“El periódico ha de estar siempre como los correos antiguos, con el caballo enjaezado, la fusta en la mano y la espuela en el tacón.  Debe desobedecer los apetitos del bien personal y atender imparcialmente al bien público”.
José Martí

Cuba and its Extremists


For a world where we are socially equal, humanly different and totally free. – Rosa Luxemburg

In politics, there are many kinds of extremists, but the most despicable are those who go looking to earn merit, applying the orders that come from above with the utmost rigor. It doesn’t matter what the cost is at the expense of the population as long as they are able to climb the ladder to a better position.

This kind of extremist is a chameleon who can shift from one political extreme to another without too much effort. It isn’t strange to see them defending Soviet socialism one day, to only condemn it and raise McDonald flags a few years later.

The honest extremist is a fundamentalist; he/she has few ideas of their own and needs absolute truths to feel safe. When they find them, they grab hold of them as if they were a lifeline which keeps them afloat in a sea of different ideas, where their afraid of sinking.

My politics is based on tolerance, dialogue and consensus… and that’s it! Here, I’m the one that gives the orders!

Wikipedia defines fundamentalism as the ideological movement which promotes the literal interpretation of its founding texts (beyond its contextual interpretation), or rather the uncompromising and strict application of an established doctrine or practice.

The saddest thing about the Cuban case is that some of these fundamentalists don’t even adhere to the “sacred texts” written by Marx and Lenin, but rather recur to the “interpretations” which some Stalinist theorists made in their guidebooks.

This type of extremism is the most dangerous because they believe they own the truth and they convert everyone else who thinks differently to them into enemies which they have to crush. Whoever questions their dogma with different ideas has to be silenced, by hook or by crook.

Every political and religious movement has had legendary fundamentalists such as McCarthy, Robespierre or Torquemada. However, in Socialist Cuba, the most interesting and educational thing would be to analyze the Left and the consequences of its actions.

Wasn’t it the Popular Socialist Party’s extremism that expelled Mella and labeled Guiteras a social-fascist? It was this same extremism that tried to overthrow the young bearded man, after the Revolution triumphed, who had come from the mountains and who didn’t apply Marxism according to the instruction manual.

Only a young barely 30 year old man, naive and politically uneducated, would dream of ripping the dogma to shreds, of creating a movement instead of a political party, defeat the army instead of joining it, build a guerrilla force when what he needed to do was create a social uprising and, finally, snatch the flag of socialism from the “real” communists.

In Cuba, the “micro-faction” was beaten, however, in other parts of Latin America, it was “successful”. It’s worth remembering that left-wing extremists murdered Maurice Bishop in Granada and handed this country over to the US Marines on a silver platter.

This is a trait of extremists; they waste so many bullets shooting those who share the same trench that they run out of ammunition when the real enemy comes. Some of them lose their perspective while others just change sides.

El poeta Roque Dalton era un intelectual de izquierda, amigo de Cuba, pero los extremistas consideraron que no era suficientemente revolucionario y lo asesinaron

Roque Dalton: My veins don’t end in me, but instead in the unanimous blood of those who struggle for life, love, things, nature and bread, the poetry of everyone.

This reminds me of El Salvador’s guerrilla leader Joaquin Villalobos, who ordered the murder of the poet Roque Dalton because of his political differences. Ironically, he is now a counter-insurgency advisor to governments who fight against armed Leftist groups.

Extremists demand “unanimity”, that is to say that we all think like them unless we want to be excommunicated and burnt at the stake, sometimes in a metaphorical sense by burning books but they don’t rule out getting rid of different ideas with bullets either.

Paradoxically, these extremists are the worst enemies social cohesion can have. Crimes against Leftist revolutionaries reveal the fanaticism that blinds them to such an extent that they’re unable to differentiate between enemies and friends who think differently.

Guerrilla unity in El Salvador didn’t come about thanks to “unanimity” which was pursued via Roque Dalton’s murder, but because it respected the political differences of the five organizations that came together to form the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

If Commander Leonel Gonzalez is President of El Salvador today, it’s because the FLMN was able to shake off its dogmas and adapt to the country’s reality. Just like the Tupamaro leader Pepe Mujica did, after risking his life for several decades in Uruguay’s armed struggle.

Tactics and strategies vary, but the fixed principle should be that politics are meant to benefit the people, so they can be happy and self-fulfilled. Believing that ideologies shouldn’t evolve is to reject dialectics itself.

Preventing the flow of the river of ideas and spashing about in stagnant water is a right every one of us has but forcing others to drink this water is insane. Let God protect Cuba from its internal enemies as its known how to protect itself against its external enemies all by itself.

El asesinato de Maurice Bishop, un líder cercano a Cuba, a manos de un grupo de extremistas de izquierda dio la excusa perfecta para una invasión de los EEUU

The murder of Maurice Bishop in Grenada, a leader close to Cuba, by a group of left-wing extremists was the perfect excuse for a US invasion.

Translation: Havana Times

About Fernando Ravsberg

Nacido en Uruguay, corresponsal de Público en Cuba y profesor del post grado de “Información internacional y países del Sur” de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Fue periodista de BBC Mundo, Telemundo de EEUU, Radio Nacional de Suecia y TV Azteca de México. Autor de 3 libros, El Rompecabezas Cubano, Reportajes de Guerra y Retratos.


2 thoughts on “Cuba and its Extremists

  1. Ravsberg, lo respeto, pero los sucesos en torno a la microfraccion en Cuba constituyeron maniobra política centralizadora del poder, NO una respuesta a la disputa del poder por parte de los viejos comunistas. Por otra parte ningun extremismo fue posible en Cuba sin el conocimiento de la mas alta direccion del pais. Sr Ravsberg. Los extremismos son la sal de la tierra en las revoluciones. Esa es la cruda y triste verdad. Todo lo demas es retorica teorica. Los fundamentalismos aseguran el poder por eso Stalin gobernó y Rosa Luxemburgo no.

  2. Otro detalle con todo respeto para usted que publica cosas muy interesantes. El Partido Socialista Popular nunca pudo expulsar a Mella ni catalogar a Guiteras en forma alguna porque vio la luz con ese nombre en 1944, mucho tiempo despues que ambos murieran. Mella es asesinado en circunstancias nada claras (aunque la historiografia mas ortodoxa culpa a Machado sin tener en cuenta a Tina Modotti) cuando “el partido” en Cuba se llamaba simplemente Partido Comunista.

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