An Introduction

— The ATC editors

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN Cuban-U.S. relations, and inside Cuba itself, point to potential flashpoints. These events, which have also produced controversy in the international as well as North American left, include:

* The conviction, long sentences and harsh prison conditions imposed on “The Cuba 5,” operatives for Cuban state security who were monitoring exile activities in Miami (some of which involved terrorist outrages against Cuban targets).

* A string of hijackings of Cuban vessels and aircraft, followed by the Cuban government's summary trial and swift execution of three perpetrators in an attempted boat hijack.

* Aggressive and provocative statements and actions by James Cason, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and pronouncements from Jeb Bush and U.S. officials about the war in Iraq as the prototype for “regime change” in Cuba.

* The arrest and imprisonment of more than seventy-five public dissidents in Cuba, sentenced in many cases to more than twenty-five-year terms, in most instances for associations and activities the Cuban government alleged to be in support of the U.S. Helms-Burton Law and boycott of Cuba. This has been followed by U.S. diplomatic retaliation, expelling fourteen members of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

Against the Current presents here a sample of the diverse reactions in the left to the political trials and execution of hijackers in Cuba. Obviously this is not a comprehensive collection but we believe it is broadly representative.

ATC editors' collective position is simply the following: We oppose all U.S. intervention in Cuba, from the criminal imperialist economic embargo to the financing of terrorism to overt and covert attempts at “regime change.” Only the Cuban people have the right to determine their own political and social system.

Beyond this, and with regard to recent events, we do not hold common positions. The ATC editors -- those who are members of our sponsoring organization, Solidarity, and those who aren't -- include endorsers and signers of very different statements, e.g. those of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy on the one hand and of International ANSWER on the other. Other members of the editorial board have their own opinions as to how the left should respond given the context of the Bush administration's highly aggressive global policies.

We anticipate further contributions and readers' comments, asking only that this discussion be conducted in the spirit of mutual respect within the left.

ATC 105, July-August 2003