1,015 research outputs found

    Cuban Popular Resistance to the 1953 London Sugar Agreement

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    In 1953, faced with a catastrophic fall in the price of sugar, representatives of the major sugar producing and consuming nations of the world met in London to agree a mechanism for stabilising the international sugar market. Cuba was heavily dependent on the export of sugar and any change in either the price received for the sugar crop, or the amount that could be sold, had a huge effect on the island's economy. Despite having failed to diversify its economy into other areas to any great extent, by the 1950s Cuba had two independent markets for its sugar exports, one provided by the United States quota system and the other being the so-called ‘world market'. However, when the political threat of a reduction in the US quota coincided with a heavy fall in the price on the world market, the Cuban sugar industry faced a crisis. The Cuban government, which had come to power in a military coup in March 1952, had more economic problems to solve than just the falling price of sugar. A report for the World Bank had recommended wage cuts, easier dismissal regulations and mechanisation of industry as part of a package to raise productivity and increase profitability by reducing the share of the national income that went to labour. Cuban workers had a long tradition of militant defence of their wages and conditions, and so any attempt to increase productivity – which would have resulted in increased unemployment and lower standards of living for Cuban workers – required an authoritarian regime capable of overcoming resistance from the trade unions. Given the importance of sugar for the economy, any attempt to generally increase profitability could not succeed unless profits from sugar could be maintained, which in turn was dependent upon arresting the fall in world prices. The method chosen to implement the cut in exports, as required by the London Sugar Agreement, was to cut production by shortening the harvesting period. This served the double objective of reducing the amount of sugar on the world market, while reducing the plantation owners' wage bill because the cane cutters were only paid during the actual harvest. Such an approach, given the militant traditions of the sugar workers, would bring the Batista regime into direct confrontation with the sugar workers and lead to their biggest strike for 20 years. As both the London Sugar Agreement and the sugar workers' strike of 1955 are largely ignored in modern historiography, this paper traces the course of events and argues that, in an economy dominated by an industry that was so dependent on international market conditions, the contradiction between the needs of capital and labour would give the Cuban workers good reason to support the revolution in 1959. Starting from a discussion of the detailed relationship between sugar price fluctuations and the crisis in the Cuban economy, it can be seen how this led to participation in the London Sugar Agreement. The fact that this in turn brought the government and employers into conflict with the sugar workers requires an explanation of Cuban working-class politics and traditions of struggle. Before recounting the details of the 1955 strike, the paper continues with an analysis of the US sugar-quota system and an explanation of the manner in which American domestic politics exacerbated the already grave problems of the Cuban sugar industry. Finally, it argues that the different perceptions of the sugar workers and their employers as to the outcome of the strike led to increased working-class support for the revolutionary forces at the same time as many capitalist interests became disillusioned with the dictatorship

    A Working-class Heroine Is Also Something To Be: The Untold Story of Cuban Railway Workers and the Struggle against Batista

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    When researching the biographical details of working class women, we are not only faced with that "enormous condescension of history" which EP Thompson criticized when writing about the history of working class movements, we also find that working class women are doubly "hidden from history" by the assumption that organised labour is male. However in Cuba in the 1950s, there were many important strikes which were initiated and sustained by women workers. When a group of office workers from the central Cuban town of Camagüey, the principal hub of the railway network covering the eastern part of the island, first heard of their employers' intention to impose wage cuts and redundancies, these women launched a wave of resistance by picketing the train drivers and maintenance engineers. The story of the railway women of Camagüey encourages us to look more closely into other working class struggles to seek the contributions made by women. The paper will examine the part played by working class women in the fight against the Batista dictatorship for, in addition to the women of Camagüey, we can find examples of militant activity from shop workers who started at least two town-wide general strikes and female office workers in the electrical supply industry who led demonstrations in a fight over trade union democracy. Sugar and dock workers' families organised vital solidarity action in the face of police violence, while women frequently took over picketing when their menfolk had to go into hiding to avoid being forced to return to work at gunpoint. The paper will argue that women workers, while only 10 percent of the Cuban workforce in the 1950s, played a part in the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship out of all proportion to their numbers

    The 1941 miners' strike in northern France: from a dispute over soap to armed resistance

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    In Northern France in 1941, while under German military occupation, 100,000 miners went on strike from the 27th May to the 9th June. This strike not only cost the German war machine half a million tonnes of coal, but also had long-term consequences for the development of the Resistance in the area. Starting from a dispute with their employers over working conditions, the reality of living under Nazi occupation soon gave the struggle a political dimension, convincing the miners that their social aspirations were inextricably linked to the outcome of the war, thereby preparing the ground for what was to arguably become the most active underground resistance movement in wartime France. In organising a strike to resist the employers' offensive in the mines, rather as they might have done in times of peace, the miners showed everyone, themselves included, that the defeat of Nazi Germany was an essential prerequisite for any social progress. They thereby started a process that built a Resistance movement in the region that everyone had to recognise as second to none. Given the overwhelming level of collaboration amongst the French employing class and the way they used the German authorities to repress their employees, rather in the same way as other groups of employers elsewhere used their own native fascist organisations, the social question cannot be disentangled from the national question. Those who would keep the analysis of the Second World War restricted to a conventional war between two rival power blocks have only understood half the problem. The question of democracy and the struggle against fascism cannot be forgotten as a Nazi German victory would have meant the smashing of all working class organisation and this gave workers on the continent another motivation to resist and also gives the analysis of the war another complication. The collaboration of the employing class gave the Second World War an element of civil war which many commentators wish to forget. The strike gives valuable insights into the process whereby workers in struggle under repressive regimes move from industrial action to the armed struggle and parallels miners' actions in the Ludlow and Harlan County strikes in the USA, the Asturian Miners in 1934 and the Bolivian miners in the 1950s

    Authoring a Web‐enhanced interface for a new language‐learning environment

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    This paper presents conceptual considerations underpinning a design process set up to develop an applicable and usable interface as well as defining parameters for a new and versatile Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) environment. Based on a multidisciplinary expertise combining Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Web‐based Java programming, CALL authoring and language teaching expertise, it strives to generate new CALL‐enhanced curriculum developments in language learning. The originality of the approach rests on its design rationale established on the strength of previously identified student requirements and authoring needs identifying inherent design weaknesses and interactive limitations of existing hypermedia CALL applications (Hémard, 1998). At the student level, the emphasis is placed on three important design decisions related to the design of the interface, student interaction and usability. Thus, particular attention is given to design considerations focusing on the need to (a) develop a readily recognizable, professionally robust and intuitive interface, (b) provide a student‐controlled navigational space based on a mixed learning environment approach, and (c) promote a flexible, network‐based, access mode reconciling classroom with open access exploitations. At the author level, design considerations are essentially orientated towards adaptability and flexibility with the integration of authoring facilities, requiring no specific authoring skills, to cater for and support the need for a flexible approach adaptable to specific language‐learning environments. This paper elaborates on these conceptual considerations within the design process with particular emphasis on the adopted principled methodology and resulting design decisions and solutions

    Las reclamaciones de James J. O'Kelly al parlamento británico por la fuga de José Maceo hacia Gibraltar

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    In 1882, José Maceo, one of the leaders of the rebel side in the first Cuban War of Independence, known as the "10 Years War" (1868-1878), along with two comrades had managed to escape from incarceration in Cadiz, fled to Tangier in North Africa and there boarded a steamer for Gibraltar on route to the United States. However, once landed in Gibraltar, then a British colony, they were brought before the Chief of Police who, despite their protestations that they were political prisoners and in contravention of British law and international treaties, handed them over to the Guardia Civil. All three were subsequently re-imprisoned. This injustice, which was to cause a great deal of embarrassment to the Liberal government of William Gladstone, would probably have been quickly forgotten if it were not for the persistence of an Irish Nationalist Member of Parliament, James Joseph O'Kelly. O'Kelly, a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, had worked as a journalist in Cuba during the 10 Years War and had narrowly escaped being hanged by the Spanish colonists who accused him of fighting for the rebels. He saw parallels between the Spanish occupation of Cuba and the British in Ireland and used his campaign to obtain justice for the rebel General to attack what he saw as his main enemy, the British Empire. This chapter, based on material from the British National Archives, examines James Joseph O'Kelly's intervention in this episode in Cuban history and will discuss the wider implications of international solidarity in the face of nineteenth century imperialis

    Killing Communists in Havana: The Start of the Cold War in Latin America

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    The Cold War started early in Cuba, with anti-communist purges of the trade unions already under way by 1947. Corruption and government intervention succeeded in removing the left-wing leaders of many unions but, in those sectors where this approach failed, gunmen linked to the ruling party shot and killed a dozen leading trade union militants, including the General Secretary of the Cuban Sugar Workers’ Federation.// Based on material from the Cuban archives and confidential US State Department files, this SHS Occasional Publication examines the activities of the US government, the Mafia and the American Federation of Labor, as well as corrupt Cuban politicians and local gangsters, in this early episode of the Cold War

    Neoliberalismo e sindicatos na Grã-Bretanha

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    Nos últimos trinta anos, a classe dominante britânica sofreu uma profunda divisão em relação à questão da Grã-Bretanha fazer ou não parte da União Europeia. A divisão culminou no referendo do chamado “Brexit”. O Partido Conservador (Tories) se dividiu entre os favoráveis à permanência e os favoráveis a deixar a União Europeia, duas alas neoliberais com interpretações diferentes sobre a melhor maneira de conquistar lucros para a seção do capitalismo britânico que cada uma representa. O Partido Trabalhista se dividiu entre a ala neoliberal, favorável aos negócios, e a ala reformista, social democrata. Os sindicatos, com uma ou duas notáveis exceções, conduziram suas atividades conforme os parâmetros da política parlamentar e ansiaram, desesperadamente, uma vitória trabalhista. A recente eleição geral deu vitória total aos Tories, favoráveis a deixar a União Europeia, o que é potencialmente desastroso para os sindicatos e seus membros.For the past 30 years, Britain’s ruling class has been deeply split over membership of the European Union. This came to a head over the referendum on so-called “Brexit”. The Conservative Party (Tories) was split into “Remain” and “Leave” wings, both neoliberal, but with a different interpretation of the best way to make profits for the section of British capitalism each represents. Meanwhile the Labour Party is divided between the pro-business, neoliberal wing and the social democratic, reformist wing. The trade unions, with one or two notable exceptions, have conducted their activities within the parameters of parliamentary politics and desperately hoped for a Labour victory. The recent general election gave complete victory to the “Leave” Tories, which is potentially disastrous for the trade unions and their members

    Da Revolução Russa à Cubana

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    The Cuban Communist Party was the most significant working-class response to the Russian Revolution in the Caribbean. Recent research shows that organised workers played a decisive role in the outcome of the Cuban Revolution, but if the working class role has been hidden from history, the revolutionary activity of Afro-Cuban workers has been doubly obscured. There is a direct connection that links the Russian Revolution to the Cuban Revolution.O Partido Comunista Cubano foi a mais expressiva resposta à Revolução Russa no Caribe. Pesquisas recentes mostram que os trabalhadores organizados tiveram um papel decisivo no resultado da Revolução Cubana, mas, se o papel da classe operária foi omitido na história, a atividade revolucionária dos trabalhadores afro-cubanos foi duplamente obscurecida. Há uma conexão direta que liga a Revolução Russa à Revolução Cubana
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