By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
When I was twenty years old, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara stood taller than Jesus on the cross. Wild eyed, twin fisted, bearded banditos taking on the greatest empire the world has ever known with nothing but a thick veil of cigar smoke shielding their flaming hearts from swords the size of shark’s fins. The Cuban Revolution seemed like something out of a Werner Herzog epic. A tale too absurdly fantastic to possibly be true yet somehow it was. Somehow a rickety ship full of broken seasick renegades crash landed into an ambush and the bullet riddled survivors managed to escape with their lives, deep into the dark heart of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. Somehow this ragged flock of bloodstained anti-heroes managed to immerge from the heavily jungled jaws of defeat to smash an American made dictator to bits and launch a raucous rum soaked revolution ninety miles from the belly of the beast. Somehow they did it. Somehow, against all the odds, they persevered. Even when they died, they persevered. Staring down the barrel of a nuclear holocaust, they sneered ‘So the fuck what?’ with such gravitas that it made every freak with a dream written in flames stand a little taller than Christ.
When I was twenty years old, I believed that the Cuban Revolution was the greatest act of love that machine guns could possibly perform. I thought Havana was Valhalla. At 33, I’ve managed to wring the cigar smoke from my eyes to reveal a very different picture. I’ve come to realize that the reality of the Cuban Revolution is a bit different from what it came to symbolize in the flaming hearts of disenchanted loser like me. Cuba may not be the tyrannical horror story cooked up by those rabid jackals in the Southern Florida press but it’s hardly the outlaw utopia I once dreamed of either. The unvarnished reality is that Cuba may not be a dictatorship in the traditional sense of the word, but it is an authoritarian state. The Cuban people vote for their favorite local Communist Party kiss-ass to represent them at the National Assembly and that National Assembly then chooses their fearless leader. It’s essentially British Parliament with less respect for civil rights. And that’s the greatest kept secret of the Cuban Revolution, in spite of all the fiery rhetoric pouring from both ends of the narrative, the result was just another bourgeoise, top-down, social democracy. There’s really nothing revolutionary about it beyond the propaganda. The people there are about as oppressed and bored as the rest of us and some of them want another revolution.
How the fuck did we get here? How did we get from the Quixotic-Leninist dreams of Che Guevara to another carceral bureaucratic purgatory. The truth is there is one piece of communist propaganda that is very true. Castro may have fucked up the revolution but he had a lot of help from his enemies back in Washington. Even before taking power, the Cuban Revolution has been under a constant state of siege from the American Empire who continues to find their very existence insulting. The CIA and their terrorist cronies in Little Havana have spent the last sixty years hurling everything they could get their bloody mitts on in Havana’s general direction. The infamous failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion was only the tip of a very ugly iceberg.
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy