From the April 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have received the following letter from a sympathiser in Jamaica.
Fidel Castro’s announcement that agrarian reform should be abandoned must have come as a shock to the Communists in other countries of Latin America. The Cubans have at last realised that agrarian reform alone means nothing: it does not change the relationship between the farmer, his land and his market. The distribution of land does not produce food, it often means a drop in production. A peasant farmer suddenly saddled with the responsibility of ownership but without knowledge in modern farming technique finds it hard to keep up his payments on his Government loan. In many cases he finds he would have been better off where he was before, on some landlord's estate.
The Communists are doing much work throughout this hemisphere. Because of the desperate economic inequalities existing in Latin America, students fall easy prey to Communist slogans of “Land for the Landless’’ and “ Bread for the Hungry."
The Alliance for Progress is under fire from all sections. The “Right” are fighting against it because some of the reforms suggested are against their interest; the Communists claim it is Imperialism. The Right Wing and Communists are often in agreement, each claiming to be the hope of the future. Communists are only interested in fighting American capitalism; they fully support local capitalism. Communist tactics vary from country to country; in Venezuela they take the form of open violence while in Haiti the campaign takes a racial line.
While this power struggle goes on, the people of Latin America continue to live in squalor, poverty and illiteracy. Population is increasing at a fast rate and every year more young people are condemned to a life of peasant farming; anyone who actually manages to get a university education automatically becomes a member of the “elite.”
In this atmosphere of uncertainty and poverty, it may not be long before there is a Communist government elected in Latin America. Then perhaps people would have another first-hand opinion (as in the case of Cuba) of Communists trying to solve the country's economic problems. Socialists know that they would fare no better than their predecessors.
The problems of Latin America are the same as those which beset men all over the world, only perhaps they are more obvious there. Only by the united effort of all mankind will these problems disappear from the earth. The establishment of Socialism is there for the taking; sooner or later man will realise that this is his only salvation.