Thursday, 21 February 2008

Fidel Castro: A Brief Analysis

Ever since Fidel Castro described himself as a Marxist-Leninist Communist in the early 1960s, a savage campaign was set in motion to topple his government. This campaign was initiated by the US administration and was subsequently supported by several other countries who were too scared to challenge the US.

Apart from the Bay of Pigs invasion and the countless CIA attempts to assassinate Castro, the latter has been subjected to a terrible demonisation campaign. The Cuban leader was often depicted in the capitalist media as the incarnation of evil. This technique of characterizing individuals as totally good or evil managed to influence millions of people around the world when talking about Fidel.

One of the most striking aspects of the anti-Castro criticisms is that they are frequently made by people who have never been to Cuba and have never talked to a substantial number of Cubans to learn more about day-to-day life in the country. Such critics tend to cite some human rights report as evidence that living in Cuba is tantamount to living in hell. It is true that certain people were imprisoned for trying to incite various individuals to overthrow the Cuban government; these people were normally being paid by organizations that were bent on bringing down the socialist administration. I believe that if the authorities in any part of the world discover that there are individuals who are being funded to engage in activities aimed at sabotaging a government’s work, the detention of such people is to be expected.

When discussing democracy and human rights, I have often argued that these issues cannot be analysed in a vacuum. The freedom of speech, to focus on one example, is never absolute. In some countries, if a person denies the occurrence of the Jewish holocaust, this is considered as a crime and legal action is taken against such an individual. In the US, if a person commits certain deeds, he/she loses the right to life given that the death penalty still exists in several states. In order to safeguard the interests of the prevalent sectors of a particular society, a number of rights are always restricted or denied.

Contrary to the lies spewed by many capitalists, Castro’s government was never a personal dictatorship. Indeed, when asked about the latter issue, Fidel said that Cuba has a dictatorship of the proletariat; not a one-man dictatorship. Quite understandably, this point is usually ignored by the Castro critics. In their attempts to demonise Fidel, most of them prefer to keep on saying that he is a mad dictator.

Once the masses have approved the dictatorship of the proletariat as the best way forward to construct a socialist society that wants to march onwards towards Communism, it is important to defend the gains made by the proletariat. History is rich with examples of how the capitalist class in various societies has always done its utmost to regain control whenever it was temporarily kept at bay. The brutal actions of the capitalist class to regain power were witnessed in Cuba ever since Castro came to power, in Guatemala in the 1950s, in Chile in 1973, and in Nicaragua during the 1980s. The gains of the working class are invariably reversed as long as the capitalist class is allowed to prosper.

There are many ways in which the gains of the working class can be safeguarded. Many Castro critics say that he sentenced many people who disagreed with him to death. To my knowledge, Castro has never condemned anyone to death simply because that person had different political beliefs. Virtually all the individuals who were shot during the period following the 1959 Revolution were former members of the Batista regime who had been involved in the torture and execution of countless Cubans. Trials were held for such individuals and many were condemned to death for their crimes. As in many other countries during the 1960s, the death penalty was still widely popular as a means of dealing with certain criminals in Cuba.

Since those days, as a result of massive changes in the way of thinking about crime and criminals, several countries have abolished the death penalty. Even in Cuba, Castro himself has encouraged attempts to find better alternatives to the death penalty. Of course, since this does not appeal to the Castro critics, it is never mentioned; depicting Fidel as a bloodthirsty man is more effective when trying to demonise him!

In most capitalist media reports about Cuba, a lot of attention is devoted to the Cubans who have risked their lives to get to the US. Sadly, such reports usually fail to dwell on the free education, health care, and housing that is available to the Cuban people; they prefer to focus on the relatively small number of Cubans who have attempted to get to the US after being seduced by the capitalist propaganda associated with the American Dream. These reports also normally avoid mentioning the fact that following several campaigns to indoctrinate various Cubans that the US is an earthly paradise, the ones who manage to land on US soil are able to apply for residency in the country. With so many people around the world being brainwashed that the US is a perfect country, I am not surprised by the fact that several individuals are seduced by such propaganda and risk their lives to go to live there. Mexico is a capitalist country; why is nobody advocating a change of government and calling the Mexican President an evil leader as thousands of Mexicans risk their lives every year to cross the US-Mexican border?

When a country has been subjected to countless terrorist acts including a devastating trade embargo lasting for more than four decades, it is not so hard to understand why that country’s economy is not doing extremely well. Rather than attempt to escape to another place, it is during such times that a country’s inhabitants should unite together in order to improve each other’s quality of life. Socialism is about collectivism; it is about caring for other human beings.

Throughout his years as a leader who enjoyed widespread support from the masses, Fidel Castro transformed Cuba from a country that was dominated by ignorance and in which the capitalist class trampled upon the members of the working class into a country that has understood that a society can only improve on a long-term basis if it embraces Socialism. Being human, he has made mistakes, but this does not mean that Socialism is evil or that it cannot work.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Dr Alfred Sant's University Debate

Earlier on this week, there was a debate between the four main political leaders at the University of Malta. Based on the excerpts I watched on TV, the meeting included a relatively large number of PN supporters who frequently tried to turn the debate into a pro-Dr Gonzi meeting!

I also listened to the views of many University students as they were interviewed about the proposals of the different parties. The comments of most of the students were clearly an echo of the rhetoric that they had internalised after listening to the same phrases and cliches over and over again! There was no profound analysis of certain issues by none of the students who were interviewed. As a former university student, this did not surprise me so much.

Whereas in many other universities around the world, university students are expected to be discussing and mobilising in favour of several changes in society, most Maltese university students are extremely indifferent in respect of whatever is happening beyond the narrow confines of their daily lives. Many are simply interested in hanging out at parties, flirting, writing assignments, and cramming for exams. The few students who join an organisation usually do so to make their CVs stand out when they start looking for jobs.

On the basis of my experience during my four years at university, most students who attend the latter institution live like princes. Given that the majority of the students are teenagers or individuals in their early 20s, most of them still live with their families. Many students are given generous handouts by their parents to live comfortably and are exempt from paying bills or rent. When a person is enjoying such a lifestyle, it is quite easy to believe that the country is doing great! Furthermore, the widespread apathy that can be witnessed when talking to several university students makes it easy to understand how so many of them just repeat what various politicians say like parrots. Not even one student said anything about the hardships that many immigrants undergo here in Malta. Not even one student uttered a word about the many gay couples in Malta who feel that they are treated as second-class citizens by the government when talking about certain rights.
Of course, not all university students are indifferent and fairly detached from the hardships that come with a normal working life as a wage slave. There is a considerable number of students who are strongly aware of the economic problems affecting hundreds of Maltese families and would like to do something about it. Sadly, one does not get to see such students so often. We are normally more exposed to the students who still live in a dreamworld in which regurgitating Dr Gonzi's political discourse is deemed as sufficient for them to believe that Malta is slowly turning into a paradise!

Monday, 11 February 2008


Video muy interesante del PCPE!

Dr Gonzi's IT Paradise

While watching TV yesterday evening, I listened to an excerpt from Dr Lawrence Gonzi's speech during the mass meeting in Floriana. Whenever I listen to him, I always remind myself that Dr Gonzi is a lawyer and, as such, he knows very well how to use words to achieve his goals.

During yesterday's meeting, Dr Gonzi reiterated the point that today's youths constitute the IT generation, suggesting that a huge amount of wealth is awaiting all those youths as soon as they get their hands on an IT-related job. Smart City is repeated over and over again, making it seem like a promised land. There are two issues here that deserve closer attention. First, not all Maltese youths are studying or planning to work within the IT sector. What is Dr Gonzi offering to the thousands of young people who are not involved in the IT area? Second, from an economics perspective, as more people acquire expertise in IT, the supply of IT professionals will be increasing. With a much greater supply of IT experts, salaries are likely to plummet. This had happened in Spain several years ago when the country underwent its own IT boom. At first, the relatively few IT professionals were gaining astonishing salaries and benefited from excellent working conditions, but the whole package started to deteriorate as the country witnessed a massive increase in the amount of people specialising in IT. It is one thing to talk about creating new jobs, but Dr Gonzi should remember that for a job to be worth something, it must be able to offer a decent package to the employee. During his speech, Dr Gonzi did not say anything about this matter. He preferred to make people think that just because new jobs will be created, these will allow many people to live a much better life.

Dr Gonzi's words do not fool me! :)