by Gary, New Jersey
(from Communist Voice #17, April 20, 1998)
. In January 1998, Pope John Paul II was warmly greeted in Cuba by Fidel Castro and the Cuban government. The Pope was invited to Cuba by Castro to help break down the U.S. blockade that has been in effect for decades. The Pope had expressed opposition to the blockade, as have many European leaders who have been investing in Cuba. It was a big play by Castro, kissing the Pope's feet and trying desperately to put a socialist spin on it. But like the oppressive, state-capitalist system whose implementation Castro has overseen, all the socialist proclamations cannot prettify this spectacle.
. As the leader of a capitalist state, it would not be so unusual to play one set of imperialists off another to gain some advantage, and had Castro come right out and said they are dealing with the devil to fight the blockade, you could cut him some slack. But Castro denies this is what he's doing; instead the invitation has only to do with their similar views on world events! (His welcoming speech on 1/21/98.) And the Pope's exceptional character! (Castro's 1/16/98 speech in Havana) This is the "character" who embodies the continuation of oppression of women, the obscurantism of medieval religion and superstition, the whitewashing of murderous regimes around the world who use the Church to suppress the revolt of the masses, the condemnation of birth control contributing to the forced impoverishment of the masses, and the glorification of the imperialist plunder of the world. This "character" has never supported the struggle of the masses. But according to Castro, he shares the Pope's views. Well, he finally admits it.
. It wasn't enough to invite the Pope -- Castro went ahead and glorified this icon of reaction. He referred to him as Holy Father, a despicable term of groveling before religious superstition."...we feel the same way that you do about many important issues of today's world and we are pleased it is so..." (1/21) He even credited the Pope with being in support of world revolution:"Another country will not be found better disposed to understand your felicitous idea -- as we understand it and so similar to what we preach -- that the equitable distribution of wealth and solidarity among men and peoples should be globalized." (1/21)
. Castro lied to the world so that he could explain away giving a platform to this reactionary. He gave the Pope another platform to manipulate the truth about his church and its historic role as supporter of the most violent, oppressive regimes in Latin America and the rest of the world. Another platform to preach platitudes to the most oppressed populations to keep them passive and powerless. And Castro embraced him and called him "one of the greatest headaches of imperialism today." (1/16) To the masses of the world who wrongly believe that Cuba represents some socialist hope, this is an endorsement for the Pope to escalate his criminal propaganda.
. We know that Castro is a master of convincing people that the most regressive, backward ideas (like his state-capitalist system) can be contorted to appear progressive. Many activists on the left have fallen for his distortions over the last 30 years. So it is little wonder that he was able to transform the Pope from being the leader of the modern Dark Ages into the leading preacher against the social evils of imperialism.
. Castro even excuses John Paul II for being the spearhead of Western imperialist propaganda against the revisionist, state-capitalist regime in Poland, the Pope's homeland. He says in one of his speeches with him that this is a "fabrication" because he doubted "there really existed subjective and objective conditions to build socialism in Poland." (1/16/98 in Havana) Well, it is true there was never socialism in Poland, but to let the spokesman for world reaction off the hook for his role in re-establishing the free market capitalism of Poland and the domination of the Church there is to serve that system. And Castro isn't making this statement as a principled anti-revisionist. He is an unprincipled leader of a state-capitalist, oppressive system which mutilates theory for his own ends like any good capitalist politician.
. The Cuban government has chosen to use religion like any other oppressing capitalist
government. The struggle of the Cuban people has always included throwing off organized
religion and its social and political role in maintaining the power of the ruling class. Castro's
support of the Pope should underline that for the Cuban people and their struggle against their
Last changed on October 17, 2001.