FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Breaking the Chains of Empire: the Enduring Legacy of Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro dedicated his life to the resistance of empire and the ocean of injustice and oppression inflicted in its name. Though his death may mark the end of the man, it gives birth to a legend that will endure for centuries to come.

Such is the legacy that Fidel leaves behind it is impossible to fully comprehend the sheer magnitude of the role he played in breaking the chains of millions across the Third World, both literally and figuratively, in defiance of the racist conceit of apologists for imperialism. From leading a revolution that succeeded against the odds in toppling the pro-Washington dictator, Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he went on to not only make history but mold and shape it thereafter.

When he first came to world prominence as leader of the Cuban Revolution at the age of 30, rolling into Havana on a captured tank under a blazing Caribbean sun, the long beards, unkempt hair and anarchic energy that he and his comrades carried cemented their place as harbingers of a new chapter in the development of the global South. With daring, courage, and belief they proved it was possible to break the chains of exploitation, injustice, and degradation that had scarred the lives of so many generations before them, forging in their place a future of justice, human solidarity, and dignity.

In 1959 Dwight D Eisenhower was sitting in the White House and Barack Obama’s birth still lay two years ahead. Ten US presidents and thousands of assassination attempts later and still they could not defeat him, while never for a second did he resile from his unflinching commitment to the ideals that originally drove him and his comrades to emancipate the Cuban people from the economic and geopolitical clutches of Washington.

Evidence that this flame of defiance and revolution never went out despite his advancing years was provided by the rebuke he delivered to Obama in response to his address to the Cuban leadership and people during his state visit to the island earlier this year. Fidel’s reply to the President’s patronizing lecture on democracy and human rights came by way of a 1500 word letter in the country’s official newspaper, the ‘Granma’. In it he reminded the Cuban people, Obama, and the world at large of the history of mendacity that had informed not only Washington’s relations with Cuba but also Africa, to where Obama traces his own ancestral origins.

As Castro wrote: “Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.” He went on: “I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything.”

Even towards the end of his life he was under no illusions when it came to rapprochement with Washington. How could he after his long experience of its role in trampling the rights, lives, and dignity of millions of human beings, the vast majority of them people of color, across the world? How could he retreat for a moment from his unwavering stance against imperialism and the slavery it had inflicted on its victims?

The magnitude of the shadow that Fidel cast over global events for half a century is testament to the fierce attachment to internationalism that underpinned his worldview. No greater tribute to that internationalism was Cuba’s role in defeating apartheid in South Africa. Though conveniently omitted from the official history of the anti apartheid struggle that predominates in the West, the truth of Fidel Castro and Cuba’s indispensable role cannot be denied. Indeed none other than Nelson Mandela went to his grave saluting it.

As Mandela said when he visited the island in 1991, just a few weeks after being released from captivity on Robben Island: “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom, and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.”

The deployment of thousands of Cuban troops to Angola in the 1970s and 80s, their success in breaking the myth of white supremacy in confronting and defeating US and Western supported apartheid South African troops, stands as one of the most powerful examples of international solidarity the world has witnessed.

In truth, there are so many examples of Fidel’s unwavering stance in solidarity with the oppressed against their oppressors it would take an entire book to list them all. Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, Bobby Sands, Ben Bella – the roll call of legendary revolutionaries and freedom fighters who came and went in Fidel’s lifetime marks by itself a tribute to his legacy and the tempestuous period he lived through.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Fidel’s legacy is the way he transformed the lives of millions of Cubans in the realms of educationhealthcare, and sustainable development, albeit truncated by a decades-long US trade embargo inflicted on the island and its people with the objective of bringing it to its knees. However even through the ‘special period’ of the 1990s, when after the demise of the Soviet Union Cuba stood alone as a socialist country and society in a sea of global capitalism, the revolution survived.

That it did was testament to the society it had produced, one in which its people understood the difference between sharing what you have left over and sharing what you have.

“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past,” Fidel once memorably said. Though the man has died the ideas for which he struggled and to which he dedicated his life will undoubtedly live on, not just in Cuba but anywhere imperialism and the exploitation of the weak by the strong is a fact of life.

Though his detractors may celebrate his death, the truth will prevail. And the truth when it comes to Fidel Castro is that not only did the Cuban Revolution give life to millions in Cuba and throughout the Third World, it gave millions reason to live.

This was and remains the beauty of it. And it was and will always remain the beauty of Fidel Castro.

More articles by:

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail