Raul Castro, leader of ”Communist” Cuba as the capitalist media loves to portray the island, has done something very unorthodox. The most radical revolutionary of the two Castro brothers, has embraced the Catholic Church. Castro said that he is willing to go back to church. “I will resume praying and turn to the Church again if the Pope continues in this vein,” Castro the 83-year-old president of Cuba, told reporters. This is so ironic since it was the younger brother of Fidel, who was always very dogmatic in his atheist believes!
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the introduction of Marxism-Leninism as state dogma, religion was seen as a counterrevolutionary product ( likely because the communist party feared it as competition ). Although never banned, religion was isolated and many faithful prosecuted. In the 1990’s, Fidel Castro changed the nature of the Cuba state from atheism to secularism, a first sign of changes. By 2015 with a more progressive pope in the Vatican, Cuba’s Stalinist leader seems to be willing to bow down to God again, how ironic!
Revolutionary socialists never agreed with the prosecution of people purely because they are religious. Stalinist Cuba followed the Russian model which Stalin introduced in the 1930’s. Many churches were closed or destroyed in Russia as Stalin’s cult of personality replaced the cult of Jesus Christ. In Latin America, religious leaders have always been counter-revolutionary and supportive of conservative dictators. This is because the Catholic Church rejected socialism and stood with the ruling class against workers and peasants. Although some priests with a social heart could occasionally join up with the lower classes, most bishops and high ranking members of the Catholic Church would remain reactionary. Their opposition to socialism and atheism was the reason the revolutionary government of Cuba turned on religion. Still it does not justify the prosecution of innocent Cubans on the grounds that they worship God and Jesus Christ!
The Communist Party of Cuba remains an atheist party, so if Raul Castro becomes a Catholic again how will the party react? Will he be forced to follow the party line like so many Cubans? Or will the communist party do nothing since the old leader has a lot of personal power. Still it is a very interesting development. Under Raul Castro, Cuba is slowly moving towards a state-capitalist economy like China and Vietnam. With more market reforms to be expected, a new ruling class of Cubans will emerge. People who grow wealthy because they have the luxury to own businesses and means of production. China and Vietnam have moved a lot since they embraced the God of greed back in the 1980’s. Today millions of workers work very long hours in western owned factories. Producing most plastic products which are sold with huge profits on European markets. The owners of these factories are the ones getting rich!
Pope Francis is more progressive then Benedict XVI and therefore more popular with leftists. Although some of his actions are indeed more progressive, Pope Francis still controls a reactionary institution, that opposes gay rights and does not see females as equals. Since stalinism is a conservative ideology too, it is no surprise that catholicism and stalinism find each other. Fidel Castro also opposed homosexuality and same-sex unions are not recognized. The idea that an atheist would turn to faith is good propaganda for the Catholic Church. Raul Castro was always very dogmatic in his political believes, but since he became president of Cuba, he moved to the right. Although stunning that a Stalinist leader would embrace Christianity, this move by Raul Castro could be to find support among the religious population. Because as capitalism slowly returns, the Cuban government will need to boost its nationalist propaganda. Now that Marxist-Leninist dogma is dying it must be replaced by something. China and Vietnam replaced it with ethnic nationalism, Cuba may follow this path too!
A capitalist restoration will be a huge defeat for the working class international. It will boost the reactionary propaganda and their lies that socialism in Cuba failed and that even its leaders understand this. The point is that stalinism did failed. It failed because of its top-down management, bureaucratic centralism and dictatorial nature. Raul Castro can hide behind his revolutionary facade, but Cuban workers are not stupid. They know that their nation is not socialist and not free. But win out a workers party, these workers can be mislead into supporting bourgeois-democratic parties. If he turns back to Christianity, the reactionary Catholic Church will boost their propaganda that a ”communist” leader turned back to the cross!
The current leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba is not revolutionary socialist. Like most Stalinist parties they are politically conservative, desperate holding on to power. But the old guard is growing old and the fear of a popular uprising maybe the reasons for their turn towards market reforms. The ruling caste is willing to share economic power with a new bourgeoisie, this is typical for most Stalinist states. Supporters of Castro have denied the fact that capitalism is returning, but they can no longer turn a blind eye to the rising inequality. Cubans who own houses and old cars, are allowed to sell their property now. Sooner or later, this class will compete with the ruling caste for power. Workers must not allow this, they must brake free from reactionary forces like the Catholic Church and the conservatives of the communist party. A capitalist Cuba will be a propaganda victory for the supporters of capitalism and a huge defeat for all those who believe in socialism!