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On Castro

It is 1966. I am 18. We are first studying the politics of the Cuban revolution. With many others throughout the world inspired by Fidel and Che, we follow – all these years – the triumphs and failures of the Cuban revolutionary history – here sketched in articles on Fidel Castro’s life. Indeed, lessons on the challenges of trying to build socialism. But we are in new times.
The world to learn from Cuba
Charismatic leader of the revolution and president of Cuba who bestrode the world stage for half a century.
Richard Gott The Guardian

Thousands are in Santiago de Cuba to bid farewell to Fidel Castro, including many Latin American and international leaders. Fidel’s ashes have just traveled across the country. #HastaSiempreComandante
Black America and the Passing of Fidel Castro By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

It is impossible to discuss Fidel Castro outside of an examination of the Cuban Revolution. And, while I hear that there are many Cuban Americans dancing with glee upon news of the death of President Castro, I know that the emotions within Black America are and will continue to be quite different.

For any Black American who knows anything about the history of the Western Hemisphere, both Cuba and Haiti have a special significance. read thoughts here

I will not try to offer anything approaching an analysis of the man and his times. What I can say, however, is that there are certainly criticisms to be offered, and differences of opinion of the dynamics of the Cuban Revolution. That is all fair game. At the same time, it has been a rare moment when a leader, particularly of a small country, has been willing to thumb his or her nose at the capitalist juggernaut and seek a different path. Added to this has been, particularly in a Western Hemispheric context, the challenge of taking on racist oppression and approaching it as the cancer that it is, a disease to be removed.

The one and only time that I met Fidel Castro was in January 1999 when I was on a TransAfrica delegation led by the organization’s first president, Randall Robinson. At the last minute, the night before we were to leave Cuba, we were informed that we would have an opportunity to meet with President Castro.

It was close to midnight when we were informed that we needed to board the bus and head to his office. When we arrived we walked into a waiting room in anticipation of the meeting. Suddenly a door opened and out came an old man in an olive green uniform. Yes, it was Castro. I think, quite irrationally, I was expecting the young Castro of the 1960s. But here was someone about the same age as my father. He circulated around the room and was introduced to our delegation. We then retired to another room to begin our meeting.

It is hard to describe what happened next, and probably equally hard for anyone to believe it. We sat in the room with Castro until about 3:30am. He never lost a beat. He never seemed tired. In fact, as the minutes and hours went forward, he seemed to gain energy! Castro spoke with us about the Cuban Revolution, race, and many other issues. Yes, he spoke a lot, but we were transfixed. And, when we asked him questions, he would consider the matter and always offer a thoughtful response, rather than retreating into rhetoric. It was particularly illuminating when he informed us that the Cuban Revolution had underestimated the power of racism. As he said at the time, when the 26th of July Movement (the revolutionary organization that led the anti-Batista struggle) took power they thought that it was enough to render racist discrimination illegal and that should settle the matter. The entrenched power of racism, even in a society that was attempting to root it out, was more substantial than they had anticipated.

Hearing this from Castro represented a special moment. There has frequently been a defensiveness among Cuban officials about matters of race in Cuba, despite the tremendous advances that they have made, advances probably of greater significance than any other country in the Western Hemisphere. Yet, manifestations of racism remain and, to our surprise, Castro was prepared to address them.

My Life by Castro

Marta Harnecker: Fidel Castro today forever
You always understood that politics was not the art of the possible – a conservative vision of politics – but rather the art of making possible the impossible, not through voluntarist actions but by understanding that politics is the art of building a social, political and military correlation of forces that allows us to transform the existing conditions of struggle and make possible in the future that which seems impossible in the present.

Against the fatalism that reigned within the left at that time, you demonstrated it was possible to defeat a regular army despite the sophistication of its weapons. Using the guerrilla tactic of attacking the enemy by surprise at its weakest points, you carried out victorious actions that weakened both its military force and, above all, its morale.

But for you, the armed struggle was a means and not the objective . Like Marti, you believed that those who promoted a war in a country when it could be avoided were criminals; but so also were those who refused to fight in a war that had to be waged.

Your great historic merit is having being able to clearly define the decisive link that could break the chain and, by doing so, give victory to the revolution. In your case it was the struggle against the dictator Batista and the regime he ruled over.

You saw clearly the need to unite the broadest range of social forces to overthrow this tyranny. It was not enough to only consider working with revolutionary sectors, it was necessary to convoke reformist sectors and even those reactionary sectors that had minimal differences with the dictator.

Fidel Castro — Beyond Words by João Pedro Stédile
We lost Fidel. We gained a history of examples and wisdom.

The story of Fidel is beyond words — we cannot describe it with words alone. So I would like to just give a testimony.

He used all his wisdom, knowledge, leadership, and dedication to build, over 60 years, a united and organized people, who have become invincible, faced with the most powerful economic and military forces of the 20th century: the capital of the United States.

For all those years the people have learned how to face the worst adversities, be they natural, like their hurricanes, storms, and lost harvests. They have faced an intolerable economic blockade. They have faced a permanent war, including a military invasion — the Bay of Pigs in 1961. …
Our movement, the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST), has received permanent solidarity and support of the Cuban people, with their technical schools, at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), where hundreds of poor Brazilian youths have been trained. Our movement has acquired the experience and methods of adult literacy education (Yes, I Can!). Together we have built international links of movements: Vía Campesina; the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA); the World Meeting of Popular Movements with the Pope; the Cuban peasants of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) and the agroecology experts of the Cuban Association of Agriculture and Forestry Experts (ACTAF); the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC); the Martin Luther King Center; etc. But above all we have learned a great deal from their exemplary struggle and persistence….

I would just emphasize, for our activists, his example in two fundamental aspects of life. The love of study. Fidel was a permanent propagandist for the importance of study, scientific knowledge, and liberating education. He had constantly studied from youth till his last days. He used to always say, quoting his inspiration Jose Martí: “Only knowledge truly liberates people.”

He was always with his people, every moment, on the front line, in all difficult situations: in war, in the organization of production and knowledge. He spared no efforts and set an example of the spirit of sacrifice.

read the article here

Fidel Castro and the Question Of PowerVan Gosse says: “The U.S. had to be taught, over and over, that the strong do not always dictate. The legacy of the Cuban Revolution is their insistence on the independence and equality of peoples. Perhaps, in an era when neoliberal “globalization” carries all before it, that seems like an antique stance, left over from the era of anticolonial Third World revolution. I think not.”

Fidel Castro’s life, and the example of the Cuban Revolution, demonstrates the enduring relevance of state power. It is fundamentally irresponsible for anyone on the left to think one can avoid the question of power, and let someone else face its contradictions and deformations. Somebody will exercise it, for good or ill. Fidel Castro embraced this question, choosing to wield power in as many ways possible for what he deemed social goods, even on the global scale.
Fidel Castro was a towering champion of the oppressed, but we shouldn’t ignore the limits of the socialism he helped build.
by Mike Gonzalez
Again and again, Fidel Castro refused to surrender to threat or blackmail — it is that refusal that explains the blind fury and wrath of his enemies. Republican and Democrat administrations sustained the siege of Cuba for six decades, ranting in disbelief at their own ineffectiveness….After the Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro declared that the revolution was socialist. Though Fidel himself came from a radical nationalist background, his announcement was a recognition of both Cuba’s economic dependence on the Soviet Union and of the central role the soon-to-be-refounded Communist Party would play in its future.

In this context, socialism was understood to mean a strong centralized state along Soviet lines. This coincided with both Castro’s and Guevara’s views of how revolutions are won — by the actions of small and dedicated groups of cadre acting on behalf of the mass movement.

When the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Castro supported the action, confirming once again Cuba’s dependence on the Soviet Union and the nature of the new state in the wake of Che’s death. But in Southern Africa, the country asserted its own, bolder, foreign policy.

During the seventies, the role of Cuban forces were key to defeating right-wing insurgencies and sustained Castro’s anti-imperialist reputation. There is little doubt their actions hastened the end of apartheid. Yet in the Horn of Africa, Cuban troops defended governments allied with Soviet regional interests that brutally repressed internal liberation movements.

Fidel was never a pliant subordinate. He used his extraordinary charisma and clout to fire occasional warning shots towards Moscow, on the one hand, and to reinforce his personal control of the state on the other. The survivors of the guerrilla force that landed from the “Granma” in 1956 and brought down the Batista dictatorship remained, for the most part, at the center of power for the five decades that followed.

The socialism that Castro espoused had little resemblance to Marx’s “self-emancipation of the working class.” It was a socialism with a command structure much like that of the guerrilla army in which Fidel was commander-in-chief. What held it together was both Fidel’s incontestable authority and the unrelenting hostility of the United States, which not only tried to murder him hundreds of times but was willing to starve the Cuban people into submission.

Under these tough conditions, the system that the revolutionaries built left real gains. Most celebrated of these were efficient and universal systems of health and education. Beyond that, daily life was hard, even before the withdrawal of Soviet aid and the “special period” that followed, which brought the island to the brink of disaster. Read more of the article.

A major feature of Fidel Castro’s 47-year-old rule was his manipulation of popular support and the creation of a political system that does not hesitate to use repression, and not only against class enemies, to cement its power.

“For the Left, Fidel always had another meaning. He was the principal designer of a revolutionary socialist project of Latin American emancipation. He put into practice the objective inaugurated by Lenin in 1917 and therefore occupied in Latin America a place equivalent to that of the promotor of the soviets.

But unlike his precursor, Fidel led for decades the process he initiated in 1960. He can be assessed as much for his triumph as for his management.

From a longer-lasting perspective, Castro’s achievement is comparable with the campaigns undertaken by Bolívar and San Martín. He led regional actions attempting to link a second independence for Latin America with the international advance of socialism.

Fidel tackled these tasks of Cyclopean proportions while maintaining a very close relationship with his followers.

He addressed his messages to millions of sympathizers who cheered him on various continents. He achieved a rational and passionate connection with the multitudes who heard him speak in countless meetings.” Read here

Castro survives many US assignation attempts is fascinating on our understanding of the “secret” state

Castro’s life in photos ABC
Wall Street Journal Counting Castro’s victims
LNL 2013 ABC Radio on Cuba and Fidel
The Secret History of How Cuba Helped End Apartheid in South Africa
DECEMBER 11, 2013
Green left Socialist reflection 2012 to promote the conference “Fidel in the 21st Century: His Contribution and Ideas for a Better World”, at the New South Wales Teachers Federation building.
By Marce Cameron
The hundreds of millions of the 99% for whom Fidel has been something of a political compass, and a spiritual compass in the secular sense, will want to reflect and recommit to our shared visions of a better world — a world without Fidel, but nourished by his presence in our struggles.
…on solidarity internationally; Fidel is daring to dream of such a revolutionary transformation
of our own society. And working patiently towards it in ways that are meaningful to each of us, respecting each other’s contributions and seeking the path of principled unity. Fidel is contributing our little grain of sand to the revolutionary hourglass, recalling that he began his struggle with a handful of idealistic youth with hardly a cent among them.

ALP Socialist left Tristan Ewins on Castro

Vanguard tribute

From Links Castro and the Cuban Revolution
From Diego Maradona

Died my friend, my confidant, the one who advised me, the one who called me at any time to discuss politics, football, baseball, the one who told me that when it was Clinton who came was worse, that was bush. As he was not wrong, never for me fidel is, was and will be eternal, the only, the greatest. My heart hurts because the world loses the wisest of all.
Not just anyone grave a dictatorship with 20 men challenging the American Empire.
Not just anyone removes illiteracy in a year.
Not just anyone low infant mortality of 42 % to 4 %.
Not any way more than 130 thousand doctors, ensuring 1 Doctor per 130 people, with the highest rate of doctors per capita in the world.
Not everyone believes the greatest faculty of medicine in the world, graduando1500 foreign doctors per year, with 25.000 doctors graduates of 84 nations.
Don’t anyone send more than 30 thousand doctors to work in over 68 countries of the world by adding nearly 600.000 missions.
Not everyone gets to be the only Latin American nation without child malnutrition.
Not everyone gets to be the only Latin American country without drug problem.
Not everyone gets 100 % of schooling.
Not everyone can move in their country without seeing a single child sleeping on the street.
Not everyone gets to be the only country in the world that fulfills the ecological sustainability.
Not everyone gets that its population has 79 years of life expectancy at birth.
Not everyone believes vaccines against cancer.
Not everyone gets to be the only country that eradicates the mother to child transmission of HIV.
Not everyone gets to have the largest number of Olympic medals of Latin America.
Not everyone survives over 600 attempts on his life and 11 Presidents Americans trying to overthrow him.
Not everyone survives 50 years of blockade and economic war.
Not everyone gets to be 90 years old, with so much prominence in world history.
Loved by millions. Misunderstood by many others. What you can’t make anyone, is to ignore it.
R.I.P Fidel #Castro!


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