|75th Anniversary of the MILITANT|
BY LUIS MIRANDA
First, I want to congratulate all the comrades, those here, of course, but most of all those who arent herethe ones who launched the Militant, who made it possible for this revolutionary paper to publish for 75 years. The beginnings could not have been easy. The relevo [relief], as we say in Cuba, is guaranteed another 75 years.
I first came into contact with the paper in the 1950s. When we founded Casa Cuba in 1957 I had heard about the Militant from some comrades who belonged to the Julio Antonio Mella Club,2 which was founded in the 1930s by collaborators of Mellathey were meeting at 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattanand to the Spanish Workers Club.3 At that time, the campaign led by Fidel was beginning in the Sierra.4 These comrades offered their cooperation with Cuba. We didnt have a place to meet, but finally got one at 93rd and Columbus in an abandoned synagogue.
These experienced comrades told us that our library had to have the Militant. A lot of us younger comrades didnt know much about it, but many of these comrades had several back issues of the paper. Thats how it began in Casa Cuba. We started with a collection of Militants, which was like having a study program. Remember, there was no TV in those days! It gave us very pleasant and educational readingreading that we hadnt had before.
Many comrades learned and educated ourselves a lot by reading the Militant, and we continued in this way throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Our confidence in the newspaper increased in the first years of the revolution. At that time, we have to say, some progressive groups in New York and there werent many at the time even said in their papers that no socialist revolution could happen in Cuba because it was impossible for a socialist revolution to take place in an underdeveloped country. This created a lot of confusion among us. Thats why it is significant to discuss the Militant.
In 1961, 1962, and 1963 the Militant published a number of articles about the Cuban Revolution, and it helped get rid of a mirage. We Cubans have a saying: We have a lot of Andalusian blood! because we always tend to make ourselves out to be important! But we realized that the Cuban Revolution was being analyzed in the Militant by American comrades who had traveled to Cuba, and they were writing articles explaining the firmness of the revolution, explaining its historic place in the world, not just in Latin America, and explaining its socialist trajectory. This was very significant to us. Some organizations were proven wrong and had to later reverse themselves on their positions on Cuba. This may seem like a small thing to you, but it was very important to us.
I want to say something about the past and the present. Many of you may know of Rafael Cancel Miranda,5 the Puerto Rican comrade who was in prison. I wanted to mention something about discussions that I had with him. Let me first explain that for 12 years Casa de las Américas had a committee that organized support for the five imprisoned Puerto Rican comrades, including the one involved in the attack on Blair House.
Cancel would always ask for literature and say: Why dont you send me the Militant? We would send them a small bundle, but sometimes we would send several at the same time. So they said, Were grateful, but its better if you can send the bundles regularlybecause we have a regular one-hour study group for all the prisoners here.
We now have five of our comrades in prison who are accused of terrorismright here in this terrorist state. I was just talking to one of them the other day, and he was asking for literature in English. He said, Miranda, please dont forget the Militant! I think its interesting to note that were talking about a 20-year stretch here between one [Cancel Miranda] and the other [the Cuban Five].6
And that is what we see with the Militantcomrades who still follow the same course. And we have no doubt that in the future you will continue along these same lines. We look forward to another 75 years!
1Casa Cuba became Casa de las Américas in 1962.
2Julio Antonio Mella (1903-29) was a Cuban student leader and became a founder of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1925. He was assassinated by agents of the Cuban dictatorship of Gerardo Machado while in exile in Mexico in 1929. The Julio Antonio Mella Club was founded by Cuban revolutionaries in Harlem in 1931. It was led by a close associate of Mella. In 1928 Mella himself, while in Mexico, had founded the Association of Revolutionary New Cuban Emigrants (ANERC), with chapters in Mexico City and New York City.
3The Spanish Workers Club was active in the 1930s and 40s in New York. It included Spanish Republican émigrés.
4Fidel Castro, Cubas president, led the July 26 Movement and Rebel Army, which waged a successful revolutionary war in the 1950s to overthrow the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, starting in the Sierra Maestra mountains of eastern Cuba. The revolution triumphed on Jan. 1, 1959.
5Rafael Cancel Miranda is a longtime leader of the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. He was one of five Nationalists who spent more than a quarter of a century in U.S. prisons for conducting armed protests in Washington, D.C., against U.S. colonial rule of their country. Between 1954 and 1979 Cancel Miranda was locked up at various federal prisons in the United States. While in prison he read the Militant and on a few occasions contributed articles and letters to the paper. Cancel Miranda and other Nationalist heroes were freed in 1979 as a result of a years-long international defense campaign.
6The Cuban FiveGerardo Hernández, Fernando González, René González, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramón Labańinoare Cuban revolutionaries serving draconian sentences in U.S. prisons ranging from 15 years to a double life term after their conviction by a federal court in Miami in June 2001 on frame-up charges brought by the U.S. government, which included conspiracy to commit espionage and, in one case, conspiracy to commit murder. The five men had been in Florida on an internationalist mission to gather information on Cuban counterrevolutionary groups with a long record of violent acts against Cuba carried out from U.S. soil with Washingtons knowledge and complicity.
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