An Interview with Celia Hart
Celia Hart argues that Latin America is showing the way in the struggle to chart the correct path to a future socialist society. Rebellion must be in Celia Hart’s blood. She is the daughter of two historic leaders of the Cuban revolution, Armando Hart and Haydee Santamaria, but describes herself as a “freelance Trotskyist.”
Born a few months after the Cuban missile crisis, she trained as a physicist at Havana University and then Dresden in the German Democratic Republic. In 1985, she returned home on holiday and told her father how depressed she had become at the level of bureaucracy and “suffocating of all initiative” that she had experienced in that country, in direct contradiction to its socialist principles.
Armando responded by taking out four books from a cupboard and handing them to her. They were the three-volume life of Trotsky by Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed, The Prophet Unarmed and The Prophet Outcast; and a copy of Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed.
A prolific writer, she has remained virtually unpublished until now. But times are changing and she is among a new generation of authors to be published with the approval of the Cuban government, as discussed by Ron Ridenour in his series of articles recently printed in the Morning Star.
A collection of her articles has just been published in English, entitled It’s Never Too Late To Love Or Rebel. Her focus is on the spread of Cuba’s socialist revolution throughout the region. “My revolution feeds from and grows stronger with the ideological, economic and ethical weapons derived from a booming awakening of the Latin American left, bent on retaking the word ‘socialism’ as its banner,” she reveals, speaking after a day school in London.
She is particularly excited about the new socialist trade deal between Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, known as ALBA. “The ALBA represents a space for economic co-operation where any differences between peoples must be taken into account,” she explains. “It’s an exchange based on the human being, in which commercial relations are designed with society’s interests in mind.”
Celia is enormously encouraged by Cuba’s role in this new economy, as the Caribbean island “was isolated following the fall of the Berlin Wall and had to take measures to survive that, to some extent, contradicted its revolutionary ideals.
“The processes in Venezuela and Bolivia benefit from the Cuban example and vice versa. Both elements can make the whole continent change.
“It’s a good thing for Cuba that these are political relations and not just cold economic ties.”
Describing the close relationship that Cuba has with Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, she points out that there are 20,000 Cuban health workers living in Venezuela as part of the social program. Into the Neighbor-hood and many others involved in numerous educational projects. Programs like these “set a socialist precedent in the region,” she maintains.
“Literacy is more than just a conquered right. Those millions of humans ‘rescued’ from the dark become social actors. They read, think and learn about their interests, which are, of course, those of socialism. Bolivia is an extremely important case that adds new colors to this spectrum. May Day was symbolic this year. Evo Morales nationalized the hydrocarbons and, at the same time, opened a medical center provided by Cuba.”
Revolutionary heritage is important for Celia and she sees the 1917 revolution as a living, breathing reality.
“I like to say as a joke that Lenin and Trotsky came together in a very small and desolate Caribbean island. Lenin still lives in Cuba, although he’s [Fidel Castro] about to celebrate his 80th birthday.”
On the subject of Castro’s death, she is more serious.
“A loving child is unable to predict her mother’s death, hence no child ever wonders how it will be if it happens because they believe that she will never die. “But, when she dies, you bury her and go on with your life in pain.
“What we are, our institutions and organizations, owe their dynamics to a Fidel Castro, who lives and operates on them dialectically. “So, once the element of Fidel Castro is out of this equation, everything must change if we want to preserve what we have had.”
As to who will replace him, she is certain of only one thing. “A revolution has no heirs. Inheritance is an aristocratic term that I hate to use when it comes to Fidel, for he has no heirs other than his children, who may inherit a worn green beret or a pair of socks. “Our revolutionary continuity must find its own way. No one in Cuba, no institution—no matter how good it seems to be—can replace Fidel. Not because one is better or worse than the other, but for being different.
“The principles will remain—socialist revolution, internationalism and revolutionary struggle to the finish. Those are Fidel Castro’s heirs, the only ones worthy of ‘inheriting’ something from him. Those of us who have his teachings in our blood and our minds will never let anything or anybody usurp his moral power and be crowned ‘Fidel.’ The revolution in Latin America is maybe the only one worthy of being crowned heir of one of the 20th century’s greatest Communists.”
Turning to Che Guevara, Celia brings up his previously unpublished book Critical Notes on the Soviet Manual of Political Economics, which was launched at the Havana Book Fair in February. In the book, Che levels fierce criticism at the instruments that the post-Stalin Soviet Union used to develop socialism. Celia explains: “He was sure that the socialist societies of the 1960s were unavoidably returning to capitalism. A real bible from a revolutionary standpoint, Che’s book is filled with anguish, doubt and reasoning. He called it his ‘rash attempt’ and his ‘grain of sand.’
“He resorted to his revolutionary expertise to comprehend that it was impossible to use capitalism to build a socialist society. As a good friend of mine says, ‘the thesis can’t be solved with the antithesis.’”
Celia points out that, for the first time in many years, the balance of forces in Latin America now favors the left. She believes that this has the potential to change the world.
“If revolutionaries manage to capitalize on this process to our advantage, a new era of socialist revolutions will begin worldwide. But history won’t wait for us and we in the organized left-wing ranks must grasp the rich and splendid process now open to us,” she urges.
—Morning Star, October 17, 2006