Sunday morning, August 16, 1925, the Communist Party of Cuba was founded in a house at 81 Calzada in Havana. Thirteen men who represented about 100 in all, working entirely underground, met for two consecutive days to discuss the country’s problems and organize a vanguard that would fight for radical change.
Present was Carlos Baliño, who long before had founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party with José Martí, and knew well that the road ahead was a hard one.
“He learned first hand of the Apostle’s preoccupation with escaping the dark designs of imperialism, and now he was surrounded by men as genuine and committed as he was, with a long track record as rebels, revolutionaries,” wrote journalist Andrés García Suárez, in the newspaper 5 de Septiembre.
The youngest, Julio Antonio Mella, had founded the Federation of University Students earlier, and both knew that the group founded at this small congress would respond to Marti’s call to resist imperialism.
Despite the dangers, during these first meetings in the Havana house, the party’s founders proposed organizing campesinos and struggling for the rights of women and youth.
Only a few days after its founding, the Communist Party of Cuba was brutally attacked by Gerardo Machado dictatorship, many were killed or forced into exile. But this year would not be the end, but rather only the beginning of a long history.
After the triumph of the Revolution, achieving unity was absolutely necessary, and a broad unification effort took place in 1961, the most recent antecedent to the Party we know today.
Created at that time were the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI), which included members of the July 26th Movement led by Fidel; the People’s Socialist Party with Blas Roca as its principal leader; and the March 13 Revolutionary Directorate, headed by Comandante Faure Chomón.
“An effort was urgently needed to pull together revolutionaries who used different methods but shared a common objective; consolidating the Cuban Revolution. Following the victory, the independent action of these three political forces had created obstacles to the coordination of activities and the joining of forces,” stated José Ramón Machado Ventura, Party second secretary, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Central Committee’s creation and the founding of Granma.
Sectarianism was difficult to overcome and just a few months after the ORI were established, the United Party of the Cuban Revolution was founded in an attempt to achieve the unity of revolutionary forces in one organization.
It was not until October 3, 1965, that the Party took its definitive name: the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), the same used by Baliño and Mella, with the ideas of Martí in mind.
“To fully understand the significance of these events,” Machado Ventura commented, “it is essential to recall that the Party is a legitimate product of the Revolution. Its roots lie in the party founded by Martí in 1892 to organize the Necessary War, and its most immediate antecedent is that organized by Mella, Baliño, and Rubén.”
A SINGLE PARTY
This is a vanguard party that demands that all members think independently, express themselves freely, and act collectively; educate themselves in permanent contact with the people; adopt as a work style being aware of the people’s difficulties, opinions, and proposals. This is the party that has educated several generations of Cubans; led the people’s resistance with resolve and intelligence; that has as its ideology the teachings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin; Marti’s thinking; the creative ideas and examples of Fidel and Raúl.
As he noted the Party’s strengths, José Ramón Machado Ventura emphasized that it is but one, as Martí insisted, “Because faced with the dreams of imperialism to split our society, divide it in a thousand pieces, our principal shield is unity.” That is why, every day, our party grows, is strengthened, and endures.
THE PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS HAVE THE PARTY
In the proposed new Constitution, being discussed in every community, workplace, and school at this time, the strategic objective of maintaining the Party’s role is unchanged.
Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the PCC, stated on April 19, this year, that the Cuban people would undoubtedly support the proposal, as they did decades ago, in 1976, with 98% approval in the referendum.
He explained during the Constituent Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power Ninth Legislature, “We do not intend to modify the irrevocable nature of socialism in our political and social system, or the leading role of the Communist Party of Cuba as the organized vanguard and highest leading force in society and the state, as established in Article 5 of the current Constitution, which we intend to advocate maintaining in the next one.”
He added that it was up to the Party, the state, and government, to ensure implementation of the policy of purposefully and gradually promoting youth, women, Blacks, and those of mixed race to decision-making positions, to guarantee in a timely fashion the creation of a pool of potential leaders, without repeating the costly mistakes that were committed in this regard in the past.
Given the difficult international panorama today, with attempts to divide Latin America and increased aggressiveness in U.S. policy toward Cuba and progressive governments in the region, maintaining our unity is the only option. Building consensus is our best bet.
Thus, what Fidel said in 1975 is more relevant than ever:
“As long as imperialism exists, the Party, the state, and the people will pay maximum attention to our defense. Our revolutionary guard will never be lowered. History teaches with much eloquence that those who forget this principle do not survive the mistake.”
FROM THE PROPOSED NEW CONSTITUTION
- In the construction of socialism, the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, born of the unitary intentions of organizations that contributed decisively to the triumph of the Revolution and national unity, constitutes a fundamental pillar and guarantor of our political, economic, and social order.
- The Communist Party of Cuba, the single organized vanguard of the Cuban nation based on the ideas of Marti, Fidel, Marx, and Lenin, sustained in its democratic nature and permanent link with the people, is the leading force in society and the state. It organizes and guides common efforts directed toward the construction of socialism. It works to preserve and strengthen the patriotic unity of Cubans and to develop ethical, moral, and civic values. (Article 5)