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Cuba’s Ambassador to China: Socialism Marches On and is Unstoppable

[Editor’s note: China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Paper published an interview of the Cuba’s Ambassador to China, Carlos Miguel Pereira. He Qin from the CASS Marxism Research Institute conducted the interview on April 6, 2010. In it, the ambassador elaborated on his country’s “irreversible” socialist development, and the tiny communist nation’s economic reform, noting that despite a "flawless" military, "economic problems are fundamental problems for the survival of Cuban socialism. According to Ambassador Pereira, Fidel Castro praised the “China Model” as the real hope for developing countries. He also believes that “Cuba and China are fellow soldiers in the same trench.” The following is a translation of excerpts from the interview.] [1]

The Cuban Revolution Never Stops Progressing

He Qin: What are the special historic characteristics of Cuba’s revolution and development path?

Miguel Carlos Pereira (hereinafter referred to as “Pereira”): Due to geopolitical reasons, prior to the revolution Cuba faced two choices: independence or annexation by the United States. From the U.S. perspective, an independent Cuba was absolutely not allowed to occur. Since Cuba gained independence, the U.S. has never stopped obstructing Cuba’s development. The U.S. has launched many policies, such as the “Manifest Destiny,” “the Monroe Doctrine,” “the Ripe Fruit Policy,” and economic and military interventions. In 1892, the famous Cuban independence pioneer Jose Marti established the Cuban Revolutionary Party; the Party became the backbone for uniting all Cuban people to fight for their freedom. After suffering the tormented period of Neo-colonialism, the Cuban revolutionary finally succeeded under the guidance of the Moncada Guiding Principle and the leadership of the “July 26 Movement,” with strong support from the Cuban people.

The success of the Cuban revolution not only means the end of an era of dictatorship; it also represents the historical pinnacle when the most revolutionary, most progressive, and most independent intellectual theory was put into practice. … The Cuban revolution has never stopped progressing; its social achievements have even earned recognition from its most powerful enemies.

Do the Right Thing at Every Moment

He Qin: What are the difficulties and challenges Cuban socialism has faced?
Pereira: The economic blockade started in the 1960s and the dramatic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 1990s brought grave difficulties and challenges to Cuban socialism. The (blockade) cost Cuba its major trading partners, and the (dramatic changes) made Cuba lose 80% of its foreign market and 35% of its GDP. Although the Cuban revolution has not been smooth sailing, the perseverance and progress of Cuba’s socialism has proven that it is correct and appropriate for Cuba, and it is the only way.

In order to make an adjustment to the new domestic and foreign environment, and to consolidate its achievements in building socialism, starting in the 1990s when Cuba encountered special difficulties, the Cuban leaders adopted a series of new measures to revitalize its economy, such as legalizing the U.S. dollar, and promoting foreign investment and tourism. While these steps have brought some positive results, some side effects have also surfaced: prostitution, economic polarization, corruption and other social ills. Hence, under the new climate, Cuba’s socialism must seek “changes” on the basis of “continuation.” As Jose Marti once said, “Do the right thing at every moment.”

Let Socialism be Irreversible

He Qin: How does Cuban socialism achieve “changes” on the basis of “continuation”?
Pereira: Although Cuban socialism is in the middle of a complicated historical period, the Cuban people have reason to be optimistic. The toughest times for Cuban leadership succession have passed, and the new leadership with Raúl Castro as the core has won trust and support from all Cuban people. … The smooth transfer of Cuban leadership once again smashed the U.S. imperialists’ theory that when Fidel Castro retired, the Cuban revolution would disappear.

The new generation of Cuban Communist Party leadership plans to hold the landmark Cuban Communist Party’s Seventh National People’s Congress in late 2010 or early 2011. During this historic meeting, the Cuban Communist Party will establish and amend strategies and feasible models for future Cuban socialism based on Cuba’s own national conditions and fully considering public opinion. As President Raul Castro said during the third session of Cuban Communist Party’s Sixth National People’s Congress in December of 2009, “Our current mission is grand; it represents our desire and ability to build socialism, and it represents the economic model with the most extensive participation of all people that will benefit all. To ensure the irreversibility of the socialist system is the only guarantee to achieve a truly independent Cuba.”

Cuban Socialism Never Made a Strategic Mistake

He Qin: What are the experiences and consensus from Cuban socialist development?
Pereira: Despite the interruption of external factors such as the economic boycott, natural disasters and the global economic crisis, fortunately, Cuban socialism has not made any strategic mistakes so far.

It is the consensus of all different classes in Cuba that we must develop the national economy, establish a long-term sustainable development strategy, and strengthen and maintain the results of Cuban socialist development. Marxism-Leninism, Jose Marti Thoughts and Fidel Thoughts are the foundation of Cuba’s socialist theory. …

Institutionalization is Key to the Cuban Revolution’s Vitality

He Qin: What are the urgent problems for Cuba’s socialism?
Pereira: Adjusting income distribution, reforming the dual currency system, and exploring the Cuban socialist model are the urgent problems. In addition, the Cuban socialist system is facing unprecedented systematic adjustments and changes. Institutionalization is fundamental to the vitality of the Cuban revolution. …

He Qin: What is Cuba’s current focus?
Pereira: Specifically, it includes the following points: First, cut social spending, cancel remuneration and allowances, expand job opportunities, and increase income and pensions based on actual national consumption. Second, treat food supply as the highest national security issue, optimize food production and distribution, and implement import substitution. Third, give high priority to tourism and other foreign currency generation industries. Fourth, simplify investment procedures, and promote foreign investment. Fifth, strengthen the government’s supervisory role in economic activities, improve economic efficiency, maintain a balance between income and spending, and strive to achieve the fulfillment of international debt obligations.

The China Model is the Real Hope for Developing Countries

He Qin: How does Cuba evaluate the “China model”?
Pereira: Socialism with Chinese characteristics has achieved remarkable success. Chairman Fidel Castro once commented, “The ‘China model’ is the real hope for developing countries.” The success of the “China model” can largely be attributed to insisting on its own development path with China’s unique features. So when learning from China’s successful experiences, Cuba must clearly recognize that even the most successful experiences of other countries should be combined with our country’s reality. Otherwise it will be unsuitable.

Cuba is the socialist country that geographically is the closest to the U.S., the capitalist giant. Any strategic mistake could immediately ruin the future of Cuban socialism. Compared to Cuba, China seems more likely to win the time and opportunity to correct mistakes.

As a result, Cuba must be very careful about any minor changes when constantly improving its socialism, in order to avoid any mistakes the U. S. anticipates. In short, despite differences between Cuba and China, the two countries are comrades in the same trench in developing socialism with their own features.

Uphold and Improve Socialism

He Qin: How does Cuba’s younger generation view and participate in the Cuban socialist cause?
Pereira: Currently, the majority of the Cuban population was born after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Although they never experienced the baptism of revolution, Cuba’s youth have always been steadfast in their socialist beliefs and devotion. Facing the current situation and problems, it is very normal for young people to have their own views and opinions, even criticism. …

He Qin: Is there an agenda for Cuba’s socialist cause?
Pereira: After the Cuban Revolution, the government and people have worked extremely diligently and made some achievements. However, because of the U.S. economic boycott, Cuba is facing great economic challenges. Though our military is almost flawless, economic problems are fundamental problems for the survival of Cuban socialism. Under such adverse external conditions, the only thing Cuba is certain of is that upholding and improving socialism is the only way to survive and grow.

He Qin: What is your view about the difficulties international communism has encountered in the last century and the lessons learned?
Pereira: The experiences of China and Cuba show that we can only effectively avoid the detours of communism’s predecessors by adhering to an independent socialist path with our own characteristics, continuing to explore and improve the socialist system, and emphasizing the Party’s unity.

[1] Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, June 3, 2010