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   Vol. 68/No. 11           March 22, 2004  
Slavery in Cuba
I just wanted to ask about a factual statement that appeared in the Feb. 9, 2004, issue of the Militant.

In the article, “Radical reorganization and cutback of Cuba’s sugar industry” it states that “Almost 600,000 slaves were brought into Cuba between 1816 and 1867, more than were brought to the United States over the entire period of the slave trade.”

The lowest estimate I’ve seen of slaves brought to the United States is 600,000-900,000, which is based on a commonly used figure of “six percent” of the total number of Africans brought to the Western Hemisphere. But that is if there were 10-15 million slaves in the slave trade.

Recently for Black History Month, I read an article by John Belisle called, “Black Slavery and Capitalism” published in an Education for Socialists document on Studies in Afro-American History. There he writes, “It was at this juncture that the commercial nations of Western Europe turned to what became the central axis of their economic development for 200 years—taking the land stolen from the Indians and working it with labor stolen from Africa. With this came the most extensive slave trade in the history of the world.

“By conservative estimates 20,000,000 or, by more expansive estimates, 50,000,000 slaves were transported from Africa to the Western Hemisphere during this period. On this basis was laid the foundations of modern capitalism.”

But whatever the total, the vast majority of slaves did end up in Brazil and the countries of the Caribbean. And, as the article points out, Cuba and Brazil were the last two countries in the Americas to outlaw the use of slave labor.

Janet Post
Hazleton, Pennsylvania

[The source used in the article is Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution 1868-1898 by Ada Ferrer. It states on page two of the introduction, “More than 595,000 [slaves] arrived on the island’s shores in the last fifty years of the [slave] trade, between 1816 and 1867—about as many as ever arrived in the United States over the whole period of the trade (523,000).”—Editor]  
‘Defeat Bush’
I write this letter both as an ally in the struggle for Marxist socialism and as an adversary to your election strategy. I understand that the belief within your party is that: voting for a Democrat—a member and tool of a reactionary party of the capitalist class—is contrary to Marxism and is “reformist.” While I certainly agree that the Democratic Party is both reactionary and a party of capitalism, I hold that voting for one of its members is not necessarily the “reformism as an ideology” (rather than: reformism as a tactic) that we Marxists struggle against.

Upon examination of our nation’s working-class, we see that the vast majority of its members are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the American political landscape. At the same time, it is also clear that this same majority is sticking with the Democratic Party.

If we wish to build a real and powerful socialist movement in the USA, it will depend on the support of the masses. As Lenin put it: “To throw only the vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, the broad masses, have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard, or at least of sympathetic neutrality towards it and of precluded support for the enemy, would be not merely foolish but criminal.

“Propaganda and agitation alone are not enough for an entire class, the broad masses of the working people, those oppressed by capital, to take up such a stand. For that, the masses must have their own political experience.”

A broad coalition (the All-People’s Front) against Bush and the ultra-right will build a foundation for the socialist movement of the future. It will solidify ties between working-class forces and give the masses the political experience needed for the battle that is to come—the battle for socialism!

Shane C. Brinton
Northern California

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