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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Mexican Solidarity with Cuba

from the Sept. 29, 2021 Bulletin

international solidarity

Pedro Gellert edits the Morena Internacional newsletter, an appropriate role for a veteran activist in global solidarity circles. Gellert has been long involved in efforts defending Cuba’s sovereignty and also helped found the Mexican NGO focused on struggles in the Middle East, the Coordinadora de Solidaridad con Palestina. Among his other efforts: an active role in the México Solidarity Project.


xico has maintained friendly diplomatic relations with Cuba since the Cuban revolution in 1959. Why did the PRI government keep that relationship in spite of pressure from the US?

Pedro Gellert: The PRI, unquestionably a bourgeois party deeply committed to the capitalist system, welcomed US corporate penetration in México. At the same time, the PRI embraced what was called “revolutionary nationalism” and claimed continuity with the Mexican revolution and even the important social transformations of the 1930s under president Lázaro Cardenas. This populist streak in the PRI went hand in hand with its vertical control of social organizations in the labor, peasant, and popular sectors and made defending Cuba a logical stance for the Mexican government. And this stance, along with other pro-Third World positions, played an important role in the defense of Cuba and other national liberation movements and progressive governments, in Chile, for instance.


We should also not forget that anti-imperialist consciousness runs deep in the Mexican population for historical reasons that include the loss of a third of the countrys territory in the Mexican-American War ending in 1848, the constant U.S. interference in México’s internal affairs, and the ongoing discrimination against Mexicans in the United States. So the PRI’s stance on Cuba proved to be a popular position domestically and boosted the Méxicos image internationally.   

So the AMLO government didn’t break tradition by having Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel the guest of honor at the independence day celebration September 16. But why did AMLO choose this particular moment to express unequivocal support for Cuba?

I see two main considerations here.


The first: México was hosting the summit of CELAC — the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States — a few days later, and AMLO has wanted to chart out an independent approach in international affairs that positions México as a leader in the Latin American progressive bloc.

Second, AMLO’s speech chastising the US for its blockade and lauding Cuba came on the heels of — and in response to — the PANs open embrace of the Spanish Vox party, a far-right outfit now waging a campaign against the supposed “communist threat” in Latin America and Mexico. 


Another factor: Our recent experience with doctors Cuba sent into México at the early stages of the COVID crisis, a presence the PAN attacked. México returned the favor — in sharp contrast to the US embargo — by sending food and medicine to Cuba in July.


What people-to-people connections exist today between Mexicans and Cubans?


Cuba remains a reference point, politically and culturally in Mexico. People identify with Che and Fidel, and Cuban artists such as Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanés have broad followings. Support for the Cuban revolution and its social achievements goes far beyond the organized left. Tens of thousands of Mexicans go to Cuba as tourists, or as students studying medicine and patients seeking health care, or just to attend academic and professional conferences — conference tourism rates as a big deal in Cuba. So we have considerable contact between the peoples of the two countries.

While in México, Cuban president Diaz-Cannel didn’t just meet with AMLO and other political leaders. He spent time with social movement and solidarity activists. Twice during his visit, demonstrations massed outside the Cuban embassy gate in México City to express support for revolutionary Cuba and to welcome Diaz-Cannel.

Latin American governments led by right-wing parties did not take kindly to AMLO’s inclusion of Cuba at the CELAC summit, or Nicaragua and Venezuela either. Is AMLOs embrace of countries ostracized by the US strengthening rightists in México and throughout Latin America?


I think these right-wingers feel terribly weakened and that explains their howls of protest! Their anti-communist campaigns have had virtually no impact in society. In fact, within México, AMLOs popularity currently stands at a whopping 72 percent.


The emergence of a clearly progressive bloc in Latin America that wants to either completely eliminate or drastically reform the US-dominated Organization of American States — together with Mexicos clear anti-interventionist stance, defense of Cuba, and increased leadership position in the region — changes the ballgame as far as inter-American relations are concerned. The outcome of the upcoming next elections in Brazil will, of course, be critically important in defining how far this process will go.