A look at Fidel Castro’s Cuba

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
February 20, 2008

Fidel Castro in 2003Revered maximum leader Fidel Castro has decided to demit office as President and Commander-in-Chief of Communist Cuba due to ill health.

While the Bush Administration in the United States is euphoric to see Castro finally off the anti-America radar screen, the geo-political achievements/milestones of Comrade Fidel Castro “can’t be wiped away so easily” nor be down-graded.

Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba through armed revolution. He overthrew the pro-United States dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista on 1st January 1959. President Castro then proceeded to take the riches from the rich and give them to the poorest of the poor. The descendants of those rich, capitalist Cubans, now reside in Miami, U.S.A. They still harbor supreme acerbic anti-Castro sentiments.

On 1st May 1961, Fidel Castro declared Cuba a “Socialist State” but prior to that geo-political announcement, he heaped global embarrassment on the United States by thwarting and repelling the ill-fated U.S. military invasion of Cuba on 17 April 1961, co-named “Bay of Pigs.”

In fact, Fidel Castro has outlived at least ten U.S. presidents and this is despite the stark reality that the U.S. government via the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has attempted to assassinate Castro at least sixteen times.

Indeed, the essence of revolutionary survival and longevity is the mantra of Comrade Fidel Castro. He is a geo-political icon of the 20th century and counting. He has been able to withstand and outlive the imperialist, hegemonic might of the United States and yet to leave office on his own terms and conditions.

Under the rubric of his international policy titled “Proletarian Internationalism” in the mid-1970s, Fidel Castro sent over 75,000 Cubans, including military personnel, to support the liberation movements in southern Africa who were fighting against European colonialism. In fact, it was with the potent military assistance of the Cubans that Africans were able to defeat/expel the Euro-Portuguese from Angola in September 1975.

In addition, the Communist Castro regime not only built schools and hospitals and supplied doctors and dentists to Jamaica during Prime Minister Michael Manley’s policy of Democratic Socialism but also stood firmly and steadfastly behind Maurice Bishop’s People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) in Grenada. Bishop’s Marxist regime also received similar assistance as Jamaica from Cuba “and then some”, including the controversial construction of the Point Salines airport.

Fidel Castro was one of the most vocal Heads-of-State to vehemently denounce the U.S. military invasion of the sovereign nation-state of Grenada on 25 October 1983.

Fidel Castro also assisted the revolutionary movements in Guyana under Dr. Walter Rodney’s Working People’s Alliance (WPA) and other smaller Caribbean islands. He was instrumental in fashioning the labor movement in Trinidad to adopt an anti-establishment posture.

In Latin America, Fidel Castro lent supreme support to the Marxist revolution waged by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega. In reality, it was because of the Communist/Marxist triangle with Castro’s Cuba at the peak that confronted incoming U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981 that precipitated the militarizing and anti-Communist/Marxist policy of the United States towards the region.

Indeed, the geo-political record shows that from the mid-1970s to October 1990, when Russian advisers/ personnel/ experts left/ abandoned Cuba, Fidel Castro was “the Man” in this region of the Americas.

From the outset, the United States was very hostile towards Communist Cuba. On 3 January 1961, then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower severed diplomatic ties with Cuba; on 7 February 1962, the United States imposed its economic/trade embargo on Cuba; on 22 October 1962, U.S. President John Kennedy threatened to blockade Cuba during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis a la Sparrow’s “Kennedy is de man for dem” Calypso.

As of this writing, the United States has totally refused to lift the economic/trade embargo against Cuba and President George Bush has publicly stated on his current trip in Africa that Castro’s decision to step down only represents a “period of democratic transition.” President Bush has also issued the typical United States’ call for “free, fair and transparent” elections in Cuba.

It is at this juncture that U.S. policy towards Cuba takes on overt/obvious hypocritical clothing.

Let the record reveal that during his presidential election bid in 2000, thousands of eligible and qualified American citizens were denied their democratic right to vote as a result of the covert chicanery promulgated by the GOP machinery in Miami headed by his brother, Jeb Bush.

At best, then democratic presidential contender Al Gore was elected by the vast majority of the American people while the U.S. Supreme Court selected George Bush as President. In essence, then, U.S. President George Bush should be the last Head-of-State on this planet to demand that any political leader must hold “free, fair and transparent” elections to assume office.

In this elections scenario,the admonition of 2008 Calypso Monarch Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuna is appropriate: Mr. U.S. President George Bush – “look in de mirror.” Yet, despite America’s hostility towards Castro’s Communist Cuba, one finds the following: Cuba gets help in terms of trade and credit from Asia, namely, China, Vietnam and Malaysia; the European Union (EU) has restored normal diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro’s government; in January 2005, then Pope John Paul 11, publicly condemned the “US embargo against Cuba”; and for the past twelve consecutive years, the United Nations General Assembly has voted by an overwhelming majority (179 to 4 in 2007) to demand that the United States ends its economic/trade embargo and travel restrictions against Communist Cuba.

In the final analysis, now is the time to visualize a Cuba sans Comrade Fidel Castro at the helm. Indeed, it is very revolutionary comforting to note that Cuba’s new leader, Raul Castro, has announced that “the Communist Party will remain in control of Cuba if there is a leadership change.”

And even though there is going to be absolutely no change in U.S. policy towards Cuba under Raul Castro, “Socialismo o Muerte” will still remain the obdurate battle cry of Communist Cuba in the post Fidel Castro era, by any and all means necessary. “Forward Ever, Backward Never”.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.


15 thoughts on “A look at Fidel Castro’s Cuba”

  1. Very well written, very interesting article. Comrade Fidel has weatherd the US imperlist storm, and has, despite what the US claims, has made a notable impact on world peace and medicine over the last four decades. Despite these achievements, Cubans remain relatively poverty plagued, and stripped of civil liberties and freedom. There has to be a balance to be struck. I am not advocating the US’s political system, but I do think that ordinary Cubans should have the right to an opnion on how their nation is governed.

  2. I concur with this article and wish to add this:
    Many years ago the Australian Actor Errol Flynn wrote a auto-biography tiltled ,” My Wicked Ways”.
    It was written way pre-Castro and it allowed a Glimpse of life in Cuba which was most disgusting and evil.
    Mr.Flynn described a street where there was a Nunnery on one side and on the other side there was a Whore House where one could ” buy ” a young virgin for a few Yankee dollars and these Virgins were under age children and the Bushes of the world and the Anti –Castroites of the world thought that was okay for Cuba but it was things like that which drove Fidel to free his country and it is my hope that one day the Intellectuals of TNT will use the pen and the ballot Box to free TNT from the ills which beset us as a nation.
    Your move,Mr.Daniels! Lead the way!

  3. My father reported that he heard from Americans who were based at Fort Read/Waller Field, that on R and R they went to Cuba, where one of the side shows was of a woman mating with a donkey. Of course my father did not tell me this. Men were talking on our front gallery when we were supoised to be asleep. I would have been in for a major whipping if I had been caught listening at the door.

    They were talking about this, in 1950, with a “oui foote” attitude.The base at Waller field closed soon after.

    I have always been glad of Castro’s Cuba, for his cleaning up the casinos, the peep shows and the other degradations, and his espousing of education for all, the outlawing of racial discrimination, and really free medical care. This medical care extends to people from anywhere who happen to be in Cuba and fall sick. He is the leader of the free-thinking movement in the Latin countries, and has inspired Lula da Silva, Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez to believe that their country’s natural resources belong to all the people, and they should all benefit from them.

    His legacy is secure. Cubans are proud of their leader, although some”escapees” like those Trinis claiming to be “refugees” badtalk their country to the media that wants to hear this stuff.
    Let me get off before World Press outs me off.Castro believed in his Cubans. They believed in him.

  4. Yes.Yes,Yes Linda your post has tone and sense and what is needed here so often,” plain speaking!”
    You are so right about those ” lying Trinidadians ” who to ingratiate themselves with the host countries to which they flee ” bad mouths ” TNT and yet some of them are actively trying to get the Government to allow them to Vote in TNT elections like the Iraqui ex patriates in the USA did….please.not on your life will this ever fly here!
    Qudos to Dr.Fidel Castro and any Trinidadian and Tobagonian who doubts the success of Cuba can easily buy a ticket and fly over there and see for themselves whereas the ” yankees who tout freedom” cannot go to Cuba!

  5. Ever wonder about Mr.Daniel’s
    “Silence of the Pen”whenever it comes down to actually writing anything which may displease the Emperor?
    Like how come the Emperor goes to Cuba and the ” Wannabe Emperor” Panday also goes to Cuba for Medical Treatment but yet the positives of the Cuban Education system which produces ( despite the constant attacks on all fronts by the yankees except actual military invasion of Cuba ) so many Highly skilled Physicians and Nurses and Trades people …yeah how come we have not seen a single call for implementing such a system of education and training here and Mr.Daniels have not called for it so that the ” African” in the ghetto and the ” Indian” (as Kerry will have us believe) in the ghetto could get a lifeline out of the ghetto and begin to write and speak and understand the world according to Mr.Daniels?
    Is he hiding out on his famous “ledge: where he likes to relegate people who ask the hard questions ?

  6. I totally disagree with Dr. Kwame Nantambu’s article. The Cuban people need freedom, real freedom. An independent judiciary, the right to choose their own leaders, the right to form their own cooperatives or workers councils, the right to openly debate what there economic and political system should be implemented. The right to travel. What we have in Cuba is a dictatorship by the Cuban Communist Party with over 200 political prisoners. It is not socialism. It is state capitalism just like the former Soviet-bloc Eastern European countries.

    The benefits of literacy, education and health that Cuba boasts off have been achieved by many countries that adhere to full human rights. It is time for the left to speak out about this and support progressive change in Cuba so that the right wing does not replace the Cuban dictatorship with a Neocon solution.

    You cannot create socialism by command and control. It has to be from the ground up where workers freely debate their conditions and propose solutions for them without coercion. Fidel is free to write articles, but the cuban worker is not free to do so. Please stop this ridiculous fascination with a dictatorship.

  7. I note that in every “Western Democracy” there are children who die of starvation, people living under bridges, and in homes that are falling down around them and old people who die of curable illnesses, if only hospitals were free.Rice, the staple of tropical diets, has no label, communist or democracy. Feeding the people is what matters. Materialism which has now over-run Trinidd and Tobago, creates an imitation democracy where daily, the body count mounts. How many murders were there in Cuba last year? One can debate forever whether it is better to jail political dissidents, or people who are poor and commit crimes of poverty- stealing, muggings and other thefts.One should ask whether the schools in Cuba are over-run by indisciplined children who beat and threaten teachers, peers, and the relatives of peers.

    From my point of view, our alleged democracies have not solved third world problems, only given us a greed for a system that we struggle to create.The Bill Gates and Donld Trumps make it by climbing on the backs of the poor, while the poor get stomped down, more and more.

  8. Rob Winston’s position has no foundation. As one who has visited Cuba on numerous occasions, he could not tell me that the people have no say. I have been to CDR meetings, to homes, to meetings at workers’ cooperatives and those with lawyers who are members of the Cuban Bar. At no time was there any restraint on speech. I have met with Cuban journalists, doctors, students. At no time was anyone afraid to speak his or her mind. This US State Department sponsored type of propaganda, masquerading as truth, is an insult.

    What Winston and Bush and the Gusanos in Miami are really pushing for is the return of American transnational corporations to Cuba. What have they cared about those freedoms they claim Cubans lack when they turn a blind eye if these very liberties are denied by any dictator who happens to be an ally of Washington, D.C. And who said, other than the US, that bourgeois democracy is the model that every nation must follow to be called democratic? I think Dr. Nantambu’s article was balanced, objective and well sustantiated by history and personal obsevations.

    America has no standing to preach the world about respect for international law and human rights.

  9. Harry Willamn your obsession with me suggests that a peversion I do not care to get into. Suffice to say that when I find my views cogently expressed as they are in Linda’s comments, I refrain from indulging in the superfluous commentary.

    I don’t expect you to understand this restraint, because pounding on your chest and bleating about being fearless is evidence that you are an empty vessel making a whole heap of noise. My task is to point to the evidence of your corrupted psyche which fronts about helping Trinidad, and then postulates that Africans need to be taught by others. No African whom I have shown these comments to differ from me in their assessment of your mindset. In fact it was like deja vu for many of them from the South, (reading that utterly despicable postulation), because they had heard it so many time before from men adorned in white sheets and hoods. What comes out of you is indicative of what is inside of you.

  10. Thank you for your mindless comment Mr.Daniels and as you continue to evade and “dust it” from any real and positive debate people on this forum are looking on in wonderment and many of them are not saying anything to you out of an abundance of caution because they do not want to have to reply to your,” Karl Rove and Billary Clinton” type of ” mud slinging and maligning which is your trade mark?
    Actually your ” peanut type blanket” with which you cover up your head ( since in your concrete jungle ghetto jungle there is no sand for you to bury it in ) with as you simulate the ” Ostrich Syndrome” which is endemic to your kind as you imagine your way across the “ledge” from where you postulate and pontificate to the ” weird world ” in which you exist.
    Please,to align yourself with Linda Edwards views seems to me like a person who cannot stand on their own roller skates so they grab on to others to maintain some semblance of balance.
    You refused to ( because you cannot ) answer the Hard question:
    Why is it you have not used your poison pen to exhort the PNM to and the UNCA leaders who have availed themselves of the medicinal largess of The Castro era Cuba but have refused to or are so blind ,deaf and dumb,that they ( with all the money TNT has) have not ( maybe they “Fraid Bush bite dem?”)have not allowed TNT to avail itself of the exemplary and positive and effective Cuban education and health system which shall allow the Africans and (Kerry’s Indians) in the Ghettoes to emerge with honour ,education,skills ( beside killing each other and selling drugs to each other and mooching free lunches off the State),professions and a manifest sense of pride in their achievements.
    Answer that dumbo with a pen!
    No one is fascinated with you but the idea of shutting you up and exposing your hypocrisy and stupidity may lend itself to a slender interest.

  11. I am very impressed by this article and the contents of its repertoire. Castro has proven himself to be a true leader even in the face of adversity. Ask Prime Minister Patrick Manning when he had to seek surgery in Cuba.He left all the Euro Centric institutions to seek help in Cuba. This means that there is something that Castro is doing Good. Maybe in Trinidad and Tobago we need this type of government similar to Cuba to straighten out this society.

  12. And here I thinking I had all the “balls” to “SAY IT LIKE IT IS,” But I see i’ve been shoved in a corner and Henry has taken over teaching me to put a sock in it! While I ride the same wave with Henry I must say it’s pointless to attach fault and responsibility where it’s due; as all that brings is an attack on racism. Matters not where the evidence leads, it appears we must wear blinkers, look straight ahead and ignore the facts as they are presented.

    While most opposed to the facts as they are they seem to want to take comfort when the word “we” is used eg. “we as a poeple must stop the spate of crime.” While the word we is a great word for inclusion, that in itsself does nothing for those responsible for the siege that has overtaken the country. These criminals operate with impunity, in some cases just feet away from the cop shop; that shows a disregard for the law and not afraid of punishment!

    If to satisfy some I must use the word “we”to equate blame for the goings on in the country, I simply refuse to equate to please! I have never robbed, raped, murdered or cause physical injury to anyone in the world and I refuse to attach any responsibility to myself; like it or not.

    Some try to use this forum to justify and defend their race regardless of the sadistic nature of their crimes, it’s like a mother defending thier child even if he/she killed for greed. I guess these individuals take pride and comfort in the expressive jargon they use and convincing themselves they are above the rest. Those words and intricate language they use does nothing and will do nothing to enhance the life of Trinbagonians.

  13. All the laudible comments about Castro and his country might be commendible indeed , but at what price for the million of unfortunate Cubans that made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to aid African nations such as Angola escape years of foreign / European colonial subjugation to see it replaced by self centered leaders prepared to continued the tribal game long into the 21st century? How about thoes unable to run to Florida with their resources , that helped keep Rupublicans in power as they pretend to hate Cuba from afar?
    By handing over power to his octogenerian brother Raul in the end , Castro has betrayed his entire cause and proved that he is no different from most of the power hungry capitalist he spent the last 60 years also pretending to despise. Proves clearly that elites are dangerous for the masses -be they educated , military, political or business .

  14. all of u who love cuba ,why dont you all try to migrate and live there and stop trying to change our life to that of cuba .I wish all black people when they go will see that racism to blacks and all non white people in cuba ,PLease go apply for residence and dont ask for us money to spend there go and live under the cdr etc

  15. Fidel Castro would always be an icon of history eventhough he is against the U.S.

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