Youth are the revolution’s future
Campaign News | Monday, 13 December 2004
Interview with Cuban Communist Party leader
Cuba's Youth Communist Party has just completed its five-yearly Congress. In this interview with the weekly Nuestra Propuesta <www.nuestrapropuesta.org.ar>, Cuban Communist Party member Celia Hart Santamaria analysed the situation of youth in Cuba, the challenges facing her every day, and current socialist and revolutionary ideas.
The daughter of two Cuban revolutionaries, Armando Hart and Haydee Santamaria, Hart decided soon after receiving her Ph.D. in physics that she wanted to work doing something else. “I involved myself entirely in my passion: the Revolution, from an international perspective.”
Hart currently works in the Museo Santamar¡a, located in the same apartment building that her uncle Abel and her mother left one day to become the main figures in the Moncada attack.
How is the relationship between the new Cuban generations and the revolution?
The revolution is won mainly by winning the youth over. Young people are intrinsically authentically socialist, but sometimes, because of our limitations, we do something and youth loses that spirit. As a member of the Cuban Communist Party, I am concerned about some of the issues that Cuban and world communists must resolve. The Cuban Revolution must always continue being a revolution, in spite of the fact that every state, including the dictatorship of the proletariat, has a tendency to become conservative. Fortunately, Fidel is always revolutionising things.
The case of Elian Gonzalez [a six-year-old who was kidnapped in 2000 and held in Miami for months before a huge Cuban and international campaign forced his return], provided a clue that we are still alive.
It would be very sad that the Moncadistas were the only heroes. Now we have our five heroes locked up in the United States, who are renewing us. [The “Cuban Five” have been in jail in Miami since 1998. Convicted of espionage for monitoring the activities of anti-Cuban terrorists, they are serving sentences between 15 years’ imprisonment and life.]
Now we do not have to appeal only to [the example set by] my uncle Abel, or to Che, or to so many dead comrades, but we have five heroes to fight for. The most important challenge for us, communists, besides freeing our comrades, is giving that to our youth, so they feel that there are five heroes, five comrades our age, struggling against Yankee imperialism, because they, from inside prison, are struggling.
Besides being anti-terrorist fighters, taking into account that the Miami mafia is an accomplice of the US Government, the Cuban Five fight against imperialism, therefore, they are internationalists.
Our greatest challenge is to give our flag to our youth, so they take it as their own, those heroes belong to them.
Then, what is the message for youth?
The youth must be told that the revolution is an arguer. Sometimes we, the older generation, do not want to be contradicted, we want things to be set and we do not practice the typical revolutionary arguments. The revolution is an arguer, critical and thought provoking. That is coming up in some youngsters: love for the revolution, even in a socialist country. There are ways to tell them that we are still living the revolution, giving them that happiness, there is no better way to be happy than in the revolution. Being a revolutionary is the nicest and hardest thing, it is the greatest duty, but there is no cheaper way to be happy.
Has this been internalised by the Cuban Youth?
When the Eastern Bloc fell, people thought that I changed and went to the right. I said, “this is marvellous,” and they thought, “Celia is crazy”. I always thought that the ideals of the 1917 October Revolution had been betrayed in the USSR, and when it fell I thought, “Cuba is stronger now, because this socialist revolution has not been betrayed, and [Russian Revolution leader] Lenin is still well and alive over here, and we must take advantage of the life he still has. We have to pinch him, stimulate his energy, telling him that there is a big group of Cubans, Latin Americans, and people all over the world, who are still with him.
If we have the courage to give that flag to our youth, they will fall in love with it. This is growing, and it is shown by the five heroes, not in a leaflet, but in real life. We must face the risks of being bold, because youth is bold, the revolution is there. A few days ago I was asked over here about critical thought, how it is being manifested in Cuba.
And what did you answer?
There are channels in the party and in the state, but all those things are done in reality, by people. The party is not something abstract, it is formed by many comrades. Sometimes some people think that politics must be left for someone else, that it is better to go and have a beer. But it is not like that. Politics must be played with criticism, the struggle must be constant. Fidel is the first one about that. When there are criticisms about the revolution, we have the example of what happened with the power cuts now, Fidel is impressive, in those situations he goes and speaks directly with the people, in a direct dialogue. But we know that not everything can be resolved that way. The way to do it is to struggle for ideas to manifest themselves.
What is the effect of the economic changes on Cubans?
At the Cuban Communist Party we still have a lot to learn, we must struggle to understand youth's new realities. Lenin lived through something similar in relation to the New Economic Policy, with joint ventures, although Cuba has most of the stocks and has the power to close the corporation whenever it wants.
Of course, those related to these corporations live reality in a set way. It is funny, but although the money is not for them, the dynamics when working as a director of a joint venture or a business changes your mentality, it changes you into a globalised being. Cuba is not exempt from this new phenomena. Our challenge is telling them that there is another life, much more funny, committed, something to give your life for. There are many communists thinking like me. This is a good time. Fidel knows very well what to target.
And youth must fill those spaces where we, those with white hair, are. That space is theirs, belongs to them. Proletariat internationalism is an interesting subject, and people should not relate to that only because of solidarity or good will. Internationalism is not that, it is the centre of the revolution. I am in Cuba because we must struggle in Cuba, but I am going to be the same way in Argentina, Scotland or the US. The advantage of socialist ideas is that they are international, compared to any other important social movement, which are always geographically grouped. “Proletariats of the world, unite”, is a watchword without competition. A broadly humanist idea. The most humanist of them all. Communism is the only way humanity can be happy.
The right wing is always talking about “the transition without Fidel.”
And I ask them, what happened when Che died? Che is over there, as alive as always, he came back before Christ did. If Fidel dies, the world will lose a person whom perhaps they did not know how to make good use of as they should have. But there is a lot to be done yet, and the enemy is so ignorant and so clumsy that they do not realize that Fidel will hurt them much more when he's not around, because he is going to grow. The small criticisms he has now, which he gets as a statesman, will disappear, and only the immensity of a man will remain. Communist ideas transcend Fidel Castro, such as they transcended Lenin. The revolution is endless in Cuba, and we are prepared for that.
Socialism in one country does not work. It did not work in the USSR, but, what is critical is that neither socialism nor the country remained. Socialism is international. Socialist revolutions exist, they work, and I am proud to having grown up in one of them. The most authentic revolution in the West is in Cuba, no doubt about it, and now, of course, [President Hugo] Chavez's [in Venezuela], which must continue in the way to radicalisation, and from there, as Che said, “many Vietnams, “that is the solution for Latin America and the world. That is the attitude, permanent revolution, the revolution in Latin America intended by Che Guevara.”
[Translated by Walter Lippman.]
From Green Left Weekly, December 15, 2004.