TRIBUTE : Long Live The Legacy Fidel Castro

Flags flew at half mast in all CPI(ML) offices all over the country to pay respects to Fidel Castro Ruz, the iconic leader of the Cuban revolution and towering figure who inspired anti-imperialist fighters the world over, who passed away on November 25, 2016.
Fidel Castro led the successful Cuban revolution that overthrew the repressive Batista regime, and defended the tiny nation of revolutionary Cuba in the teeth of successive US regimes that were determined to destroy it. Fidel himself triumphed over 600 assassination attempts by the CIA, passing away at the ripe old age of 90.

It is ironic that the newly elected President of the USA, Donald Trump, has branded Fidel ‘a brutal dictator’, given that Trump’s own country, the supposed champion of ‘democracy,’ resorted to attempted assassinations of world leaders whose politics did not suit the USA.
Trump claimed that Fidel’s legacy was one of ‘unimaginable suffering, poverty, and denial of fundamental rights,’ and that his Government would do all it could to ensure that the Cuban people could ‘begin their journey towards prosperity and liberty.’ Strange then that lakhs of Cuban people of all generations flocked to Fidel’s funeral, shedding tears and mourning the passing of the man whom they loved as a symbol of all that Cuba stood for. Cuban streets were paralysed by the funeral procession that, fittingly, called itself “the caravan of freedom,” retraced the steps of Fidel’s victorious march from Santiago into Havana in 1959 when the Batista dictatorship was overthrown.

Fidel’s own stubborn survival and resistance to murderous imperialists reflected the revolutionary grit and determination of Cuba itself and its people. One observer referred to Fidel as the ‘Asterix’ of our times – in a reference to the comic book character Asterix the Gaul who defended his ‘tiny village of indomitable Gauls’ from the mighty Roman Empire. When the American Empire arrogantly treated the whole of Latin America as its backyard, toppling democracies and backing cruel dictators to ‘make the region safe’ for US corporations, tiny Cuba refused to kneel to the Emperor.

Shackled by imperialist embargoes, Cuba still managed to create systems of universal healthcare and education that shame much more prosperous capitalist countries including its big-brotherly neighbour the USA. Not only that, Cuba stretched its own meagre resources to export free healthcare and education to other needy countries of Latin America and the world. With Fidel at the helm, Cuba also supported the anti-colonial struggles, practicing internationalism with all its might. Fidel is especially fondly remembered by the African nations as a true friend who supported the national liberation struggles of Africa. Cuban troops helped Angola resist aggression by apartheid South African troops and helped Namibia win freedom. Criticised for meeting Castro, Nelson Mandela had declared on a visit to Cuba in 1991, “We are now being advised about Cuba by people who have supported the apartheid regime these last 40 years. No honorable man or woman could ever accept advice from people who never cared for us at the most difficult times.” Cuba sent doctors and teachers to many of Africa’s poorest countries, helping them deal with epidemics and also helping to train African doctors.

Many mainstream media reports on Fidel’s passing tried to portray him as a homophobe responsible for the persecution of LGBT people in Cuba. It is true that Cuba, like most other countries in the world, had policies towards homosexuals that were extremely discriminatory. But what most of the media reports condemning Fidel for homophobia forgot to mention is that Cuba has taken many steps to substantially correct its homophobic public policy. Fidel himself admitted in 2010 that homosexuals had been subjected to ‘great injustice’ in Cuba and that he personally took responsibility for this injustice. That is a remarkable and rare admission and acknowledgement of personal responsibility that perhaps no leader of any other country in the world has ever made.

The late Latin American writer and people’s historiographer Eduardo Galeano numbered among Fidel’s critics. But in his book Mirrors, Galeano sums up what it is about Fidel’s spirit and enduring legacy that his enemies do not want remembered:

His enemies say he was an uncrowned king who confused unity with unanimity.

And in that his enemies are right.

His enemies say that if Napoleon had a newspaper like Granma, no Frenchman would have learned of the disaster at Waterloo.

And in that his enemies are right.

His enemies say that he exercised power by talking a lot and listening little, because he was more used to hearing echoes than voices.

And in that his enemies are right.

But some things his enemies do not say: it was not to pose for the history books that he bared his breast to the invaders’ bullets,

he faced hurricanes as an equal, hurricane to hurricane,

he survived 637 attempts on his life,

his contagious energy was decisive in making a country out of a colony,

and it was not by Lucifer’s curse or God’s miracle that the new country managed to outlive 10 US presidents, their napkins spread in their laps, ready to eat it with knife and fork.
And his enemies never mention that Cuba is one rare country that does not compete for the World Doormat Cup.

And they do not say that the revolution, punished for the crime of dignity, is what it managed to be and not what it wished to become. Nor do they say that the wall separating desire from reality grew ever higher and wider thanks to the imperial blockade, which suffocated a Cuban-style democracy, militarized society, and gave the bureaucracy, always ready with a problem for every solution, the alibis it needed to justify and perpetuate itself.

And they do not say that in spite of all the sorrow, in spite of the external aggression and the internal high-handedness, this distressed and obstinate island has spawned the least unjust society in Latin America.

And his enemies do not say that this feat was the outcome of the sacrifice of its people, and also of the stubborn will and old-fashioned sense of honor of the knight who always fought on the side of the losers, like his famous colleague in the fields of Castile.

(translated by Danica Jorden)

Fidel Castro’s life and legacy call to be celebrated, not mourned. Even after his passing, Fidel’s legacy will continue to inspire revolutionaries, socialists and anti-imperialists all over the world. 