Many people still remember the historical exchange between Ted Koppel and Nelson Mandela on the ABC program Nightline, immediately after the defeat of apartheid. During their interview, Koppel tried to get Mandela to deny or at least downplay his relationship with Fidel Castro. But Mandela was lightening quick with his response: “Castro is my friend”, he insisted, “he was by my side during the struggle.” A collective wince vibrated through the living rooms of America. After all, America too was celebrating Mandela’s release and his victory over the racist apartheid regime; and now here he was praising the man (Castro) that the USA so much loved to hate. However, those who had followed the struggle for freedom knew that Mandela simply gave the only honest response that he could.
The history of the triumphs of the liberation struggles in Africa chronicles a consistent and sustained involvement of Cuban military, medical and humanitarian personnel on the frontline. Without that Cuban contribution those victories could not have been won. It is a fact the ANC along with the other resistance movements of southern Africa were major beneficiaries of Castro’s hands-on support. Fidel Castro firmly believed that it was the duty of the Black Cuban, whose right to empowerment he had ensured via the Revolution, to fight for the liberation of his African brothers. That act of brotherly solidarity transcended any political stigmatization. Today, South Africa and the ANC control their own destiny without any interference from Cuba, yet they can fully credit Castro for their empowerment. No quid pro quo here.
From Angola to Zimbabwe, Namibia to Mozambique, the Cuban contribution to each country’s eventual victory over white colonial domination is proudly celebrated. Those people will be eternally grateful that the Cuban solider shed his blood right alongside his African kin in the fight for freedom. That the Castro’s Socialist Revolution has empowered the Black and oppressed peoples of Cuba can be measured in graphic proportions. From academic to athletic and from health to happiness, the oppressed Cuban is now provided with the best of that countries services and opportunities. But it is not just Cuba; so many developing countries of the world have benefitted from help provided by the socialist revolution of Castro. Cuban doctors and social workers serve selflessly throughout the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Cuban architects and engineers work on public projects in neglected places all over the world, without fanfare or recognition. Yet the champions of democracy led by the USA continue to vilify Castro (even in death) and the Cuban Socialist Revolution.
To fully understand the depth of Castro and the Cuban revolution however, we must revisit history. When Castro and his men removed the oppressive dictator he was shunned by the USA and the other so-called Western democracies. He sought and received some economic support from the then communist USSR. Since he had declared that his revolution would adopt a socialist model of economics, he was immediately labeled a communist. This designation coming at the heat of the cold war between the USA and the USSR, condemned Fidel Castro to the permanent status of : American public enemy #1. Since then his Socialist Revolution has been constantly condemned as a failure by the most powerful nation on earth, the USA.
But the real Cuban people have overwhelmingly embraced Castro and his efforts to improve the human condition even in the face of the most suffocating economic embargo in modern history imposed by the mighty USA. Let us see what Castro’s “evil” Socialist system has achieved over the past fifty plus years: the highest literacy rate and the best health service the world; almost complete victory over the HIV; providing and training doctors and medical personnel to most developing countries; building bridges and roads from Eretria to Jamaica and providing unlimited qualified human resources to the oppressed and impoverished countries across the world. With this record of ongoing unconditional contributions to the improving the lives of the disadvantaged everywhere, the Cuban Socialist Revolution does not appear to fit that definition of “evil”.
Yes, Fidel Castro is dead. Long live Fidel Castro! Viva la Revolution!