From: "Larry Daley" <daley1@PEAK.ORG> Wed 10:17AM
Subject: Class structure in struggle against Batista An answer to concerned person
Re: REAL Democracy in Cuba (fwd)


One needs to distinguish between those who came to power AFTER the fall of Batista, and those who fought Batista.

The resistance to Batista was not originally based on the July 26 movement, but upon other groups[like] the Auténticos (Partido Auténtico Revolucionario, that was Prio’s group, and was led by such leaders as Lauro Blanco), the Ortodoxo (Partido Ortodoxo, where Castro was only a minor personage in the youth group), the FEU (Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios) and El Directorio. And even among the Cuban Constitutional Army, the Cienfuegos rising was very bloody. All these groups were lead, and to a large part manned, by middle and upper class people, and suffered considerable losses.

Essentially all urban fighting, and there was a lot of it, was not done by the 26 of July except for what Frank Pais and his brother did in Santiago. The Cuban communist party is known to have betrayed a number of these groups and is suspected of having betrayed a good many more. The betrayal of the survivors of the attack on the presidential palace, hiding at Humboldt 7, the building where my mother lived, is only most famous. The betrayal by Vilma Espin (former wife of Raúl Castro) of Frank Pais is another that comes to mind.

In the guerrilla war, Commander Daniel left abandoned in a very exposed position with only a few men by the Che Guevara is also worth remembering. Personally, I remember the shock of seeing the photographs of the attackers of the Guicuría barracks, cut down as they breached the gates (with heavy sandbagged trucks) by waiting .50 calibre machine guns and hearing of the death of Calixto Sanchez (a distant cousin) with his entire Auténtico expedition in the Sierra Cristal. All under circumstance of apparent betrayal. Then there is childhood friend René Cuervo, son of Cuervo the general store owner at Guama, who while fighting Batista in the Sierra was ordered executed, apparently out of envy, by the Che.

However, this kind of thing continued and acerbated as Castro took control after January 1959. I remember Sori Marín, sending a message asking me to help him, and being unable to do anything. I remember the innumerable “accidental” shootings of rebel soldiers as Castro purged his ranks (I was accidentally shot twice, apparently by friends letting me know that I had to leave). The deaths of Morgan, and Camilo, Beaton and Cristino Naranjo, also come to mind.

As to the Spanish link, by the 1898 treaty of Paris, Spanish “Property Rights” even if the property had been confiscated from Cubans by the Spanish for resisting Spain was respected. After the defeat of Spain, Cuba received a large immigration of Spaniards, who for a time in the Republic controlled much of the commerce. Legislation had to be passed, my grandfather was one of the legislators, so that Cubans could hold jobs in the stores.

It would seem there were a considerable number of Spaniards who had fought for the defeated “Loyalists” in the Spanish Civil Way who ended up in Cuba. Commander Bayo, who trained Castro’s followers in Mexico was one such Spaniard. Another was Calvo, the armorer of column one, the last time I saw Calvo he seemed to be helping organize the massive round up at the time of the Bay of Pigs. It was to these people and to the regular communist party that Castro turned for support, as he purged the rebel army and consolidated his control. Then Castro became even more of a hispanophile developing a surprising link to Franco in which Franco appeared to consider more important that Castro was Spanish, than communist. After Franco died, Castro developed strong links with Spanish merchants, until today, as in the time of Spain, most Cubans are subservient in access and position to Spanish businessmen.




The misinformed friend wrote:
> The revolution against Batista cut across a lot of socio-economic
> boundaries.  There was a fair amount of the usual "youthful" play with
> revolution on the part of Habana's university students, but an awful lot of
> the bread and butter fighting was anything but "middle-class".  The
> "middle-class" have historically seldom supported any revolution.  They by
> and large have too much to lose.  The Cuban middle class of the late 1950's
> were no different.  Besides, trying to paint the anti-Batista revolution as
> foreign interventionism because of Castro is rediculous at best.  He was not
> backed up by an army of Spanish mercenaries, as we both know.  Nice try, though.

Why is this surprising? Castro is a dictator and so was Franco. Maybe the Generalísimo saw a younger version of himself in Castro. In any case, Franco saw an opportunity to exploit Castro’s isolation. This has worked handsomely for Spain’s businesses which today enjoy a great deal of control over Cuba’s tourism and profit much from it and the exploitation of a captive work force. – Matt Perez

I don't know if or how the “Cuban middle class” was different or not, but I do know from my own experience that my family and pretty much all of our neighbors, all of us what you'd call working class, contributed to the revolution in many ways, from direct money contributions to sawing arm bands, to buying and storing weapons. In restrospect, this was not the smartest thing to do, but, alas, it is all 20/20 hindsight now.
BTW, the current dictatorship of Iran is another example of a “revolution” that was brought into power by the middle class. In both cases a middle class of small business owners and professionals had taken shape. They found themselves moving up economically but not allowed a political voice. Big mistake: this then lead them to instigate and support a change in government by the means available to them at the time. Many people believe (hope?) that this will eventually take place in places like China and Vietnam ... Time will tell. – Matt Perez