Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

11 de Mayo del 2000

INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONISTS PONDER LACK OF MEANING OF MAY 1 By José Orlando González Bridón, General Secretary of the Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba, for Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA.- On May 1 much of the world celebrated the international day of labor, an opportunity for the laborers and workers in general to publicly make demands on the "bosses" and governments that trample on their rights. In many nations the labor unions organized peaceful and vindicating demonstrations, parading in major cities and seeing and demanding social and labor improvements inspired by the "martyrs of Chicago in 1886." In some countries workers still confront repression, water cannons, tear gas, baton beatings, plastic bullets, persecution and in many cases imprisonment if they demand more freedom. Some may even meet death in the call for their rights. But many are there every May 1, making old and new demands.

Once the Cuban labor movement achieved great successes by means of self-denial and courage during the republican stage of their history. After the "triumph of the revolution" in 1959, the authentic trade union organizations and their traditions of vindicating struggle were betrayed. In their place came the treacherous and capitulating Cuban Workers Center (CTC), led today by a hardened communist who has had nothing to do with the struggle of labor for its rights.

He is a soldier disguised as a union man who obeys orders only from the despotic boss-Castro, owner of all Cuban-based production goods and services. And since he is the effective owner of the island, with its eleven-million-plus inhabitants, he alone rules, proposes and imposes his totalitarian policies on the entire nation by means of force and terror. So the official Cuban trade union has deviated from its original raison d'etre and become an atrocious and unconditional force for servility to one of the most recalcitrant and unpopular regimes known to history.

In Cuba the May 1st marches are military parades adorned with innocent children and adolescents who smile in front of the camera. Others read pro-Castro speeches, thus hoping to assure their material futures. The rest are soldiers and militias dressed in street clothes. Then there are the construction contingents that, in coordination with the members of the Department of State Security (DSS), traditionally oppress and beat up anyone who demonstrates against the regime or simply has ideas or opinions contrary to those the dictatorship imposes.

The students also parade, pressured in the great majority by the hope for a university career as do workers bribed with a little basket of toiletries, a wage bonus or threatened with the fear of losing their jobs or standing out as disagreeing with the "revolutionary activities."

This is how the "workers' day" parades go in Cuba. No demand is heard and no placards are seen asking for salary raises, the right to strike, the freedom to contract, or to criticize an employer or the high cost of living. Missing aare so many other slogans that the workers would be demanding in in democratic Cuba. Some foreign guests do not think of how these parades could be viewed from other latitudes. Some may think there is nothing to demand here or that we workers are in agreement with totalitarianism.

No!

Here in Cuba all the labor rights are violated. The worker is forced to obey and work by order of a regime that has created laws and mechanisms to impose its will. The May Day parades are demonstrations by the regime of its complete control and the obedience forced upon the Cuban people.

The workers here do not pay homage to the "martyrs of Chicago" but only to Castro, he who proposes to the workers that his system continue for another hundred years or so. This masterful regime does not permit any kind of opening for the improvement of the working class and only allows one to guess at when there may be some political development that would permit initiatives to provide an abundance that could benefit the working class.

But all Cubans now know private initiatives by Cubans will never be possible under this system. Such developments will never be permitted by a totalitarian, inefficient and decrepit system that has been imposed on the Cuban people more than 40 years. How long before a free working class may establish labor unions to care for and defend their interests rather than the interests of the owner as the official and traitorous CTC is doing?

Before 1959 the labor union leaders defended and organized the workers to make their demands vis-a-vis the owners. Today, in communist Cuba, the "leaders" have betrayed the working class to bow down to and serve a regime that oppresses the workers and silences them with terror and blackmail. Let us recognize that an indifferent and obedient attitude in the face of these evils makes us accomplices of our own exploitation.

Cuban workers, let us take off the red cloak that blinds us and let us defend with courage the rights which the nation once proudly allowed us. The secret of liberty lies in courage.

José Orlando González Bridón, General Secretary of the Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba


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