On 29 July, the CPGB-ML will be holding its annual international anti-imperialist barbecue. Members and supporters of the party and Red Youth, along with family members and friends, will join diplomats from the embassies of socialist and revolutionary countries, as well as other fraternal international comrades, for an afternoon of socialising, good food and drink and some speeches.
In particular, this barbecue celebrates two momentous events that are of special significance not only to their own peoples but also to all communists and anti-imperialists worldwide.
Victory in the Korean people’s Fatherland Liberation War
On 27 July 1953, the joint forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) signed an armistice with the forces led by the United States, bringing an end to just over three years of fighting that had claimed the lives of millions of people and devastated the entire Korean peninsula, with almost every city and town completely destroyed.
The United States, which had dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities in 1945, had repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons during the Korean war and besides that had used every other weapon in their arsenal, in what proved to be a futile attempt to roll back the forces of communism and national liberation in Asia. Known as the Korean War in the west, the Korean people refer to this as their Fatherland Liberation War. It is the very first war fought by the United States in which they did not emerge as the victor.
The common narrative in the west is that the cause of the war was a southbound invasion from the north. However, this is a dishonest imperialist misrepresentation of the truth. Korea had long been a unified country, but in the early 20th century it was colonised by Japan, which ruled with extreme brutality. Korean patriots fought heroically for the liberation of their country, a struggle which came under communist leadership with the formation of what is today the Korean People’s Army under the leadership of the legendary Comrade Kim Il Sung on 25 April 1932.
The struggle of the Korean partisans merged with the anti-fascist struggle of the peoples of the east, the Chinese people in particular, and, with the declaration of war on Japan by the USSR, and the decisive intervention of the Soviet Red Army, Korea was liberated in August 1945.
As with other countries that had experienced fascist occupation, along with the colonial and semi-colonial world generally, communism was extremely popular in Korea. So, upon liberation, people’s committees, with communists playing a prominent role, were formed the length and breadth of the country, with the people eagerly looking forward to building a new democratic society in an independent country.
However, according to agreements previously reached by the major allied powers, Korea was to be temporarily divided into a Soviet zone in the north and an American zone in the south. Whereas, in the north, the Soviet forces worked in a comradely fashion with the local communists and patriots, allowing for rapid progress in such vitally important fields as land reform, nationalisation of major industries and equality of men and women, in the south, as soon as the American forces landed in September 1945, they brutally repressed the people’s committees, massacring many thousands of communists, working people and other patriots and rearming and installing in power hated collaborators with the Japanese occupation.
The whole of Korea thus became the site of acute class struggle in which two stark alternatives were on offer – a profound and thoroughgoing revolutionary transformation of society in the north, with working people in command, and a continuation of colonial slavery and brutal exploitation in the south. The great mass of Korean people were united in a fight to the death between these two roads.
With this in mind, how can it possibly be argued that the north invaded the south? One might as well say that the American Union invaded the Confederacy in the US civil war of the 1860s. It is an insult and a travesty to say that a legitimate government trying to restore its full sovereignty is invading itself.
What in fact happened was that, after numerous provocations, egged on by their American masters, the puppet forces in the south launched a full-scale attack on the north on 25 June 1950. But, contrary to their expectations, and in response to the inspiring and defiant call made by Comrade Kim Il Sung to go all out for victory in the war, the forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which had been formed on 9 September 1948, counter-attacked massively.
Completely lacking in popular support and legitimacy, the regime in the south collapsed like a house of cards. Seoul, the southern capital, was liberated within days and the pro-American regime was facing complete defeat within just two months. It was at this point that the United States launched its own full-scale invasion, dragging behind it the troops of 14 other countries, including a sizeable British contingent.
Whilst the heroic forces of the DPRK, joined by the Chinese People’s Volunteers, who had intervened decisively at the DPRK’s request in the month after the open US invasion, forced the US imperialists to sign an armistice, the north and south of Korea and, most importantly, the DPRK and the USA are still technically in a state of war 64 years later, and the single Korean nation remains divided.
The DPRK has always called for the signing of a peace treaty with the USA and for the peaceful reunification of the country. These demands are widely supported in the south, too, a sentiment that is reflected to some extent in the recent presidential election victory of Moon Jae-in, who has a background in the democratic movement and stands for the resumption of dialogue with the north. (South Korea elects Moon Jae-in, who backs talks with north, as president by Choe Sang-hun, The New York Times, 9 May 2017)
Our international barbecue is, therefore, a celebration of the enormous heroism of the Korean people fighting against US imperialism and an expression of our solidarity with the Workers’ Party of Korea and its leader Comrade Kim Jong Un in their ongoing struggle for the reunification of Korea and the building of socialism.
The storming of the Moncada barracks
The storming of the Moncada barracks on 26 July 1953 by a small group of determined and courageous fighters, led by Comrade Fidel Castro, marked the start of the Cuban revolution, which triumphed on 1 July 1959.
The overthrow of Cuban president Gerardo Machado y Morales in 1933 ushered in a period of political instability such that, in the seven years, between 1933 and 1940, there were a total of eight presidents, one of whom held office for just a few hours.
In 1940, Fulgencio Batista was elected to the presidency and introduced a new constitution, which began land reforms, introduced a minimum wage and guaranteed public education. After four years, Batista was replaced by Ramon Grau, who was in turn replaced by Carlos Prío Socarrás in 1948. Socarrás was the last legitimate president of Cuba prior to the victory of the socialist revolution.
In 1952, Batista ran again for the presidency but was unsuccessful. Following his defeat, he led a coup and installed himself as a far-right dictator, overturning the 1940 constitution and going back on previous relatively progressive policies in favour of what would now be called neo-liberal economic ones. He began to align himself with the wealthiest landowners, putting them in positions of power and thereby massively widening the gap between rich and poor.
Of course, all this made him hugely popular with the US ruling class, what with his willingness to sell Cuba to the highest bidder. He transformed the country into a paradise for rich American tourists, while ruthlessly oppressing working-class Cubans to pay for it. He even made deals with the US mafia, giving them freedom to do as they pleased in Havana, while turning the attention of the police force towards workers, and especially communists.
However, the Cuban people did not take this lying down. As mentioned above, on 26 July 1953, one hundred and twenty-three Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro, along with his brother Comrade Raúl Castro, stormed the Moncada barracks in an attempt to take control of the buildings and their ammunition stockpiles.
While this attack was defeated by the regime’s forces, it sparked a huge revolutionary upsurge. Comrade Fidel Castro’s speech at his subsequent trial, which was later published under the title, ‘History will absolve me’, inspired and electrified a generation. Six subsequent years of people’s war and great heroism on the part of the Cuban workers led to the victory of the revolution. Socialism had come to the western hemisphere.
26 July is, therefore, also a historic anniversary – that of the beginning of the end of the United States’ imperial domination of Cuba, and indeed of the whole of Central and South America, as the victorious Cuban revolution, itself an extension of the Great October Socialist Revolution, is the greatest inspiration and most fundamental guarantee of the revolutionary process currently underway in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador and elsewhere.
Our party’s international barbecue is a celebration of the Cuban workers and their revolutionary vanguard, the Communist Party of Cuba, and their heroic struggle to build socialism and fight against imperialism in the vanguard of progressive Latin America.
Join us in this inspiring celebration on Saturday 29 July from 1.00pm onwards at Saklatvala Hall, Dominion Road, Southall, UB2 5AA. This is an event for comrades, friends and families of all ages.
See the events page for more details.