“The time will come for all of us to go as I will; soon. But the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervour and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need – and we need to fight without truce to obtain them.”
Comandante Fidel Castro, bidding farewell to the Communist Party of Cuba, hinting that he might soon pass away. LAST FRIDAY, the November 25 ultimo, goes down in history as the day the world lost one of its most indelible figures, remarkable and renowned, not only for the courage to fight for genuine liberty not only for his own people, but the rest of the developing world.
That was no other than Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, whose death has shaken the world as it was announced last Friday and plunged his country and the rest of the Third World into mourning. But Fidel had predicted his own death when he turned 89 years old last year as he addressed his party’s Congress with words as quoted above.
Dead at 90, Fidel’s brief biography runs as follows: August 13, 1926: Born in Biran, in rural eastern Cuba, one of seven children. July 26, 1953: Fidel leads his first uprising, with his younger brother, Raul joining a failed attempt to take over the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba.
He is captured and put on trial, where he defends himself with his famous: “History will absolve me” speech attacking General Batista. He is sentenced to 15 years in prison.
July 1955: Granted amnesty by General Batista, Fidel and his fellow fighters are released from prison and go into exile in Mexico where Castro meets Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara.
A year later they set sail from Mexico to Cuba - hoping to finally overthrow General Batista. January 1, 1959: After over two years of fighting, Fidel at the head of the combatants, reach Havana from the Sierra Maestra guerrilla base. General Batista flees the country to the Dominican Republic.
Fidel is declared head of government. April 1961: Cuban Americans, financed and trained by the CIA land at the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro.
They fail. October 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis. February 1980: Fidel marries Dalia Soto del Valle, a teacher and mother of five of his children, who has been in relationship with him since 1961. August 29, 1990: Fidel declares the beginning of “a special period”– a time of shortages and rationing as Cuba struggles to cope with the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the USSR, its main ally.
September 2000: Fidel and Bill Clinton pass in the corridor of the UN Millennium Summit. July 31, 2006: Raul takes over, owing to Fidel’s poor heath. February 2008: Raul takes over; overall - as Fidel formaly resigns from the presidency.
This is just a cursory look at the life of the Father of the Cuban Revolution as projected by a western publication, which could be poles apart had it been written by a Cuban progressive national, those men and women we have watched on our television sets beamed to us by global television networks.
It has been moving and sad moments for us all in the Third World watching Cuban nationals mourning the passing away of their country’s founding leader in their country’s capital, Havana and elsewhere in their country.
Invariably, most of them we have seen wiping off tears as they passed around a square put up for farewell homage. We, their compatriots elsewhere, have joined them in their sorrow.
For Fidel embodied in his being a unique individual who stood up for the genuine independence of his country and not the level of independence which could be described only as “flag independence”.
For, invariably in the Third World, we have leaders who are very comfortable with those taps on their shoulders by big boys of the world who, at best, determine the tune while such leaders in the Third World; our world - are comfortable with the role of pipers! Cuba is only 90 miles away from the world’s unipolar power.
Just imagine the courage of a leader who would firstly, overthrow by armed struggle, an American backed military junta and then move forward proclaiming loudly and clearly that “CUBA IS FOR SOCIALISM” while it is the opposite case - with his most powerful neighbours only 90 miles offshore!
And it is not surprising that Cuba had become a comprehensive textbook for the rest of the developing world in terms of resistance and ideological thrust.
Actually, even in terms of the media in the developing world, Fidel Castro and his colleagues in the struggle against the American backed military junta in his country, men such as Che Guevara had become quite an inspiration to journalists – most of them writing frequent commentaries and features on subsequent anniversaries of the death of Che Guevara and the triumph of the Cuban Revolution even in this newspaper as back as the 1980s.