Work of art from Haiti in 1950’s depicting the striated classes under the military junta.

Cuba Responding through Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm.


This newsletter I received today in my email makes some great points about the West Indies, the aftershocks of slavery, and the on-going struggle for independence from organizations controlled by EuroAmerican interests (i.e. major central banks and commercial banks as well as the World Bank, IMF, OAS, UN, etc et al).

This also made me realize that the Cotton Belt (stretching from Ellis County here in Texas all the way over to the Southern Atlantic coast) should be in greater solidarity with the Caribbeans. Just as we share a heritage from the aftershocks of slavery, we also have parallel reconstructions of our area into a share-cropping / wage-serf model. Moreover, those who benefit from this reformation do not care so long as they get to benefit from the cheap labor, cheap goods, and incessant debt-service it produces.

I wish that more of my neighbors in North Texas could realize that abject service to the will of those with more power comes in many historical cloaks. Not calling something slavery or indentured servitude does not magically turn socio-economic bondage into liberty.

In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiarisfor ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).

Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later…

Finish readings at Washington Beats the Drum of Regime Change, but Cuba Responds to Its Own Revolutionary Rhythm: The Twenty-Ninth Newsletter (2021)

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