Ties es­tab­lished by Cas­tro will con­tinue

Un­der his charis­matic lead­er­ship, which lasted nearly half a cen­tury, Cuba be­came an ex­am­ple of a coun­try with lim­ited geopo­lit­i­cal power in­flu­enc­ing in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, which nor­mally are dom­i­nated by big play­ers.

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

The death of Cuban leader Fidel Cas­tro on Fri­day has prompted many to re­flect on his im­pact on the world. Prais­ing Cas­tro as “a great fig­ure of our times”, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said the Chi­nese peo­ple have lost a “close com­rade and sin­cere friend”. Ex­tend­ing his con­do­lence to Cuban Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro, Premier Li Ke­qiang hailed him as “the founder, de­fender and pro­pel­ler of China-Cuba ties”.

In the Cuban cap­i­tal ofHa­vana, peo­ple from all walks of life took to the streets to pay trib­ute to the leader of the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion and founder of the Cuban Com­mu­nist Party.

Un­der his charis­matic lead­er­ship, which lasted nearly half a cen­tury, Cuba be­came an ex­am­ple of a coun­try with lim­ited geopo­lit­i­cal power in­flu­enc­ing in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, which nor­mally are dom­i­nated by big play­ers. He did not stop fight­ing to get his coun­try its right­ful place in the global arena un­til 2006, when he stepped down as Cuban pres­i­dent for health rea­sons. Two years later, he of­fi­cially passed the ba­ton to his brother Raul Cas­tro.

By estab­lish­ing the first so­cial­ist coun­try in theWestern hemi­sphere after the rev­o­lu­tion in 1959, Fidel Cas­tro led the Cuban peo­ple on a path that fe­whad even tried to tread on.

His first big test as Cuba’s leader came dur­ing the mis­sile crisis in 1962 when the world was on the brink of a nu­clear war be­tween theUnited States and the Soviet Union. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he sent Cuban troops to some African coun­tries to strengthen their lib­er­a­tion strug­gles.

Fidel Cas­tro was also a stead­fast cham­pion of re­gional in­te­gra­tion mech­a­nisms, in­clud­ing the Bo­li­var­ian Al­liance for the Peo­ples of Our Amer­ica and the Petro­caribe en­ergy al­liance, un­der which Cuba’s med­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional and sports per­son­nel have worked in more than 120 coun­tries. He also helped strengthen the Non-Aligned Move­ment, es­pe­cially when he was its sec­re­tary gen­eral from 1979 to 1983.

After five decades of strug­gle to ad­vance its so­cial­ist cause and pro­mote rev­o­lu­tion­ary ideas world­wide, the is­land state re­mains steady on its course thanks to the sub­stan­tial progress it has made in the fields of ed­u­ca­tion, med­i­cal ser­vices and econ­omy.

There is lit­tle doubt that his legacy ex­tends be­yond the Caribbean, as the so­cial­ist move­ments in Latin Amer­ica and de­vel­op­ments in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions show.

The fu­ture ofWash­ing­ton-Ha­vana re­la­tions seem un­cer­tain, be­cause not much progress has been made after theUS re­stored diplo­matic ties with Cuba last year. De­spite their geopo­lit­i­cal prox­im­ity and the vast gap in their eco­nomic and strate­gic might, how­ever, Cuba did not give in to theUS’ more than half a cen­tury eco­nomic sanc­tions. US-Cuba diplo­matic ties may have been re­stored be­cause of The au­thor is a lec­turer at the Southwest Uni­ver­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sciences & Law. Wash­ing­ton’s soft­ened stance on Latin Amer­i­can af­fairs andHa­vana’s diplo­matic ma­neu­ver­ings in the past decades. But the bit­ter re­marks made byUS pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump on Cas­tro’s legacy on Satur­day has cast a shadow over the al­ready frag­ile ties.

How­ever, the time-hon­ored China-Cuba friend­ship will con­tinue. Back in 1960, Cuba was the first na­tion in theWestern hemi­sphere to forge diplo­matic re­la­tions with China, and the two na­tions share more than their ad­her­ence to the so­cial­ist cause. Both coun­tries have en­joyed the con­stantly im­prov­ing eco­nomic ex­changes, and are ex­pected to ex­pand their co­op­er­a­tion as Cuba presses ahead with eco­nomic re­forms. The au­thor is a re­searcher in Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY

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