The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 69/No. 9           March 7, 2005  
In Cuba, president of Pathfinder Press
addresses meetings of revolutionary combatants
(front page)
CIENFUEGOS, Cuba—“Over the past years we received some of your publications, so we know about your work and are very happy to have you here today,” said Flores Quintero, vice-president of the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution in the province of Cienfuegos.

Quintero was welcoming Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press, to a meeting held February 18 in this city in central Cuba. Waters had been invited to speak about several Pathfinder books through which men and women who have led the Cuban Revolution present their experiences.

“For us, Pathfinder’s work is very important,” he said, addressing some 60 people. “We appreciate the way you tell the truth about our revolution.”

This event, and a similar meeting held the previous day in the city of Matanzas, 50 miles east of Havana, were organized at the initiative of the national leadership of the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution (ACRC).

The Association, with more than 300,000 members nationwide, is made up of Cubans spanning several generations who have taken part in revolutionary struggles and internationalist missions. These include the revolutionary war in the 1950s that brought down the Batista dictatorship, the fight against the U.S.-organized counterrevolutionary attacks that followed, the mobilization of volunteer combatants to aid national liberation struggles in Angola and other countries of Africa and Latin America from the 1960s to the ’80s, and the teachers and medical personnel working in Venezuela, Haiti, and other countries today.

Waters and an international team of Pathfinder supporters—most of them workers in industries such as meatpacking and garment who had organized to take time off from their jobs and solicited donations from fellow workers to be able to make the trip to Cuba—had taken part in the annual Havana International Book Fair, held February 3-13. Pathfinder had a booth there with a wide array of literature.

As part of the fair program, Waters spoke at a meeting that presented Pathfinder’s recently released title Somos los herederos de las revoluciones del mundo, the Spanish-language translation of We Are Heirs of the World’s Revolutions, a collection of five speeches by Thomas Sankara, the central leader of the 1983-87 popular revolutionary government in the West African country of Burkina Faso. An ACRC leadership delegation headed by Brig. Gen. Gustavo Chui Beltrán attended the presentation (see article in February 28 Militant).

On February 17 Waters along with Pathfinder supporters from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States spent a day in Matanzas hosted by the Combatants Association there. The organization’s center was bustling with activity, from a continuing education class for senior adults, to restoration work being carried out by a number of volunteer artists and craftsmen, to a national women’s chess tournament, including several young women who are grand masters.

The guests were given a tour of the city, including a visit to the international book fair, which after Havana is making its way through 34 other cities over a three-week period. The fair took over the center of Matanzas for the week, with some of the city’s main thoroughfares closed to vehicles; throngs of people, from schoolchildren to retirees, crowded the bookstalls and food stands. The visitors were accompanied by Nelson González, president of the association in the city of Matanzas, and Roberto Valdés, president of the organization on the provincial level, both colonels in Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces no longer on active duty.

The next day the visitors traveled to Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s southern coast, where they were hosted by Brig. Gen. Marcelo Verdecia and Lt. Col. Flores Quintero, president and vice president of the provincial ACRC, respectively. They were treated to a tour of the city and lunch at a farm, run by the Combatants Association, that supplies food for local association members.

The meeting in Cienfuegos was held at the city museum. With large blow-ups of several Pathfinder book covers in the background, the speakers included Waters, Quintero, and Iraida Aguirrechu, a senior editor at Editora Política, the publishing house of the Cuban Communist Party. Verdecia joined them on the speakers platform.

Aguirrechu, who as a student participated in the struggle against the Batista dictatorship and is a member of the Combatants Association in Havana, introduced Waters as the president of Pathfinder Press and a leader of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party. She described some of the Pathfinder titles being featured at the event, from Pombo, A Man of Che’s ‘Guerrilla,’ by Harry Villegas; to Making History: Interviews with Four Generals of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces; Marianas in Combat by Teté Puebla; From the Escambray to the Congo by Víctor Dreke; and Aldabonazo by Armando Hart.

Aguirrechu also noted the importance of the work by Pathfinder supporters with the five Cubans serving long sentences in U.S. federal prisons on frame-up espionage charges.  
Years of collaboration with Combatants
Waters explained the collaboration from the leadership of the Combatants over the past 12 years that made these books possible, beginning with a new English-language edition of The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto Che Guevara, for which Brig. Gen. Harry Villegas (known by his nom de guerre, Pombo) and others provided crucial assistance.

Over this period, she reported, “the total cumulative sales of these books, in both English and Spanish, now exceeds 50,000 copies! It’s a clear registration of the thirst for the truth about the Cuban Revolution among those who refuse to accept that there is something ‘natural’ and unchangeable about the dog-eat-dog world we confront.”

Waters pointed out, “For us, these books are not just about our shared history, however important that is.” These titles are published “because working people in the United States and elsewhere outside of Cuba need them as we prepare for the class battles ahead” (see text of talk by Waters in this issue).  
Surprised about such a publisher in U.S.
Quintero began by saying he had previously seen some of these Pathfinder books, which the national leadership of the Combatants Association has sent to the provincial associations across the island. Picking up on a comment by Waters that many in Cuba are surprised when they find out that a publishing house in the United States has edited and published such books, he said that was his reaction, too. He also referred to an article he had seen in Perspectiva Mundial about the Sept. 5, 1957, uprising in Cienfuegos during the revolutionary war.

“We’ve been receiving issues of the magazine, so we know about your work. You are playing an important role inside the United States, where information is manipulated by the media,” he said.

During the lively discussion period several combatants took the floor. Rafael Pérez asked how Pathfinder was able to produce books such as these inside the United States. Elvia Pérez, a retired captain in the Interior Ministry who had taken part in the revolutionary underground in the 1950s and was later a founding member of Cuba’s revolutionary militias, asked whether communists in the United States faced persecution.

Waters spoke about the role of some 200 supporters of the communist movement around the world and how they organize their work using the internet to produce the arsenal of revolutionary books and pamphlets—a description that drew keen attention and smiles from many in the audience. She explained how communists use the political space that exists to reach out to working people in struggle and revolutionary-minded youth with these political weapons.

In reply to a question from another combatant, Luis Marino Torres, about support for the five Cuban revolutionaries locked up in U.S. prisons today, Waters noted that the five receive Pathfinder books in both English and Spanish that they use as part of the political work they do among fellow prisoners.

At the end of the discussion period, General Verdecia declared, “Now, let’s buy some books!”

Audience members quickly crowded around the literature tables, purchasing some 60 books and pamphlets. These included a dozen titles that the Combatants bought for future use with the groups of students they had invited to the meeting but who had been unable to attend because of exams scheduled for that day.

Dalia Tejada, who had joined the revolutionary struggle as a student after the Batista dictatorship’s brutal crushing of the 1957 uprising in Cienfuegos, said these books would be useful for her ongoing political work among the new generations. “Our job is to explain to them what capitalism is. We bring the living history that we have been part of.”

The day before, Waters spoke at a similar meeting in Matanzas at the House of the Combatants. Nearly 40 people attended, and audience members snapped up some 30 books and pamphlets. In addition to those on the Cuban Revolution, some also purchased copies of Capitalism’s World Disorder and Cuba and the Coming American Revolution, by Jack Barnes, as well as issues of Nueva Internacional magazine containing “U.S. Imperialism Has Lost the Cold War” and “Our Politics Start with the World.”
Related articles:
‘Books to prepare us for class battles ahead’
Pathfinder Press president speaks to Association of Combatants of Cuban Revolution  
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