People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 20

May 19, 2013



Socialist Cuba on Growth Path


Elamarim Kareem


CELEBRATIONS of the May Day at Havana, the capital of socialist Cuba, were an unforgettable experience for us. I went to Havana as a representative of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) --- at the invitation of the Cuban Workers' Trade Union Centre (CTC). The relationship between the CITU and the CTC is already quite strong and our participation in the May Day celebrations at Havana helped to further strengthen this bond.




As many as two thousand three hundred delegates from different trade unions in 73 countries participated in this year's May Day celebrations at Havana. These May Day celebrations were a loud declaration of solidarity of the international working class with the Cuban people who are relentlessly fighting against the unending American imperialist manoeuvres against their country.


I started from Delhi at 3.30 a m on April 27, 2013, by the Delhi-Amsterdam flight of Royal Dutch Airlines, and it took eight hours and 14 minutes to reach Amsterdam. Then after two hours we proceeded to Havana by another flight of the Royal Dutch Airlines.  It took nine hours to reach Havana, but it was 4.00 p m on April 27 itself when we reached Havana as the journey was to the west.


Comrade Fabian from the international department of the CTC received me at the airport. As I was an invitee of the CTC, the emigration clearances were completed very fast. Stay arrangements for the foreign delegates, including me, were made at the Hotel La Olassa, a hotel owned by the CTC.


A special reception for the foreign delegates was organised by the CTC on April 29. Delegates from South Africa, Australia, Latin America and other parts of the world participated in this function.  I was able to get a first hand information about the activities of the trade unions and political developments in these countries during this reception. Many delegates spoke in Spanish language. I was provided a translator who knew English and told me about the deliberations.


The May Day rally took place at 7.00 a m on May 1. Vehicles were arranged to take the delegates from the hotel to the "Revolution Square" where the May Day rally was held. The "Revolution Square" was full of people when we reached there. Workers had stared assembling there even before the day had dawned. The road along which the procession had to pass was jam-packed with people.


The Revolution Square is a quite beautiful place. There is a wide road in front of the big ground. Big pictures of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez were exhibited on the buildings close to the stadium. The Revolution Square has a big column and the stage for seating the leaders was erected near this very column. When we reached there, Cuban president Raul Castro and leaders of the CTC were already present on the stage. The foreign delegates were given seats in front of the stage. The seating arrangements for the choir and special invitees were made quite near the foreign delegates.


When the CTC general secretary addressed the rally at 7.00 a m, his speech lasted for 20 minutes only. His speech was followed by the rendering of the national, and then the procession started. The view of the procession was stupendous. It was moving through a 150 metres wide road that was fully packed with people carrying banners, flags and pictures of the country’s leaders etc.  When the procession reached the Revolution Square, people enthusiastically saluted the leaders. Most of the banners were on the working class solidarity and opposition to American imperialism. The pictures were of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, among others. Workers from different sectors, government servants, students, armymen, all were present in the rally. The rally went on for hours together, and lakhs of people participated in it. The slogans shouted by the participants declared their determination that they would protect the socialist Cuba, oppose and defeat the American imperialism, and rebuff the neo-liberal policies. The rally came to a conclusion at 11 o’clock. 




There was a function on May 1 evening to felicitate the workers who had been selected from different sectors. Delegates from China, India, Nigeria and South Africa were specially invited to attend this function. The workers who have done outstanding work in their respective sectors were felicitated at this function. The Cuban vice president, speaker of the parliament and CTC leaders too participated in the function.


On May 2 morning, there was held an international conference of trade unions in the Convention Centre at Havana. CTC leaders and delegates from various countries participated in the conference. Representatives from the CITU and from Belgium and Nigeria were given seat on the dais. I addressed the conference on behalf of the CITU. All the delegates who spoke on the occasion condemned the machinations of the United States and expressed solidarity with the unrelenting efforts of the Cuban people to build socialism in their country.


The financial crisis which erupted in 2008 has not much affected the Latin American countries. The Cuban economy is also growing, despite all difficulties due to the criminal US blockade. Cuba’s GDP growth rate was 2.1 per cent in 2012 and the expected growth rate in 2013 is 2.9 per cent. Moreover, in qualitative terms, Cuba has achieved tremendous progress in areas like education, health, poverty eradication, etc. The standard of living of the people is improving rapidly. As per the UNDP report, Cuba's position on the human development index is 50th among 196 countries. One may well be tempted to compare it with India's position which is 132nd. Cuba was in a big crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now it has come out of it to a large extent and is growing again.


Earlier I had participated in the WFTU conference held at Havana in 2005. At that time, the vehicles seen on the roads were very old. But today most of the vehicles are modern and new. Buses are new and the bus service is in the public sector. Electricity is available without any problem. Agriculture too is progressing. The Cuban people are happy and contented overall. Havana is an old city, but it is very clean and its roads are very wide. There are no slums in the outskirts of the city or anywhere else. All the families have their houses. No beggars are to be seen anywhere in the city. 


One can now see a number of tourists in Cuba. The seashores of Havana are very fascinating. The crime rate in Havana is very low.  People can travel through the city safely --- at any time of the day.  Many new hotels have come up for the tourists. Liquor is available in plenty. But you cannot see anybody moving around in an intoxicated state. Blacks and whites are there in Cuba, but there is no discrimination or division between them. They are living in perfect mutual harmony. The participation of workers in building a socialist Cuba is commendable. The CTC has been able to rally the Cuban workers in building a socialist Cuba and in fulfilling their responsibility.


I bid goodbye to Cuba at 4 p m on May 2. Comrade Fabian came to the airport to see me off. I could feel the great sense of respect the people of Cuba and members of the CTC have for India in general, and also for the CITU, in all their dealings.