Homage to Fidel

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By Uriel Barrera

December 17, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In life, Fidel did not allow the establishment of a personality cult around him; so let’s make this painful occasion a tribute to his memory. Fidel was a fine student in an ecclesiastical high school; a university rebel, critical of society; a mass agitator, lawyer and politician and, in particular, an audacious guerrilla commander, who with his people in arms, overthrew the tyranny of his time. In his Defence for the Moncada Barracks assault, which initiated the armed struggle, Fidel proclaimed: "History will absolve me." But history did not absolve him, as his triumphant rebellion in fact changed the history of Cuba. A revolutionary stage began in a quest to build a new society, a more just and socialist-leaning society, seeking to share pains and joys, bonanzas and hardships with all equally. The furtherance of Human Rights became a reality; all those who didn’t know how to read were taught to read, enabling them to inquire about the origin of their existence; they got to know Marti better; to delight in the lyrics of Neruda and the magic of Garcia Marquez; they learned with The Open Veins of Latin America. Those who couldn’t read were taught to read so that they would become familiar with the Communist Manifesto, and become aware of their role within society. Health care was no longer a business. It became universal, public and efficient, so that no-one dies of curable diseases in Cuba while achieving, at the same time, one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in the world. Women were given the opportunity to conquer their freedom and achieve their well-deserved status within their communities. A radical Agrarian Reform was implemented, putting an end to devastating large scale land-holdings, and giving land to the dispossessed peasantry. Culture blossomed splendidly with the hues of the rich colours of its various ethnicities, generating important artistic and literary movements such as "The New Song Movement”, "The Latin American Film School", "Casa de las Americas", "The Escambray Theatre", "Classical Ballet”, “Radio Havana Cuba", etc. There have been great achievements in scientific fields, making important progress in biogenetics, medicine and agriculture. Cuba’s national dignity, which had previously been permanently violated by the Yankee gangsters, has been vindicated; and the principle of sovereignty was cemented when Fidel emphatically declared: "Cuba, Free Territory in the Americas." An important achievement in this process was to have nurtured and gathered the fruits of that internationalist and revolutionary, the forger of the New Man, the heroic guerrilla fighter, Ernesto Che Guevara. Revolutionary Cuba became the focus of the hatred of the powerful satrap of the North, which imposed a suffocating blockade on the Island, trying to eradicate its bad example and stifle the Revolution which was just blossoming. And if this were not bad enough, the satrap from the North launched an invasion by mercenaries onto Bay of Pigs, which Fidel, commanding the then recently established Revolutionary Armed Forces, defeated in less than 72 hours. As a result of that failed invasion, Fidel realised that the future of New Cuba was intrinsically linked to the liberation of the remaining oppressed and exploited countries of the Continent, and called on their peoples to fight for the "Second and Decisive Independence"; this time against the most powerful Empire ever to exist on earth. Fearing it would lose its backyard, the Empire furiously attacked, further tightening the blockade in all its aspects, and wielding a veiled threat of a direct invasion of Cuba, like many other invasions in our Continent and those it leads in other latitudes. Faced with those menacing prospects, Fidel agreed to allow its ideological ally, the former Soviet Union, to install missiles on the Island as a deterrent, to avert those mortal threats. The Empire reacted violently, placing the world on the brink of a thermonuclear war. At the crossroads, Fidel showed to be a great statesman and consummate humanist: Faithful to the principles of Sovereignty, and working hand-in-hand with his ally for world peace, they bravely faced that challenge and withdrew the missiles, avoiding war. Thus Cuba has, at least until now, been shielded from those horrific invasions. Fidel was also a prominent leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. His voice resounded like thunder in the bosom of the United Nations and other International Fora on anti-colonial struggle, which led to the liberation of African, Asian and Latin American countries. Sharing revolutionary solidarity, Cuban blood and lives were lost in Angola, defending its sovereignty. And as Nelson Mandela declared, Cuba’s defeat of the Boers’ apartheid legions in Angola opened the door to the future independence of South Africa. To a large number of young people from marginalised countries who cannot afford to study in their countries of origin, including some from the United States of America, the Revolution has given the opportunity to study in Cuba at no cost. Thousands of doctors, teachers and Cuban builders, roam our developing world, delivering their humanitarian contributions. Even here in Australia, there have recently been delegations of Cuban educators successfully implementing a literacy program, in English of course, for Aboriginal people. The soldier who executed Che, years later became ill and was blind. In a gesture of unparalleled revolutionary magnanimity, Cuban doctors who were volunteering in Bolivia generously restored his sight. They did so with the conviction, perhaps, that his gaze, which had been darkened by executioners above him, would now be illuminated by the light of reason. The Ophthalmological Clinic of Cuba has, gratuitously, restored the sight of thousands of Latin Americans, while the Revolution has, spontaneously, made millions of us see more clearly. The progressive breezes which have blown in our Continent are an expression of that clarity, and much of that came from agitating the branches of that single leading tree that was Fidel, agitation which became the framework and programme for 21st Century Socialism in Latin American, a process which is currently at risk. Because of its victory in the Cold War and the consequent collapse of the so- called Socialist Camp, the Empire and its lackeys believed the Cuban Revolution had only a few weeks of existence: The Revolution is there to stay, alive and kicking, thanks to the courage of its people who have followed Fidel’s resolute call for a "Socialist Homeland or Death". Having to defend itself from that predator, the Revolution has not been what it wanted to be: Cuba is no paradise, but for many reasons it has earned the respect and appreciation of all peoples of the world. Watching its revolutionary conquests, Cuba stands proud, like a hare standing on its two hind legs, facing a ferocious and hungry jackal. And the American people are also victims to that same jackal, which sends their children to kill and to die in strange lands, mixing blood with oil and serving the petty interests of profit. Fortunately, the jackal's tearing teeth are rotting away. The best tribute to be paid to Fidel is to gather his legacy of struggle against this barbaric capitalist system; a system which is based on the exploitation of the vast majority of humanity by a handful of petty dealers; which is reinforced by the plunder of weak nations; which is nourished by war; which with its production of agro-fuels to feed machinery, threatens to cause widespread famine. A system which ultimately boasts of incessantly increasing production of goods, enlarging its profits and causing pollution which tears the very entrails of the Pacha Mama, our Mother Nature, placing the human species, for the first time, in danger of extinction. This led Fidel to declare that "capitalism is incompatible with the very existence of humanity” To counter this barbarism, humanity has no choice other than that proclaimed by Fidel: "Socialism or Devastation." Faced with this scenario, Fidel explained to us: "To dream of impossible things is called utopia; but fighting for goals that are not only achievable but essential for the survival of the species, is called realism.” On that fight, Fidel warned us: "It is not enough to sit at the door of your house, waiting for the corpse and warden of imperialism to go by; you must fight it”. In essence, Fidel was one of those exceptional human beings born in our history; the product of the struggle of a people, living in an acrid revolutionary smell, to eventually become leaders of those struggling. Those of us who support the dignity of human beings and their complete realisation as social actors, are left with an enormous debt of gratitude to Fidel for his peculiar feats and valuable example. Without pretending to be Cubans, let us start paying off this debt by fighting – at a political level of course, to avoid being deemed terrorists - by fighting here and now, for the complete lifting of the blockade against Cuba; for the release of that piece of Cuba that is Guantanamo, which is now under imperial control, thus ceasing to be a shameful field of concentration and torture which muddies that Libertarian Island, so that Guantanamo reverts to a meadow, where its children who are resisting aggression will work, fight and sing the "Guantanamera", chanting Martì’s poem: "I want my luck to be linked to the poor of the land." A disciple of Tupac Amaruc, of José Martí, of Karl Marx, is gone. He is gone: The maestro of Che, Camilo Torres, Miguel Enriquez and many others fallen in the revolutionary struggle; a teacher for Hugo Chavez, who lived and died fighting for Latin American integration and liberation. While exploitation, injustice and domination exist, other teachers will come; other disciples will come. What a strong red flare dies away with the passing of Fidel! What a formidable and inspiring spirit dies away; what a great revolutionary ceases to act. His masterly deeds will endure in time, as long as humanity longs for a better world. To Fidel, with deep respect and great solemnity, let us farewell him with a deep and emotional Long Live Comandante Fidel! Honour and Glory, we remember you Fidel.