Cuba today – the risks of a bourgeois counterrevolution

Image: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz


It is necessary to remove the bureaucracy of power and save the Cuban Revolution from having the same fate as the USSR

The concept of bureaucratized proletarian state

The social revolution that began in 1959 led to the destruction of the bourgeois state and the economic expropriation of the native bourgeoisie and imperialism in Cuba. This process did not have an originally socialist program. Under the leadership of the 26th of July Movement and other groups, such as the Cuban Stalinist party (Partido Socialista Popular, PSP), the focus was on carrying out national-democratic tasks: ensuring national sovereignty in the face of US interference, achieving agrarian reform for the benefit of poor peasants and resume the experience of a democratic republic that existed before the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (one of the demands of the 26th of July Movement was to reestablish the 1940 Constitution).

However, the full realization of these tasks, especially agrarian reform, could only take place against the bourgeoisie and imperialism, as these classes were completely intertwined with each other and also with the land oligarchies. The masses of rural workers and poor peasants pushed in this direction, by expropriating lands from large native and foreign landowners, including taking over large rural companies, such as sugar refineries. In the cities, many workers also pushed the process towards an anti-capitalist path, by demanding the expropriation under workers' control of some companies, declaring themselves on permanent strike or even occupying the facilities, especially of companies that belonged to people linked to the dictatorship or that the supported.[1]

At the same time that the exploited masses mobilized beyond the limited program of the 26th of July Movement, and the PSP, the counterrevolution left these leaders no choice, when the US government refused to recognize the new government and, in alliance with sectors of the native bourgeoisie, carried out operations to overthrow it. The 26th of July Movement/PSP had no alternative other than the expropriation of the capitalists, with the support of the masses: it was either that or be destroyed by a bloody counter-revolution.

The expropriation of the means of production and the socialization of the surplus product in the form of investments in wages, housing, health, education, etc. allowed enormous social gains for the Cuban proletariat. As a reactionary journalist once said, “nothing works in Cuba except education, health and security”! However, the alignment of the Cuban government with the Soviet bureaucracy, the sabotage of revolutionary opportunities by the CPs aligned with it, together with the failure of the OLAS guerrilla route (which sectors of the 26th of July Movement promoted in the first years of the revolution), left Cuba nationally isolated. . Furthermore, the militaristic authoritarianism of the 26th of July Movement, combined with the internal Stalinist regime of the PSP – which merged to form the Cuban PC – led to the construction of a regime of bureaucratic dictatorship (Stalinism).

This is what we Trotskyists call a bureaucratized proletarian state: a transition society between capitalism and socialism, whose transition is blocked by international isolation and the dictatorship regime of the CP bureaucracy (Stalinism). This society combines elements of the old (capitalism) and the new (socialism) in contradictory ways and has the possibility of moving towards socialism or returning to capitalism.

Cuba is still a proletarian state today: the bourgeoisie has not regained control of the state apparatus; key areas of the economy (financial system, main industries) remain under state control; most resources are allocated through planning (albeit bureaucratic) and not through the market; most of the surplus product is destined for the living conditions of the proletariat and not for private appropriation via profit.

However, a bureaucratized proletarian state: the PC continues to exercise a monopoly on political power; no other parties allowed; legalizing political-social organizations is highly bureaucratic; there are different forms of censorship; and the PC controls election candidates through filters, having the final say on who is or is not on the electoral lists.

Without a doubt, many of Cuba's problems arise from national isolation, which has its worst face in the blockade imposed by the USA, which aims to strangle the revolution by imposing scarcity of resources and therefore has to be denounced and fought by all progressives and socialists. Without a revolution in the imperialist centers that puts an end to the blockade and comes to Cuba's aid, the achievements of the revolution will not survive and the transition to socialism will not be possible.

But isolation is also perpetuated by the conservatism of the bureaucracy, which sabotaged opportunities that could have taken Cuba out of isolation and, thus, alleviated its consequences on the island's living conditions and economy. Faced with opportunities such as those in Chile, Nicaragua and Angola, the Cuban bureaucracy did everything it could to ensure that these revolutionary processes did not lead to the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.

In this way, the Cuban bureaucracy acted just like the Soviet bureaucracy: sabotaging revolutionary opportunities, for fear that possible involvement in new triumphs would attract even more the wrath of imperialism and also for fear that these triumphs could show examples of proletarian democracy that would lead to overthrow of this bureaucracy by “their” workers.[2] It is enough to see that the Cuban bureaucracy has always been more concerned with supporting so-called “progressive” bourgeois governments (Venezuela, Brazil) in exchange for trade agreements than with the triumph of other revolutions. Their focus was never socialism, but rather maintaining their privileges and power.

The bureaucratic dictatorship regime is also a constant source of problems, as socialized property can only be managed effectively through democratic planning, which involves self-management of the means of production. Bureaucratized planning (without active participation of workers) does not take into account real social needs and generates constant waste and imbalances, in order to maintain the material privilege of a caste of senior officials. Therefore, removing bureaucracy through a political revolution that establishes a proletarian democracy like that of the Soviets of 1917 is also a fundamental task to protect the gains of the revolution and ensure that Cuba moves towards socialism.

Both tasks, the world revolution and the political revolution within Cuba, demand the re-creation of an international revolutionary party of the working class to lead these processes to victory. It is not possible to count on a democratic self-reform of the bureaucracy, nor on peaceful coexistence with imperialism, as the experience of the XNUMXth century has bitterly demonstrated. Revolution or counter-revolution are the only two possible paths.

This should be the “ABC” of Trotskyism. However, for decades the “morenista” currents have claimed that capitalism has been restored in Cuba, giving up defending the still existing gains of the revolution and adopting positions of support for counter-revolutionary forces disguised as defenders of democracy, who use the dissatisfaction of the working class to try to destroy the bureaucratized proletarian State and rebuild in its place a State under the control of the bourgeoisie. This is the case, for example, of PSTU and LIT-QI and almost all of their splits in recent decades. Outside of “Morenism” there are some other Trotskyist groups that adopt a similar stance, especially supporters of the pseudo-theory of “State Capitalism”, such as the “cliffists” of the English SWP and its allied groups.

On the other hand, groups linked to the Unified Secretariat generally adopt an uncritical stance in relation to the bureaucratic dictatorship regime, confusing the defense of the gains of the revolution with the political defense of the bureaucracy itself – and they have done so since the beginning of the Cuban revolution, when they did not show solidarity with the Cuban Trotskyists who were being arrested by the bureaucracy in the early 1960s. Several other groups followed a similar path, such as the Stalinists.

These two positions, common to other groups within and outside Trotskyism, do not contribute to the tasks that can truly safeguard the Cuban Revolution.

The changes underway in Cuba

The COVID-19 pandemic caused enormous economic problems for Cuba, as it affected the country's main source of resources since the 1990s, international tourism: its GDP fell by around 13% between the beginning of measures to restrict the movement of people, at the beginning of 2020, and its relaxation at the end of 2021. This is the country's worst moment since the collapse of the USSR, with which Cuba had several fundamental economic agreements to obtain resources such as oil and industrial machinery. In this context, the leadership of the Cuban PC gained strength, sectors that had been defending the adoption of a supposed “third way”, the so-called market socialism, for a long time. That's what's behind the Sorting task, a package of economic reforms underway since January 2021.

In essence, bureaucrats seek in the expansion of private property and market relations (including at the international level) an escape from the scarcity caused by the national blockade/isolation and the inefficiency caused by the bureaucratic management of socialized property. But, contrary to what some say, this is not something like the Soviet NEP, which was an effort to rebuild the Soviet economy that resorted to the partial reestablishment of private property and market relations after the devastation of the 1918 civil war- 21. There has been no shortage of typically liberal statements from Diaz-Canel and the regime's official press organs, praising “meritocracy” and condemning “egalitarianism”.

The objective of the Ordinary Task is to improve the conditions of the Cuban economy (and also of the bureaucracy itself), at the expense of increasing social inequality and further miseducating the working class.

Economic reforms are removing state subsidies from various sectors of the economy and allowing the exploitation of salaried labor in increasing quantities through the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises, which become “competitive” thanks to the dismantling of parts of the public sector. For example, while popular restaurants have had drastic cuts in the supply of food they use to prepare meals sold at symbolic prices, stocks in the wholesale markets from which private restaurants buy have increased enormously.

To complete the picture, a sector of the US and European bourgeoisie sees such changes with joy, as they also open the doors to more foreign investment and, thus, greater reintegration of Cuba into the world market as a semi-colony. Since the 1990s, large hotels and resorts they had already passed into the ownership of foreign companies, especially Spanish ones. Now, in addition to the expansion of foreign properties in Cuba, new private Cuban companies are receiving incentives from the government to negotiate inputs directly with foreign suppliers.

The economy may even see a slight improvement with the privatization and market competition measures that have been adopted, but thousands of workers are already suffering from food shortages and the loss of the purchasing power of their salaries. This throws water into the mill of counter-revolutionary forces, who take advantage of the growing dissatisfaction to convince workers that what failed in Cuba was socialism, when in fact what failed was Stalinism.

It is one thing to tolerate scarcity when governments talk (albeit hypocritically) about equality and when revolution has been experienced, as in the crisis of the 1990s. It is quite another to go hungry when a sector of society visibly improves its life at the expense of its own. suffering and you have no idea how much worse it was for workers before the revolution. Thus, with the increase in inequality and the strengthening of counter-revolutionaries, political instability will become increasingly present on the island.

In this scenario, increasingly larger sectors of the bureaucracy itself will certainly see more advantage in becoming owners of the means of production, instead of continuing to be mere managers, whose privileges depend on the passivity of the proletariat and delicate political agreements between the top ruler. Many at this very moment are certainly already merging with the layer of new owners that the changes in Sorting task are generating, as it is the big bureaucrats who have the most resources to invest in the nascent private sector, based on the accumulation of wealth that they have obtained over the years through privileges and corruption. Thus, there will be many bureaucrats who will seek the full restoration of capitalism and the construction of a new, bourgeois State.

We are not talking about distant hypotheses here. All of this is already happening in Cuba. A Sorting task and the inequality it has caused is the basis of the semi-spontaneous protests of July 11, 2021, which in part had a progressive content even without clear leadership and program. It is also what underlies the attempts of the counter-revolutionary right to surf the wave of dissatisfaction by staging openly reactionary protests, such as those on November 15 of the same year. The counter-revolution stalks Cuba! [3]

The challenges and tasks posed for the survival of the Cuban Revolution

Given this scenario, we see the risk of repeating the tragedy that marked the eastern europe in the 1980s and we need to remember: the triumph of the bourgeois counter-revolution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe generated a social catastrophe, with huge unemployment rates, a brutal reduction in the purchasing power of wages, widespread hunger, a drop in life expectancy, an increase of suicides, etc. This tragedy was the result of a counter-revolution led by sectors of the bureaucracy itself, who wished to become bourgeois, with the support not only of the imperialist powers, but also of neoliberal counter-revolutionary forces with a certain mass support, masses convinced that socialism could only mean Stalinism.

During the convulsive events in Eastern Europe in the 1980s, the main groups claiming Trotskyism failed miserably. Almost everyone aligned themselves with the mass protests that had neoliberal leaders and programs, which used the banner of “democracy” and the negative experience of Stalinism to throw workers on the side of counterrevolution. “Mandelists” (Unified Secretariat), “morenists” (LIT-QI) and “Lambertists” (CIR-QI), among others, believed that a political revolution was underway and even celebrated the destruction of bureaucratized proletarian states in Eastern Europe as a triumph of socialism. “Mandelists”, moreover, spent an entire period enchanted by the promises of reforms from above made by Gorbachev and his allies, believing that it was possible for the bureaucracy itself to dissolve its dictatorship and create a proletarian democracy “under pressure from the masses”.[4]

Without having taken due stock of these shameful positions, the heirs of such revisionist traditions today commit similar mistakes vis-à-vis Cuba, by welcoming protests whose leadership is openly counter-revolutionary, such as those of November 15th – either because they believe that Cuba is a “capitalist dictatorship ”, like the “morenistas”, or because it has been a long time since they adopted as a method to align themselves with any and all “popular” mobilizations, believing that the character of their bases will speak louder than the character of their leaders and program and that They will inevitably have a progressive content, like the groups associated with the “Mandelism” diaspora and other groups.

We believe that the only way out for Cuba is the reconstruction of an international revolutionary party of the working class, which in Cuba directs popular dissatisfaction against the bureaucracy regime towards a struggle for true socialism, supported by an international struggle against the imperialist blockade and the world revolution. It is necessary to clearly reject any and all counter-revolutionary movements in Cuba, including supporting the repression of subversive attempts by the enemies of the working class.

But it is also essential, to prevent a disaster led by the bureaucracy itself, to promote the tasks associated with the anti-bureaucratic political revolution: fighting for legality for parties and groups that defend socialism; for the immediate return of subsidies that guarantee minimally decent living conditions for workers; for the end of bureaucrats’ privileges; by suspending the Sorting task and its dangerous incentive to the private sector. Finally, it is essential to fight for the proletariat to have control of the economy and politics, through organs of proletarian democracy, removing bureaucracy from power and saving the Cuban Revolution from having the same fate as the USSR.

*Marcio Lauria Monteiro is a doctor in hsocial history from the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).


[1] We recommend reading the text The role of the working class in the Cuban revolution, February 2021 (

[2] We recommend reading these texts (in Spanish) written at the time by the then revolutionary Spartacist League from the USA: e

[3] We recommend reading the text The demonstrations in Cuba and the different risks of a capitalist restoration, July 2021 (

[4] We recommend reading the text Stalinism, political revolution and counter-revolution: the international Trotskyist movement and the theory of the bureaucratized workers' state applied to the Soviet bloc (1953-91) (

the earth is round exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones
  • Why are we on strike?statue 50g 20/06/2024 By SERGIO STOCO: We have reached a situation of shortage of federal educational institutions
  • The melancholic end of Estadãoabandoned cars 17/06/2024 By JULIAN RODRIGUES: Bad news: the almost sesquicentennial daily newspaper in São Paulo (and the best Brazilian newspaper) is rapidly declining
  • Return to the path of hopelate afternoon 21/06/2024 By JUAREZ GUIMARÃES & MARILANE TEIXEIRA: Five initiatives that can allow the Brazilian left and center-left to resume dialogue with the majority hope of Brazilians