Celia Hart, a distinguished Cuban academic, member of the Jose Marti Institute and Cuban Communist Party militant, addressed an international seminar organised by the Socialist Party of Ecuador over May 17 and 18. The event, titled “Socialism in Latin America: Experiences in Change and Regional Integration”, celebrated the 80th anniversary of the SPE’s founding.
After the seminar, Hart spoke to Green Left Weekly about the new opening in Latin American politics, signified especially by the Venezuelan revolution. “For us in Cuba, for the Cuban Revolution, Venezuela means the birth of a new baby”, she told GLW. “The Venezuelan revolution represents both a new, intelligent force, and also expresses the experience of the Cuban Revolution.”
Cuba has assisted Venezuela’s revolutionary health and education “social missions”, which have provided the poor with free health care and helped eliminate illiteracy. Similarly, Hart explained, “As a young revolution, Venezuela helps Cuba very much”. Hart said that for Cuba, the economic benefits of ALBA — the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, an initiative by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez to develop an alternative to the US-backed, neoliberal Free Trade Area of the Americas — “are extraordinary”.
ALBA, which incorporates Cuba, Venezuela and, since late April, Bolivia, emphasises mutual assistance, people-centred and environmentally sustainable development, and economic integration.
“For me, the case of Venezuela is the happiest moment of this time. It is a new life for Cuba”, Hart told GLW. She continued: “We are in a period of reflex reactions against neoliberalism. What has happened regarding neoliberalism is a history of action and reaction. At the moment, the political climate has moved to the left. All the people in Latin America are talking about socialism, communism and workers’ control.”
“The most advanced revolutionary countries, for sure, are Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. In the case of Bolivia, they are trying to confront a group of millionaires against all odds, and they are condemned for trying to implement the ideas of socialism.” Venezuela and Bolivia “are certainly not yet communist”, she added.
Hart said that “the ideas of socialism include all the struggles for health, education and against poverty. Socialism globalises all these struggles. As we say, the fight for national liberation, sovereignty, dignity must pass through to the fight for socialist revolution. Venezuela and Bolivia are the most progressive in the southern cone.”
However she warned that they must “fully carry through the revolution very rapidly, because this conjuncture can be lost. Capitalism has many mechanisms to reform itself, to make adjustments. After all, it has centuries of experience.
“We must take full advantage of this moment. The US is a little incapacitated because of its defeat in Iraq. This is a moment for the real left to triumph and make the revolution.
“We must capitalise on all these forces. We are living in a historic moment, unique almost, similar to the beginning of the 20th century with the revolution in Soviet Russia.”
Discussing the developments in other parts of Latin America, Hart said: “Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are in an interesting situation. They have moved very far away from the previous periods of military dictatorship. The people of these countries fought against the armed forces.
“[President Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva] in Brazil, [President Nestor Kirchner] in Argentina, [President Michelle Bachelet] in Chile — I think that they have achieved or are achieving good things, important for Latin America. But I may have some differences with other comrades here [at the conference (members of the Brazilian Workers Party and the socialist parties of Argentina and Chile also attended the seminar)].
“These countries are not in the same place as the other three nations I mentioned — Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia — in the eyes of North American imperialism. We must take careful note of the dangers that are very real before us.
“Venezuela has crossed the line. On the other hand, the developments in Brazil can be exaggerated, for example. We feel there are important differences with the Workers Party. Whereas the Socialist Party of Ecuador is in a good position. The revolution is radicalising more every day, and people increasingly understand that the only way to defend yourself is to take more radical positions.
“The people of Latin America involved in the mass movements are marvellous; they are advancing. It is my dream that all of Latin America will one day be socialist”, Hart told GLW.
New Zeal Celia Hart is the daughter of long time Cuban Minister of Culture, Armando Hart. Both her parents were early supporters of Fidel Castro. Celia Hart has Trotskyite sympathies.