firstname.lastname@example.org 0807 552 5533 Perhaps, the last of my revolutionary heroes, Fidel Castro, died last Friday, aged 90 years (1926 – 2016). He ruled Cuba for about 50 years (1959 – 2006) after himself and other brave comrades, including his younger brother, Raul (current president of Cuba) and another of my iconoclastic heroes, Che Ernesto Guevera, had struck at vicious dictator and America’s lackey, Fulgencio Batista.
The first attempt, the Moncada Barracks attack, failed, with 70 Comrades losing their lives. Fidel and the other survivors were put on trial and sentenced to jail. In 1959, however, a second effort succeeded. Fidel’s era witnessed the dramatic transformation of Cuba, especially in areas such as medicine, sports, education, arts and culture, and military prowess. It is, perhaps, in his commitment to international revolutionary solidarity and struggle that Fidel will best be remembered – pouring troops and scarce resources into the liberation struggle in Algeria, Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, etc. The US fought back with every resource but Fidel stood, surviving many assassination attempts; the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961; the nuclear missiles stand-off of October 1962; breaking off of diplomatic relations in 1961 by the US, followed by crippling military and economic embargo by US and its allies. Fidel survived 11 American presidents beginning with Dwight Eisenhower. When news of his passing broke last Friday, I reached out for Fidel’s “History will absolve me” speech at his treason trial, reminding myself of some of those inimitable quotes of his that were indispensable to young Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries at the then University of Ife. A few of the quotes: “The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them – neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. For a single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all”. Quoting ‘the Master’: “A just cause even from the depths of a cave can do more than an army”. “As the trial went on, the roles were reversed: those who came to accuse found themselves accused, and the accused became the accusers! It was not the revolutionaries who were judged there; judged once and forever was a man called Batista – monstrum horrendum! – and it matters little that these worthy and valiant young men have been condemned if tomorrow the people will condemn the Dictator and his henchmen”. “As a result of so many turbid and illegal machinations, due to the will of those who govern and the weakness of those who judge, I find myself here in this little room at the Civilian Hospital, where I have been brought to be tried in secret, so that I may not be heard and my voice may be stifled, and so that no one may hear of the things I am going to say… I must warn you: it is unwise to administer justice from a hospital room, surrounded by sentinels with fixed bayonets; the citizens might suppose that our justice is sick – and that it is captive”. “I shall by no means accept (any) gag, for in this trial there is much more than the freedom of a single individual at stake. Fundamental matters of principle are being debated here, the right of men to be free is on trial; the very foundations of our existence as a civilized and democratic nation are in the balance. When this trial is over, I do not want to have to reproach myself for any principle left undefended, for any truth unsaid, for any crime not denounced” “They have tried to establish the myth that modern arms render the people helpless in overthrowing tyrants. Military parades and the pompous display of the machines of war are used to perpetuate this myth and to create a complex of absolute impotence in the people. But no weaponry, no violence can vanquish the people once they are determined to win back their rights. Both past and present are full of examples” “The revolutionaries must proclaim their ideas courageously, define their principles and express their intentions so that no one is deceived, neither friend nor foe” “…When people achieve something they have yearned for throughout generations, no force in the world is capable of taking it away again” “Society is moved to compassion when it hears of the kidnapping or murder of one child but it is criminally indifferent to the mass murder of so many thousands of children who die every year from the lack of facilities, agonizing with pain” “An educated country will always be strong and free” Quoting Cuban and Latin American revolutionary and literary icon, Jose Marti: “A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies but rather the path where duty lies (for) without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty” “What is more, my comrades are neither dead nor forgotten; they live today, more than ever, and their murderers will view with dismay the victorious spirit of their ideas rise from their corpses” “Remember that today you are judging an accused man but that you yourselves will be judged not once but many times, as often as these days are submitted to scrutiny in the future. What I say here will then be repeated many times…” “…Justice is symbolized by a maiden with a scale and a sword in her hands. Should she cower before one group and furiously wield that sword against another group… the maiden of justice will seem nothing more than a prostitute brandishing a dagger. My logic is the simple logic of the people” Finally: “I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me (La historia me absolvera!). And it did! O Castro, if it were possible, I will say: Don’t go!