Monday, March 28, 2016

Obama's business trip to Cuba doesn't fool them

Castro's wise to that old arm around the shoulder trick
Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Five years ago, former Wal-Mart board member, Hillary Clinton, paid a visit to Burma in her capacity as US Secretary of State. I commented on that trip here: Hillary Clinton in Myanmar: A nice place for a Nike factory.  Nothing good can come to a poor country, especially one with natural wealth, from a visit by such a high ranking representative of US capitalism; it is the kiss of death.

Last week, Barack Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Like Hillary Clinton’s visit to Myanmar, Obama is leading the US capitalist class back to Cuba after a 56 year Hiatus.  It is not cultural exchanges that are being planned here. The Obama administration, in all its generosity and good will says re-establishing economic ties with the U.S. will be great for Cuba, Cuban capitalism that is, as long as it serves its northern masters. Obama is representing the interests of the US 1%. He is doing what representatives of a ruling class are supposed to do, opening up new areas for exploitation. He dragged along with him such independent thinkers as journalists from CNBC and CNN.

There have been ongoing secret talks between the US and Cuba over the last two years and at the same time, and with the encouragement of the Obama Administration according to the Wall Street Journal, US corporate chiefs have been visiting as well. Prominent has been Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google. Schmidt is worth about $11 billion, self-made as Forbes puts it. Schmidt and other executives laid some groundwork for Obama’s two years ago.

Another Google executive was with Obama last week, “We hope to have the chance to offer more services to the Cuban people in the future,” he announced on his blog. Knowing how hard Google executives have fought for workers back here in the US, we can only warn our Cuban sisters and brothers to prepare for the worst. 

The arrogance of US imperialism is staggering.  Obama wants to see “improvements” on human rights and democracy in Cuba. “In the absence of that, I think it will continue to be a very powerful irritant,” he said last week. That the US electoral process is fraudulent and corrupt doesn’t phase him one bit. Whole populations are gerrymandered so that one of the two capitalist parties holds sway and no political battles need be fought there at all.  The only debates that are not really debates at all are between candidates of these same two capitalist parties that have a monopoly on political life. That the US has some 2 million people in prison seems to have slipped Obama’s mind as well. The representatives of US capital have no credibility with the vast majority of the world’s people as they travel here and there lecturing them about democracy and human rights. Dictators and the lack of democratic rights hasn’t stopped the US from supporting murderous figures from Iran’s infamous Shah to Egypt’s Mubarak, who Hillary Clinton considered “like family.”

Lobbying, or bribing politicians, is a major industry in the US. Google, as an example is well connected in Washington with numerous former Google employees firmly planted in the Obama Administration. The Wall Street Journal explains: ” Google employees have been big contributors to Mr. Obama’s campaigns and is one of the top corporate spenders on lobbying, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. An analysis of White House visitor logs shows that Google lobbyists visit more frequently than many of its rivals. Many former Google employees currently work in the administration.”  

The Cubans are not fooled. After the Schmidt’ visit to Havana in 2014 a Cuban professor made the point that “It wasn’t Google’s technical wing that came, it was the political wing, which is an extension of the US State Department.”   Such views of the role played by US corporate chiefs has been expressed by the Chinese whose state organ wrote that, ““in the Internet age, Google uses its monopoly of Internet information searches to sell American values and assist America in building its hegemony.”

This marriage between capital and the state is not limited to the US of course.  In a capitalist state, the body politic represents the interests of capital and promotes capitalism. As Marx pointed out, in capitalist society, the state is but the executive of the capitalist class as a whole, representing their interests as a class. The US is simply the dominant global power and is acting like it.

Google’s Schmidt along with one of his operatives, Jared Cohen, a former State Department official, have visited 30 countries doing research for a book they have been working on about,” technology’s impact on the future of government and business.”, the WSJ writes. Google has done wonders for the Iraqi people through its joint effort with the Iraqi government to start the country's first YouTube channel, the Journal adds. Whoopee, after destroying the nation, killing upwards of a million people and poisoning its environment, a US corporation brings them a YouTube channel that can popularize US democracy.

After meeting the dynamic duo of Schmidt and Cohen in 2011, Julian Assange, another media figure not quite so popular with the US government, described Cohen as, “director of regime change.”.  He added in his book, “WhenGoogle Met WikiLeaks,” that,“Mr. Cohen’s “directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and ‘corporate responsibility’ work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states.”

Obama didn’t meet with Fidel Castro while in Cuba but Castro had a few words for him in a letter penned after the visit. Castro offered some advice, "My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn't try to develop theories about Cuban politics.”. and that the Cubans didn’t need, “…the empire to give us any presents."

In this writer’s opinion Cuba is not a socialist state. What it actually is and its history needs more time and more space. In my political tradition we termed it a “Proletarian Bonapartist State”. (For workers interested in this subject more discussion and familiarity with political terms is needed. It was for me anyway).  I do not support one party states and the lack of democracy in such regimes and have traditionally called for political revolutions and workers democracy as opposed to these Stalinist type bureaucracies. But what I have defended and what should be defended is the superiority of the planned economy over the anarchy of the market and that socialism cannot be built in one country.

When we think of the hypocrisy of US capitalism that has supported some of the world’s most ruthless dictatorships enforcing a blockade around this tiny little island for 60 years. Castro in his letter this week is quick to remind Obama of the history of US aggression toward Cuba. The Cuban revolution was a positive thing for Cubans. Castro himself was forced by this US aggression along a path he did not intend to take. 

As workers we only have to look at Cuba’s accomplishments and compare them to capitalist countries within the sphere of US and European market economy influence to see the tremendous advances like abolishing illiteracy. Cuba’s health system is the gem of the non-aligned countries and when the US sends weapons and attack helicopters to regimes in the former colonial world the Cubans send doctors.  Cuba is well respected among the workers and peasants of Latin America.

We only have to ask ourselves how this tiny island, punished by the most powerful nation in history for more than half a century for demanding some semblance of self rule, was able to produce life expectancy rates equal to the US and an infant mortality rate that surpasses this giant economy to the north:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.39 years
male: 76.08 years
female: 80.84 years (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59

Life expectancy at birth
total population: 79.68 years
male: 77.32 years
female: 81.97 years (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43

Infant Mortality Rate
total: 4.63 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180

Infant Mortality Rate
Inf: total: 5.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.37 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167

Here’s a couple other comparisons.

India, the world’s largest capitalist democracy with some of the world’s richest people
Infant Mortality Rate
total: 41.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 40.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 43.22 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Colombia, US capitalism's major ally in South America and recipient of billions in weaponry.
Infant Mortality Rate
total: 14.58 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 17.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106

It is not likely that Cuba will be able to hold off the mighty Wall Street machine that Obama represents.  What will disrupt this process of “Full Spectrum Dominance” in Cuba is the US economic and political crises that will break more in to the open in the coming period as the capitalist offensive against US workers continues. Labor struggles, battles in the streets over environmental degradation, housing, racism, the war against women, and crushing austerity are inevitable ahead.  The alternative of democratic socialist economies, regional and international alliances of democratic socialist states throughout Latin America and the world, is the only solution to capital’s mad spiral to oblivion. The system cannot be reformed.

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