Cuban Ambassador to Ireland speaks on imperialism and the 60th anniversary of the revolution
At the end of January, Workers’ Party TCD welcomed Cuban Ambassador, Hugo René Ramos Milanés, to Trinity College Dublin.
The recent 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, which toppled the US-backed fascist Batista, was a recurring theme in the ambassador’s address to the socialist student group.
The ambassador demonstrated a wide knowledge not only of Cuban history, but of socialist and international politics. The dominant theme of the evening was the intimate relationship between socialism and anti-imperialism. Unsurprisingly, there was not only mention of Cuba’s legacy of rebelling invasion from the US Empire but of the struggle of China, Korea, & Vietnam to liberate themselves.
Ambassador Ramos Milanés spoke of the unfortunate, recent loss of the US-Cuban Detente in 2015. However he noted that “for the Obama administration, the destruction of socialist society in Cuba was never off the table”.
The ambassador listed the revolutionary achievements of the communist island, speaking of public housing, free university education and high matriculation rates, the world-renowned healthcare system, reforestation and the protection of the environment, and the prominence of women in politics. Ambassador Milanés asserted that the Marxist revolution ended problems like homelessness, illiteracy, and a lack of access to healthcare, all social and economic ills plaguing Irish society today. He added that Cuba has invested in protecting other Latin American nations fom these ills.
Milanés spoke at length about Cuba’s international relations and its legacy of diplomacy and aid to poorer nations. “We have good relations with African nations, of course, Angola, as well as, Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and many others”.
Milanés welcomed questions, which included the matter of same-sex marriage in the constitution, whether education was truly free and accessible for all, the potential for normalising relations with the US, and recent attempts to oust the elected government in Venezuela. The ambassador spent a considerable part of the Q&A addressing the final question.
The Pink Tide and Bolivarian Revolution, that followed the downfall of several fascist and neoliberal dictatorships in South America, saw a wave of social democratic governments come into power. “In the last 20 years” say Milanés “progressive forces in Latin America were able get into power. In Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and Honduras different progressive forces of different sides; not Marxist, not all socialist, were able to take control. Afterwards, the national oligarchy and, in particular, the US administration reorganised and launched a very strong offensive against these countries to topple their governments. Honduras was the first.”
Milanés condemned the resolution by the European Union to endorse Juan Guaido, the opposition leader currently attempting a coup in Venezuela. “Remember the coup d’etat against in 2002? The coup against Chavez in 2009? This is not new, it is a continuation of that attack. The offensive against progressive forces.”
Maduro, who won 67% of the vote with 31% voter turnout – more than his US and French counterparts – has been accused of not representing the people due to the relatively low turnout.
The ambassador rebuffed these claims saying “you cannot condemn Maduro because there was no participation of population. That is simply not true.”
Ambassador Milanés said that figures like Evo Morales in Bolivia have “been able to rule peacefully, he has been faced with, the entire time, with aggression, from the US government, from the Bolivian oligarchy, from right wing political forces.”
Milanés concluded by saying “Revolutions mean change and those in power are slow to accept this”.