“Killing Communists in Havana”

The Start of the Cold War in Latin America
by Steve Cushion

Socialist History Society Occasional Publication

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.

This is a joint publication of the “Socialist History Society” and “Caribbean Labour Solidarity”

Buy a copy of “Killing Communists in Havana”
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Steve Cushion is Secretary of Caribbean Labour Solidarity and author of
A HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION How the Working Class Shaped the Guerilla Victory” published by Monthly Review (2016)


In O’Connell Street and along Eden Quay the dust was still thick upon the ground, the air was heavy with burning, and dense clouds of smoke obscured the ruins. Even when the rain came, and after three days of it, they were still smouldering.
Woman’s Dreadnought, 13 May 1916

On Easter Monday 1916, a small group of committed Irish Republicans occupied buildings in central Dublin and declared their country’s independence from Britain. The tragic outcome of the Irish uprising was anxiously observed by members of the political left around the world.  The execution of James Connolly, ‘carried out on a stretcher and strapped in position to be shot’, commented the feminist and revolutionary socialist, Sylvia Pankhurst: ‘I remembered him as one who had lived laborious days in the service of human welfare; a man of pity and tenderness, driven to violent means, from belief that they alone would serve to win through to a better life for the people’, she wrote. Although ‘he had thrown in his lot with the Sinn Fein patriots, he remained an internationalist’ and was the man best fitted ‘to take a substantial share in developing Ireland’s part in the world-wide social changes which…are advancing to transform the face of human society’.
This publication from the Socialist History Society is a contribution to this still controversial event whose legacy remains much contested even today as we mark its 100th anniversary.

About the Author

John Newsinger, who is Professor of History, Bath Spa University, takes a particularly close interest in the history of the labour movement, the British Empire and Ireland. A prolific author, John’s publications include:  British Counterinsurgency: from Palestine to Northern Ireland (2002); Rebel City: Larkin, Connolly and the Dublin Labour Movement (2004); The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire (2006); Fighting Back – the American Working Class in the 1930s (2012); Jim Larkin and the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913 (2013); Them and Us: Fighting the Class War 1910-1939 (2015) and British Counterinsurgency (2nd revised edition, 2015). John is a member of the Socialist History Society.

Bradlaugh Contra Marx

Radicalism and Socialism in the First International
by Deborah Lavin

Socialist History Society, London 2011, 86 pages paperback, £4.

This is a fascinating glimpse into the socialist and radical politics of the 1860s which of course have a meaning for the 21st century. On the one hand there is Karl Marx, a Communist and political exile in London. On the other Charles Bradlaugh who rose from humble origins to become the leading 19th century advocate of Secularism and a MP for Northampton. Both were political giants. In his day Bradlaugh was far better known than Marx. Although the National Secular Society, which Bradlaugh founded in 1866, is still going there is nothing of his prolific writings in print. Marx is still very much in print and in the light of the current economic crisis, his theories are hotly debated.