Máximo Schnebely, from the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, notes that Cuba is an example for the world. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

The political work of a communist within a capitalist, neoliberal system constitutes a sacrifice, according to Maximo Schnebely, speaking to Granma International, at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, located in the municipality of Caimito, Artemisa province.

Born of Swiss parents, he lives in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, in the Argentine province of Río Negro. Schnebely traveled to Cuba with the “Por los Caminos del Che” (Following Che’s Footsteps) Brigade, which paid tribute to the mythical Argentine-Cuban guerrilla on the 50th anniversary of his death in Bolivia.

The activist noted that today Argentine communists are working for the unity of popular and progressive forces, to build an alternative movement to fight against the country’s neoliberal, right wing government. In this sense, they support the candidacy of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with the hope that she may return to government.

What are the main struggles at the moment?

The struggle that identifies us all is to demand that Santiago Maldonado reappear alive, a young compañero apprehended during a protest supporting the rights of the Mapuche peoples in the south, in Patagonia.

Our people feel a lot of pain regarding the subject of disappeared persons. Remember that we suffered the abduction, torture, and disappearance of more than 30,000 people between the seventies and eighties.

Another of our struggles is for the release of social leader Milagro Sala. This compañera was unjustly imprisoned on fabricated charges, with no grounds whatsoever. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a few months ago was put under house arrest. Now they have revoked the condition and she is in prison again.

These are examples that demonstrate that they are attempting to criminalize social protest, through the intimidation of popular forces. They seek to curb the spirit of our struggles.

However, these two cases have strengthened our social movements and we have learned to organize. The Tupac Amaru association, led by Milagro Sala, is now more visible, with recognition of the progress made in the province of Jujuy to favor dispossessed sectors and ensure decent housing, employment, and free healthcare to these communities.

What is the imminent task of the Communist Party of Argentina?

To deepen the ideological bases of our membership, without provoking divisions, to transmit to broader society the need for social change. Our greatest effort is to achieve unity among social movements, and to bring together the masses to effect the ideological transformation that will lead us to social emancipation.

For this we have a very close by example, the Cuban Revolution. We consider it our beacon to find the necessary energy and not tire of the fight.

How do you promote solidarity with Cuba?

In Bariloche, there is a local MASCUBA group, part of the Argentine Cuba Solidarity Movement, which has been functioning for more than 25 years. Our main objective is publicizing Cuba's reality, through video debates, radio programs, cultural events, and other forms of ideological education with the masses.

We coordinate people who wish to visit Cuba to join the solidarity brigades and provide their efforts in productive tasks on the island.

Today we are a regional solidarity group, because we interact with the communities close to the city of Bariloche, and stimulate interest in the Cuban Revolution. We have named it Camilo Cienfuegos, and it is made up of inhabitants of the entire southern area of the country.

We are also working to promote tourism to Cuba so that Argentines learn about the social process that is being built on the Caribbean island.

What does Che mean to Argentines?

A source of eternal inspiration. Fortunately, he continues to be the ideal to achieve for the peoples of the South. We are pleased that people love him and adopt him as a necessary hero for the struggles we undertake. Today we see how young people evoke him, study him, and try to follow in his footsteps.

Che teaches us every day, due to his spirit of solidarity and internationalism. Being Argentine, he considered himself to be firstly a revolutionary and Latin American. That sentiment inspires us to apply it to our realities. Homeland is humanity, José Martí taught us, and it is very positive to consider ourselves brothers and sisters of all.

What does it mean to be a communist today in Argentina, and Latin America?

Communism is a pure and clear proposal for a change of society, designed from the nineteenth century by the Germans Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and continued by the Russian Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. They created a philosophical school of thought with great contributions to humanity, still relevant today.

Later other thinkers made contributions to this theory, such as the Peruvian José Carlos Mariátegui, the Italian Antonio Gramsci, and even Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro Ruz.

The Communist Party today brings together people with an ideology of change, based on the foundations of Marxism. The world is in need of this vanguard organization, that can lead the masses to their true social emancipation; this can be done by a communist party that embraces the ideas of a philosophical movement totally opposed to predatory capitalism in its highest and final phase, that is imperialism.

Our main goal today is to adequately integrate into the social movements that are driving the struggle against capital in various ways, to propose an empowerment from the state through the taking of political power. I believe they seek the same goals as the Communist Party, and we are going to have to join together somehow to defeat capitalism. Cuba is an example in this sense.

Cuba has been able to fight for a possible, and now very necessary, world for our human species to survive. Climate change is hitting us in such a way that we are in a process of extinction. Fidel Castro Ruzlo warned of this in 1992 in Río de Janeiro, Brazil, and said that the main cause of these alterations of nature is the excessive consumerism of the capitalist system.