“Everything Created by the Enemy Must be Used for Revolutionary Purposes”

By Ainara Lertxundi on December 17, 2018

Mariela Castro, Photo: Bill Hackwell

In February, the Cuban people will vote on their new Constitution. The three-month consultation period in which nine million people have participated has just come to an end. During a visit to the Basque country Mariela Castro, National Assembly Deputy and Director the National Center for Sexual Education of Cuba, was interviewed by GARA to explain the changes of the constitution including the recognition of same sex marriage, the ownership of the internet and the general process of socialist transformation.

Where is Cuba going?

Cuba is strengthening its socialist democracy, which translates into this process of constitutional reform. In this last period, the proposal has been presented, which was approved in the National Assembly and submitted to popular consultation for three months. Now it returns to the Assembly as a new document enriched with popular participation and will be taken to a referendum of the countrry on February 24. I think it has been one of the best democratic exercises in the world to define a Constitution. It is the people who are designing it and it is the people who are going to vote on the final document. The different forms of discrimination against which we have to work and which the Constitution does not approve, without leaving room for subjective free interpretation, have been extended in a clearer and more specific manner.

But in Cuba there are no political parties, what is the multiparty system for you?

I love talking about this issue. Social democracy invented the multiparty system to make people believe that everything changes and in the end nothing changes, because power remains in the hands of the privileged classes and whoever wants to change the system is considered a terrorist. In any case where the people make an anti-system revolution and seize power they need a party that responds to their interests and defends them against all kinds of circumstances and contradictions, which will always exist in any social group. The people took power, elected and built a party of national unity where all the forces of the left united around a project of emancipation, of socialist transition, which puts the human being at the center of its objectives and not the companies and the banks. Then the people do not need another party that is not that one. The attempts that have arisen, financed from the United States, to generate a salaried opposition to try to induce the need for a multiparty system in Cuba have not been fruitful. The people of Cuba have conscience, knowledge, they know history, they are attentive to everything that happens in the world and they know how to deal with it.

The new constitutional text recognizes private property. Does that entail risks?

It’s a risk, certainly. But socialism is not done in 60 years. Sometimes it is necessary to go backwards in mechanisms to be able to sustain the economic base that guarantees to continue with the strategy of socialist development. It must be articulated in such a way that these people who do this type of work continue to be considered socially as workers who are also contributing to the country’s wealth, to the country’s services and who are making their contribution to development and to take care of the regulations so that they do not become an antagonistic social class. It is a new mechanism for the functioning of society, which requires experimentation, study and analysis. All changes are being made with popular monitoring and critical observation. In Cuba there is an important part of the population that is against self-consciousness because they consider it to be a regression towards capitalism, but there is another part that sees it as necessary. The State alone cannot guarantee the production of immediate goods and services. As long as we continue to be blocked by the United States, the Cuban economy and its development strategy are going to be very limited. They do it intentionally to make us despair and begin to leave the country and to blame the Revolution for those ills.

Another substantial change is the opening to the internet…

Since the new technologies are used for interests of domination, to manipulate and induce patterns of opinion that make you believe that this is what you need, the Cuban State had protected itself in this sense. But in our dialogues the consensus has led to the predominance of the idea of introducing new technologies and using them for our ideological purposes. A country where the great majority of the people are identified with a revolutionary project is going to defend that project with new technologies. Everything that the enemy creates must be used for revolutionary purposes.

From Fidel Castro’s first homophobic speeches to today’s Cuba, which is about to approve homosexual marriage, how does this transformation take place?

International LGBTI rights organizations recognize that Cuba is the one that has made the most progress at the political level in terms of the recognition of rights. The first step is to work with political will, in dialogue with the population in order to change conscience, so that when legislative decisions are made, there is already a greater awareness and a greater consensus. And this was the path we took, unlike other countries, where the law was put in place but consciousness had not been created and this has made for many homophobic hate crimes and trafficking, against women, immigrants . Groups of religious fundamentalists are trying to blackmail the Cuban government by saying they will not vote in favor of the Constitution if the article relating to marriage between two people is left. Well, let them vote against it, another party will vote in favor, they do not frighten us. The State is obliged to guarantee human rights, which includes non-discrimination, regardless of whether that is approved by the majority, whether because of prejudice, interests or whatever.

The president-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused Cuba of exploiting Cuban doctors deployed in different missions in that country. Cuba has responded by withdrawing its mission from Brazil. What happened?

Bolsonaro is an ignorant, violent, misogynistic man; he is the most backward thing that could have come to Latin America. He is the expression of the return of military dictatorships to Latin America overlaid with social democracy. Responding to the interests of the Cuban-American mafia that has taken over U.S. policy, he has made this crude move to disregard the professional quality of Cuban doctors and to use all these absurd and lying arguments. When Cuban doctors go abroad they sign a consent form that they are going to contribute to the economic development of Cuba. They accept this contract in which they are kept their full salary in Cuba, their job while they are in that country waits for them, and in addition they are paid another salary for being in that country, and they accept the percentage they receive because they know that the rest will contribute to the economy of the country and to the maintenance of Cuban public health. It is an agreement, and they understand what it means.

Most have returned, but some have stayed…

Yes, but within the numbers of those who have stayed, it must be borne in mind that many have gotten married there. They didn’t stay because of Bolsonaro’s project, but because they became a family. It’s not that they betrayed the project. We have to respect that in human relations all these kinds of links arise. Bolsonaro is offering them certain opportunities that are not very good and they are already complaining because they have felt deceived by the offer that Bolsonaro has made them. I am sure that many of them will return to Cuba as they did in other places when the U.S. created the so called Parole Program. As has always been the case, doctors and health workers are constantly being trained in Cuba. Some will stay the course, but others will follow.

What factors have caused someone like Bolsonaro to come to power?

One is the weaknesses of the left forces. The problems of corruption and failures of some left-wing groups put people at a crossroads of not knowing who to choose. Another factor has been the use of technology. This situation must make all the forces on the left think about how we should act in these new circumstances that put us in a new terrain of struggle.

The political influence of the evangelistic churches is growing. It is estimated that in Cuba they could already reach 30% of the population.

The churches have always been used as an exercise of social control and power, especially the Catholic Church, but also the evangelical and Protestant churches. Those churches that are acting in Latin America, as the Catholic Church did in its day with the same force, respond to the same project of domination. It is more of the same.

How is Cuba facing the Trump era?

Cuba will continue to strengthen its self-defence system, its sovereignty and socialism. What happened in Brazil was also the protection of our doctors. We had to take them out because we are not going to subject them to the dangers of irresponsibility. There is high repression in Latin America, they are persecuting activists, prosecuting political leaders, as they did with Dilma Rousseff, Lula, Rafael Correa, Fernando Lugo… It has worked for them and now they want to mess with Cuba, but they haven’t yet learned how our people react when they attack us. Don’t forget Playa Girón! The first defeat of imperialism in America.


Source: La Pupila Insomne, translation Resumen Latinoamericano North America Bureau