Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2009 > February 2009 > Cuba Fifty

Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 9, February 14, 2009

Cuba Fifty

Thursday 19 February 2009, by Badri Raina

Dear Fidel,

The Trotskyites say

That the revolution you made

Was not a proper one;

It was not even socialist.

It was not led by the proletariat,

But by petty-bourgeois, nationalist elements.

They remind us that on your

First trip to the United States

After the victory over Batista,

You openly said you are not a communist.

They remind us how

You ganged up with the Stalinist PSP,

Which in turn had lent support

To Batista in the 1940s.

They even say that at Havana

University, you came to be enamoured

Of Fascist ideology of which you

Read in Rivera’s book.

They tell us Che had no clear

Revolutionary ideology;

They tell us it was Mella who truly

Was an organised communist,

Which is why he had to flee

And be assassinated in Mexico,

Much like Trotsky himself.

They tell us how Che only

Ended up becoming an icon

For the Capitalist commodity bazaar.

We do not know what is the only

“correct” path to revolution;

We only know that you brought

Health and education to Cuban people,

Redistributed unused land,

Reduced rent, and increased wages.

And we know that unlike many

That espoused “socialism” you

Refused to cave in to the imperialists

Next door, despite

Strangulating blockades,

Invasions, and some ninety or so

Attempts to murder you.

We also know that in everything

You decided or did,

You spoke to your people, intimately,

And continuously,

And you even allowed the making

Of so subversive a film

As the incomparable

“The Death of a Bureaucrat”,

Wherein a stout Cuban housewife

Is heard to say angrily, and without fear,

“there are things that even Fidel

Cannot change”, such as bureaucratic

Hassle and corruption.

We recognise that had ordinary Cubans

Truly been as suffocated

As the world is told,

You could not have lasted fifty years,

Whichever way you tried.

We are delighted that the Cuba

You and your compatriots made

Exists, and promises to continue

To exist—an experiment that reassures

And teaches that it is possible

To be warm, human, and happy

Without being capitalist,

Or capitalist hanger-on.

Looking at the world,

That is not a little.

We notice that your example already

Transforms so much of Latin America,


And could, if we worked hard and sincerely,

Help transform many other places.

We think that is a unique contribution,

And a lot more than others have achieved.

We, therefore, salute the great people

Of Cuba who have stood with you,

And understood you.

Today they see that while Cuba exists,

Capitalism crashes, and rushes

To embrace the hated welfare state.

Who knows where things might go

From here?

Live on, therefore, and keep that

Talk coming;

We like your expansive rumblings;

At least you say something,

While the Capitalist marauder

Says shut up and sell;

Where you have strenuously saved

The human being from becoming thing,

The Capitalist says only the thing

Is king, and nothing else will do;

And he will not let us question that view.

Our salute, Cuba, who seems to us

Still as new

As when you first embarked

From Sierra Meistra.

You may yet prove

The loadstar that much of the world

Is looking to.

Carry on your battle equally

Against imperialism and complacency.

—Badri Raina

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted