Saturday, August 13, 2016
“Treat me like one of your own” Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro once told Cuban journalists, on another occasion writing that being among them felt like being among family
Author: Tubal Páez | email@example.com
GRANMA, August 12, 2016 17:08:30
Fidel in the linotype workshop with then editor of Granma Jorge Enrique Mendoza, June 10, 1970. Photo: Valiente, Jorge
“Treat me like one of your own” Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro once told Cuban journalists, on another occasion writing that being among them felt like being among family. Such statements, made by someone who has always professed an unwavering respect for the truth, and profound distain for demagogy, express a genuine sincerity, especially when we remember that communication and the press were an intrinsic part of Fidel’s political activity, which began at an early age.
This family continued to grow around the revolutionary leader starting with the comrades that worked alongside him on radio broadcasts in his days at Radio Rebelde in the Sierra Maestra, to the revolutionary press which developed after the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959, spreading to other latitudes with Operation Truth that same year; it also included colleagues who worked in television; strengthened and expanded by the efforts of all to combat U.S. imperialism and the corporative media in Cuba, opposed to the social measures being implemented.
At transcendental moments during Cuba’s revolutionary process, it was however at Granma where Fidel simultaneously conveyed his directives – in the form of editorials, articles and news reports – to the leadership of mass organizations, state institutions, and the people. A former colleague, Juan Marrero vividly recalls one of these moments, which saw him take on a leading role in an intense nationwide mobilization led by Fidel from Granma, in solidarity with the sister people of Peru, victims of a devastating earthquake in 1970.
Fidel entitled one of the two editorials he wrote regarding the tragedy, “Blood needed to help Peruvians.” In the other article published 10 days later, he reported that Cubans had made 104,594 voluntary blood donations. The country’s political leadership also turned to Granma to address other exceptional situations, for example following the events which occurred as a result of the incident at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana in May 1980, which sparked mass protests by the revolutionary Cuban people and ended with the government authorizing citizens to leave the island from Mariel bay.
The Granma family learned many valuable lessons in ethics, history, politics and journalism from the Comandante en Jefe. For me, perhaps the most important of all, given its drama and impact on the nation, and the fact that it constitutes a prime example of Fidel’s strength of character, was when he officially announced that the 10 million ton sugar harvest of 1970 had not been met.
Fidel arrived at the paper at midnight and typed the word “Defeat” in red ink on the back of a press dispatch. This was the headline he proposed for the next edition. Those of us present didn’t share the same view of the day’s top story, having witnessed his colossal personal effort and that of the national campaign involving millions of Cubans who, despite failing to reach the goal, produced the largest sugar harvest in the country’s history.
We disagreed citing various reasons, but he was decided. He argued, with brutal honesty, that the previous day, following the rescue of a group of fishermen kidnapped by a terrorist faction, the almost half-a-page headline on Cuba’s main newspaper had read “Victory.” We hadn’t been able to convince him by the time he left the editing room.
Later that May morning of 1970, Fidel returned and said: “We’re going to change the headline.” The front page of the May 20th edition was informative, bold and fair. The article was appropriately self-critical and defiant: “We will not reach 10 million tons.” “We have worked so hard for this; we have devoted our last atom of energy, thought, and feeling to this endeavor, and the only thing I have left to say to any Cuban, to he or she who feels deeply hurt by this news, is that this pain is the same pain we all feel, and the same pain felt by all our comrades.”
”More courage and bravery than ever!” He concluded with a thought that would guide future actions: “We must have the revolutionary integrity to turn defeat into victory.”
In those years the Granma daily was composed of a larger team than the one we have today, including typesetters, printers and distribution staff, responsibilities which would later be assumed by other entities.
Many members of staff knew Fidel from his former links with important media outlets and presence in the printing press, where the young revolutionary would chose the letter-sizing for the headlines of his articles.
Years later, as President, he continued to visit this important which no longer exists due to modern technology; where he would greet old acquaintances and ask them about their working conditions and health, speaking with them at length, just like old friends. I remember Silvio Rayón who came from Alerta, a daily that published important works by Fidel; and also the editorial staff, who were his colleagues at Radio Rebelde, such as Jorge Enrique Mendoza, editor of the paper, Ricardo Martínez and Orestes Valera. Other witnesses to those nights and early mornings, such as copy editors, photographers, cartoonists, correctors, designers, managers, secretaries and archive staff have special stories, anecdotes and memories of their encounters with this exceptional man, leader of the people and one of the greatest revolutionaries in history, who on his 90th birthday remains faithful to his principles, ideas and an example of someone committed to working for the benefit of others.
PHOTOS: Fidel Castro at 90
By DAN KOVALIK
AUGUST 12, 2016
On Saturday, August 13, the world will celebrate the 90th birthday of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro Ruz, the only individual ever to be acknowledged by the UN as a “World Hero of Solidarity.” It is very hard to think of a more important world leader than Fidel. The contribution he has made to the world socialist movement, to the Third World liberation struggle and to social justice has been monumental – especially when one considers that he has been the leader of a tiny country with roughly the same population as New York City.
At the current time, the Colombian government and leftist FARC guerillas are engaged in a peace process in Havana, and are very near to reaching a final peace accord, in large part due to Fidel’s efforts.
As Nelson Mandela himself has acknowledged, South Africa is free from apartheid in no small measure due to Fidel’s leadership in militarily aiding the liberation struggles in Southern Africa, especially in Angola and Namibia, against the South African military which was then being supported by the United States.
In addition, The Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in Cuba, which trains doctors from all around the world, but particularly from poor countries, was Fidel’s brainchild. Today, 70 countries from around the world benefit from Cuba’s medical internationalism, including Haiti where Cuban doctors have been, according to The New York Times, at the forefront of the fight against cholera.
As we speak, Cuba has hundreds of doctors working in the slums of Caracas, Venezuela where Venezuelan doctors fear to tread. There are Cuban-trained doctors in remote parts of Honduras which are otherwise not served by the Honduran government. Patients from 26 Latin American & Caribbean countries have traveled to Cuba to have their eyesight restored by Cuban doctors. Among this list is Mario Teran, the Bolivian soldier who shot and killed Che Guevara. The Cubans not only forgave Mario, but also returned his eyesight to him. Cuba even offered to send 1,500 doctors to minister to the victims of the Hurricane Katrina, though this kind offer was rejected by the United States
As Piero Gleijeses, a professor at John Hopkins University, wrote in his book Conflicting Missions about Cuba’s outreach to Algeria shortly after the Cuban Revolution:
It was an unusual gesture: an underdeveloped country tendering free aid to another in even more dire straits. It was offered at a time when the exodus of doctors from Cuba following the revolution had forced the government to stretch its resources while launching its domestic programs to increase mass access to health care. ‘It was like a beggar offering his help, but we knew the Algerian people needed it even more than we did and that they deserved it,’ [Cuban Minister of Public Health] Machado Ventura remarked. It was an act of solidarity that brought no tangible benefit and came at real material cost.
These words are just as true today as they were then, as this act of solidarity is repeated by Cuba over and over again throughout the world. And, it has been done even as Cuba has struggled to survive in the face of a 55-year embargo by the United States which has cost it billions of dollars in potential revenue, and even as it has endured numerous acts of terrorism by the United States and U.S.-supported mercenaries over the years.
Just recently, I was reminded of the fact that, for the past 25 years, Cuba has been treating 26,000 Ukrainian citizens affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident at its Tarara international medical center in Havana. Cuba has continued to do so, it must be emphasized, though even the potential for any help for this effort from the Soviet Union passed long ago.
According to Hugo Chavez, when he came to power in Venezuela in 1999, “the only light on the house at that time was Cuba,” meaning that Cuba was the only country in the region free of U.S. imperial domination. Thanks to the perseverance of Fidel and the Cuban people, now much of Latin America has been freed from the bonds of the U.S. Empire.
That Cuba not only stands 25 years after the collapse of the USSR, but indeed prospers and remains as a beacon to other countries, is a testament to Fidel’s revolutionary fervor and fortitude. Indeed, Fidel’s very life at this point – one that the U.S. has tried to extinguish on literally hundreds of occasions – itself constitutes an act of brave deviance against wealth, power and imperialist aggression. Incredibly, Fidel has survived 12 U.S. Presidents, a full quarter of all the U.S. Presidents since the founding of our nation.
I join the world in honoring Fidel Castro Ruz on his birthday, and hope that he continues to live and to lead for some time to come.
Daniel Kovalik lives in Pittsburgh and teaches International Human Rights Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
By R Arun Kumar
People’s Democracy, August 07, 2016
THIS 13th August, we will be celebrating the 90th birthday of one of the living legends of our times – Fidel Castro Ruz. Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926 in a relatively well-to-do family and studied in various religious schools for the wealthy, before graduating in law from the University of Havana. For many, this would have provided the perfect platform to pursue conservative politics. But not for Fidel, as he is fondly called. He chose a different path, to become one of the greatest and finest revolutionaries. He not only challenged the imperialist hegemon, the US, from what it considered was its 'backyard', but stood up to it without flinching. All the attempts of the US to bring down Cuba to its knees have spectacularly failed. Instead of Cuba getting isolated in the region and the world, it is the US, which is getting increasingly alienated from the people of the world. And Fidel Castro had a major role to play in all these developments.
Fidel took an interest in student activism while studying law and was attracted to Left, anti-imperialist politics. He was a voracious reader, a trait we observe in many of the leading revolutionaries. Though he was aware of the writings of Marx and Lenin, having read them, it was Marti who had a tremendous influence on him, whom he read and re-read extensively. Taking inspiration from Marti, he joined the rebellions against right-wing governments in Dominican Republic and Colombia, apart from protesting the dictatorial rule in his own country. During his early days of activism, he joined the Party of the Cuban People (Partido Ortodoxo) led by Eduardo Chibas, attracted by its slogans for social justice, honest government and political freedom. It is during this time he started publishing a clandestine newspaper El Acusador (The Accuser), exposing the corrupt and anti-people Batista regime. It is during this time, that he started mobilising people against the Batista government. As a part of these efforts, Fidel and his group planned to attack the Moncada garrison on July 26, 1953. Though this attack failed and many of the participants, including Fidel were captured, it marked a significant turning point in the history of Cuban revolution.
In a speech he gave enthusing the participants in the attack on Moncada garrison, he stated: “In a few hours you will be victorious or defeated, but regardless of the outcome – listen well, friends – this Movement will triumph...If we fail, our action will nevertheless set an example for the Cuban people, and from the people will arise fresh new men willing to die for Cuba”. These words are indeed prophetic, because Moncada attack had failed, but the 'Movement' lived. People began organising under the banner of 26 July Movement, which played an important role in the overthrow of Batista government and success of the Cuban Revolution. The speech Fidel gave in defence of his activities, during his trial in the court, 'History will absolve me', became very famous and was considered as an exposition of the ideals for which the fight should be carried on.
After being released from imprisonment due to popular pressure, Fidel once again plunged into mobilising people against the Batista government. Announcing that he was “leaving Cuba because all doors of peaceful struggle have been closed...I believe the hour has come to take our rights and not beg for them, to fight instead of pleading for them”, he left for Mexico, where he organised a group of revolutionaries. It is here that he had met Che Guevara, who joined the Castro brothers – both Fidel and Raul – along with other Cuban revolutionaries in the famous Granma expedition. They started with 82 people on board but many lost their lives immediately in the attack that followed on their way towards the Sierra Maestra mountains. According to Fidel, the fight resumed “with seven armed men, who managed to reunite on December 18”. After the addition of some more members of Granma yacht who joined the group, “A small force of no more than 18 expedition members and a number of young campesinos from the Sierra achieved the first victories on January 17 and 22, 1957”. It is because of this heroism and never-say-die attitude even in the face of fierce repression that Fidel Castro became famous.
The barbudos, the bearded guerillas, as they were called, were supported by the Cuban people, both in the urban and rural areas. The local leaders of the July 26 Movement were active in the cities and rural areas, supplementing the armed struggle of the guerillas in the mountains. Unable to withstand the increasing popular anger against the regime and having failed to defeat the guerillas led by Fidel, Batista was forced to flee from the country on January 1, 1959. The Revolution triumphed, with a victorious Fidel, accompanied by Che, Raul and Camillo marching into Havana. Fidel served as the prime minster of the country from 1959 to 1976 and then as the president from 1976 to 2008.
The US began its efforts to subvert Cuban revolution, immediately after the decrees passed by the revolutionary government undermined its economic interests in the island. The nationalisation of US companies that were exploiting the Cuban people and resources for many years, had further angered the US corporates and the government. It is then that the US government had imposed its infamous trade embargo, to squeeze and bleed Cuba to submission. The US, all the years hence, instead of withdrawing the embargo, only further tightened its screws through the imposition of Helms-Burton Act and Cuba Adjustment Act. It is undoubtedly to the credit of Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba that they withstood this inhuman blockade without compromising.
Fidel Castro became the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1961, after the Revolution declared its socialist characteristics and continued in this responsibility till 2011. In 2002, socialism as an irrevocable characteristic of the Cuban State was enshrined in the constitution. Eight million Cubans have signed the petition for this change to be brought into the constitution, as a response to the threat issued by Bush to 'change the socio-economic, political system in Cuba, in the aftermath of 9/11 (2001). The reasons for people's belief in socialism were not far to fathom, when one considers the transformation achieved in Cuban society. The tremendous advancements made possible by the Revolution, in the fields of education, health, social equality and employment, in spite of the blockade, inspired people to stay true to the cause of socialism. This was also made possible because, Fidel and the Communist Party took the people into confidence in all the decisions that were taken and also admitted frankly before them the mistakes that were committed in the process of socialist construction.
Fidel Castro says: “For a pretty long time, there's been a tendency here to assume that criticism, denunciations of things not done right, play into the hands of the enemy, aid the enemy, aid the counter-revolution. Sometimes there's a fear of reporting on something because people think it might be helpful to the enemy...And we've encouraged a critical spirit. I have been stimulating (that critical spirit) to the maximum, because it's fundamental to perfecting our system. Of course we know that there are drawbacks, but we want responsible criticism. And despite the possible consequences, anything is better than the absence of criticism”. And further, “In this battle against vices there will be no quarter given anyone, we're going to call a spade a spade, and we are going to appeal to the honour of each sector...And a revolutionary's first duty is to be extremely harsh with himself. We are going to fight this battle, and use the highest calibre weapons we have”. It is this brutal honesty with the people that Fidel employed in his communication with them, that had won their trust.
Fidel has enormous confidence in the people. This is reflected in his response to the US efforts to project socialist system as a failed and outmoded concept. He invited the then president of the US, George Bush to come to Cuba and debate with the people. He promised to mobilise people, filling up the Plaza de la Revolucion and also setting up loudspeakers all over the country so that their arguments can be heard by all the people. Fidel confidently states, “the vast majority of the people of Cuba support the Revolution unwaveringly” and that socialism is “not a question of living by dogmas, it is a question of defending what you think on the basis of arguments, reasoning”.
Fidel, is one of the finest orators who is heard in rapt attention, even when he speaks for hours together. He is considered a workaholic, whose day ends at two or three in the early morning. He barely sleeps for more than four hours and he continued to work at this pace till he relieved himself of all his responsibilities. He saw the US governed by ten presidents spend millions of dollars to subvert socialist Cuba. He survived nearly 600 assassination attempts on his life. On another plane, many eminent intellectuals, statesmen, artists, sports personalities expressed their admiration for him. People thronged to see him and hear him speak, not only in Cuba and in Latin America, but in other parts of the world as well.
In spite of all this adulation, he modestly assesses himself as: “I like actions; I am not interested in glory. I'm also witness to the fact that throughout the years, influence, power, rather than gradually making me conceited, vain and all that – every day, I think, I am less conceited, less pretentious, less self-satisfied. It's a struggle against your instincts, you know. I believe that it's education, or sincere and tenacious self-education, that turns a small animal into a man. One thing I see quite often: when men have a little power, they get all puffed up and want to use it; sometimes it's almost like a drug. You see all those things, and it's a constant struggle. And I know that as the years pass, it's possible to have not less enthusiasm, but more; not less energy, but more – energy stems from conviction...I never lose spirit, and I believe in people; I have never had any sense of ingratitude”.
It is his conviction in socialism, equality, social justice, freedom, liberty and belief in people that earned him the admiration of the oppressed people all over the world. Love him or hate him, Fidel is someone, who cannot be ignored.
On his 90th birthday, let us learn from his life and rededicate ourselves to the struggle for a world free of exploitation and discrimination. Hasta la victoria siempre! (Until the eternal victory)
by Fidel Castro
Remarks by the leader of the Cuban
Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, during
the closing of the 7th Party Congress
It constitutes, compañeros, a superhuman effort to lead any people in times of crisis. Without them, the changes would be impossible. In a meeting such as this, which brings together more than a thousand representatives chosen by the revolutionary people themselves, who delegated their authority to them, for all it represents the greatest honor they have received in their lives, to which is added the privilege of being a revolutionary which is the product of our own consciousness.
Why did I become a socialist, or more plainly, why did I become a communist? That word that expresses the concept most distorted and maligned in history by those who have the privilege of exploiting the poor, dispossessed ever since they were deprived of all the material wealth that work, talent, and human energy provide. How long has man lived in this dilemma, throughout time without limit? I know you do not need this explanation but perhaps some listeners do.
I speak simply so it is better understood that I am not ignorant, extremist, or blind, nor did I acquire my ideology on my own, studying economics.
I did not have a tutor when I was a student of law and political science, in which the former is of major importance. Of course then I was around 20 years old and was fond of sports and mountain climbing. Without a tutor to help me in the study of Marxism-Leninism, I was no more than a theorist and, of course, had total confidence in the Soviet Union. Lenin's work violated after 70 years of Revolution. What a history lesson! It is safe to say that it should not take another 70 years before another event like the Russian Revolution occurs, in order that humanity have another example of a magnificent social revolution that marked a huge step in the struggle against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.
Perhaps, however, the greatest danger hanging over the earth today derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry which could undermine the peace of the planet and make human life on earth's surface impossible.
The species would disappear like the dinosaurs disappeared; perhaps there will be time for new forms of intelligent life, or maybe the sun's heat will increase until it melts all the planets of the solar system and its satellites, as many scientists recognize. If the theories of several of them, of which we laypeople are not unaware, are true, the practical man must learn more and adapt to reality. If the species survives much longer the future generations will know much more than we do, but first they will have to solve a huge problem. How to feed the billions of human beings whose realities are inevitably at odds with the limits of the drinking water and natural resources that they need?
Some or perhaps many of you are wondering where is the politics in this speech. Believe me I am sad to say it, but the politics is here in these moderate words. Let us hope that many of us human beings will concern ourselves with these realities and not continue as in the times of Adam and Eve eating forbidden apples. Who will feed the thirsty people of Africa with no technology at their disposal, no rain, no reservoirs, no more underground aquifers except those covered by sands? We will see what the governments, just about all of which signed the climate commitments, say.
We must constantly hammer away at these issues and I do not want to elaborate beyond the essentials.
I shall soon turn 90. Such an idea would never have occurred to me and it was never the result of an effort; it was sheer chance. I will soon be like everyone else. Our turn will come, to all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain, as proof that, on this planet, if we work with fervor and dignity we can produce the material and cultural wealth that human beings need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain it. To our brothers in Latin America and the world we must convey that the Cuban people will overcome.
This may be one of the last times that I speak in this room. I voted for all the candidates submitted for election by Congress and I appreciate the invitation and the honor of your listening to me. I congratulate you all, and firstly compañero Raúl Castro, for your magnificent effort.
We will march on and perfect what we should perfect, with the utmost loyalty and united force, like Martí, Maceo, and Gómez, in an unstoppable march.
We don’t need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because our commitment is to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.
March 28, 2016 12:03:14
The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.
Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.
Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add - principally for the youth - that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.
Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.
Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary...” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.
Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.
Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:
“We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”
The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution - that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.
In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries
As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.
The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.
Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and - surprise! - the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.
Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.
I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.
There is an important issue:
Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”
I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?
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.
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. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 27, 2016
Fidel indicates that he joins all those who congratulated the Venezuelan President for the brilliant, valiant speech he made on the night of December 6, as soon as the election results were announced
December 11, 2015 09:12:32
I share the unanimous opinion of those who have congratulated you for your brilliant, valiant speech on the night of December 6, as soon as the election’s outcome was announced
In world history, the highest level of political glory which a revolutionary can reach, is that of the illustrious Venezuelan combatant, Liberator of America, Simón Bolívar, whose name now belongs not only to this sister country, but to all peoples of Latin America.
Another Venezuelan official of honorable legacy, Hugo Chávez, understood and admired him and struggled for his ideas until the last moment of his life. As a boy, attending elementary school in the country where the poor children of Bolívar were obliged to work to help support their families, he developed the spirit in which the Liberator of America was forged.
The millions of children and youth who today attend the largest and most modern system of public schools in the world are Venezuelan. More can be said about the country’s network of medical care centers and the attention paid to the health of its people, brave but poor as a result of centuries of plunder by Spanish colonialism, and later by huge transnationals, which for more than 100 years extracted from its entrails the best of the immense oil reserves nature bestowed on this country.
History also bears witness that workers exist, and make possible the enjoyment of nutritious food, medicine, education, security, housing and the world’s solidarity. You could ask the oligarchy, if you like: Do you know all of this?
Cuban revolutionaries - just a few miles from the United States, which always dreamed of taking possession of Cuba to make it a hybrid casino-brothel, as a way of life for the children of José Martí - will never renounce their full independence or respect for their dignity.
I am sure that human life on Earth can only be preserved with peace among all peoples of the Earth, and acknowledgement of the right to make the planet’s natural resources common property, as well as the sciences and technologies created by human beings to benefit all of its inhabitants. If humanity continues along the path of exploitation and the plunder of its resources by transnationals and imperialist banks, the representatives of states meeting in Paris, will draw the relevant conclusions.
Security does not exist today for anyone. There are nine states which possess nuclear weapons. One of them, the United States, dropped two bombs which killed hundreds of thousands of people in just three days, and caused physical and psychological harm to millions of defenseless people.
The People’s Republic of China and Russia know the world’s problems much better than the United States, because they were obliged to endure the terrible wars imposed on them by fascism’s blind egoism. I do not doubt that, given their historical traditions and their own revolutionary experience, they will make the greatest effort to avoid a war and contribute to the peaceful development of Venezuela, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Fidel Castro Ruz
December 10, 2015
By Joshua Keating
The Slate, SEPT. 21 2015 1:06 PM
Cuban former President Fidel Castro (R) talks with Pope Francis (L) as Castro's wife Dalia Soto del Valle looks on in Havana, Cuba, September 20, 2015.
Photo by Alex Castro/AIN via Reuters
If you haven’t been following Fidel Castro’s odd post-presidency, you might have been surprised to see the former Cuban leader wearing a blue Adidas tracksuit during his meeting with Pope Francis on Sunday. You shouldn’t be. Since his retirement, comfy athletic-wear has replaced military fatigues as the aging revolutionary’s signature look.
He was first shown wearing the outfit while still president, after recovering from surgery in 2006. Since retiring in 2008, he has occasionally slipped back into his old uniform for major public events, but by and large, has stuck to the sporty grandpa look during his rare public appearances. It would have been much more surprising if the atheist Castro had put on a suit and tie for his meeting with the visiting pontiff. After all, Castro has worn his tracksuits, usually over button-down shirts, to meet with visiting dignitaries including, Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, France’s Francois Hollande, and many others. Castro’s protégé Hugo Chavez even got into the act, wearing a Venezuelan-flag patterned tracksuit of his own to a meeting with his hero in 2011.
Castro has a collection that includes Nike, Puma, Fila and Reebok, but Adidas seems to be his favorite. A representative for the German sportswear manufacturertold the New York Times in 2006 that the company views Castro’s endorsement as “not a positive, not a negative.”
So why does Castro dress like he’s on his way to a shuffleboard engagement when world leaders come to pay a visit? There are a few possible explanations. The Marxist ex-leader may view business-wear as a bit too bourgeois; he rarely wore suits when he was in office with his drab olive fatigues symbolizing the continuing revolutionary struggle.
It may be something of a power play, making clear to foreign heads of state, many of whom were young children when he took power, that he feels no obligation to get dolled up for them when they come to pay their respects.
It may also be a sign of respect to his little brother Raul, the current president. When Fidel retired, many wondered if he would continue to exercise power behind the scenes. The outfits send a signal that he is very much retired. (Raul also keeps it pretty casual by world leader standards, but he did put on a suit and tie to greet the pope.)
Or maybe Fidel just likes to stay comfortable.
Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs.