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A Presentation and Discussion of Ecosocialism and the Transformations in Cuba Today

Saturday, November 05, 2011
7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Panel Discussion
Niebyl-Proctor Library (or see website)
Location Details:
Niebyl-Proctor Library
6501 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA

(In north Oakland, just 1 block north of the intersection of Telegraph & Alcatraz, at Telegraph & 65th St.; a few blocks from Asby BART; or on the AC Transit # 40 bus line; or a few blocks from the #51 bus line down College Avenue, stopping at Alcatraz; or from Hwy 24, east-/west-bound, take the Telegraph Ave exit; plenty of nearby street parking available.)

A Presentation and Discussion of Ecosocialism and the Transformations in Cuba Today

- with Karen Wald and Steve Martinot

Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave.

Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 pm

While masses of people are attempting to change things here in the US, changes are also happening in Cuba. Though US pundits claim that these changes are at the hands of Castro, they are not. They are at thehands of the Cuban people. Some of them look like they are retreats from socialism, when seen through US eyes.

But there is a dimension to it that is hard for such eyes to see, and which has to do with two critical factors. The first is the aforementioned political participation of the Cuban people in these changes. And the second involves a past process of overcoming the former colonialism. There are ways in which the present transformations in Cuba now reveal what it was that the Cuban revolutionary process was indeed overcoming from that colonialist legacy, and the way it had touched all things in the post-colonial period.

Because there is a transparency to the way things are done in Cuba, and a humility in the way the leadership critiques itself and its proposed projects, it allows us to see some of the dynamics of these processes. They are fascinating, and in their uncompromising insistence on Cuban sovereignty, highly innovative. Indeed, it is in terms of that innovativeness, turned precisely against its colonial legacy, that Cuba has taken the lead it has in ecological thinking and environmental protection.

Respectively writers, authors, and global justice activists Karen Wald and Steve Martinot will be examining the relation between two aspects of what is at present happening in Cuba. On the one hand, there is Cuba's past care and in conserving and preserving the ecological richness of the island, while at the same time developing its economy. On the other, there are certain shifts or transformations in Cuban society implied by the recent decisions in the 6th party conference.

Will Cuba's revised system likely continue to stress traditional guarantees (some nearly free food under the ration system, job or income, free health care for all, free education, etc.), or will they have to be cut back due to the world wide current capitalist crisis? What effect is envisioned that the planned lifting of restrictions on selling houses and cars have in general, as well as ecologically? And will this introduce an element of capitalism (exchange value over use value) that did not exist before? How will this effect Cuba's previous focus on ecology and the preservation and sustaining of its environment?

But we also want to add a third factor to this discussion. Cuba has recently discovered oil in its territorial waters of the Gulf. So the more general question is, what is the mutual influence that these three facets of Cuba as a work in progress have on each other?: the discovery of oil, the revamping of certain aspects of the economy, and its past accomplishments in the domain of ecological conservation.

It is to present some ideas about the inner processes in the Cuban dynamic that Karen Wald and Steve Martinot will be speaking and leading a discussion of what is happening in Cuba today, and what the ongoing transformations mean, both pragmatically and historico-politically.


"We are especially interested in Cuba because of the great advances ithas made in terms of preserving its environment, and being ecologically conscious as a society. Part of this has been its ability to think in terms of community rather than business. So we feel the need to keep abreast of the economic and political changes that have been proposed, and are now being implemented, with respect to Cuba's environmentalism.

I myself am finding the process they are going through totally fascinating. There have been over 100,000 meetings of people at the local level to discuss the proposals. And these meetings have significantly transformed the original proposals. What has fascinated me, and given me some new insights into the post-colonial situation and processes of development is the different between the original proposals, and those that came back transformed from the popular assemblies that discussed them. So that insight is going to be the main aspect of what we are going to discuss."

-- Steve Martinot

Karen Lee Wald, a writer, activist, educator, has been explaining, defending and teaching everyone she could reach for over thirty years about the history and reality of the Revolution in Cuba. She raised two children there, one of whom is a medical doctor on the island.


Sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Ecosocialist Network.

Generous Q&A/discussion to follow.

Free and open to the public.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Oct 31, 2011 2:50PM
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