(The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge—who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group’s newsletter).
January 27, 2014
“Welcome to 2014. The New Year bells had barely stopped ringing before last year’s nightmares were back on centre stage. Al-Qaida escalates its attacks on Iraq and Syria, its presence a direct consequence of Washington’s illegal bloody wars, and every day some new catastrophe from the repugnant Abbott crew and their horrible state counterparts, the worst governments since federation, secretive, severely stupid and utterly corrupt. Handing out largesse to their rich mates while making cruel cuts to the most vulnerable, with Labor barely raising a squeak.
“Capitalism with bells on, brutal and unforgiving. Materialism in full flower, a system that eats us from within leaving a trail of debts, mental illness and smashed relationships. A widespread social affliction visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civil life, and our acquiescence in this system. Worldly ambition, material aspiration and perpetual growth are a formula for mass unhappiness.
“The head of the pack, the US of A. US imperialism really took off at the end of WW2. Europe was broken and Britain was broke, incapable of defending its extensive international interests. The US was the strongest nation left standing and moved in. And set about destroying its mortal enemy - once our gallant ally - the former Soviet Union, and anyone to the left of Ghengis Khan. Anticommunism socialism became the only game in town. Fundamental rights were qualified and the American Republic was replaced by the National Security State. Washington created a variety of institutions to ensure its dominance and for poorer nations to keep supplying US corporations with cheap labour, raw materials and markets.
“The Eisenhower Administration toppled democratic Iran and Guatemala, setting the stage for authoritarianism and instability, Kennedy oversaw the Bay of Pigs when Cuba was supposed to fall over but didn’t, a fiasco followed by the 1962 Missile Crisis when we all expected to be blown to kingdom-come. The hubris and lunacy continued with Johnson and Nixon’s Vietnam War, followed by Carter and Reagan’s catastrophic regime change in Afghanistan, when the CIA spent billions of dollars arming and equipping the mujahideen (forerunner to al-Qaida), while Pakistan funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars to anti-Western Afghan factions, which in turn trained militants who later exported jihad around the world, including in Iraq, Libya and Syria.
“Washington’s war economy rolled on and nothing changed to counter the endless cycle of violence. Over the decades, Washington has directly or indirectly killed untold millions of Iraqis, Central Americans, South Americans, Africans, Muslims, Arabs and Asians in many different ways. In Iraq, the US onslaught destroyed not just the people and its infrastructure but the very fibre of the nation.
“Accounting for half the world’s military expenditure, the US maintains Cold War-level ‘defence’ (imperialist) budgets to sustain an historically huge killing machine which operates from more than 1000 bases in more than 100 ‘sovereign’ nations despite 46 million Americans (mainly black and Latino) living below the poverty line.
“There are many fine Americans. One was Martin Luther King, assassinated almost 46 years ago as he stood on a balcony of a Memphis motel, with credible theories of a conspiracy involving US Army intelligence. We were never told about King’s real beliefs, but were given a whitewashed image of a moderate reformer who only wanted a few civil rights adjustments, when the ‘reformer’ was actually a Marxist and an opponent of the profit system who, shortly before he was assassinated wrote: ‘the real issue to be faced is the radical reconstruction of society…the Black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated laws - racism, poverty, militarism and materialism. It exposes evils that are deeply rooted in the whole structure of our society’.
“King was a marked man after his famous denunciation of America’s war in Vietnam, exactly a year before his murder. In his latter years, King was haunted by a sense of failure. Nelson Mandela was also a serious combatant against white South Africa, but the fable-makers prefer to portray a gentle, smiling fellow who wished no-one any harm.
“January 1 marked the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and some are concerned at the impact some of the economic changes might be having. A new Labor Code became law after after discussions with three million workers, and some 400,000 Cubans are now self-employed without loss of social services, along with the establishment of more than 250 new co-operatives. But the latest statistics are brilliant. Cuba’s infant mortality rate is at a new low: 4.2 babies died during 2013 for every 1000 births. Maternal mortality has also fallen and life expectancy has climbed to 77.9 years, matching that of industrialised nations. There is one physician for every 197 persons, one of the world’s best rates, and Cuba also continues its vital role in international solidarity, with 40,000 Cuban doctors and 2,000 teachers serving abroad in 70 countries. Almost 2 million students from pre-school to university level will be enrolled this year.
“Celebrating the Revolution in Santiago de Cuba, Raul Castro said: ‘…never will we be able to forget that this is the socialist Revolution of the humble by the humble and for the humble. This is the essential premise and effective antidote for not falling for the siren songs of the enemy.’ Cuba’s achievements demonstrate that big, utopian ideas can become reality. They give us hope. Viva!