The outbreak of political unrest in Cuba is arousing great curiosity and sympathy in the West, with several eager to see the Cuban persons throw off the oppressive communist regime. Quite a few folks hope that enormous demonstrations will final result in the slide of the Cuban communist dictatorship. It appears that the Covid pandemic is serving as a catalyst for a longstanding dissatisfaction with the performance of the communist method. Its failures drop on standard citizens, whilst the communist nomenklatura skims regardless of what economical surpluses can be identified to maintain a magnificent lifestyle, which is regarded as illegitimate by the bulk of society.
In see of popular and express calls for freedom, there is a need to have to devise a far more successful tactic that will support to accomplish it. In this article it is crucial to search at the practical experience of the most profitable people electrical power revolution: that of the Solidarity trade union in Poland.
The most significant difficulty is the Cuban protest movement by itself and this is the place the Solidarity knowledge is most instructive. Several individuals presume that huge protest crowds will eventually do well, as they did in Poland, in profitable big concessions, institutionalizing reforms, and ending oppression. But as the knowledge of the previous number of a long time demonstrates, even though mass protest movements occasionally attain their aims, typically they do not.
Solidarity did not depend on mass demonstrations to press its demands but somewhat experienced a complex tactic to counter the communist government’s repressive actions. When, in 1970, Polish shipyard employees came out on the streets of Poland’s Baltic ports to protest foodstuff shortages, censorship, repression, and unsafe operating situations, the communist leadership despatched out navy helicopters to machine gun them down in the streets. Officially 41 had been killed, about 1,000 wounded other individuals ended up crushed and acquired draconian prison sentences from the communist-managed judiciary. But in 1980, when Polish industrial staff went on strike once more for mainly the similar causes, they demanded an independent trade union, proposed by Krzysztof Wyszkowski, which would permanently glance immediately after workers’ interests, not only in moments of disaster.
They did not go out into the streets. Instead, they locked themselves in their large, industrial enterprises, the so-named Polish strike. This experienced a number of advantages. It gave the protesters extra leverage since the govt could not employ the service of strike breakers and have on as common. It produced them significantly less vulnerable to a bodily assault, thanks to the sturdiness of manufacturing facility buildings as perfectly as the government’s reluctance to harm them. Youthful adult men with armed service instruction positioned them selves to believe the most hazardous positions.
Workers huddled within factory fences, awaiting armed forces assault, wanting to know if they had to sacrifice their life and spent their time getting ready for it with ministry from Catholic monks who gave them emotional and religious help. Their wives brought them meals, never certain if they will see them yet again. Gates have been lined in bouquets in displays of help.
While concessions were being received, the geopolitical position of Poland below Soviet regulate precluded full good results. The Soviets shed faith in the backbone of occasion apparatchiks and transferred their help to the army, which imposed martial legislation, additional compounding Poland’s issues. Only when the common of residing of the military-magic formula law enforcement-judiciary elaborate started out heading down both equally in Poland and the Soviet Union, partly as a end result of communism’s failures and partly as a final result of President Reagan’s sanctions, was the communist regime prepared to have interaction in major negotiations and make compromises with their Solidarity opponents in 1989.
But there are very clear rules that contributed to Solidarity’s first successes, which merit our awareness.
First of all, the use of violence was explicitly turned down. The communist federal government had a monopoly on the use of pressure, which it unleashed on demonstrators who were not in a place to answer. The renunciation of violence delegitimizes its use by the federal government and hopefully minimizes the number of victims. Solidarity normally emphasized that it is a non-violent social movement and rejected armed resistance.
The next most vital component of Polish protestors’ accomplishment was, as implied by the name, employee solidarity and typical motion. Simultaneous strikes closed down all major industrial facilities throughout Poland. The financial system was in a spin. When Gdansk won its needs, Lech Walesa required to connect with off the strike but other strikers Anna Walentynowicz and Alina Pienkowska reversed his choice by reminding everybody that if Gdansk went again to get the job done, other strike facilities would be quickly subdued. By waiting until eventually strike requires ended up achieved for almost one million strikers in Poland, personnel held the government hostage.
3rd, leadership is generally essential for achievements, and its cultivation by Solidarity designed a group capable of forceful negotiating. Strike and protest leaders ought to be independent of the government and reliable by personnel by means of spontaneous elections and procedures, or the authorities will do every thing to put in their have informants as figureheads whom they can management. That’s why Solidarity made the decision on a unfastened federation of strike committees to make communist penetration and control extra tough, and why they created many popular leaders.
These committees must also talk with each other and their constituents. In the pre-world-wide-web age, this was achieved deal with-to-face by personalized conferences and sending couriers with paper messages. Huge amounts of leaflets had been printed for the Solidarity effort. Though modern day political protests are fueled by social media, Solidarity experienced an helpful method of communications before the world wide web.
All of this took tremendous organization and coordination but resulted in a victory. Solidarity was lawfully regarded as the very first unbiased trade union in the communist bloc and managed to introduce a selection of political and financial reforms, which constrained electricity of the Communist Occasion.
Outdoors assist did have a important political function to enjoy in legitimizing the protests. Solidarity was lucky to get potent text of encouragement from Pope John Paul II and President Jimmy Carter, as very well as his Countrywide Stability Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Nonetheless, this assistance was considerably expanded and became essential underneath problems of martial regulation. The U.S. authorities, AFL-CIO, and other Western labor unions, supplied printers, fax devices, and other gear to continue to keep communications going and direct help for those who were being imprisoned or in hiding. Additional, the Reagan Administration imposed an helpful sanctions policy on the Jaruzelski regime. There were being sanctions imposed for each political prisoner taken, and they ended up lifted if he or she was produced, which was consistently remaining negotiated by the U.S. embassy in Warsaw. This allowed Solidarity to survive underneath martial law during the 1980s.
Polish Solidarity had a one of a kind technique suited for its political environment and historical practical experience and can provide as a design of achievement for other individuals. The classes for the democratic opposition in Cuba from the Solidarity working experience are apparent, with a need to manage, connect, guide, get legitimacy, and define distinct ambitions and political approach in opposition to the authorities. Even if the protest motion is not immediately profitable, it really should consider heart from Solidarity and comprehend that various tries to overthrow the Communist Party regime may be essential. It will will need to continuously regulate its methods and guard against government manipulation of its protests.
In addition, outside the house assist also performs a major part in offering political, diplomatic, and money guidance to the motion. It ought to be provided by émigré teams, church buildings, and liberty-loving NGOs and governments. Defeating dictators definitely calls for solidarity on a number of stages.
Lucja Swiatkowski Cannon retains a Ph.D. from Columbia College and is a strategist, specialist, and writer on Eastern Europe, Russia, and U.S.-East European relations.