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Letter to the Editor, Socialist News

Dear comrade,

In issue 7 of Socialist News you printed an article entitled ‘Cuba Lives, 1997!’ written by myself. This was a report on a Cuba solidarity festival held in London in July, and included some commentary on the current situation in Cuba.

However, several paragraphs of the article I submitted were either deleted or altered before publication. While I am happy to have my articles edited for stylistic or space reasons, the changes made in this case clearly changed the political content of the letter. I reproduce the relevant portions of my original text below, with those passages that were deleted highlighted in bold type.

‘The 1959 Cuban revolution took huge steps towards releasing the working people of that island from poverty and illiteracy. However, trying to build socialism on a small isolated island is not an easy task and has inevitably had mixed success.


‘Under this kind of attack, the Cuban people are suffering badly. They have shown remarkable strength and courage in defending their state – despite a leadership reluctant to allow full democratic rights or too deeply offend world capitalist opinion.

‘Workers worldwide, as this festival shows, will rally to the defence of the Cuban working class. As socialists, it is our task to help them gain control of their own state and to defend and extend the gains of the Cuban revolution, in Cuba and around the world.’

Our manifesto has only a brief mention of Cuba, rightly condemning blockades and sanctions against a country such as Cuba "that challenges the very basis of capitalism". Clearly, as socialists, we share a desire to maintain – and extend – that challenge, but the details of how we do so, and what we consider the Cuban state to be, are yet to be worked out by our party.

If we are to support Cuban workers in any way, we must discuss which aspects of the Cuban revolution can be considered successes and which failures. We cannot afford to be blind to the difficulties they face, or to the errors of their leadership. A party that seeks to challenge the very basis of capitalism must be honest about how far we have yet to go.

Any mass working class party will have a variety of views on issues such as this, and discussion of these views can only take us forward. I hope you will publish this letter in the interests of that discussion. Socialist News has carried conflicting views on other areas where our policy has not yet been fully formulated – I hope it can do so again. As the paper says, "signed articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors".

Socialist greetings

Barbara Duke
Islington North CSLP

This letter was not printed in Socialist News. Instead the comrade received a letter from a member of the NEC saying that portions of her article were deleted because they were ‘contrary to Socialist Labour’s policy of support for Cuba whose revolution "challenges the very basis of capitalism"’. We publish it here in the interests of our party developing a more comprehensive analysis of the situation in Cuba, and invite responses, to this and thearticle on pages 3–8. We also note that the following issue of Socialist News featured an article on a related subject, China, presenting highly controversial views which are certainly not contained in the policy documents of our party, and with which we and many other party members would strongly disagree. Again, we hope for a debate on the subject.