The Bolshevik Revolution’s Pioneering Gains for Women

Source:  TeleSUR
November 6 2017

russian women demonstrate 1917.jpgThe women’s demonstration for bread, land and peace on March 8, 1917 in Petrograd was the beginning of the end of Tsarist Russia. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The first worker’s state in the world would never have materialized without the steely, militant determination of women.

“Bread!” was the first call to order. “Down with the tsar!” the next. Soon, cries of “Down with the war!” drowned the streets.

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The women workers of Petrograd — then the capital of Russia — roamed through town on the cold morning of Feb. 23, 1917, throwing sticks, stones and snowballs at factory windows, urging their male counterparts to join their clamor. By the end of the day, 100,000 people were out in the streets on strike.

On the sixth International Working Women’s Day, women workers set the course of history: the strike in the juggernaut of the Russian empire would go on to topple the tsar forever, sparking the revolutions that would eventually give rise to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The socialist October Revolution — also known as the Bolshevik Revolution — that would follow February’s fervor set in motion by the demands of working women, would, in turn, bring about massive gains for a society steeped in patriarchy and a semi-feudal order.

Women in Tsarist Russia

In Tsarist Russia — one of the largest empires in human history that spanned nearly two centuries — women were little more than the property of men.

The Russian Orthodox church had a hold in the country, preserving a culture of staunch conservatism. Men were legally allowed to beat their wives. Women also had no right to unrestricted movement, obliged to follow their husbands wherever they went.

They were allowed to work only with their husband’s consent. Education was massively restricted, with only about 13.1 percent of Russian women being literate in 1897.

Divorce, granted in only exceptional cases, put women through a humiliating interrogation process by police and judges and was essentially restricted to wealthy women.

Abortion was banned, and women were not allowed to vote or hold public office.

As capitalism developed in Russia between 1896 and 1899, it spurred women out of the home for the first time — but also increased their workload. Girls as young as 12 years old, or even younger, toiled away in factories, working 18 hour days for meager pay. At home, they were expected to help with household chores.

Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, wrote about this contradication, observing that “it is indisputable that the capitalist factory places these categories of the working population in particularly hard conditions, and that for them it is particularly necessary to regulate and shorten the working day, to guarantee hygienic conditions of labor, etc.

But endeavors completely to ban the work of women and juveniles in industry, or to maintain the patriarchal manner of life that ruled out such work, would be reactionary and utopian.”

The textile and metal industries soon saw masses of women workers join, who quickly formed the majority of workers in these factories. This was to have a profound impact on how the revolution unfolded.

The Bolsheviks counter petty-bourgeois feminists

The women’s struggle emerged in 1889, through the social democratic movement. Study circles were set up by Mikhail Ivanovich Brusnyev, that at its roots were based on Marxist ideas and had the goal of a socialist revolution. By 1890, these circles were teeming with women workers, with some 20 existing across Russia.

Five years later, the various social democratic circles merged to form the Union of Struggle, the forerunner to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Among its 17 founding members were four women, including Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Lenin’s partner.

While the “woman question” was on the program of all Russian opposition parties by that point, it was the Bolsheviks that would take on uniting the working class not only on national divisions, but the gender divide as well. It was the Bolsheviks too that would immediately implement all demands from working women after taking power in 1917.

The turn of the century saw mass unrest in Tsarist Russia, which ultimately transpired into the 1905 Russian Revolution, where women participated in great numbers. That year, more than 50 Soviets — effectively, regional people’s councils, made up of peasants, workers and soldiers — sprang up, with women revolutionaries assigned some of the most dangerous tasks.

One cotton weaving factory, Kashintsev, elected more women than men to the Soviet: 7 out of 8 members.

After the 1905 Revolution, the Bolsheviks worked to win women and organize them within the ranks of their party. Their efforts prevailed: at the Social Democratic Labor Party’s Fifth Congress in 1907, the Bolsheviks had five women delegates for every woman Menshevik delegate, which was the other, more moderate faction of the party.

Despite this, the Bolsheviks came under attack by petty-bourgeois feminists for failing to care about women’s issues. Well outside the labor movement, the primary concern of this group was women’s right to education — meaning, they were only addressing a tiny group of women in Russia at the time.

As the Bolsheviks rejected the petty-bourgeois feminists’ claims that women’s liberation could be fought without socialism, Lenin reiterated the importance of abolishing class oppression alongside the struggle for democratic demands.

“Marxists know that democracy does not abolish class oppression, but only makes the class struggle clearer, broader, more open and sharper; and this is what we want. The more complete freedom of divorce is, the clearer will it be to the woman that the source of her ‘domestic slavery’ is not the lack of rights, but capitalism,” he wrote in 1916. “The more democratic the system of government is, the clearer it will be to the workers that the root of the evil is not the lack of rights, but capitalism.”

Clara Zetkin, the German Marxist that first called for International Working Women’s Day, also spoke out firmly against “bourgeois feminism.”

“The proletarian woman ends up in the proletarian camp, the bourgeois woman in the bourgeois camp. We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed,” she warned.

These warnings rang true: the lack of class perspective within the petty-bourgeois feminist movement led them to support World War I, believing that once men were off to fight, women could play a greater role in society.

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It was the Bolsheviks who opposed the war, calling it a war by imperialists and capitalists at the expense of the working masses. It was also women Bolsheviks who rallied and persuaded the soldiers stationed in Petrograd to join the movement. Many soon left their posts and joined the Bolshevik ranks.

bolshevik woman 1923 magazine.jpgA 1923 edition of the Soviet women’s Bolshevik magazine Rabotnitsa.
| Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1914 the Bolsheviks began a journal aimed at working women, called “Rabotnitsa,” or “Women Workers.” With the first edition published on International Working Women’s Day of that year, seven more were issued before the Tsarist government clamped down on the publication.

Women and revolution

After the February Revolution of 1917, the Provisional Government came to power, toppling Tsar Nicholas II and ending the Russian empire

As time passed and the people’s demands for “Peace, Bread and Land” were not met, the Bolsheviks grew in popularity, as they called for the overthrow of the bourgeois Provisional Government.

More organizing was needed, and women workers were a key element of this process. They not only participated in strikes and demonstrations but also were a part of the armed defense of the revolution, dying alongside men of the Red Guards, the armed wing of the Bolsheviks.

Bolshevik women, in the months leading up to the October Revolution, took part in all activities: speaking at public meetings, distributing leaflets, transporting weapons, and providing care for the wounded.

In this fervor, the Bolsheviks began publishing “Rabotnitsa” again, with Krupskaya and many other women workers from Petrograd on the editorial board.

Lenin, during this time, wrote many articles about the importance of calling women workers to fight for socialism.

The pioneering advances for women under the Bolsheviks

Finally, on Oct. 25, 1917, the armed masses belonging to the Petrograd Soviet, which had been won over to socialist revolution by the Bolsheviks, occupied all public buildings, stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the Provisional Government members.

The Bolsheviks immediately set out ensuring equality between men and women. Just four days after taking power, they introduced the 8-hour working day, advancing possibilities for women, especially working-class women, to take part in politics.

Soon, the restriction on women’s freedom was removed. Women were given equal right to own land.

The church and state were also separated, marking one of the most profound shifts in women’s right: women were given free access to abortion, making Russia the first country in the world to grant this legal right.

Marriage also now took place with equal consent, and divorce was made as easy as possible for both parties.

The concept of illegitimate children was abolished, allowing all children to be treated equally. Paid maternity leave was granted both before and after birth, while night work for pregnant women and women who had just given birth was prohibited. In addition, special maternity wards were set up.

Alexandra Kollontai.gif

Alexandra Kollontai

Long before women would be granted the right to vote in capitalist countries such as the U.K., the United States, Sweden or France, women in Russia could vote by 1917.

Aleksandra Kollontai also became the world’s first woman minister when she was appointed People’s Commissar of Social Welfare shortly after the October Revolution.

The advances in women’s rights and equality ushered in by the Bolshevik Revolution also came part in parcel with advances in rights for other oppressed groups as well. In 1918, a decree was passed abolishing all pre-revolutionary Tsarist laws. The 1922 Criminal Code, for example, decriminalized homosexuality.

“The present sexual legislation in the Soviet Union is the work of the October Revolution,” the Bolshevik Grigorii Batkis, Director of the Institute for Social Hygiene, said at the time.

In November 1918, a series of small women’s conferences culminated in the first All-Russian Congress of Working Women.

During the conference, many new women joined the Bolshevik Party, as well as the women militias, “The Red Sisters,” to actively fight the counter-revolutionary forces known as the White Army, who had the backing of foreign governments.

The women’s department of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks, who had since changed their name to the Russian Communist Party, organized women in the factories and villages into the party.

The Zhenotdel, as the women’s department was known, soon launched a magazine, “Komitska,” with Krupskaya as editor. By 1927, over 18 different women’s magazines were published with a circulation of 386,000, focused on women’s liberation and socialism.

Thanks to the Zhenotdel, women’s membership in the party doubled by 1932, with women making up 15.9 percent, compared to just 8 percent a decade earlier.

”No party or revolution in the world has ever dreamed of striking so deep at the roots of the oppression and inequality of women as the Soviet, Bolshevik revolution is doing,” Lenin observed in 1921. “Over here, in Soviet Russia, no trace is left of any inequality between men and women under the law. The Soviet power has eliminated all there was of the especially disgusting, base and hypocritical inequality in the laws on marriage and the family and inequality in respect of children.”

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“This is only the first step in the liberation of woman. But none of the bourgeois republics, including the most democratic, has dared to take even this first step,” he added.

In 1922, with the creation of the USSR, the Soviet government sought to socialize housework. This was done by creating things such as public nurseries, kindergartens, kitchens and public laundries. The idea was to reduce household labor to a minimum, allowing women the freedom to pursue waged work, education and enjoy leisure time on par with men.

Long after the Bolshevik Revolution, the difference in women’s conditions was staggering. Compared to Tsarist times, life expectancy doubled by the 1970s, from 30 to nearly 74. Infant mortality was also reduced by 90 percent in that time period. Women soared in education, with only 10 percent enrolled in secondary school in 1926 to 97 percent by 1958.

From the first study circles at the turn of the century to the women-led uprising that incited the February Revolution, to the thousands of Bolshevik women who fought on behalf of the working class, the first worker’s state in the world would never have become a reality without the steely, militant determination of women.

The Great October Socialist Revolution marked a new era for humanity

Source: Granma
November 9 2017

Speech by José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Party Central Committee and a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, in the political-cultural act to mark the centennial of the Great October Socialist Revolution, held at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater, November 7, 2017

Author: José Ramón Machado Ventura | informacion@granma.cu

jose ramon machado ventura.jpg“The principles of equality, solidarity, internationalism, social justice, the peoples’ right to self-determination, independence and sovereignty, which were the basis of the October Revolution, will also continue to be ours,” stated José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Party Central Committee and a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers.

Photo: Juvenal Balán

Compañero Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the PCC Central Committee

Compañeras and compañeros:

We are gathered to commemorate one of the most significant events of the twentieth century: the Great October Socialist Revolution, with which a new era for humanity commenced.

Today, in some media there is a tendency to diminish the importance of the Revolution that led to the founding of the world’s first socialist state and opened a path of hope, giving way to a new social regime that would show that a world free of exploiters and the exploited was possible. Attempts are made to diminish and even disregard the role played by its eminent leader, Vladimir Ilich Lenin.

lenin4.jpgComandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, on referring to Lenin stated: “He was a brilliant revolutionary strategist who did not hesitate to assume Marx’s ideas and implement them in a vast and only partially industrialized country… Lenin was a truly exceptional man, capable of interpreting all the depth, essence and value of Marxist theory,” end of quote.

Lenin’s brilliant leadership

He had the merit of taking advantage of a moment of crisis of imperialism, provoked by its own war, and the growth of the labor movement in Czarist Russia, to carry out the socialist Revolution. He was the man who was met with incomprehension in his own surroundings, but at the same time he had, like no other at that time, the greatest understanding of the humble, of the workers aware that the seizure of political power was the only way to lead them to their emancipation.

It was precisely Lenin’s brilliant leadership that gave rise to that great Revolution, with which important changes ensued for the oppressed of this world.

The immense contribution and legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution

One hundred years later, it is impossible to deny the immense contribution and legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution, which gave way to other great social revolutions of the 20th century, which emerged a few years after the victory against fascism, like that of China, the Vietnamese and the Cuban.

The events that followed October, the implementation of Marxist theory in the specific conditions of the time, demonstrated the relevance of the global social revolution, for which, in the words of Lenin, the Russian (Revolution) was just the prologue or a step.

The process of decolonization would not have been possible without the enormous influence of the October Revolution, in that it decisively contributed to the right of the peoples to self-determination and independence becoming a reality in many countries of the world.

An undeniable contribution of this great feat was the beginning of the process of political-economic structuring of a new system: socialism.

Creating a better world for the people

The Revolution favored the drastic change in the correlation of world forces, demonstrated that the elimination of exploitation was possible, that there were other forms of government and democracy, and that alternatives existed beyond the formulas offered by capitalism, generating wars and divisions, overwhelming peoples and nations.

In the field of international relations, it inaugurated a new way of doing and acting. In the Decree on Peace and in the Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia, expressed were the principles that should govern the relations between states and peoples, which are still fully valid today.

The USSR achieved, in a historically very short period, technological and industrial development. It eradicated illiteracy, generalized schooling, reached a high scientific level, ensured employment and social protection, eliminated discrimination against women and proclaimed their rights, as well as those of children and young people.

These achievements were obtained in the midst of military, economic and political aggression. The nascent socialist state made the postulates of its Revolution a reality through blood and fire, and began to build itself in a country totally ruined, bled dry and blockaded, which required no less hard and heroic efforts.

Many contributions

There were many contributions and efforts from the peoples that made up the USSR, but none more significant than the defeat of fascism, which deserves eternal gratitude.

The influence of the October Revolution and the battle for multifaceted development being waged in what was the most backward imperial country of its time, also reached Latin America, where the ideas of the Revolution were disseminated and communist parties began to emerge, including that of Cuba, in the midst of the conditions of first an invaded, and later a neocolonial republic.

In this and other Cuban revolutionary groups that confronted imperialist domination and its complicit governments of the day, present were, along with the ideas of Martí, the ideas of the October Revolution, the ideas of Marxism-Leninism.

In 1970, on the occasion of commemorating the centenary of Lenin’s birth, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution stated: I quote “Without the October Revolution of 1917, Cuba could not have been constituted as the first socialist country in Latin America.” Later, in 1972, in a profound reflection on the roots of our socialist Revolution, he specified: “the revolutionary process of Cuba is the confirmation of the extraordinary strength of the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin,” end of quote.

The first great attempt to transform the world

During these 100 years, but mainly since the disappearance of the socialist system in Europe, much has been written and debated, from very different ideological positions, about this Revolution. Regrettably, extreme positions converge to point out that its ideas failed, with a marked distortion of the causes and consequences, with the intention of imposing a single mindset destined to highlight the supremacy of capitalism against socialism.

The October Revolution initiated an extraordinarily complex process, with achievements and mistakes, but to judge it we must take into account, first of all, the historic conditions in which it was developed, the international context and the contradictions generated by any revolutionary process. It was also the first great attempt to transform the world, to turn utopia into reality.

Imperialism today seeks new alliances and attempts by all possible means to stifle and destroy any attempt at social change.

In this historical context we can affirm that the ideas that inspired it and socialism as a system maintain full force. The principles of equality, solidarity, internationalism, social justice, the peoples’ right to self-determination, independence and sovereignty, which were the basis of the October Revolution, will also continue to be ours.

Long live the Great October Socialist Revolution!

Thank you.

Related information

The Jamaican Who Helped Form The October Revolution’s Policy on Racism in the US

Jamaican Claude McKay: Report on the Negro Question – Speech to the 4th Congress of the Comintern, Nov. 1922

by Claude McKay

claude McKay 1922 2.jpgJamaican Claude McKay at the Fourth Congress of the Third International speaking in the throne room at the Kremlin, 1922.

Source:  marxisthistory.org

Comrades, I feel that I would rather face a lynching stake in civilized America than try to make a speech before the most intellectual and critical audience in the world. I belong to a race of creators but my public speaking has been so bad that I have been told by my own people that I should never try to make speeches, but stick to writing, and laughing. However, when I heard the Negro question was going to be brought up on the floor of the Congress, I felt it would be an eternal shame if I did not say something on behalf of the members of my race.

Especially would I be a disgrace to the American Negroes because, since I published a notorious poem in 1919 [“If We Must Die”], I have been pushed forward as one of the spokesmen of Negro radicalism in America to the detriment of my poetical temperament. I feel that my race is honored by this invitation to one of its members to speak at this Fourth Congress of the Third International. My race on this occasion is honored, not because it is different from the white race and the yellow race, but [because it] is especially a race of toilers, hewers of wood and drawers of water, that belongs to the most oppressed, exploited, and suppressed section of the working class of the world. The Third International stands for the emancipation of all the workers of the world, regardless of race or color, and this stand of the Third International is not merely on paper like the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. It is a real thing.

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The Negro race in the economic life of the world today occupies a very peculiar position. In every country where the Whites and Blacks must work together the capitalists have set the one against the other. It would seem at the present day that the international bourgeoisie would use the Negro race as their trump card in their fight against the world revolution. Great Britain has her Negro regiments in the colonies and she has demonstrated what she can do with her Negro soldiers by the use that she made of them during the late War. The revolution in England is very far away because of the highly organized exploitation of the subject peoples of the British Empire.

In Europe, we find that France had a Negro army of over 300,000 and that to carry out their policy of imperial domination in Europe the French are going to use their Negro minions. In America we have the same situation. The Northern bourgeoisie knows how well the Negro soldiers fought for their own emancipation, although illiterate and untrained, during the Civil War. They also remember how well the Negro soldiers fought in the Spanish-American War under Theodore Roosevelt. They know that in the last war over 400,000 Negroes who were mobilized gave a very good account of themselves, and that, besides fighting for the capitalists, they also put up a very good fight for themselves on returning to America when they fought the white mobs in Chicago, St. Louis and Washington. But more than the fact that the American capitalists are using Negro soldiers in their fight against the interests of labor is the fact that the American capitalists are setting out to mobilize the entire black race of America for the purpose of fighting organized labor.

The need to face the Negro question in the US

The situation in America today is terrible and fraught with grave dangers. It is much uglier and more terrible than was the condition of the peasants and Jews of Russia under the Tsar. It is so ugly and terrible that very few people in America are willing to face it. The reformist bourgeoisie have been carrying on the battle against discrimination and racial prejudice in America. The Socialists and Communists have fought very shy of it because there is a great element of prejudice among the Socialists and Communists of America. They are not willing to face the Negro question. In associating with the comrades of America I have found demonstrations of prejudice on the various occasions when the White and Black comrades had to get together: and this is the greatest difficulty that the Communists of America have got to overcome-the fact that they first have got to emancipate themselves from the ideas they entertain towards the Negroes before they can be able to reach the Negroes with any kind of radical propaganda.

However, regarding the Negroes themselves, I feel that as the subject races of other nations have come to Moscow to learn how to fight against their exploiters, the Negroes will also come to Moscow. In 1918 when the Third International published its Manifesto and included the part referring to the exploited colonies, there were several groups of Negro radicals in America that sent this propaganda out among their people. When in 1920 the American government started to investigate and to suppress radical propaganda among the Negroes, the small radical groups in America retaliated by publishing the fact that the Socialists stood for the emancipation of the Negroes, and that reformist America could do nothing for them.

Karl Marx’s interest in the emancipation of the American Negro

Then, I think, for the first time in American history, the American Negroes found that Karl Marx had been interested in their emancipation and had fought valiantly for it. I shall just read this extract that was taken from Karl Marx’s writing at the time of the Civil War:

When an oligarchy of 300,000 slave holders for the first time in the annals of the world, dared to inscribe “Slavery” on the banner of armed revolt, on the very spot where hardly a century ago, the idea of one great democratic republic had first sprung up, whence the first declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth- century, when on that spot the counter-revolution cynically proclaimed property in man to be “the cornerstone of the new edifice” — then the working class of Europe understood at once that the slaveholders’ rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy war of property against labor, and that (its) hopes of the future, even its past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic.

Karl Marx who drafted the above resolution is generally known as the father of Scientific Socialism and also of the epoch-making volume popularly known as the socialist bible, Capital. During the Civil War he was correspondent of the New York Tribune. In the company of Richard Cobden, Charles Bradlaugh, the atheist, and John Bright, he toured England making speeches and so roused up the sentiment of the workers of that country against the Confederacy that Lord Palmerston, [the] Prime Minister, who was about to recognize the South, had to desist.

Fighting wage slavery

As Marx fought against chattel slavery in 1861, so are present-day socialists, his intellectual descendants, fighting wage slavery. If the Workers Party in America were really a Workers Party that included Negroes it would, for instance, in the South, have to be illegal, and I would inform the American Comrades that there is a branch of the Workers Party in the South, in Richmond, Virginia, that is illegal — illegal because it includes colored members. There we have a very small group of white and colored comrades working together, and the fact that they have laws in Virginia and most of the Southern states discriminating against whites and blacks assembling together means that the Workers Party in the South must be illegal.

To get round these laws of Virginia, the comrades have to meet separately, according to color, and about once a month they assemble behind closed doors. This is just an indication of the work that will have to be done in the South. The work among the Negroes of the South will have to be carried on by some legal propaganda organized in the North, because we find at the present time in America that the situation in the Southern States (where nine million out of ten million of the Negro population live), is that even the liberal bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie among the Negroes cannot get their own papers of a reformist propaganda type into the South on account of the laws that there discriminate against them.

The fact is that it is really only in the Southern States that there is any real suppression of opinion. No suppression of opinion exists in the Northern states in the way it exists in the South. In the Northern states special laws are made for special occasions as those against Communists and Socialists during the War — but in the South we find laws that have existed for fifty years, under which the Negroes cannot meet to talk about their grievances. The white people who are interested in their cause cannot go and speak to them. If we send white comrades into the South they are generally ordered out by the Southern oligarchy and if they do not leave they are generally whipped, tarred and feathered; and if we send black comrades into the South they generally won’t be able to get out again — they will be lynched and burned at the stake.

I hope that as a symbol that the Negroes of the world will not be used by the international bourgeoisie in the final conflicts against the World Revolution, that as a challenge to the international bourgeoisie, who have an understanding of the Negro question, we shall soon see a few Negro soldiers in the finest, bravest, and cleanest fighting forces in the world — the Red Army and Navy of Russia — fighting not only for their own emancipation, but also for the emancipation of all the working class of the whole world.

PSUV Wins Regional Elections, Assures Maduro’s Reelection

Source:  TeleSUR
October 17 2017

By: Dr. Jesus Silva R.

President Maduro Oct 2017.jpgVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a PSUV conference in Caracas. | Photo: PSUV

17 October 2017

by Dr. Jesus Silva R.

It’s time to launch diplomatic bridges to begin to reverse the proposed isolation of Venezuela.

With 18 governorships won in the elections of Oct. 15, 2017, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV, becomes the favorite to win the presidential election in 2018. With Chavismo’s 18 regions and the support of the National Constituent Assembly, ANC, the political conditions are in place to virtually ensure the re-election of President Nicolas Maduro.

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The debacle of the Venezuelan opposition started after they called for violent street protests that produced 150 dead and more than a thousand injured and wounded. They insisted on this strategy for four months and later abandoned it without apologizing to the Venezuelan people.

Then came the regional elections and the opposition signed up to participate in them after they had sworn never to leave the battle in the streets. So much incoherence, cynicism and irresponsibility was punished by hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters who were disillusioned with the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable, MUD, and did not vote for them.

The biggest challenge of the PSUV

Now that the electoral battle is over, the biggest challenge of the PSUV is the economic recovery of the country and restoring the supply of food and medicines. There should be a call for dialogue with business sectors which had joined the assault against the government through the sabotage of production and the voluntary reduction of activities with the aim of causing social unrest.

Now these entrepreneurs who have witnessed their political allies in the MUD soundly defeated at the ballot box, they have the opportunity to approach the government and through a sincere relationship, contribute to the recovery of the national economy.

Likewise, on the political front, the revolutionary leadership has the opportunity to re-legitimize party authorities as ruled in Article 67 of the Constitution by means of internal elections. The next phase would be to create more spaces for interaction with those members of the rank and file who do not have an organized militancy within the PSUV itself. Such members wish to participate in the political and social tasks of the revolutionary process currently in the hands of their leaders.

The people voted for peace

For the international community, the message is clear: the people voted for peace, do not want a foreign military invasion, nor violent street protests (guarimbas), nor financial blockades, nor terrorism. It’s time to launch diplomatic bridges to begin to reverse the proposed isolation of Venezuela.

Finally, we salute the democratic gesture of Maduro to immediately recognize the election results issued by the National Electoral Council, including those that were unfavorable for the PSUV, and to call the new opposition governors to work together with the central government for the good of the whole country.

Cuba-China relations: A cooperation model based on equality, respect, and mutual benefit

Source: Granma
October 2 2017

by Iramsy Peraza Forte | informacion@granma.cu

Miguel Ángel Ramírez, Cuban ambassador in Beijing, agreed to speak with Granma International about the current state of Cuba-China relations and their future prospects

cuba china relations oct 2017.jpgThere exists great potential to develop economic and political ties between Cuba and China. Photo: Ismael Batista

Beijing.- Cuba and China have enjoyed a special relationship since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on September 28, 1960.
che y mao.jpgMonths before these ties were officially recognized, Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara led a delegation representing the nascent Cuban Revolution to Beijing, with the aim of cementing relations with the People’s Republic of China, founded 11 years prior.
Today, 57 years later, Cuba and China are celebrating having built a relationship which is not only an example for the world, but also a reference for the development of fraternal ties between two parties, governments, and peoples, which have stood the test of time.

Miguel Ángel Ramírez, Cuban ambassador in Beijing, agreed to speak with Granma Internationalabout the current state of Cuba-China relations and their future prospects.
This year is the 57th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and People’s Republic of China. More than half a century later how would you describe the current state of these ties, and the over 50-year relationship between the two countries?

fidel 200.jpgThe precursor to the emergence of these ties between Cuba and China is one of the most important moments of our history when, during the First Declaration of Havana on September 2, 1960, over one million Cubans, representing our people and led by leader of the Cuban Revolution Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, decided to recognize the People’s Republic of China.

Thus, Cuba became the first country in the western hemisphere to recognize the new China, even while the illegitimate government of Taiwan continued to hold its place in the United Nations. Since then, we have maintained ties of friendship, fraternity, and mutual support, which have strengthened over time.

The close ties of friendship between the two governments, parties, and peoples have a solid historical base, dating back to our independence struggles, in which Chinese immigrants played an important part; while the 170th anniversary of their arrival to the country is being celebrated this year. This important date, which laid the foundations for the creation of a Chinese-Cuban community, and the full integration of Chinese immigrants into our society to become part of our national identity, has been commemorated in both countries.

A model of cooperation

Our relations represent a model of cooperation based on equality, respect, and mutual benefit between two socialist, independent, economically strong nations.
Cuba has always shown its unequivocal support for the One China policy, and strongly rejects any actions which threaten its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese government and people have also continued to support the Cuban Revolution, and in particular its struggle against the U.S. blockade, a policy which despite continual, broad international rejection, remains intact and continues to escalate as seen by the continual persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions abroad.

Over recent years, more than 3,000 Chinese students have come to study in Cuba through government scholarship programs, which give new generations from the country’s least developed provinces the opportunity to study Spanish, medicine, tourism, and education, among other degrees, on the island. Meanwhile, the number of self-financing students from that country wanting to earn a degree here has also risen, proof of the popularity and quality of Cuba’s educational system among Chinese youth.

How can economic exchanges be expanded between the two countries?
China became Cuba’s top trading partner for the first time in 2016, with exchanges between the two nations amounting to 2,585, 516,000 USD.
Chinese companies are present in almost all sectors of the island’s economy, via projects linked to foreign trade, through which our country obtains various types of equipment, consumer goods, or through direct Chinese investment in the country.

We have seen important achievements in promoting Chinese Direct Foreign Investment in Cuba with projects such as the Bello Monte initiative linked to golf-course real estate, in which Beijing has invested 500 million USD.

We are also working on various Chinese investment projects in the Mariel Special Development Zone as well as others in practically all spheres of our country’s social and economic life, meaning a substantial boost for commercial exchange.
Cuba is also in the process of transforming its energy matrix, for which substantial long-term investments are needed, and that goes for both wind, solar, and bio energy, areas in which the world’s second largest economic power should play a key role.
In fact, construction has already begun on what will be the country’s largest bioelectric plant, a joint venture featuring technology and financing from China, as well as Cuba and the UK.

The success and level of development achieved by various Cuban-Chinese ventures, is proof of what we can achieve through tenacity, motivation, and revolutionary spirit. As such, I would like to highlight the Shanghai-Suncuba company, owner of the Grand Kempinski-Shanghai and the three largest joint ventures in the biotechnology sector, based in different locations across the island: an expression of the strength and recognition achieved by this sector, founded by our Comandante en Jefe, and an example of the strategic direction being taken by the country.

Based on their individual realties, China and Cuba – two countries in the process of building socialism – share a similar outlook on many issues. What experiences can the two nations share in this process?
Cuba and China have both expressed their commitment to continue constructing socialism in accordance with each nation’s particular characteristics and under the leadership of their respective Communist Parties. We consider ourselves to be mutual references in the construction of socialism deriving from our own unique characteristics, on the basis of which we conduct a broad and systematic exchange of experiences.
The country is immersed in updating its socio-economic model, a process which, under the leadership of the Communist Party, establishes the bases for medium and long-term national development, to achieve sustainable, prosperous socialism in accordance with our reality. China’s experience in its “reforming and opening up” process has been an important reference in this phase, defined by a continual analysis of the achievements, mistakes, and particularities of each country.

As the world’s second largest economic power China is actively working to contribute to global economic stability, combat climate change and build a new type of international relations. How would you describe China’s efforts in this regard?

China is without a doubt a stabilizing factor in many aspects of the global scenario. As an emerging power, it has been leading efforts to promote peaceful global development. Its rise as a key player in an increasingly globalized world, has also seen it become a protagonist in defending the rights of Third World countries, with the G-77+China representing the most compelling example of cooperation between equals.
It has made a transcendental contribution in terms of poverty reduction, food production, the transfer of technology, and successful launching of satellites into space, among others areas.

More recently, the country’s 21st century One Belt One Road initiative and the launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) represent a vote of confidence in the creation of a new international system.

The expansion and strengthening of its ties with Latin America and the Caribbean represent another example of balance and stability for the region. These ties have the potential to produce great benefits for all involved, especially looking toward the upcoming Second China-Celac Ministerial Forum, set to be held early next year in our region.

Nicaragua’s Sandinista Achievements Baffle World Bank, IMF

Source: TeleSUR
August 31 2017

By: Tortilla Con Sal

sandinistas supporters aug 2017.jpgSupporters of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. | Photo: EFE

Reading the report, it is impossible to ignore the tension between latent ideological and political imperatives and the obligation to report the facts.

No one can take at face value any report, governmental or quasi non-governmental, coming out of the imperialist bureaucracy in Washington. Ideological bias and institutional self-justification prevent these reports from giving a true account of virtually anything.

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The latest World Bank report on Nicaragua is no exception.

The implicit but unstated truth in this report is that President Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front have achieved an unprecedented economic turnaround in just seven years, starting in 2010.

Reading the report, it is impossible to ignore the tension between latent ideological and political imperatives and the obligation to report the facts. Put another way, mild conflict clearly prevails between the World Bank’s Washington head office and its reality based local officials. From Washington, the tendency is both to minimize Ortega’s achievement and also to cover up the World Bank’s own lamentable history in Nicaragua. On the other hand, in Nicaragua, local World Bank staff dutifully report the facts as they see them.

A total of 71 people contributed to the report. Supposing those 71 people each worked for a month to prepare the research and say their average salary was about US$80,000, then pro rata a month’s work by that team cost over US$500,000, a very conservative guess. Even so, in summary, that money bought policy recommendations for Nicaragua’s development amounting to little more than better infrastructure; better basic services; more private business investment; more efficient government; better targeted social policies. That’s it, for US$500,000 or more.

Recognizing Nicaragua’s achievements

In general, the report recognizes Nicaragua’s achievements in reducing poverty and inequality, raising productivity, diversifying economic activity and promoting security and stability. The report’s 130 or so pages include, among the economic and sociological analysis, many self-confessed guesses to fill in “knowledge gaps” and much gerrymandered history to cover up what Harold Pinter in his 2005 Nobel prize winning address justly called “the tragedy of Nicaragua.”

Pinter himself might have remarked the report is almost witty in its audacious, glib omissions. It acknowledges the catastrophic destructive effects of the 1980s war in Nicaragua, but carefully omits the U.S. government’s deliberate role in that destruction, now repeated against Syria and Venezuela.

The report talks about a “democratic transition” starting in 1990. In fact, the Sandinistas organized the first free and fair democratic elections ever in Nicaragua in 1984, but the U.S. government ordered the main Nicaraguan opposition to boycott them. Despite the war, Ortega and the Sandinistas won with 67 percent of the vote, very similar to the most recent presidential elections in 2016.

The heavy ideological bias also explains the World Bank’s curious dating of when Nicaragua’s economic turnaround began, placing it firmly in the neoliberal era prior to 2007. But at just that time, the World Bank was cutting back the public sector as much as they could, pushing, for example, to privatize Nicaragua’s public water utility and its education system.

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Nicaragua before the Sandinistas’ victory in January 2007

Back then, Nicaragua’s neglected electrical system collapsed through 2005 and 2006, incapable of generating even 400 megawatts a day, plunging swathes of Nicaragua back into 19th-century darkness for 10 to 12 hours at a time, day after day. That was the World Bank and IMF’s gift to Nicaragua after 17 years of so-called “democratic transition.” That period included Hurricane Mitch, devastating Nicaragua to the tune of 20 percent of its GDP, only for the corrupt neoliberal government at the time to misuse hundreds of millions of dollars in disaster relief. The only structurally significant economic achievement of the neoliberal era in Nicaragua was substantial foreign debt relief.

When Ortega took office in January 2007, he faced four years of domestic crisis with an opposition controlled legislature persistently sabotaging his government’s programs. From 2007 to 2008, Nicaragua and the whole region struggled in vain to contain a balance of payment deficits against oil prices reaching US$147 a barrel in 2008.

That disaster was compounded by the collapse of the Western financial system in late 2008 to 2009, a year when Nicaragua’s economy suffered a 3 percent contraction. Only in 2010, did the Nicaraguan government finally enjoy domestic and international conditions stable enough to be able to consolidate and improve its social programs, improve infrastructure investment, democratize and diversify the economy, extend basic services, and attract foreign investment, among other things.

The World Bank’s development recipe

If that sounds suddenly familiar, it should. It is exactly the development recipe offered up by this latest World Bank report, essentially an embellished review of policies the Nicaraguan government has already been implementing for a decade. Put positively, the government’s National Human Development Plan and other relevant documents suggest that the World Bank’s engagement with the Nicaraguan government has been one of mutual learning. So much so, that the current country program is likely to continue and may even expand.

The political opposition in Nicaragua has seized on parts of the report to try and discredit the Sandinista government’s outstanding achievements. In fact, for 17 years under neoliberal governments implementing World Bank and IMF policies, areas criticized like, for example, access to drinking water and adequate sanitation, or education, suffered chronic lack of investment, compounded by egregious waste and corruption. Now, the World Bank hypocritically criticizes Nicaragua’s government for intractable policy difficulties the IMF and the World Bank themselves originally provoked.

Similarly, when the World Bank report criticizes the targeting of social programs, they omit the unquestionable success of the government’s Zero Usury micro credit program and the Zero Hunger rural family support program, both prioritizing women. These programs have lifted tens of thousands of families out of poverty and, along with unprecedented support for Nicaragua’s cooperative sector, radically democratized Nicaragua’s economy, especially for previously excluded rural families and women. That supremely important national process is entirely absent from the World Bank report.

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The legacy of neoliberal governments

In its discussions of almost all these issues, the report makes more or less detailed contributions, mostly already identified by the government itself. In every case, the underlying cause of problems or lack of progress, for example, on land titling or social security, has been the legacy of neoliberal governments between 1990 and 2007, that reinstated elite privilege, rolled back the revolutionary gains of the 1980s and failed to guarantee necessary investment.

The World Bank and the IMF were enthusiastic ideological partners in that endeavor. They would have continued their ideological offensive had not Ortega and his government dug in their heels in 2007 and 2008, backed by investment support for social and productive programs from Venezuela as part of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas.

Since then, the World Bank, as this report suggests, seems, at least for the moment, to have learned two key lessons from the Sandinistas. In a world dominated by corporate elite globalization, their report implicitly recognizes the importance, firstly, of a mixed economy under a strong central government and, secondly, the crucial role of broad dialogue and consensus, across all sectors of society, to promote and sustain national stability. Essentially, the World Bank has acknowledged the undeniable success of the Sandinista Revolution’s socialist inspired, solidarity based policies, decisively prioritizing the needs of people over corporate profit and demonstrating the systemic inability of capitalism to meet those needs.

 

2017: 256 Angolan students graduate in Cuba

“Cuba not only trains men of science, but also of conscience,”  Angolan student

This year, a total of 256 Angolan students graduated in Cuba…Granma spoke with some of them and found that almost all defined their studies in Cuba as one of the best experiences of their lives

Source:  Granma
August 21 2017

by: Darcy Borrero Batista | informacion@granma.cu

cuban trained angolan graduate 1.jpgEsmeralda de Fátima Damiao graduated with a high academic average of 5.03 points in Educational Psychology from the University of Sancti Spíritus. Photo: Darcy Borrero Batista

“It was all like a flash of lightning. It was a shock for me to come here. At first I didn’t want to. My father, as a former revolutionary soldier who adores the history of Cuba, wanted me to study here. My brothers had already done it; so I tried too, even though the first few days I didn’t feel like eating and was a little depressed.

I met wonderful teachers

“Then I started to interact with people and, in the end, I loved it. I fell in love with the province of Holguín, where I met wonderful teachers, a father, a mother, friends, who have offered me a life experience because we have shared everything. I learned the concept of fraternity, and that inspired me to write my thesis on local development.

“I was the first Angolan to write an applied thesis on local development!” Augusta Lopes Miranda explains, today a graduate of Economics from the University of Holguín.

Born in central Luanda, the capital of Angola, Lopes is mainly interested in politics. She is not the only one among the thousands of international students who graduated in different specialties in Cuba this year to have such an interest. Many leave the island wanting to change the world.

This year, a total of 256 Angolan students graduated in Cuba, among them psychologists, biologists, economists, architects, mathematicians, physicists, doctors, chemists, and engineers.

Granma spoke with some of them and found that almost all defined their studies in Cuba as one of the best experiences of their lives.

I would like to become the first female President of my country

“I arrived at just 20 years of age and here I became a woman, a professional, and I’m leaving ready to contribute to the development of my beautiful homeland. I would like to become the first female President of my country,” Lopes states, noting her desire to expand the social participation of women.

Esmeralda de Fátima Damiao is another Angolan graduate. At the University of Sancti Spíritus, she studied the specialty of Educational Psychology, and graduated with a high academic average of 5.03 points.

“From the time I arrived I was always very clear on the objective that brought me here. I did my degree in four years, even though it was five. I had the opportunity to do fourth and fifth year in a single course, due to my commitment and dedication,” she reveals.

I can consider myself a doctor today

International students on the island can opt for a range of careers in the university system throughout the country.

In the case of Angola, “There is a national cadre training program and an administrative institute for scholarships abroad. Through this body, scholarships are awarded to students who meet the requirements: to be healthy, not to be over 25 years of age, and have a good academic average,” explains Mauro Molose, who just graduated as a doctor.

Aged 30, he is the seventh of eight children in a family from the south of Angola. “I have always been very dedicated to my studies and, thanks to that, I can consider myself a doctor today.

The experience in Cuba was magnificent

“Our educational system is very different from that of Cuba. In fact, many of us have had certain difficulties entering universities here due to the change of evaluation system. Nevertheless, human beings have an adaptive capacity and we have managed to leave here as professionals,” he adds.

Back in his home country, Dr. Molose studied Agrarian Sciences, but “without giving up my dream of becoming a doctor someday. I knew that Cuba is a world power in this field and when it was announced in my country that they would grant scholarships to Angolans, at that very moment, without looking back, I suspended my agricultural studies and I came here.”

He now considers himself to be Cuban, more specifically from Santiago, and expresses with satisfaction that the experience in Cuba was magnificent. “We lived far from our families, but in Santiago de Cuba we were met with a very welcoming people, very similar to ours. As for seismic activity, Angola is a fairly quiet country. However, in Santiago we always had to deal with tremors. The one that marked us most was that of January 17, 2017, we were very scared.

I leave as a doctor, but also as a more humane person

“We experienced very important moments in the history of this country: the arrival of the Five Heroes, the death of our Comandante…

“We experienced many other events that marked our lives significantly, and I leave as a doctor, but also as a more humane person.”

Yuri Dos Santos, 27, graduated in Architecture at the University of Camagüey. Before coming to the island, he was already studying the third year of Architecture in Angola.

“But I left everything behind and started over here in Cuba. Until I came to Cuba, I felt an uneasiness that I could not explain. So, coming here and being exposed to a different environment, made me grow. Cuba has been exactly that, a school in terms of the development of my thought.

Studying here has been a privilege

“Studying here has been a privilege because being a graduate of a Cuban university is, for Angolans, synonymous with pride and respect.”

The most important thing for this young man, of everything he has learned here, is the philosophy with which degree courses are taught, at least in his case.

“We learn not only the technical aspect, but the social philosophy. The architecture I have learned is the product of a socialist system, and that is tangible when drawing. I can not create a 41-story tower; I have to think of buildings for the poor and the rich.”

WHAT DO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS FACE ON RETURNING TO THEIR COUNTRIES?

cuban trained Angolan graduate 2Yuri Dos Santos, aged 27, graduated in Architecture from the University of Camagüey. Photo: Darcy Borrero Batista

“In the case of Angola, we must enter the labor market and present our curricula to companies,” notes Yuri from Luanda, who studied alongside students from China, Djibouti, and several countries of the Americas.

“Spanish was the common language for all of us, even though the language was a barrier at first. I’m not going to lie. The early years were not easy, especially as I got sick, but the help of doctors and teachers meant I survived. Not only on the health side of things; also as a human being,” he explains.

The most successful international student

José Antonio Ferrera, the most successful international student in his graduation, is from the province of Kwanza Sul, Angola.

“What motivated me to come in principle were the results of Cuban education. My brother came before me and that also served as my inspiration. Now that I have graduated as a mechanical engineer, I do not regret having trained here. There I studied at a polytechnic, which would amount to a vocational course here, and I felt I had a solid base to study on the island.”

I am what I am now thanks to Cuba

“Angola is emerging from a civil war and we have had just a few years of peace, so our education system cannot be excellent. That’s why we are turning to sister nations to train the intellectuals and scientists who will build the country. We are going to involve them in the country’s social development,” notes José Antonio, who chairs the Assembly of Angolan Students in Cuba.

“I have spent more than half of my youth here and, throughout history, the island has offered its contribution to my country; and today Angola is what it is, thanks to the sisterhood of the Caribbean nation,” José Antonio stresses.

“Cuba not only trains men of science, but also of conscience,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mauro, who graduated with an academic average of 4.92 points, notes: “In my town, we believe that he who is not thankful, is a sorcerer. That’s why I thank Cuba. Because I am what I am now thanks to Cuba.”

fidel y neto 2.jpg