From Martí to Fidel: A party to unite
Persuade, bring together, mobilize, educate have always been the order of the day in Cuba’s liberation struggle, and to concretize them, a unifying force was indispensable: a party
Author: José LLamos Camejo
Dispersion, regionalism, the double-edged contamination of inconsistencies and intrigues deeply wounded colonial Cuba. A cure was urgently needed, more tears avoided. Cuba had to be saved.
Previous “clinical” observations, at the site of the wound, with a dose of intelligence, oratory and patriotic love, a young man began to formulate the saving potion: unity; the costly, infallible vaccine that could rid the people of the divisions which had frustrated their first attempt to gain independence, forcing its postponement. The need was clear for a political instrument to build unity, a party.
Step by step, driven by the ideal of justice, the political talent of the young José Martí emerged, determined to regroup the forces that were dispersed but loyal to the unfinished Revolution, weakened by “the passions of being in charge and local allegiance that disfigure and annul the most beautiful initiatives.” The sword “no one took it from us, we let fall,” he noted, examining the climate of confusion created by internal struggles. “They surrendered their weapons to the infamous occasion, not to the enemy.”
Martí knew the details of the patriotic awakening that lit the fire of independence on October 10, 1868, and kept it burning for a decade, although its objectives were not achieved, the desired outcome never reached. He also knew that Cubans still held the same sentiments that sent them into the scrub, and that a new attempt, a victorious one guided by the premise of unity, was as possible as it was necessary.
Persuade, bring together, mobilize, educate have always been the order of the day in Cuba’s liberation struggle, and to concretize them, a unifying force was needed: A party.
Meanwhile, in a tumultuous Europe, under the guidance of Vladimir Ilich Lenin, the postulates of Marxism-Leninism took the leap from text to action in the fields and cities of Czarist Russia, under the guidance of a Bolshevik organization.
Although the Russian leader and the Cuban genius did not know each other, almost in unison they used similar instruments for similar purposes. Two unconnected events arose, both with their origins in the same aspiration for justice.
Within the basic ideas of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, its objective to organize the Necessary War for the definitive liberation of our homeland, and to build “a nation capable of ensuring the lasting happiness of its children and assuming, in the historic life of the continent, the difficult duties that its geographical location dictates,” lie the embryonic components of the current political vanguard of our people, the Communist Party of Cuba.
“The principles that sustain the conceptualization (of our economic and social model) are based on the legacy of Martí, on Marxism-Leninism, the thinking of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and the work of the Revolution itself,” Army General Raúl Castro stated.
The route taken from the founding days of José Martí to the current Communist Party of Cuba has been a long, rough road, of successes and failures, of growth and learning – a journey that involved extraordinary heroics and sacrifices on more than one occasion.
The obstacles were not insignificant, nor few. Those who knew that maintaining the colony on the indomitable island was impossible, as well as those who aspired to taste the “ripe fruit,” understood from the beginning that unity among Cubans would create an unsurmountable obstacle to their expansionist pretensions, and they spared no effort to prevent it.
“Throughout the entire 19th century, invoking the doctrines and policies of Manifest Destiny, Monroe and the Ripe Fruit,” Raúl recalled during the 7th Congress of our Party, “different U.S. administrations attempted to appropriate Cuba, and in spite of the heroic struggle of the Mambises, they succeeded in 1898, with their devious intervention at the end of the war.”
“They militarily occupied the country… demobilized the Liberation Army, dissolved the Cuban Revolutionary Party organized, founded and led by José Martí, and imposed an appendix on the Constitution of the nascent Republic, the Platt Amendment, which gave them the right to intervene in our internal affairs and to establish, among others, the Naval Base in Guantánamo.”
They could not extinguish the flame of independence, but they took the lives of many compatriots, circumstances in which Cuba saw the purest, noblest and bravest of its people emerge, and often the example of Communists who inspired today’s battles.
What symbolism bore the alliance of Carlos Baliño and Julio Antonio Mella, in 1925! The first, a founder alongside Martí of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, with all his accumulated wisdom, in the autumn of his existence, and Mella, barely 22 years of age, in an act of loyalty and continuity, founded the first Communist Party of Cuba.
Four years later, when Julio Antonio was only 26 and exiled on Mexican soil, amidst the revolutionary tumult, he was killed by a hitman hired by the tyrant Gerardo Machado. “I die for the revolution,” he said in the last seconds of his life. His ideas would continue to inspire. Within less than five years, Machado’s dictatorship would collapse in the face of a popular revolutionary uprising, the vanguard of which, once again, included advocates of socialist ideas.
Villena, Guiteras and other outstanding figures of the Revolution in progress, including Pablo de la Torriente Brau, Rafael Trejo, Blas Roca, Raul Roa and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, were seen defying pro-imperialist governments.
Others left for Spain, in those days, motivated by their vocation for solidarity, as part of a brigade of Cuban volunteers who defended the cause of the republic, against fascist forces during the civil war. Pablo de la Torriente died there.
The young members of the Centenary Generation were inspired by these ideas, these noble dreams, these examples, on July 26, 1953, when they attacked the largest military fortress in Santiago de Cuba. They were carrying Martí in their thoughts, with a leader who was entering history forever and had already embraced the ideas of Marx as well as Martí. That day, the last stage of the struggle for the island’s independence began, and with the same patriotic sentiments, other revolutionary organizations like the University Student Directorate and the Popular Socialist Party emerged.
Such were the patriotic, pro-independence and anti-imperialist struggles. A high price was paid, in lives and suffering, but the homeland responded honorably in the face of every outrage, and every violation of the ideal of independence and sovereignty.
As Raul has emphasized, “Cuba’s neocolonial condition, which allowed the United States to exercise total control over the economic and political life of the island after 1899, frustrated, but did not eliminate, the Cuban people’s desire for freedom and independence. Exactly 60 years later, on January 1, 1959, with the triumph of the Revolution led by Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro, we became definitively free and independent.”
Once the Revolution took power, unity, as an infallible shield against those who dream of destroying our conquests, has been a permanent concern. Once certain sectarian sentiments were overcome, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations were established, and later the United Party of the Socialist Revolution (Purs), from which the Communist Party of Cuba was born in early October of 1965.
Cuba’s extraordinary capacity to resist all threats and hostility lies in the astute guidance of Fidel and Raul. With this heritage, tradition of loyalty, unity, resistance and victory – irreplaceable weapons – our Communist Party and its people now arrive at the 8th Congress at a crucial juncture.
Cuba, the country that learned to overcome incredible challenges, that neither underestimates nor fears danger, assumes the challenge of continuity; the continuity that infuriates and troubles its impotent, miserable enemies, who do not see that this people, in the tradition of Fidel and Martí, as a matter of principle, will never surrender.