Havana Diary

The fourth and final day of the conference on Marxism in the 21st Century held at the modern and spacious Palacio de Conventiones. Trees and fountains intrude into the interior while outside flora and fauna surround the grand architecture which houses many of the embassies, though not from the USA. Their former embassy has a forest of black flags flying.
The centre of gravity here is South America and most of the business is conducted in Spanish. simultaneous translations take place unless the speakers speed up with anguished reactions from the harassed translators. Much is familiar as Marx, Engels and Lenin’s work is repeated. However there has been discussion on how Che Guevara introduced a much different economic system moving away from market socialism which he thought would inevitably bring about a return to capitalism. Evidently Mao was impressed by Che’s ideas.
As for China now an American speaker (there are some, although they risk fines and/or imprisonment for coming to Cuba) saw it as a capitalist economy stressing this to be a common view. A Chinese contributor thought that we weren’t using the right terminology to discuss China’s attempts to assert herself in the midst of an onslaught of criticism on human rights and other matters. It wasn’t made clear how the struggle for socialism was being conducted compared to many examples from Cuba and descriptions of events in other South American countries, notably Venezuela, where there are many examples of the wish to counter US domination and bring in humane values.
It is this aspect when it breaks through the ,ore technical theorising, which appeal. It is refreshing to see conscious and sustained attempts to bring about a different world order other than the dominant one bent on self-destruction which puts markets and profits at the centre using human beings as pawns in its game plan.
This weekend we will be going to other parts of the island and have the opportunity of meeting Cuban people who have lived through all or part of the Cuban revolution now about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. There is certainly a lot of history here. There is a large hotel representing the art deco of the twenties where so many celebrities came. Furniture and artifacts are all in keeping with the style. The colonial architecture which abounds is truly remarkable. I’m looking forward to the rest of our stay with immense pleasure.

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