Photographs: 1. Canary Islands, birthplace of my grandfather, where Columbus filled his water casks on the way across the Atlantic; 2. map of Columbus’s voyages; 3. timeline of the conquest in what we now call the Dominican Republic; 4. a tree in central DR associated with Columbus’s conquest; 5. relics in central DR associated with Columbus’s conquest; 6. ruins of a fort in central DR built by workers under orders of Columbus.
I could not say it any better than the chronology in the exhibit at the ruins of Columbus’ fort at La Vega: “CONQUEST” and “EXPLOITATION.” As discussed in Pamphlet No. 1: A Winding Path to Workers’ Gardens/Un camino de bobina a jardines de trabajadores, beginning at page 62, at my grandfather’s birthplace Spain tried out and perfected its techniques of cruelty and mendacity that were the cornerstones of sugar cane slavery in the old and then new worlds. There never were any “rights” to conquest or exploitation, but that did not stop Columbus from using stolen African-Canarian water to baptize his efforts in the Caribbean. The notions of European racial and religious supremacy as excusing barbarity became embodied in slavery and colonialism.
In the 21st century, the perceived right to commercial exploitation is now embodied in neocolonialism and neoliberalism. The right to self-determination includes the right of all 35 million plus people in the Greater Antilles to reject both commercial exploitation and authoritarianism. Cuba, if it became democratic and respectful of human rights, might be able to lead the way forward to an economically just, more self-sufficient, and sustainable path to the future. If, on the other hand, Cuba remains an authoritarian state, it will continue to hide good light of the revolution and the Cuban people under a bushel, to humanity’s detriment. For the sake of Cubans, and the poor on Hispaniola and in the rest of the world, may solidarity bring change in Cuba that will help those of good will to reconcile and move forward together.
P.S. What Cuba does not need is more neocolonial interference by the U.S. For constructive ideas on how Cuba could independently and peacefully transition to democratic socialism, please see this post.