Cuban Anarchism : The History of A Movement

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(1934 - ) ~ Cuban Exile, Anarchist, Revolutionary
Frank Fernández (born 1934) is a Cuban anarchist author. He is an exiled member of the Movimiento Libertario Cubano and was the editor of its periodical Guángara Libertaria. He is the author of Cuban Anarchism: The History of A Movement (originally written in Spanish), translated into English by anarchist writer and publisher Chaz Bufe and La sangre de Santa Águeda: Angiolillo, Betances y Cánovas (The Blood of Saint Agueda) on the assassination of the 19th century Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo. He is a political activist in his spare time and works full-time as a mechanical engineer. (From :


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Introduction This is not a conventional history. Rather, it’s a tribute, an homage to the thousands of Cuban anarchists who worked over the course of more than a century to build a freer, juster world, and who, but for this book, would remain almost entirely forgotten. That would be a tragedy, as virtually all of them were idealistic, admirable human beings, and many were truly heroic. All are more deserving of historical remembrance than such power-hungry dictators as Gerardo Machado, Fulgencio Batista, and Fidel Castro. The author of this work, Frank Fernández, has been a member of the Movimiento Libertario Cubano en Exilio (MLCE) for decades, and was the editor of its long-running periodical, Guángara Libertaria, for which he wrote easily half a million, and perhaps a million, words on Cuban history and politics. He is also the author of the book, La sangre de Santa Águeda, which deals with a pivotal event in Spanish and C... (From :

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Appendix Appendix A: Acronyms AIT Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores ALC Asociación Libertaria de Cuba ARS Alianza Revolucionaria Socialista BIL Boletín de Información Libertaria CDR Comités en Defensa de la Revolución CGT Confederación General de Trabajadores CNOC Confederación Nacional Obrera de Cuba CNT Confederación Nacional del Trabajo CO Comisiones Obreras CONI Comité Obrero Nacional Independiente CTC Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba CTCR Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba Revolucionaria DDG Documento de Gaona FAI... (From :

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Chapter 1: Colonialism and Separatism (1865–1898) Nineteenth-century Cuban society possessed a set of characteristics unique in the western hemisphere. From the beginning of the century, exploitation of Cuba’s economic wealth had been the work of the white ruling class, who bore titles of Spanish nobility. This creole aristocracy had enough power and resources to influence Spanish policy during the colonial epoch. While the rest of Latin America was violently freeing itself of Spanish colonialism, Cuba’s creole plutocracy considered itself more Spanish than Fernando VII, the king of Spain, and very deliberately opposed any type of reformism, no matter how modest. The cultivation of sugar cane, tobacco, and coffee was the basis of Cuba’s agricultural abundance, and in order to compete in international markets Cuba’s elite needed cheap labor. So, in open collusion with the Spanish crown and the colonial authorities, Cuba&rsq... (From :

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Chapter 2: Intervention and the Republic (1899–1933) After the cessation of hostilities with Spain, the United States found itself as the undisputed dominant power in the Americas. Having concluded its expansion to the Pacific at the beginning of the 1890s, the eyes of the eagle, with its political and economic ambitions, turned to the Caribbean. Cuba represented, from the days of Columbus, the strategic keystone of the region, not only in North-South communications, but also as the doorway to the planned Panama Canal. The idea of possessing Cuba, be it through violent takeover or through purchase from Spain, had been contemplated for decades by the rulers on the Potomac. So, it wasn’t strange that any excuse would do as justification for intervening in Cuba, and the inept Spanish government conveniently provided one. There was, however, sympathy for Cuban independence among the American people. The segment of public opinion that opposed an... (From :

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Chapter 3: Constitution and Revolution (1934–1958) Despite the triumph represented by Machado’s overthrow, the situation after his fall was unfavorable to Cuba’s anarchists. Their most dedicated leaders and activists had been victims of governmental murder or had been deported. As a result, when there was a coup d’etat on September 4, 1933 against the provisional government backed by the U.S. embassy, the anarchists were surprised and unprepared — in what could be called a “preorganized” state. The new “authentic” revolutionary government, as it called itself, was leftist with nationalist overtones. Its principal figures were Ramón Grau San Martín and Antonio Guiteras. It was tied to the military men who had carried out the coup — privates, corporals and sergeants from humble backgrounds, and with all manner of social ideas — whose leading figure was Fulgencio Batista. This... (From :

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Chapter 4: Castroism and Confrontation (1959–1961) Cuba’s anarchists had actively participated in the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. Some had fought as guerrillas in the eastern mountains and in those of Escambray in the center of the island; others had taken part in the urban struggle. Their purposes were the same as those of the majority of the Cuban people: to oust the military dictatorship and to end political corruption. In addition to considering these ends desirable in and of themselves, the anarchists believed they would provide a wider space in which to work in the ideological, social, and labor fields. No one expected a radical change in the socioeconomic structure of the country. The previously mentioned 1956 pamphlet, Proyecciones Libertarias, which attacked Batista, also characterized Castro as someone who merited “no confidence whatsoever,” because “he [didn’t] respect promises and only foug... (From :

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Chapter 5: Exile and Shadows (1961–2001) Even though some anarchists — whether or not involved in the violent opposition — had gone into exile as early as mid 1960, it wasn’t until the summer of 1961 that a collective exodus began to the U.S. This wasn’t the first time that Cuba’s anarchists had found refuge in that country. Since the late 19th century, Key West, Tampa, and New York had been the places chosen by persecuted Cuban libertarians, because they offered the best opportunities of earning a living, and because the Florida cities were near enough to Cuba to continue the political struggle. During the Machado and Batista dictatorships, exiled anarchists had gone to these cities; and the Cuban anarchists had contacts with anarchist groups in other U.S. cities. The U.S. immigration laws had stiffened against anarchists in the 1920s, and these laws were still in force in the early 1960s — as many... (From :

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Chapter 6: Reality and Reflection The now obvious socioeconomic failure of the Cuban revolution could not have been appreciated before the mid 1970s. During the 1960s, Cuba had sufficient monetary reserves to hide this failure: international credits, cash on hand, foreign currency, and exportable agricultural production (primarily sugar and tobacco). These economic riches, inherited from the now-defunct capitalist system, maintained the Castro regime during the first “socialist” decade, the start of which had been officially announced in 1961. The projects and policies instituted in these first years of economic adventurism, “revolutionary” inefficiency, and failed social attempts were all based in “scientific socialism,” political, social, and economic centralism, and state control of all of the island’s economic activities, including all but the smallest agricultural, industrial, service, and distribution bus... (From :


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