The U.S.-Cuba immigration accord

By Sam Marcy (Sept. 22, 1994)

At last the Cuban government has been able to get the Clinton administration to sign on the dotted line. Eight days of negotiations have produced a significant agreement with respect to immigration. While not the first agreement between the U.S. and the revolutionary Cuban government, it is the only one in many years.

It is alleged that in the 1970s during the Nixon administration, the U.S. and Cuba did hold secret negotiations, according to an article in the current New York Review of Books. But they were not able to produce a diplomatic accord to normalize relations, as had happened much earlier between the U.S. and the USSR, Eastern Europe and China. The U.S. would not grant Cuba diplomatic recognition, nor would it relinquish its base at Guant namo.

The 1970s were the high point in Cuba's revolutionary influence, not only in Latin America but in Africa, Asia and even Europe. Cuba was part of a worldwide surge in the working class movement and particularly among oppressed countries. U.S. imperialism was on the defensive, especially after its historic defeat in Vietnam and its inability to either crush or tame the Cuban Revolution.

Cuba at that time provided revolutionary assistance to Angola, Namibia and also to Ethiopia.

But history does not proceed along a straight upward line. Periods of revolutionary upsurge are almost inevitably followed by periods of passivity or reaction. This doesn't mean that what was accomplished in revolutionary struggle is then negated by rising passivity in the mass movement. Common sense alone tells us that after every revolutionary struggle, the masses pause, even if only to catch their breath.

What was achieved in the revolutionary struggle necessarily implies a period of slow but sure building up of construction and reconstruction. This may not suit the fanciful impressions of some impatient revolutionaries who are only concerned with the upward struggle and victory. But it is just as important. All history teaches us to learn how to pause and consolidate what has been achieved.

All too often, revolutionary consciousness is lowered, but it rarely goes back far enough to wipe out what the revolutionary struggle has achieved.

Period of reaction

The period of the 1970s was one of great achievement for the Cuban Revolution, especially abroad. But we all know that somber days soon descended, especially with big changes in the U.S. heralded by the election of the Reagan administration.

A period began when the most intense economic, political and diplomatic pressure was exerted on Cuba. In the background was always the threat of U.S. military intervention, causing the Cuban government to spend a great deal of its resources on military defense.

The greatest blow for Cuba, and indeed for the working class movement as a whole, has been the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which Cuba relied on for anti-imperialist socialist solidarity.

The present U.S.-Cuba agreement on immigration, if viewed strictly within a narrow framework, may not mean much. But in the context of the present situation, it does seem to augur and open the possibility of moving toward normalization of relations.

One thing favoring an accord is the absence of an articulate, bombastic, extremely anti-Cuba element in the U.S. political establishment, as existed for years in the cases of the USSR and China. While there is Rep. Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey, whose bill led to a tightening of the blockade, his base of support comes largely from counter-revolutionary Cuban-American groups.

The U.S. refused to recognize the Soviet government for many years after all the European capitals had done so. Finally, the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in what appeared to be a continuation of its progressive posture, did recognize the Soviet Union in the 1930s. But, as explained by proponents of U.S. imperialist policy like Cordell Hull, Roosevelt extended recognition to the USSR to counter the growing influence of Japan in the Far East.

The time is long overdue for the U.S. solidarity movement to raise the kind of mass support for Cuba that will add to the indispensable support it has earned from national liberation movements and socialist countries.

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