Workers Vanguard No. 917
4 July 2008
Che Guevara and Repression of Cuban Trotskyists
We print below, slightly edited for publication, the intervention by comrade Adrian Ortega of the Grupo Espartaquista de México, section of the ICL, at a May 24 session of Socialist Action’s educational conference titled “Was Che Guevara a Trotskyist?”
While Che Guevara was a courageous individual, his guerrilla perspective was counterposed to Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution at its root. Guevara’s policies were an idealist brand of Stalinism, reflecting his attempt to build “socialism” on one island, instead of fighting for the proletarian internationalist extension of the Cuban Revolution. The International Communist League, which I’m a member of, originated in the midst of struggle against those like the United Secretariat [USec], which Socialist Action came from, who praised the leadership of the Cuban Revolution as “unconscious Trotskyists.” However, this goes in the face of decades of Castro’s policy of selling out revolutions internationally to jockey for diplomatic advantage, helping for instance to persuade the Chilean workers down the so-called “peaceful road” under Allende’s Unidad Popular in 1971-73, leading to the bloody Pinochet coup.
We said that Cuba had become a bureaucratically deformed workers state in 1960. For over 45 years, we have stood for the unconditional military defense of Cuba against imperialist attack and internal counterrevolution. As part of this perspective, we stand against the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, and for the U.S. to get out of Guantánamo now. However, we have never extended any political support to the Cuban Stalinist regime. Further progress toward socialism will require a proletarian political revolution to establish a revolutionary internationalist regime based on workers and peasants soviets.
With this perspective, we were unique in defending the Cuban Trotskyist group, the POR, who had actively supported the 1959 Cuban Revolution and who stood for democratically elected workers and peasants councils. The Castro bureaucracy put them in jail more than once by 1963. When Guevara was questioned on the suppression of the Trotskyists by one of our members during a trip to Cuba in 1964, he justified it by saying that the Trotskyists were “not part of the Cuban Revolution.” While we defended the POR, the USec and the SWP [Socialist Workers Party] were overt apologists for the repression of the Cuban Trotskyists.
We stand for the right of every organization that defends the Cuban deformed workers state against capitalist restoration to organize and carry out public work. This position is completely different from the call by Socialist Action’s French comrades in the LCR, who today call for “free elections,” which is nothing but a call to strengthen the forces of counterrevolution on the island. Those who betray the interests of the international proletariat by siding with imperialist counterrevolution—like Socialist Action did from Solidarność in Poland to Yeltsin in the USSR—will betray again in Cuba. We fight for a reforged Fourth International, the international workers party that fights for socialist revolutions around the world. Join us if you are interested in fighting for communism around the world.