By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
February 20, 2008
Revered 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.