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The liberator who became dictator
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-02-20 09:36:39
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Castro resigned! The last revolutionary under the weight of age and illness had to retire after 49 years in power. It sounds amazing even writing it and I know that the world has changed; I know that ideologies have changed and myths have been unveiled but in most people’s memories Fidel will always be the last revolutionary.

I think regarding people like Fidel Castro we have to deal with a weird and schizophrenic situation. When Castro started his long battle to the power he had in front of him one of the most disastrous South American style juntas. The island from a cultural centre had transformed into a money and drugs laundry. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz promised freedom, equality, the land to the poor, a health system for everybody and all that opposing the corrupted and decadence, often mafia controlled army dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. There was no way out of that and Castro gave the solution.

But he had to face from the very beginning the menace of USA and that pushed him straight into the arms of the USSR and Nikita Khrushev, a relationship that led to the missile crisis and the incident in the Bay of Pigs. A strong right wing Cuban community in Miami USA always lobbied against the Cuban leader and often persuaded the US government into mistakes. In the end only USSR was left for Cuba and that lasted till the fall of the Wall. After the end of USSR Cuba started facing serious economic problems that gradually ruined whatever the revolution had created and in that includes one of the best organized health systems in the world.

That was one of the two faces of Castro, the one with the beret and the cigar but there was another face and that was a very ugly one. Seen enemies all around and feeling constantly threaten especially after the failure of the invasion in the Bay of Pigs, Castro shut any opposition mouth. And that was only the beginning, gradually he was after anybody who didn’t follow his will, from a liberator he became a dictator. The truth is that Castro felt even threaten from the legend of Che and he often tried to reduce his role in the revolution. The democracy he talked about in the first years of the revolution transformed into a family business where his brother became the intelligence minister and nowadays his heir.

What I found funny in his farewell announcement was his promise to remain a soldier of ideas writing essays entitled Reflections of Comrade Fidel. For the ones who might remember from the 1970s and '80s, Fidel had the absolute record of long speeches, holding sometimes his audience for ten and twelve hours! The great revolutionary lives in luxuries palaces exactly the same palaces his long dead valiant Batista lived and I’m sure he often wished he had the same relationship with the mafia.

I have met Cuban refugees; people who have describe life in Cuba under the Castro’s regime as the total nightmare with torturing and imprisoning. People who preferred to endanger a drowning in the ocean on their way to Miami in small fishing boats than continue their life in Cuba. I travelled to Cuba two decades ago and I saw a very poor island suffering under the smoke of heavy cigars and dancing while drinking Rum but what I liked more about these people was the way they carried themselves, with dignity!

Sometimes I hope the last revolutionary was not aware of what was really going on n his country and he was living his dream without receiving the right information but then the memory of a walk in a street in Havana with all the prostitutes in age of fourteen and fifteen spoils my illusions and then I hope that perhaps now in this old age he realized what he’s done and how far he left his dreams behind that with his resignation he tries to mark the beginning of the end. The end of the revolution that succeed on its beginning and failed for 50 years continually!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-20 10:09:46
Indeed Thanos, ideas matter and matter a lot. When Marx, turning Hegel on his head, declared the historical determinism of the proletariat’s revolution, which would eventually create the worker’s paradise based on the Machiavellian motto that the noble end justifies the less than perfect means within an inevitably progressive socialist system, he forgot to consult Socrates and Plato. Had he bothered to read them carefully together with Engel, he would have known that just as inevitably institutions who employ corrupt means to achieve a noble end more often than not end up with a corrupt end too, to wit the final demise of Lenin’s and Stalin’s and Mao’s and Castro’s social schemes. To device a socialist scheme with noble ends that ignore the corrupting influence of absolute power is like devising a capitalist system (the other side of the coin) which ignores the corrupting influence of greed. Socrates had it on target: gentlemen. the issue is not whether I live or die, but whether corruption, which runs faster than death, catches up with you, and once it has whether or not it will relent her grip on you. That statement, 24 centuries later remains valid for individuals, whole states and cities, institutions, even ideologies. We forget it at our own peril.

Eva2008-02-20 21:37:42
It will be very interesting to see what follows now... For as long as I can remember (being a person of age 36), people have been speculating over a post-Castro Cuba...

Eva2008-02-20 21:41:28
And may I add that I'm sure not many people thought that Castro's era would EVER end in a resignation!?!

AP2008-02-21 14:14:22
Well that's true, and unfortunately for Cubans too, it failed continously. The US played (nothing to be proud of) a big part in that, but Castro always craved for power himself, becoming as abject as some of his international allies and opponents. Che was obviously figura non grata for him.

AP2008-02-21 14:48:30
Though Che believed in armed guerrilla and signed hundreds of executions. He's not the polished figure they try to clean, and I've known that since early age. The use of guns is more than repulsive. In this world, it's amazingly brave to go around without any gun, and that's what I defend. And this is just for Sand: no, I'm not and never was a communist lol

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