Fidel Castro: Time to remember his legacy

Fidel Castro addressing the United Nations in 1960.
Saturday, August 11, 2012

This isn’t an obituary. Every now and again those who hope and pray for his death spread yet another rumour, only to be disappointed by a photo or a commentary in that unmistakable style, confirming that Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro is very much alive and making the most of his twilight years.

When the inevitable does happen, the world, admirers and detractors alike, will pause for reflection. The corporate media will saturate our inner recesses with words and images that convey, for the most part, how the 1% appraise his life and legacy. Just imagine the gloating on Fox News.

I suspect it will be harder, and take longer, for those who admire Fidel and feel a sense of loss at his passing to be heard amid this din.

The hundreds of millions of the 99% for who Fidel has been an inspiration, and for those globally for who he has been something of a political compass, and a spiritual compass in the secular sense, will want to reflect and recommit to our shared vision of a better world.

Thus will begin a new battle of ideas, a concept promoted by Fidel. Between the extremes of hatred for the man and sycophantic adulation lies a broad field for critical, nuanced reflection in the framework of the struggle for socialism.

But why wait for the inevitable before doing this? Better to begin now, while Fidel is still here and before the corporate vultures descend on his tomb.

In Sydney, Cuba solidarity activists are organising a conference to discuss the role of Fidel Castro's ideas and example in the 21st century.

In this necessary, timely endeavour we are joined, first and foremost, by millions of Cubans committed to the continuity of Cuba’s socialist project, the stage from which Fidel has set out to change the world and, to a degree, succeeded.

Would a pregnant woman in a remote East Timorese village be seen by a doctor today if it were not for Cuban medical personnel and medical training?

How much longer might apartheid have dragged on in South Africa if Cuban blood had not been shed in the sands and jungles of Angola and Namibia? Would Venezuela’s Bolivarian socialist revolution even exist? According to Hugo Chavez, probably not.

In this sense, “Fidel” is something more than an individual. As the leader of the Cuban Revolution, he has become associated with certain ethical values, ideas and ideals; a cause and a devotion to that cause. These include adherence to principles but rejection of sectarianism and dogmatism in the struggle for a better, socialist world.

Fidel Castro's essential message is one of hope, that we can reverse the gradual descent of global capitalism into a 21st-century barbarism, besieged by ecological collapse, if we can only unleash the power of masses of ordinary people acting together with a shared vision and strategic compass. His example is that of solidarity in a selfish world.

It is asking what we can contribute and share rather than what we can plunder and hoard. It is worrying about the infant mortality rate in Western Sahara and the waves lapping at the doorsteps of Pacific islanders, and doing something about it.

It is internationalism: the rejection of subservient seclusion behind our white-picket fences and national borders decked out in razor wire.

Australia doesn’t have a revolutionary tradition like that of Cuba. After the European invasion and dispossession of its Indigenous people the continent developed as an outgrowth of British imperialism.

Relative prosperity for most, thanks to a combination of circumstance and struggle, has blunted radical urges and channelled them into the English gentleman’s game known as parliamentary reformism.

Waves of progressive radicalisation have ebbed and flowed, but none has yet succeeded in placing the country under new management, as did the Cuban Revolution under Fidel’s leadership.

The next one may just do that, opening the way to a very different kind of Australia. Call it socialism or call it whatever, it will have to bury capitalism.

Fidel's example is one of 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 contribution and seeking the path of principled unity.

[Marce Cameron edits Cuba's Socialist Renewal blog. The Sydney conference discussing the ideas of Fidel Castro will take place over August 18-19 at the NSW Teachers Federation building, 23-33 Mary St, Surry Hills. ]

Comments

I find it hard to see a man that has created his own version of concentration camps, the UMAP (1), and that has admitted to being guilty of crimes against humanity an example for anyone. (2)
Fidel Castro is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people (3) and for the acts of politicide and democide, boih forms of genocide, the regime is listed by Genocide Watch (4).
The economy and agriculture of Cuba were destroyed. A once food exporting nation (taking sugar in to account) is now for 80% of its food dependent on imported food (5). The health service Soviet subsidies once financed is reduced to a corrupt system devoid of doctors, medicines and equipment for the Cuban people while a whole well equipped parallel system exists for tourists and the elite.
Freedom of speech is non-existent. Repressive laws ensure the regime stays in power (6).
Like other Stalinist dictatorships the Castro regime even denies its citizens the right to freely leave and return to their country (7).

Nobody can ever want a "Castro transformation" of his own society.
History will not absolve Fidel Castro. It will condemn him.

(1) http://umap.impela.net/
(2) Fidel Castro takes 'responsibility' for persecution of Cuban gays
, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2010, Link as of 08/12/2012,
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2010/09/castro-interview-gay-per...
(3) See data and links at: http://cubaverdad.net/genocide.htm
(4) Genocide Watch, The International Alliance to End Genocide
http://genocidewatch.org/genocide/genocidespoliticides.html
(5) http://cubafood.blogspot.be/p/80-imported.html
http://racionamientoencuba.impela.net/
(6) for a list see: http://www.cubaverdad.net/repressive_laws.htm
(7) http://salidailegal.impela.net/

Unfortunately, everyplace has had these types of issues:

"I find it hard to see a man that has created his own version of concentration camps, the UMAP (1), and that has admitted to being guilty of crimes against humanity an example for anyone. (2)
Fidel Castro is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people (3) and for the acts of politicide and democide, boih forms of genocide, the regime is listed by Genocide Watch (4)."

In Canada there was the Indian Residential School Genocide run bu the churches and the Federal Government. Where the Government would dispatch the RCMP off to Indian communities and forcibly gather up every child in the community until there wasn't a child anywhere, then send the to church run schools where they ended up being buried discreetly in mass graves after not surviving years of abuse. The last number I've heard was around 85,000 children... and still growing as we unearth these graves.

Also in Canada, there was the WWII Japanese internment, it goes on and on and on.

"The economy and agriculture of Cuba were destroyed. A once food exporting nation (taking sugar in to account) is now for 80% of its food dependent on imported food (5). The health service Soviet subsidies once financed is reduced to a corrupt system devoid of doctors, medicines and equipment for the Cuban people while a whole well equipped parallel system exists for tourists and the elite."

Whose fault is this really? Who has stopped exports from Cuba where something has to be done to survive? An illegal U.S. blockage on doing any business with Castro's Cuba is what did this and hurt Cubans, not Castro.

"Freedom of speech is non-existent. Repressive laws ensure the regime stays in power (6).
Like other Stalinist dictatorships the Castro regime even denies its citizens the right to freely leave and return to their country (7)."

One word. Wikileaks. The United States, and all their friends are trying hard to get Julian Assange on their soil. Once received, he'll be sent to Guatanamo Bay for obscene torture, much like Brandly Manning is most likely under going. All Manning tried to do was reveal some atrocities his country was performing. I would say there is no freedom of speech on either side.

Things always appear bright on the otherside, but I tell you this. People die in the emergency rooms of hospitals in Canada because they have to wait in a hallway for two days before they can ever see a doctor. I could go on and on, but I won't. I think I've made my point.

By the way the previous comment that I have seen posted everywhere by this troll is the typical right wing drivel that aims to target liberal types with doubts about the genuine accomplishments of Fidel Castro. By the way no cheaply out troll post will have an effect on a man that has defied empires and is still there. May my contempt as a proud Latin American go to those stooges of the empire and my respect for a true hero of Latin America