Readers remember Fidel
A girl stands next to a memorial to Fidel Castro in Guanabacoa on the outskirts of Havana on Nov. 29. | Natacha Pisarenko / AP

People’s World has received a number of submissions from readers and writers on the life and contributions of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Space does not permit us to publish all of them in full, so we present here a selection of remembrances.

Among the disrespected and abused, Fidel is there

Cuba’s revolutionary government under Fidel Castro’s leadership had to cope with contradictions, and it did so pragmatically. For example, in his plea to his judges in 1953 – published as “History will absolve me” – he expressed admiration for the ideals of liberal democracy. It turned out, however, that the powerful few weren’t about to share their wealth “for the good of all” (Martí’s words), or for any other reason. With conflict looming, Cuba’s revolution became a socialist one and the old guard moved aside.

The present writer, on listening to Fidel Castro speak before large audiences, discovered the teacher Fidel Castro. He leaned forward and in persuasion mode – as if speaking to government ministers or just plain people – provided facts, data, and historical background. As befits a teacher, he seemed to be respecting his listeners.

People in Latin America say “Presente!” when someone whom they admire dies. That word, when sounded publically and in unison in the United States, used to roll off the tongue without much thinking. Now, the word takes on meaning.

Fidel Castro spoke of peace and justice in “Our America” – that part of America south of the Rio Grande – and so he is present in Colombia where there’s still war, just as he was present there in 1948. He spoke for a Cuba where children, so it’s said, are the privileged class, and he is present where they are suffering now. Lastly, he had it arranged for Cuba to send doctors to a New Orleans flooded under Hurricane Katrina. That didn’t happen but Fidel Castro is surely present, even in the United States, wherever people are disrespected and abused.

– Tom Whitney

Cuba a better place than it was in 1959

Students and scholars understand that Fidel remains the most revered figure throughout Latin America – not by landlords, various groups of local capitalists, or the petty tyrants of whom Franklin D. Roosevelt accurately said in the 1930s, “They’re sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches.” For the masses of poor people, workers, farmers, and landless laborers, Fidel and the Cuban Revolution continue to be a source of inspiration. If it’s possible survive the fury of U.S. imperialism in what it regarded as its “home territory,” then working people can fight and win anywhere.

Donald Trump happily tweeted “Fidel Castro is dead!” Here a bully who never showed either moral or physical courage in his life hurls in his inimitable way posthumous insult at a man whose life was an example of both moral and physical courage. Perhaps Trump dreams now of a Trump Casino Hotel in Havana, the sort of abortion clinics for the American rich which existed under the Batista regime when abortion was illegal in the U.S., or even the return to Cuba of some his mob-connected former associates.

But it won’t happen because we who carry forward the battle against Trump on all fronts will refuse to let it happen. That is the debt we as Americans must pay to the Cuban people.

Fidel Castro outlived all of his major enemies. Cuba is a qualitatively better place for its people than it was in 1959 when the political revolution triumphed. He remains a model not only for Latin America, but for people fighting against exploitation and oppression throughout the world, including today the people of the United States, whose task is to fight and defeat “our son of bitch” – Donald Trump.

– Norman Markowitz


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