JANUARY 1 marked the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution that overthrew the Batista dictatorship and installed Fidel Castro as the country’s new dictator, a position he held for 52 years. On the occasion of the anniversary, the Akel general secretary Andros Kyprianou sent a congratulatory message to the current ruler of Cuba, Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, offering a “warm greeting of solidarity”.
The victory of the revolution in 1959 “signalled the overthrow of the US-serving Batista dictatorship and the start of the building of socialist Cuba which constitutes a glowing historical landmark for the world revolutionary movement, for the struggles of the people of the world for freedom, independence and people’s sovereignty,” said Kyprianou. He also said that the revolution’s “flame boosts the morale not only of communists but of every person and all people of the world fighting for a better tomorrow, a tomorrow of peace, freedom and social justice.”
Kyprianou and his comrades are still living in the 1960s and 1970s, the height of the Cold War, refusing to accept that the world has moved on. They are still resorting to the hackneyed, vacuous rhetoric sanctioned by the Soviet Communist Party at the time. Cuba, according to Kyprianou, is still the “target of international imperialism” that is still trying to “overturn the Cuban revolution”. Akel’s leadership simply cannot accept the Cold War is over and that it jeopardises its future by carrying on praising and identifying with a repressive, totalitarian regime like Cuba’s, in the name of socialist solidarity.
The glorious Cuban revolution, imposed the Castro dictatorship, which to this day crushes dissent, prohibits freedom of speech, shuns the rule of law, bans freedom of movement and imprisons hundreds of people every month for their political views. Its command economy, run by state-owned enterprises has ensured widespread poverty, despite the free services provided by the state. This is the regime in which Akel rejoices, congratulating its dictator for doing a good job, which includes imprisoning his critics and having utter contempt for human rights. It requires a flight of the imagination to use the word ‘freedom’ when referring to Cuba, as Akel has done.
Perversely, it is being consistent, because during the Cold War it worshipped the Soviet Union and its equally repressive satellites in Eastern Europe, while slamming the democratic Western countries, as “imperialist”. What is astonishing is that Akel persists with this propaganda, despite seeing its support steadily decline.
Will it ever realise that to survive politically it has to leave this shameful past behind and embrace the new era? It is not going to win any new support by publicly praising the Cuban dictatorship.