countries" upon whom his survival depends, Castro falsifies the history of his relations with the Cuban communists, affirming now what he vehemently denied before. His mouthpiece, Granma (August 16, 1975) hypocritically stressed that:

... throughout its history our nation's first communist party performed tremendous work disseminating Marxist-Leninist ideas; fought the local oligarchy and against imperialism and selflessly defended all democratic demands of the working class ... (9)

People's Democracy and Decentralization

In the summer of 1974 an experiment in democracy and decentralization was initiated in Matanzas Province. Municipal, district and provincial Organizations of the People's Power (PPO) were established. 5,597 production and service units were handed over to the PPO. The PPO performs the combined functions of city council and local administration, and also takes on certain functions of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) etc. 90% of the people voted in the elections, but "60% of the deputies are communists and young communist members ..." (10)

An interview with a high official of the PPO proves that the much publicized "decentralization," "democracy," and "people's self-management of affairs" allegedly being instituted in Cuba is a brazen fraud:

Q) Is the establishment of self-governing Organs of People's Power (PPO) to promote mass participation in local and provincial administration part of the process of reinforcing the Dictatorship of the Proletariat? A) Actually the establishment of the PPO -- being tried out as an experiment in Matanzas -- is part of the process. Q) On what principles are the PPO based? A) The Communist Party is the principal, the indispensable organism for the construction of socialism in our country and, as such, directs as it deems best all the organizations and organisms, including of course the Organs of People's Power. (11)

This system, patterned after the fake Russian "soviets," actually reinforces the dictatorship.

The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR)

"... What [asked K.S. Karol] has become of the many rank-and-file organizations that were once so dynamic? ... these organizations have ceased to exist on anything but paper. They became puppets ... for example, the CDR ... spring into action when it comes to tracking down bad citizens and small traders. The CDR has been reduced to mere appendages of the "Seguridad" [National Police Force] ..." (12) And Herbert Matthews writing five years later in 1975 states flatly that the CDR is now completely "... under the control of the Communist Party ... Besides spying the CDR also performs certain functions such as helping to organize vaccinations for polio, diptheria and measles, and sees to it that parents send their children to school, that food and other rations are fairly handled, etc. ..." (13)

The CDR is actually a vast, intricate network reaching into every neighborhood, every home and even into the personal life of every man, woman and child in Cuba. The following verbatim conversation with a native Cuban tells more about the operations of the Cuban Police State and the total obliteration of individual freedom than any number of abstract academic dissertations or statistical tables:

... I ran into a hurricane of a woman named Mrs. S. "The famous literacy campaign," she stormed, "was indoctrination. There was no dissent ... It was like a new Dark Age in Cuba. These spies of the CDR know who visits me and whom I visit ... Under Mr. Castro, it is suddenly my neighbor's duty to know how I live. Everybody knows that in a civilized country your home is your fortress ... Here in Cuba, every jackass is knocking on your door to give you advice on who is dangerous ... They want to take the lock off my door ... You think I exaggerate? Well, you don't live here ... Our deepest need is to be our own selves, different, non-conformist ... My motto is 'leave people alone' ... It is intolerable to have only one power in the State ... even a righteous power ... because human beings have a perverse desire to say NO -- even to righteousness -- to disagree.

[A medical student told the visitor:] We all know who are the self-appointed spies. Go and talk to Mrs. Blanco. [The visitor quotes her:] ... Yes, I know what everybody says about me, but I have to see that people do not do certain things -- like being absent from work. No absenteeism on THIS block ... [An absentee who claimed sickness -- "Stress" he called it -- was actually, unbeknwn to his wife, visiting his girlfriend. When Mrs. Blanco threatened to expose him to his wife;] ... he was all right for two days [she said] -- I checked with his work place -- Two days, and then more "stress" ... He was hungry for his girlfriend ... I felt like following him one day and catching him out ... because, after all, it IS MY BUSINESS ... He is a parasite letting down my block ... I wondered if I should not talk to his girlfriend ... warn her to keep away from him, break relations ... I am not saying anything ... but I am watching from here what is happening ... but what a pain if his wife finds out! ... (14)

Rene Dumont tells that in the barracks of the "machateros" (cane cutters) working away from home: "... there are sometimes little signs that read: 'Sleep quietly. The Revolution is watching over your wife.' As a matter of fact, if a 'machatero's' wife is visited by a man, the husband gets a telegram from the local CDR ..." (15)

Cuban Youth Rebels

In the spring of 1972, Jaime Crombat, Secretary of the Young Communist League, complained that among the youth there was a "... backward minority who neither study nor work --- or do so only under pressure -- those who, permeated by the old ideology ... maintain a conduct contrary to socialist morals ..." (16) Mesa-Lago's painstaking research unearths the true situation. He deserves to be quoted at length:

"... in spite of the remarkable progress in education, i.e., reduction in the illiteracy rate ... serious deficiencies were reported. In April, 1971, out of the number of school-age youngsters 14 to 16 years old, there were 300,000 who neither worked nor studied: 23% among 14 year olds, 44% among 15 year olds, and 60% among 16 year olds. The dropout rate was worse -- more in rural areas (88%) than in urban areas (66%). In elementary schools, 69% of those who attended classes in 1965 did not finish in 1971 ... students showed a lack of concern for socialist property ..." According to the Minister of Education, 50% of the books sent to school were lost every year due to carelessness. Castro exploded in indignation: "... there is something wrong when we have to educate our young people in the need to care for socialist property ... loafers, people who don't work, criminals are the ones who destroy ..."

... in the same speech Castro denounced the youth for wearing "extravagant" foreign fashions [Too tight pants and long hair in the case of boys. Too short mini-skirts in the case of girls.], liking "decadent literature." In some cases, "... the youth were used by coutner-revolutionaries against the Revolution ..." Castro found "residual manifestations" of prostitution and homosexuality. In 1967, minors participated in 41% of all crimes committed in the nation. Four years later the percentage rises to 50%... (16)

... in 1972, Joe Nicholson, Jr., a sympathetic journalist who visited Cuba, asked Cuban officials why boys are not allowed to wear long hair. The official answered that if one boy is allowed to be different in hair, dress or behavior, the rest might request the right to be different, too. This in turn, would create controversy, something that was considered incorrect... (17)

Measures to correct this situation included compulsory military service, military units to aid production, and to work in construction, irrigation and other projects. Nevertheless, it was reported that the number of youngsters in the 13 to 16 year bracket who committed offenses remained unchanged. Castro alleged that the high juvenile delinquincy rate was due to the fact that they were exempt from criminal punishments by the courts. In May 1973, legal liability was reduced from 18 to 16 years and tough penalties up to life imprisonment were imposed for crimes against the economy, abnormal sexual behavior and other offenses.

... The drop-out problem was partially solved through the SMO (compulsory military service) and the Youth Centennial Columns. The SMO recruits numbered 300,000 in 1972 (about one third of all youngsters between 16 and 17). In 1973 both these youth organizations were merged into the Youth Army of Work (EJT) ... (18)

Plight of the Workers

The promised abolition of house rents and increasing wages of the lowest paid workers was not kept. Likewise, full pay for sick and retired workers was eliminated. There was no lessening of the severe food rations in 1973. One of the main resolutions of the 13th Congress of the Cuban Confederation of Labor (CTC), Nov., 1973, restored the worst features of the capitalist wage system -- payment according to output, instead of according to need. In this speech to the closing session of the Congress, Castro tried to justify this policy: "... paying the same wage for the same type of work without taking into account the effort required to do it, is an equalitarian principle we must correct ... payment should be measured in physical terms according to the complexity and skill required to do the job ..." In line with this policy, 132 million pesos were allotted to raise wages for technicians in order to spur them to "increase their productivity." (19) At the First Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (Dec. 1975), the motto "From each according to his ability; to each according to his WORK." was displayed in huge red letters.

Wages are linked to work quotas. Every worker is given a quota. If the quota is not fullfilled, wages are proportionally reduced. Purchase of scarce appliances (television sets, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) are allotted not according to the worker's need but according to his correct attitude (obeying orders, patriotism, overfullfillment of work quotas, etc.) The faithful wage slave will be allowed to spend his vacation at the better resorts and be granted first access to housing. (20)

Actually, the 13th Congress of the CTC rejected the right of the Unions to defend the interests of the workers. According to the resolutions, there are no conflicts. The State, the Communist Party, and the unions are partners cooperating always to produce "more and better products and services; to promote punctual attendance at work; to raise political consciousness; to follow the Communist Party directives ..." (21)

To get a job, every worker must carry an identity card and a file with a full work record of his "merits" and "demerits." "Merits" include voluntary unpaid labor, overfullfillment of work quotas, working overtime without pay, postponing retirement to keep on working, defense of State property, and a high level of political consciousness. "Demerits" are "activities that negatively affect production, disturb discipline, lower the level of political consciousness ..." (22)

In the Spring of 1971, the government proclaimed a law against "loafing," compelling all able-bodied men between the age of 17 and 60 to work. Worker absenteeism was 20% in late 1970. Penalties for the "crime of loafing" fluctuate between house arrest and one or two years of forced labor. (23)

Union "Democracy"

In September, 1970, Castro announced that we "... are going to trust the workers to hold trade union elections in every local ... the elections will be absolutely free ..." Castro the brazenly contradicted himself, making it clear that "... only workers who would unconditionally follow government, management and party orders would be elected ..." (24)

The election procedure prohibited candidates from electioneering or advertising their candidacy. Only the election committee had the exclusive right to advertise the "merits" of the candidates. More than half the workers refused to participate in the rigged electoral farce, because they did not expect any real changes, or because there was only one candidate on the ballot. When the CTC was discussing election proceedings, some union members strongly criticized the methods of conducting the elections and the choosing of the candidates. The Minister of Labor interrupted the discussion, calling the critics "counter-revolutionaries" and "demagogues" and warning them that their "negative attitude" had to be "radically changed." (25)

The 13th Congress of the CTC (Nov., 1973) was the first in seven years (1966). The Congress was attended by 2,230 delegates allegedly representing 1,200,000 workers. The main business was automatically ratifying or modifying details of the "thesis" submitted by the organizaing commission (over 99%) in favor). The number of national syndicates was increased from 14 to 22. (26)

Workers' Control and Self-Management

The Castro government never seriously intended to allow meaningful participation of the workers in management (to say nothing about full self-management of industry). K.S. Karol reveals that in 1968: "... Castro himself confessed to me that he saw no chance of granting the workers the right to self-management in the near future -- let alone of introducing a truly socialist mode of production ..." (27)

Jorge Risquet, the Minister of Labor, declared that: "... the fact that Fidel Castro and I suggested that the workers be consulted, does not mean that we are going to negate the role that the Communist Party must play ... decision and responsibility fall to the management ... one thing that is perfectly clear is that management should and does have all the authority to make decisions and act ... management represents the organization of the State and is charged with the planning and fulfillment of production and services ..." (28)

In his famous speech of July 26th, 1970, Castro made it clear that: "... we must begin to establish a collective body in each plant ... but it must be headed by one man and also by representatives of the Advanced Workers Movement (The Cuban equivalent of the Russian Stakhanovites, who excelled all other workers in speed and output -- model workers. Later Stakhanovism became the prototype for the Socialist Emulation Movement.), the Young Communist League, the Communist Party and the Women's Front ..." (29)

A 1965 law established Labor Councils (Consejos de Trabajo). The Labor Council is composed of five workers elected for a three year term. But the Council does not manage, administer, or even partially control production. Its functions are to settle workers' grievances, expedite the orders and directives of management, enforce work discipline and process transfers. The transfer of a worker must be approved by both the Ministry of Labor and the Communist Party nucleus. (30)

The unions are actually transmission belts for the administration and implementation of production. Raul Castro declared that the "... unions are supposed to be autonomous, but must be politically guided by the Party and must follow its policies ..." The 13th Congress of the CTC declared that: "... the functions of the unions are to cooperate in improving management performance; strengthen labor discipline; assure attendance at work, increase production, and eradicate absenteeism, malingering and carelessness ..." (31)

The union could participate in the administration of the enterprise through two institutions, Production Assemblies and Management Councils (Consejos de Direccion). These two institutions are the top administrative bodies at all work centers ..." "... each Management Council is composed of an administrator, his or her top assistants, the worker elected union representative, the Communist Party nucleus and the local branch of the Communist Youth Organizations ..." (33)

"... the Assembly could make recommendations but the manager could accept, reject, or modify the recommendations as he sees fit ... unions are not allowed to intervene in the determination of salaries, hiring or firing, dismissal of managers, or in planning ..." (34)

European, American and many Latin American workers actually excercise more workers' control than do the Cuban workers. There was, in fact, more workers' control before Castro's regime came to power.

K.S. Karol, commenting on the massive militarization of labor, which reached a high point in the 1968 "Revolutionary Offensive," tells how "... the whole country, was, in fact, reorganized on the model of the army ... Command Posts were set up ... in every province ... Labor Brigades were turned into batallions, each divided into three squads, led by a Major and a Chief of Operations ... the Che Guevara Brigade [on the agricultural production front] ... was under the direct control of the army ..." (37)

Militarization of Labor

According to Gerald H. Reed who studied the Cuban educational system during his long visit to Cuba: "... the plan for the Technological Instruction Institutes converted these institutions into military centers. The students live under strict military discipline and complete their draft obligations while they study ..." (35)

The Youth Army of Work (EJT) is a branch of the regular army, commanded by Commandante (equivalent to Major General) Oscar Fernandez Mell. Mell is also Vice Minister of the Revolutionary Army and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The EJT was founded Aug. 3, 1973, in the Province of Camaguey. On its first anniversary, a message of congratulations grandiloquently signed "Fidel Castro, First Secretary of the Communist Party and First Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government" thanks the EJT for:

... your decisive help in the sugar harvests of 1974. Your formidable work in fulfilling agricultural plans, in the construction of schools, factories, housing and ferries surpasses even the extraordinary achievements of preceeding organizations...

And Castro's brother, who signs himself, "Raul Castro Ruz, Commander of Division and Minister of the Armed Forces":

... sends our most fraternal greetings to all soldiers, officers, under officers [non-commissioned sergeants, corporals, etc.] and political commissars of the Youth Army of Work, and exhorts them to perfect themselves politically, and ideologically for combat ... as we have already said on other occasions, we are certain that this army will become a true bastion of prodcution and defense of the Revolution... (36)

The Armed Forces

At the Inception of the Revolution Castro was acclaimed by the people when he vowed to curb the power of the military, reduced the highest rank in the rebel army to Major and eventually abolished the army entirely in favor of the People's Militias.

The process of compulsory military service, begun in 1963, culminated in 1973 with the abolition of the vaunted Militias, "The People in Arms." "... the Militia has been replaced by civil defense organization under direct army control. Nor is there anything of a 'People's Army' about the new organization ... after each excercise, the guns are safely locked away in the barracks -- a far cry from the days when Fidel declared that he was prepared to distribute arms 'even to cats'..." (38)

Cuba boasts the most powerful army in Latin America. Russia and "the socialist countries" supplied Cuba with massive armaments and military technicians. Hundreds of young officers in the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) were trained in Russia. (39) As early as 1963, the military expert Hanson Baldwin considered the Cuban air force to be the "most modern and potentially the most powerful in Latin America." (40)

It has been greatly strengthened since with Russian MIGs and other equipment. Cuba has a "formidable array of anti-aircraft missiles, coast artillery, radar stations," (41) long range cannons, the latest light and heavy tanks, and other modern weapons.

With the cooperation of Soviet military experts, Raul Castro transformed the Cuban armed forces into a highly disciplined, highly stratified military machine differing in no essential respect from the modern conventional armies of the great military powers.

Raul Castro is a far more capable military organizer and strategist than is his brother Fidel. Raul, and not Fidel, devised the strategy and organized the Guerrilla War in the Sierra Maestra and in the Sierre de Cristal, which precipitated the downfall of Batista. Raul has since then capably commanded the Cuban army. (42) Nearly all the commanders who served under Raul became high officers in the Cuban army and government, and became members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

It would be a mistake to assume that Raul Castro is a mere figurehead in the regime. He not only shares power with his brother Fidel, but also wields considerable power on his own account. When Castro travels abroad, Raul rules Cuba in his place until Fidel returns. And Matthews emphasizes that if Fidel Castro should for any reason disappear, Raul would easily succeed him as ruler of Cuba, because he would be in a position to rally all the most formidable power blocs to support him. "... Raul would have with him a powerful military and police force, a strong administration, the governmental bureaucracy and the all-powerful Politburo of the Communist Party ..." (43)

Although Raul Castro cut the size of the Cuban army in half (from 300,000 to 150,000), it is still five times greater than Batista's 30,000-man army, navy and air force. Better organized, better trained, and better equipped with the most advanced weapons, the numerically reduced army had been reorganized into a far more formidable fighting force. So much so, that, at this writing, the Cuban government has, in collusion with Russia, been able to send thousands of troops to fight in Angola without noticeably impairing the combat power of the Cuban army.

The hierarchical ranking system of the armed forces has been reorganized to conform with the prevailing traditional ranking systems of all military powers, "capitalist" or "socialist." "... Law 1257 leaves Fidel as Chief Minister of the Armed Forces. Raul Castro, as Minister of the Armed Forces (directly under Fidel), becomes the only Division Commander whose equivalent in other countries is Lieutenant General. (Raul is in fact now called 'Lieutenant General' in Cuba.) Four Brigade Commanders were named who are the equivalent of Major Generals ... a number of First Commanders, or Colonels, were also appointed. Below the rank of Commander (Lieutenant Colonel), the titles of First Lieutenant and Sub-Lieutenant are used as in other armies... Similar changes are made for the Revolutionary Navy. (Ship Commander, for Admiral, down to Covrette Captain, for the equivalent of Commander as in other navies..." (44)

In justifying counter-revolutionary militarization, Castro said that the armed forces "... had been distinguised in the past for their modesty of rank and uniform [plain, shabby olive-green, but that now the] Revolution had become more mature and so had the armed forces..." (45)

Increasing militarization signifies revolutionary progress! This remark alone signifies the degeneration of the Revolution -- even without additional incontrovertible evidence.

Concluding Remarks

While Castro is at present the undisputed ruler of Cuba, institutionalization is eventually bound to undermine his personal dictatorship.

It is axiomatic that no State can possibly rule without an administrative apparatus. The reconstruction of the Cuban government therefore necessitates the creation of an enormous bureaucratic administrative machine. The Communist Party, the armed forces, the educational establishment, the economic agencies, the unions, the local, regional, provincial and national governmental branches, etc., relentlessly compete for more power. As these formidable power blocs expand and become more firmly entrenched, Castro's machine will increasingly be obliged to share power with them. Personal rule will give way to a collective dictatorship and tyranny will be perpetuated.

The institutionalization of the Cuban Revolution is, however, still in its early stages. Thus far, the first attempts in this direction indicate that the institutionalization of the Revolution serves only to re-inforce the personal dictatorship of Fidel Castro and his faithful lieutenants.

Powerfully abetted by the massive support of the Soviet bloc of "socialist countries" and its own massive internal apparatus, the Castro regime is still powerfully entrenched. The Cuban people, unable to revolt by force of arms, are waging a relentless guerilla war of passive resistance against the Police State. They have, in the course of their struggles, developed ingenious ways of harassing and even seriously frustrating the plans of their tyrants (loafing, slowdowns, evading laws, sabotage, sporadic acts of violence, ridicule, etcetera).

The rebellion could provide a solid base for a mass underground movement comparable to the anti-Batista resistance movements. On the other hand, the ability of modern totalitarian regimes -- both "right" and "left" -- to survive mass discontent indefinitely for generations -- must not be underestimated. Many hard battles will have to be fought, many lives lost, before victory will have at last been achieved.


There were so many notes in this chapter that we felt it would read best if we included them here.

  • 1) Herbert Mattews, Cuba in Revolution; New York, 1975, p. 379
  • 2) Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Cuba in the 1970s; University of New Mexico, 1974, p. 68
  • 3) ibid. p. 68 (unless otherwise noted, Mesa-Lago's sources are from Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba)
  • 4) Mesa-Lago; ibid. p.68
  • 5) Granma; Jan. 6, 1974
  • 6) K.S. Karol, Guerillas in Power; New York, 1970, p. 472
  • 7) The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro; University of California, 1974, p. 133
  • 8) Granma, Sept. 28, 1969 -- quoted, Halperin, ibid. p. 17
  • 9) International Affairs Monthly; Moscow, Nov. 1975, p. 17
  • 10) ibid. p. 17
  • 11) Granma, May 28, 1974
  • 12) Karol, ibid. p. 457
  • 13) Mattews, ibid. p. 15
  • 14) Barry Reckord, Does Fidel Eat More than Your Father?; New York, 1971, pgs. 60-69
  • 15) Rene Dumont, Is Cuba Socialist? New York, 1974, p. 137
  • 16) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pgs. 93-96
  • 17) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pg. 97
  • 18) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pg. 96
  • 19) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pg. 43
  • 20) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pgs. 44-45
  • 21) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pg. 3
  • 22) Mesa-Lago, ibid. pg. 87, 88
  • 23) Granma, Jan. 17, 1971
  • 24) Resumen Granma Seminal, Oct. 10, 1970
  • 25-26) Mesa-Lago, ibid. 77-88
  • 27) Karol, ibid. p. 546
  • 28) Speech to closing session of the 13th Congress of the CTC
  • 29) quoted by Andrew Zimablist, paper presented to 2nd annual Congress on Workers' Self-Management; Cornell University, June 1975
  • 30) Zimbalist, ibid.
  • 31) Mesa-Lago, ibid. p. 82,83
  • 32) Mesa-Lago, ibid. p. 84
  • 33) Zimbalist, ibid.
  • 34) Mesa-Lago, ibid. p. 84
  • 35) Comparative Education Review; June 1970, pgs. 136, 143
  • 36) Granma, Aug. 18, 1974
  • 37) Karol, ibid. p. 444-445
  • 38) Karol, ibid. p. 457; also Granma, April 22, 1973
  • 39) Mattews, ibid. p. 187
  • 40-41) Mattews, ibid. p. 102
  • 42) Mattews, ibid. p. 102
  • 43) Mattews, ibid. p. 407
  • 44) Mattews, ibid. p. 407
  • 45) Granma, April 22, 1973