by Celia Hart [Celia Hart is a Cuban journalist and political activist. The translation is by Socialist Action.]
Yesterday, under the most beautiful February moon, at the 17th annual Havana Book Fair, in which it seems that everything is possible, we presented the edition of Trotsky’s “Revolution Betrayed” put out by the Spanish publisher Fundación Federico Engels.
The Fernando Ortíz Hall was packed, and finally we were able to make a small space for the chief of the Red Army in the only socialist revolution in the world that has not been betrayed.
I was flooded with happiness while explaining how the genuinely socialist measures bequeathed by Lenin, such as the thoroughgoing nationalization of the means of production and the reinforcement of state economic planning, in counterpoint to the unfortunate but to a certain extent necessary New Economic Policy, were raised as the banner of the Left Opposition. Very early, the Left Oppositionists began to observe where the blunt instruments of capitalism were leading.
It was an unprecedented privilege to be able to think about forming the bridge of continuity between Trotsky and Che within Fidel’s living revolution. I told the audience that we had to rescue, as if it were an endangered species, the resources of this marvelous and unprecedented adventure in which our noble Lenin was engaged from day to day, acting with astuteness, tact, and coherence. We needed to learn those lessons to help us avoid irreversible setbacks. The evening ended with a desire to continue the discussion and to continue to try to understand the dangers that can threaten an ongoing revolution.
Leon Trotsky, who has been defamed by some, avoided by others, and forgotten by most, came back once again to seize the Winter Palace, precisely where his comrade, Che Guevara, placed his command post at the dawn of 1959 [the victory of the Cuban Revolution].
It seems that the event was much more than expected. For once, there was a face-to-face encounter between the old Bolshevik—with his lessons, his errors, and his militant love—and the only socialist revolution left in the world. This latter revolution has maintained the faith, regardless of all the books, all the predictions, and all the ill will that is consuming the earth. My beautiful revolution that is demonstrating, in spite of all the spreading cancers of capitalism, what men and women are capable of when their good intentions are liberated and they govern their ancestral instincts in order to reproduce material life through work.
The warm night, the enticing smell of fresh ink, the optimistic laughter of our friends seemed to envelop us. I ended by saying, “I propose to send this book as a gift to compañero Fidel.
But happiness is too fragile. For some reason I got up today much before dawn. I turned on the computer. And someone shouted at me from another part of the world, “Fidel resigned.” Almost unable to type, I took a look at our Communist Party’s official newspaper, Granma: “To my dear compatriots who have done me the immense honor in recent days of electing me as a member of parliament, in which important agreements for the future of our revolution have to be adopted, I inform you that I do not wish nor will I accept the responsibility of president of the Council of State and Commander in Chief.”
(You can accept this, and even order it, Fidel, but I and a lot of our people will not accept in their hearts that you are no longer our Comandante. Your people, these best of them, have the world’s deepest human affections, and they are going to continue to follow your unspoken orders.)
Fidel can give up being president of the Republic of Cuba. In reality, this is a responsibility that can be borne by any of the leaders. But Fidel cannot, even if he wants, cease to be the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, even if he is ill and we are only entitled to know what he wants through his reflections.
This position is only voted on in the hearts of the Cuban revolutionists, and these hearts will not accept his resignation. Besides, reading carefully, we see that Fidel did not say the word “resignation.” Because that word is not in his vocabulary. He is not accepting being elected president of the Council of State and Ministers. That is something else.
Once again our enemies at home and abroad are being very cautious because Fidel is not dead. He is fighting from a dangerous trench, without failing to give explicit or implicit orders. The first one, he has already said: “I put no trust in the apparently easy roads of apologetics or, its antithesis, self-degeneration.”
Our enemies abroad, who are based mainly in Florida, shouldn’t think of buying suitcases again. They should be cautious, because Fidel is not dead, and his spirit is stronger and more astute than ever. Let them continue to follow their electoral carnival; we prefer to follow our baseball championship—which is much more entertaining.
And to our enemies concealed within, let them be careful and not hasty to hoist their dirt-stained banners inscribed with lame and deceptive sophisms that call for a gradual restoration of aberrant capitalism. Because unlike the Bolshevik Revolution, this revolution has not been betrayed, and because the left has not been murdered or exiled. If they want to try a road that has been followed by revolutions that died, they will have to start by assassinating some of us and blowing the island into pieces.
Today we need to rearm for war, that’s all there is to it. Hugo Chavez needs to quicken his pace in the Bolivarian Revolution and radicalize the process. Either Chavez or the Bolivarians have to understand that this is the hour of the furnaces, as Jose Marti said, and you just have to see the light.
So, Fidel, we are only going to cry about what cannot be helped. Take care of yourself, and sharpen the point of your pencil, because where ever you might be, Cuba can have only one Commander in Chief.
Ever onward to victory!
Commander in Chief, give us your orders!