Cuba’s anti-terror efforts to protect its nation are best known through the story of the Cuban Five, who infiltrated terror organisations sponsored by the US government in Miami.
The repetitive cycles of foreign interference and intervention in Latin America and elsewhere testify to the importance of a consistent anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle that has the potential to remain internationalist.
In the Second Declaration of Havana, Fidel wrote, “Cuba and Latin America are part of the world. Our problems form part of the problems engendered by the general crisis of imperialism and the struggle of the subjugated peoples-the clash between the world that is being born and the world that is dying. The odious and brutal campaign unleashed against our nation expresses the desperate, as well as futile, effort which the imperialists are making to prevent the liberation of the people. Cuba hurts the imperialists in a special way.”
After the Cuban Revolution, foreign intervention in Latin America was justified by the US as a deterrent for other countries to follow Cuba’s socialist example. While the US was busy backing up dictatorships in the region, it was also funding terror attacks against Cuba.
Cuba’s anti-terror efforts to protect its nation are best known through the story of the Cuban Five, who infiltrated terror organisations sponsored by the US government in Miami and reported back to Cuba.
In 1998, the Cuban government provided the FBI with details of terror activities planned by groups in Miami, in what was envisaged to be the start of cooperation between both countries. However, the Cuban anti-terror agents were arrested and placed in solitary confinement, with scant details available to the public about their trial.
International lobbying which mirrored Cuban solidarity with the oppressed was instrumental in highlighting the human rights violations of this case, not least holding a trial in Miami, well known for anti-revolutionary dissidents and terrorists seeking to damage the Cuban Revolution, as well as ramping up pressure for the five Cuban agents to return home.
René González was the first of the Cuban Five to be released. In 2014, the other four were released, as the US sought to normalise relations under former president Barack Obama.
Speaking to the Wry Ronin, González highlights the importance of revolutionary struggle and internationalist solidarity to combat the evolving and mutating violence unleashed by colonialism and imperialism. Cuba, he says, shares similarities with the struggles of the oppressed, which furthers the Cubans’ commitment to their revolution and the struggles of other people for their liberation.
Ramona Wadi: What are the implications and consequences for Cuba due to US interference in Venezuela?
René González: Cuba is the ultimate target of the US policies of aggression not only against Venezuela, but against what the US government considers its backyard: Latin America, which was the primary provider of surplus capital for the frenetic development of US imperialism.
They know that Cuba represents the moral compass of Latin American revolution, and Venezuela has been the main economic support of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, launched by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to practice a regional relationship based on solidarity and mutual benefit. By targeting the Venezuelan economy, they aspire to get rid of the Bolivarian government and ultimately hurt Cuba and take it back to the post-Soviet era.
We can’t underestimate the implications of such policies of aggression. Besides the damage that the economic blockade inflicts on Cuba directly, as we speak, overthrowing the Bolivarian revolution would surely add some hardships on us; but we are today better prepared to face such a scenario.
Nevertheless, we owe not only our people, but Latin America as a whole and especially the Venezuelan people, our wholehearted solidarity and support if we want to move towards the dreams of Simón Bolivar and José Martí for a continent with a better, sovereign destiny.
Ramona Wadi: Despite its difficulties due to the illegal blockade, Cuba has remained at the helm when it comes to literacy and medicine, as well as internationalist support in many countries abroad. Can you comment on this achievement?
René González: Medicine and literacy are usually cited among the biggest achievements of the Cuban revolution, but those as well as other achievements were always directed to the ultimate goal of breeding a better human being: a human being capable of overcoming his circumstance. That human being – the Cuban revolutionary – is the key for every ulterior success of the revolution that brought him about to begin with, and for the stance that Cuba now has on the international arena.
Fidel always understood that we can’t aspire to build a better Cuba if we don’t inhabit a better world. How would the revolution have survived by the end of the 20th century if it wasn’t because of the solidarity that we had given to the rest of the world before?
We can’t deny credit to US imperialism for the brutal regime of aggression they subjected Cuba to during the first years of the revolution. The Cuban people were able to see their true face. By defending the motherland against the CIA and their proxies we developed a profound anti-imperialist conscience and became more committed to the internationalist ideals that Fidel instilled on us.
Ramona Wadi: While the US is interfering in Venezuela, what do you envisage it has in store for Cuba and how will the island and its revolution resist politically?
René González: As I said before, Latin America was the first provider of surplus capital for the frenetic development of US imperialism, right after they exhausted their primary sources of accumulation through the exploitation of slavery and cheap labor during the 19th century. That implies a relationship of exploitation towards Latin America they can’t renounce, and the Cuban revolution has been a challenge to that relationship.
From their view, the only acceptable end for Cuba should be to take it back to “normal”, which means becoming again dependent on US financial capital, just like they have been able to sustain in – let’s say – Honduras, Guatemala or any other country of the area.
It would mean a return of capital as God, with the market as its prophet; with all the implications it has in terms of social relations and the degrading of the human values we have built during these 60 years of revolution.
The Cuban people have consistently shown that we don’t want to go down that route, as evidenced during the vote for the new socialist constitution, by 75 per cent of the registered voters. Although we acknowledge the need to apply some reforms to pace up our economy, which imply some concessions to the market, it is up to us to keep them under control, and it is our responsibility to balance those reforms with the political will to maintain the human values of the revolution; to increase and deepen the political participation of the citizenry on the construction of socialism, and to not renounce the dream of building a society which breeds a better human being, capable of taking power away from capital and give it to humanity.
Ramona Wadi: What are your views on Israel’s suppression of the Great Return March protests?
René González: The Zionist regime will never allow the return of the refugees, at least not without a big fight. Whatever the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the return of the rightful owners to those lands is a variable which, with good reason, scares the Zionists.
The return stands on the way of their goal of wiping out the Palestinians as a people. On the other hand, it is inconceivable to think of a solution without that elemental right being fulfilled.
Needless to say, the Palestinians are entitled to that right and they deserve all the solidarity of the world to achieve it. Only the open, criminal support of international imperialism allows the Zionists to deny the Palestinians the return to their land. That criminal support can only be met successfully with the struggle of the united Palestinians and the strong, increasing solidarity of the progressive people all over the world.
Ramona Wadi: How has Cuba’s support for Palestine changed since Che Guevara’s visit to Gaza on 18 June 1959 in the early months of the Cuban Revolution?
René González: Let’s begin by remembering that Cuba was among the 13 countries which didn’t approve of the creation of the state of Israel, and one of only two non-Muslim countries to take that position. The speech by Dr Ernesto Dihigo, representing Cuba at the UN back then, is a brilliant masterpiece of jurisprudence and ethics which denounced Zionism even before it took hold on Palestine. The Cuban collective conscience – probably because of our own anti-colonial struggle is so close in history – is very sympathetic to any victim of colonialism.
With the arrival of the Revolution, that opposition to any form of colonialism –including, of course, Zionism – became central to Cuba’s foreign policy. Che Guevara’s journeys around the third world countries were pivotal in shaping the proactive, militant approach to that policy since the early days of the Revolution.
Che Guevara had a keen eye for injustice since his early travels around South-America, and his personal contacts with the Palestinians’ suffering and humiliation must have had a strong impact on him. His views on the anti-colonial struggle were determinant on the way the revolutionary government assumed those causes, and remain ingrained in our collective conscience since then. In addition, he was a deep thinker, serious when assessing the policies of his times and developed a profound understanding of the root causes of those events. That profound understanding has guided our actions since then.
Ramona Wadi: The Cuban government advocates for a two-state paradigm, like the rest of the international community. The two-state does not support decolonisation. The Palestinian people are engaged in anti-colonial struggle demanding their right to return to historic Palestine. How do you think this diplomatic difference can be reconciled?
René González: What follows is my personal opinion – as a Cuban revolutionary – who can’t speak on behalf of the Cuban government, although I could assume that in essence there should be little discrepancy between one another:
The colonization of Palestine, no doubt about it, was and still is an ongoing criminal enterprise, made worse by the fact that it has taken place at a time when colonialism was in decline as a result of the victory of the Soviet Union on the II World War, the birth of a Socialist camp and the increasing struggles of the colonized peoples for their self-determination.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the full, complicit support of international imperialism, mostly from the USA. All of these factors might have influenced the vicious methods applied against the Palestinian people. It is a crime committed in a hurry, by trying to displace one people and bring another in the shortest period as if fearing that history would make them run out of time.
But we have to face the fact that now millions of people originally from abroad are living there, some for a few generations, and it would be unrealistic to see the return of those people to their original places, not to mention those who are Israelis by birth. So, if by decolonization we mean to take those people away my sincere opinion is that it is not realistic. The demographics of the current world are shaped by injustices and conquer, past or present, all over, and those injustices can’t be rolled back without bringing about worst injustices, not to mention the impossibility factor in most cases.
Another, totally different thing would be to immediately stop the process of colonization. This can be done today, provided there is the political will to do it.
That political will doesn’t exist for the same reason the Zionist keep committing their crimes against the Palestinian people with total impunity: they have managed to create a reality on the ground which gives them the strength to act unaccountably.
They will never give up if the resistance of the peoples on the region doesn’t force them to do it, as the two Intifadas and the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people taught us a few years back. Only by a united struggle will the anti-Zionist forces create the conditions for the Zionists and their imperialist allies to reconsider their policies; and I venture saying that if those forces don’t act together soon enough we might face the sad truth of the disappearance of the Palestinian people, right in front of our eyes, on the XXI Century.
In my humble opinion, forcing them to stop colonization should be the first step to bring about some measure of justice to the Palestinians.
Then, there is the issue of the return of the Palestinians to their land. Whatever the outcome, it would be dramatically shaped by the presence of those millions of Palestinians. Even in the event of a two-state paradigm, the state of Israel would be a completely different entity.
In my opinion, fighting together with the progressive forces of the world for the right to return is as important as putting an end to the colonization process. By itself, the return of those Palestinians might even determine the ultimate, fair solution to the problem. That’s why the Zionists and their accomplices put a strong resistance to it.
It is my belief that any step forward has to exclude US imperialism as the ‘mediator’, but the US doesn’t have to be a ‘mediator’ forever.
They have been able to impose themselves as such because of their hegemony over the world on the last decades, but that role is degrading fast not only in the Middle East, but on the rest of the planet. New factors like the Iranian strength, the impact of the Israeli defeat in Lebanon and the successful resistance of the Syrian people in the face of imperialist aggression are changing the situation on the ground, not to mention de decline of US influence in other parts of the world. Even though the war on Iraq was big business in the short run, I doubt that they achieved the optimum success in the long run.
So, the only proper answer to the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people and to the people of the whole Middle East is to fight together, to resist, to change the dynamics of the region on the ground until that criminal policies are no longer sustainable for the Zionist and their imperialist allies.
Just as we are looking for the sovereign, dignified destiny which we deserve in Latin America, the people of the Middle East have to stand together to achieve, once and for all, the sovereign and dignify destiny they rightfully deserve.
This interview was first published in The Wry Ronin in 2019.
Ramona Wadi is a freelance journalist and independent researcher featured in Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor, MintPress News and more.