Source: The Militant
February 10 2020
The following is the presentation by Mary-Alice Waters, who spoke as part of a panel discussion in Guangzhou, China, one of some 50 during the 10th International Conference of ISSCO, the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas. The conference was held Nov. 8-11, 2019, at Jinan University (see news article in issue no. 47 in 2019).
One thing distinguishes the economic and the social conditions of life today for Cubans of Chinese origin from Chinese communities everywhere else in the world. That is the near total absence of discrimination or prejudice against Chinese Cubans and their descendants.
By Mary-Alice Waters
Fidel and Reserve Brigadier General Moisés Sio Wong
Sixty years ago in Cuba, a century of revolutionary struggle against Spanish colonialism and U.S. imperialist domination culminated in a victorious socialist revolution. It was a deep-going popular revolution. Millions of working people of all ages, both men and women, transformed themselves as they fought for independence, for sovereignty, for dignity, and began to transform their society.
In face of military aggression and economic sabotage by Washington, supported by other imperialist powers, workers and peasants in Cuba defended and deepened their initial conquests. They established a government, and a state, of their own — one that advanced the interests of those who had been the most oppressed and exploited layers of the population.
They ended capitalist ownership of the land, mills, factories and banks. They gave land to the peasants who worked it. They outlawed discrimination based on race in all public facilities. They organized millions of women into employment and social and political activity. With a popular mobilization involving hundreds of thousands of young people, they went to the mountains, working-class barrios and rural areas, eradicating illiteracy across Cuba in less than one year. They armed the workers and farmers and organized them into disciplined militia units to defend the country they were building on new economic and social foundations.
And against all odds, for more than six decades, Cuban working people have successfully held at bay the most powerful empire the world will ever see.
Cubans of Chinese descent
For Cubans of Chinese descent, the consequences of these historic conquests have been unprecedented. One thing distinguishes the economic and the social conditions of life today for Cubans of Chinese origin from Chinese communities everywhere else in the world. That is the near total absence of discrimination or prejudice against Chinese Cubans and their descendants.
That unique condition is a stunning fact. Most of you in this room know well from your own experiences the countless forms of anti-Chinese prejudice elsewhere in the world. That alone would justify a closer look at the Cuban Revolution. In Cuba there are no typically Chinese occupations anymore, whether it’s restaurants or laundries, or small shopkeepers, or families growing vegetables and fruits for urban markets.
There’s no glass ceiling. No field of endeavor or level of leadership responsibility beyond which no one of Chinese ancestry will be found. Whether it’s government ministries, leaders of mass organizations of the Cuban Revolution, generals, artists, scientists or whatever.
Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly of Cuba, is a Cuban of Chinese African descent.
Lázaro Barredo, until recently the longtime editor-in-chief of Granma, the daily newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, is a Cuban of Chinese descent.
Wifredo Lam, among the world-renowned artists of the 20th century, was a Cuban of African Chinese descent, who wove threads from those cultures into the richness of his paintings.
Another example — one I’ll be drawing on today, since I happen to know it best — is the three generals of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces: Moisés Sío Wong, Gustavo Chui and Armando Choy. Their stories are available — including here at the conference — in the book Our History Is Still Being Written, published in English, Spanish, Chinese, Farsi and, just this week, now in French as well.
Capitalists divide and rule
The lessons of the Cuban Revolution are especially important in today’s world of deepening capitalist crisis. Because chauvinism and xenophobia are weapons of choice wielded by the ruling classes to try to divide working people and turn us against each other. They try to convince us our problems come not from those who exploit us, but from “immigrants who take our jobs,” or neighbors whose skin color or religion is different from ours.
This is a history that overseas Chinese know well. What’s happening today in Asia, in America, in Europe, in Africa is not new. Overseas Chinese for centuries have been a prime target of attacks against “foreigners,” from the more subtle forms of discrimination and race hatred, to mob violence, exclusion laws and pogroms. This is the context in which the example of Cuba stands out.
Continue reading at: Cuba’s socialist revolution, China and the world class struggle today
Waters is president of Pathfinder Press and editor of Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution by Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui, and Moisés Sío Wong. The title of her presentation was, “Cultural, Diplomatic and Trade Ties between the People’s Republic of China and Cuba Today.” Participating in the audience were Cuba’s consul general in Guangzhou, Denisse Llamos Infante, and Consul Hansel E. Díaz Laborde. Copyright © 2020 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.