On 19 March 2022, Cuba’s ambassador to China, Carlos Miguel Pereira Hernández, spoke at our event ‘21st Century Socialism: China and Latin America on the Frontline‘. The speech was given in Spanish, with English subtitles provided by the Cuban Embassy in Beijing.
Ambassador Pereira makes a number of crucial points about the nature of Marxism as a living science as opposed to a dogma; about the cruel blockade imposed by the US on Cuba, the aim of which is to destroy the viability of the socialist system; and about the importance of the Cuba-China relationship.
I would like to congratulate the platform Friends of Socialist China for this valuable initiative of organizing this seminar and opportunity granted to me to address a topic that is gaining more and more theoretical and practical relevance, with good friends, colleagues and scholars whom I deeply respect.
A retrospective look at the theory of socialism allows establishing in advance that the founders of Marxism did not intend to design a scheme of socialist society, so in their works we only find the fundamental theses of the model that would necessarily replace the still-developing capitalism.
The persistent attempts to attribute an exclusive character to the model implemented in the USSR, to the point of trying to impose it as a “single socialist model”, distorted from the beginning the discussions on the alternatives of functioning of socialism. The controversy unleashed between the constituted leadership of the Bolshevik Party and the so-called left opposition after the passing away of Lenin, contributed to the emergence of different theories on the model that should prevail in socialism and, consequently, the parameters to assess it.
The profound differences between the socialism built in regions of the developed world and that one built in that world which was overwhelmed by the global expansion of capitalism led to great theoretical and political mistakes and no less serious practical misunderstandings during the 20th century.
Strictly speaking, Marxism has not been exempt from distortions on the interpretation of the original idea, by confusing sometimes “conditioning” with “completely determining”, which have ended up leading to the so-called economic determinism, as the only and definitive explanation to identify the characteristics of a socialist society.
The ideas of Marxist thought have always been manipulated or distorted by capitalism in order to use them for its own benefit. And that kind of pro-capitalist dogmatism that continues affecting a creative assessment on the possible paths towards socialism without renouncing to the development accumulated by previous societies, has also been supported by the extraordinary capacity that the left has shown, in recent decades, to allow itself to be stolen those great words and the great themes which the Left itself gave birth to, at this time, as banners of her struggle: democracy, freedom, human rights, which are great slogans that the Right ended up usurping and using at will. Socialism, revolution, equality, are words that have ended up being stigmatized as if they were monstrous products of totalitarianism or unreason.
In his reflections on the works of the classics, Ernesto Che Guevara warned about the need to avoid the absence of creativity in theory since this would cause instability and lead to a useless apology of the existing theory and to the postponement of questioning and discussions on fundamental problems to be addressed in the development of the new society, and even to face new tasks with pre-established indications.
Lenin pointed in the same direction when he warned so many times on the importance of defending Marxism, its essence of revolutionary teaching, on setting free its revolutionary side, on making its revolutionary side to transcend as a doctrine and also its revolutionary soul; when instead of suggesting dogmas to us, he showed us that Marxism reveals the scientific nature of its analysis and its political function as a “guide to action”.
For this reason, it is relevant what the former Vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Director of the Research Center on World Socialism, Li Shenming, tells us when he states that the historical mission of the CPC has been to integrate “the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism and the concrete situation of China”. China, through its own experience, has proved the validity of its own model, the importance of defending the universal truths that Marxism embodies, and that socialism must always be the result of a practical experience that seeks the truth within the facts.
Nowadays, the debates on China are still intense and the source of usual divergences both in the practical and academic fields. For different reasons, the Asian nation has become a case study of interest both for liberal theorists who consider it a paradox, and for Marxists who identify it as the center of the current debate on the validity of socialism and Marxism.
Due to its vast size and the level of development reached, the Asian giant has come to the forefront of the analysis on the global transition to socialism. It has become the fundamental force, which promotes the establishment of an international relations’ multipolar system and a new international economic order while establishing itself as a world leader in the fight against the pandemic and in avoiding climate collapse. For this and for many other reasons, the consolidation of Chinese socialism is not only crucial for China, it is also crucial for the whole humankind.
However, also in the midst of an evident rebalancing process within the imperialist hegemony, which is at the same time a result of the strategic weakening of the US hegemonic power, it has been unleashed an inexorable ideological and media war against the advances of China and the advances of world-wide socialism in general. Western reservations are not only restricted to the supposed authoritarianism of the Communist Party of China (CPC) or the rejection made by its leaders to the liberal-bourgeois patterns of democracy and human rights, but it has to do, more and more, with the ideological competition that is brought to life by the unstoppable rise of China as a global power, and generator of new ideas and paradigms, in opposition to those historically supported by Western culture and values.
As the largest socialist nation in the world, the century-long experience of its CPC and the undeniable successes achieved because of its policy of reforms and opening to the outside world, the theoretical, it is undeniable the conceptual and political contribution of socialism with Chinese characteristics to the worldwide process of socialism construction. The CPC has intensively developed the theory and values of socialism, according to the concrete conditions in China. The CPC has established guidelines regarding the recomposition of the complex framework of beliefs and practices associated with socialist construction by setting down as a basis, at each stage, the open and consistent debate on its postulates, as well as the legacy of 5,000 years of civilization and culture in favor of of its national project of liberation, rejuvenation and development.
The CPC has shown great vitality that comes from its own ability to adapt, self-regulate, and strictly manage. In this vision, the starting point is the defense of concepts such as institutionalism, legitimacy, legality, the rule of law and democracy as common values, everyone’s right and not a prerogative of a few individuals, which entails the need to assume those concepts through different prisms, forms and contents, that take into account the characteristics and conditions of each country.
In their respective processes of socialist construction, Cuba and China share common objectives and essential features due to their universal historical content, and at the same time, the political, economic, social, cultural and historical specificities, derived from the own characteristics of each country and the international surrounding.
Neither the Communist Party of China nor the Communist Party of Cuba have ever been electoral parties, neither of them was born from the fracture, but rather from the unity of all the deeply progressive and humanist political forces that were forged in the common struggle to win independence and overcome foreign dependence. Both the Chinese and Cuban revolutions were heroic creations for the sake of first achieving and then maintaining the sovereignty and independence of both countries.
It could not be addressed the process of socialist construction in Cuba by ignoring the U.S blockade. Assessing the success or failure of the Cuban economic and social model, while ignoring the blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, would not only be unfair, but also incoherent. Throughout 60 years, successive US governments have never stopped implementing their policy of conditioning and maximum pressure on Cuba, with the sole and clear purpose of trying to achieve their strategic objectives at any cost.
By taking advantage of the negative combined effect of the pandemic and the blockade reinforcing measures, and its well-known actions of interference within Cuban internal affairs, with the purpose of promoting internal destabilization, the United States continues striving to create a virtual scenario of Cuba as a failed state, totally divorced from what happens in real life.
For this reason, instead of blaming socialism for our problems, it is evident that this has been the only explanation to the fact we have survived that fierce and genocidal siege without giving up on developing ourselves. The blockade has not only been and is a punishment for the resistance of the Cuban people. It is the daily way of preventing socialism from being associated with growth, progress and economic prosperity.
However, the blockade has also established the need for us to develop our social sciences, and to achieve a much more effective presence of social sciences in the design, planning, implementation and monitoring of the development strategic policies of our socialism and, in particular, of the updating process of the Cuban socioeconomic model started in 2006.
The experiences and lessons from the process of building socialism in China have been of great importance for Cuba and other socialist countries. The VIII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, held in April 2021, recognized in its Central Report the role of other socialist processes, such as that of China, in the construction of socialism in our country. The explicit mention of China and the recognition of its undeniable progress in the political, economic and social spheres, confirm the relevance that the Cuban leadership grants to the special and strategic ties with China.
For more than six decades, Cuba and China have figured out how to build a relationship based on trust, mutual support, equality, respect and reciprocal benefit. The persistence on constructing socialism in correspondence with the characteristics of each country has been an essential component of the relations between the respective Communist Parties, considered mutual references in this important objective.
Cuba is and will continue to be a society open to dialogue, to debate, to the improvement of its institutions, we have an enormous will to continue expanding our democracy, the spaces for debate, the participation of our citizens in function of the Revolution. The wide popular consultation that led us to the new Constitution and the one that is currently being carried on regarding the new Code of Families constitute an irrefutable proof of this.
Cuba and China remain united in the struggle for peace, in defense of true multilateralism, and the permanent defense of the principles of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations. Both countries close ranks today in the face of blockades, unilateral coercive policies, stigmatization and politicization of issues that become campaigns and political pressures against sovereign states.
Regarding to Latin America and the Caribbean, China is consolidating itself as an international actor of great relevance, China has established itself as an international actor of great relevance, as it has raised its level of development, has boosted its external projection and reinforced its role on the international stage. China become today a unifying factor, a balancing and development force four our region countries, since it provides at the present fundamental ingredients that our countries need for their independent, prosperous and sustainable development.
The gradual incorporation of the countries from Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) into the Belt and Road Initiative (we are already 20 countries with the recent incorporation of Argentina) generates new opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefits. Likewise, the Chinese initiative for Global Development, announced by President Xi Jinping in the debate at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, embodies a cooperative approach, quite distant from confrontation and Cold War mentality.
The doomsayers of the end of the progressive cycle in Latin America and the Caribbean are choking. Their predictions on the “ephemerality” of the changes experiences in the region and their disbelief regarding the recovery capacity of the forces and social movements prone to such changes, are breaking up into small pieces, as an endearing Cuban poet would say.
As expected, the social causes which generate leftist movements, far from disappearing, get worse due to the strengthening of the economic contraction, the deterioration of the social situation and the worsening of social struggles and neoliberal policies that give rise, in turn, to new crises of ungovernability.
It is my hope that this event and the opportunity provided by the platform Friends of Socialist China to the debate and conceptual theoretical analysis on China and its socialist construction, help to continue dismantling the narrative about the infeasibility of socialism as a political system that generates material wealth, that is sustainable, and that promotes social justice and people’s happiness.