‘Dollar Terror in Cuba’ by Julio A. Mella from Labor Defender. Vol. 4 No. 2. February, 1929.

‘Dollar Terror in Cuba’ by Julio A. Mella from Labor Defender. Vol. 4 No. 2. February, 1929.

[Julio A. Mella, founder of the Communist Party of Cuba, and one of ‘the most prominent Latin American revolutionists, was murdered last month in Mexico City by agents of the Machado government. Mella sent the above drawing as well as the article here printed, shortly before he was shot down in the street by the puppets of American imperialism.]

“DOLLAR DIPLOMACY” is a well known term in Cuba. Before the so-called “Independence”, America had invested fifty million dollars in Cuba. Now, in the period of “Independence” the amount has been raised to one and one half billion dollars. This is the work of Dollar Diplomacy. The United States made Cuba “independent” by the famous ” Joint Resolution.” But the Platt Amendment establishes that “in order to guarantee this independence” Dollar Diplomacy attributes to itself “the right of intervention to protect property.” A few million dollars were then distributed among “Liberators” to avoid such a rebellion as occurred in the Philippines after the American occupation. Loans fell upon the country from the Morgans, in order to complete economic penetration.

Recently the special Envoy of Dollar Diplomacy, Mr. Crowder, concocted the Election Law, through which only political parties favorable to the interests of American Imperialism can exist.

Now Dollar Terror has stepped in, in earnest. The conquest of Cuba by American imperialism did not come without the protests of rebellious workers. Cuba’s politics had consisted of a fight between those elements, like Menocal, who were frankly at the service of foreign gold, and those on the other hand who disguised this service with a certain nationalist tendency, such as Miguel Gomez and Mendieta. But there arose the ghost of the “workers’ problem”.

The government has found it necessary to introduce a strict dictatorship to put clown the workers’ protests. Michaela, who was a General during the Independence, and who is a stockholder of the General Electric Company, seemed to be the ideal man for American interests. Machado declared in a speech in the University when he was presented with an honorary law degree, “Mussolini has given an example to the whole world.” And so he got busy and started to put into practice in Cuba Mussolini’s example. That was an announcement of the institution of Dollar Terror.

Here are the concrete results of the Dollar Terror during the last four years of Machado’s government:

The death penalty was revived and is being applied with the ancient colonial instrument known as the “garotte”. It is a chair where, without the necessity of modern electricity, a screw is introduced into the back of the neck of the guilty one, who for a long hour has to stand the agonizing pain.

In order to introduce terror among the field workers, many were secretly murdered. Bodies of these illiterate workers are often found hanging from trees with notes in their pockets announcing various reasons for their “suicide”. The plantation workers know that the reason for the murders is that the victims opposed the intense exploitation to which they were subjected by American imperialism and the Cuban politicians who are in the service of Dollar Terror.

Another new proceeding consists of throwing labor leaders into the bay in Havana. Recently some fishermen found a human arm in the belly of a shark caught near Havana. The wife of Bruzon, the militant labor leader, recognized the arm as that of her husband’s by the cloth of the sleeve and the cuff links still attached on the arm. The daily newspapers “Diario de la Marina”, organ of the Spanish colony and of the catholics, published the photo of the gruesome discovery and a judge started proceedings. But president Machado limited himself to issuing a decree forbidding the fishing of sharks without special permission.

More than two hundred workers have been assassinated. Many trade unions have been dissolved. All the opposition press has been suspended and the editors of these daily papers shot publicly. Others have been exiled from Cuba. Strikers have mysteriously “disappeared”. The University of Havana, and this perhaps is the only case of its kind in the whole world, conducts its classes in the atmosphere of terror imposed by a detachment of soldiers, who remain on duty in the corridors of the University with bayonets ready. The students listen to the worn out stale tunes of their professors under the eyes of these soldiers, and the professors take advantage of all opportunities to flatter the dictatorship.

At present the rickety industrial Cuban bourgeoisie, allied to American imperialism, which carry on the Dollar Terror, together, thinks itself safe in power because of its agreement with Wall Street capital. However, there are thousands of starving workers, there are producers of sugar cane ruined by the American sugar mills, and there are many intellectual workers. All these find American imperialism their daily and deadly enemy, and understand that their only salvation is in destroying its grip.

This task of destroying American imperialism’s hold on Cuba has been undertaken by the Cuban revolutionists, and in order for them to succeed the American workers must cooperate. Only a close alliance between the revolutionary forces of Cuba with the workers of the United States will be able to combat the latest phase of Dollar Terror, in Cuba, which is strictly aimed against the working class. Some time ago the port workers of New York proclaimed a boycott against Cuban sugar if the persecutions against the Cuban workers were continued. This alarmed the Cuban dictator. The multiplications of measures such as this would prove of great benefit to the working class movement of Cuba and of all Latin America.

Labor Defender was published monthly from 1926 until 1937 by the International Labor Defense (ILD), a Workers Party of America, and later Communist Party-led, non-partisan defense organization founded by James Cannon and William Haywood while in Moscow, 1925 to support prisoners of the class war, victims of racism and imperialism, and the struggle against fascism. It included, poetry, letters from prisoners, and was heavily illustrated with photos, images, and cartoons. Labor Defender was the central organ of the Scottsboro and Sacco and Vanzetti defense campaigns. Not only were these among the most successful campaigns by Communists, they were among the most important of the period and the urgency and activity is duly reflected in its pages. Editors included T. J. O’ Flaherty, Max Shactman, Karl Reeve, J. Louis Engdahl, William L. Patterson, Sasha Small, and Sender Garlin.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/labordefender/1929/v04n02-feb-1929-LD.pdf

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