Fidel Cas­tro, a leader the world should em­u­late

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

GE­O­GRAPH­I­CALLY Cuba is a speck of land in the Caribbean but it is a huge coun­try in terms of ide­o­log­i­cal con­scious­ness, the art, or sci­ence, of self-suf­fi­ciency and de­fi­ance to for­eign ag­gres­sion. The is­land na­tion’s 11 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion are a valiant peo­ple, their valiancy em­bod­ied by their iconic for­mer leader, Cde Fidel Cas­tro. He led a 1959 revo­lu­tion that over­threw an Amer­i­can­backed dic­ta­tor, sur­vived 11 US ad­min­is­tra­tions, 638 as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts and 49 years of sanc­tions by Cuba’s gi­ant neigh­bour.

The great­est sur­vivor this world has ever seen, an ar­che­typal rev­o­lu­tion­ary and an in­spi­ra­tion to the op­pressed, Cde Cas­tro died on Fri­day aged 90.

“At 10:29 at night, the chief com­man­der of the Cuban revo­lu­tion, Fidel Cas­tro Ruz, died,” said his brother and suc­ces­sor Raul. “Ever on­ward, to vic­tory.” In­deed sur­vivors don’t come any big­ger. Cde Cas­tro was a bril­liant rev­o­lu­tion­ary who de­fied the tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced US killing ma­chine. He led an or­di­nary life, eschew­ing Western sym­bols of wealth.

Cuba lies about 300km from im­pe­rial US but has re­fused to bow down to its wealth­ier and med­dle­some neigh­bour. What the US has man­aged to do in far off lands over­throw­ing gov­ern­ments it does not like has failed in Cuba, a Com­mu­nist na­tion whose de­vel­op­ment tra­jec­tory con­trasts sharply with the one that rules in Amer­ica, one that it im­poses world­wide.

Cde Cas­tro led a three-year armed revo­lu­tion against a US-backed pres­i­dent, Ful­gen­cio Batista who fled Ha­vana on New Year’s Day in 1959. A bearded, cigar smok­ing 33-year-old took over. A few months later, he “com­mit­ted his sec­ond crime” against the US when he na­tion­alised Amer­i­can com­pa­nies that con­trolled the Cuban econ­omy. This in­fu­ri­ated the US who re­sponded by order­ing oil firms owned by Amer­i­cans but were op­er­at­ing in Cuba not to sell the com­mod­ity to the Cuban econ­omy.

Re­fus­ing to be cowed by the Amer­i­cans, Cde Cas­tro signed agree­ments with the then Soviet Union for the sup­ply of oil. The US spon­sored a mil­i­tary coup which Cde Cas­tro thwarted in April 1961. Shortly af­ter that Cde Cas­tro in­fu­ri­ated the US more by for­mally declar­ing his coun­try a Com­mu­nist state. The an­tag­o­nism in­ten­si­fied, high­lighted by a string of as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts on Cde Cas­tro and the world’s long­est and bit­ter­est eco­nomic em­bargo.

Zim­babwe has a lot to learn from the man and his coun­try’s de­feat of sanc­tions.

Cde Cas­tro and his Cuba sup­ported our armed strug­gle. He sup­ported in sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion post-in­de­pen­dence. Hun­dreds of Zim­bab­weans trained as teach­ers of sci­ence in Cuba. The train­ing was lo­calised when the Bin­dura Univer­sity of Sci­ence Ed­u­ca­tion was es­tab­lished in 1996. The lib­er­a­tion strug­gle might not have pro­gressed as it did, end­ing in vic­tory for the op­pressed, if Cde Cas­tro had not given his sup­port for our free­dom fight­ers.

It is partly thanks to his mag­na­nim­ity that Zim­babwe at­tained in­de­pen­dence on April 18, 1980. It is partly be­cause of his mag­na­nim­ity that sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion de­vel­oped so much over the years.

Eco­nomic sanc­tions can bite, they can col­lapse a coun­try. How­ever, the in­de­fati­ga­ble Cde Cas­tro and his peo­ple have fought them since 1959 to the ex­tent that we can de­clare that they ac­tu­ally de­feated them. De­spite the sanc­tions, Cuba has one of the world’s best health de­liv­ery sys­tems. Sci­ence has also blos­somed de­spite the sanc­tions. We learn that il­le­gal sanc­tions can be de­feated.

This is a valu­able les­son for Zim­babwe hav­ing been un­der sanc­tions since 2000 when al­most like Cuba un­der Cde Cas­tro na­tion­al­is­ing US-owned com­pa­nies na­tion­alised white­owned land for re­dis­tri­bu­tion to in­dige­nous blacks.

Never mind the geo­graph­i­cal prox­im­ity of Cuba to the US, the Caribbean na­tion has stood firm. Zim­babwe has suf­fered Western sanc­tions for 16 years. The econ­omy is strug­gling as a re­sult, but the peo­ple have al­ways stood by their Govern­ment.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe, who left Harare yes­ter­day for the burial of Cde Cas­tro in Ha­vana on Satur­day, was com­rade in arms with the icon.

“Fidel Cas­tro was a great leader, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary and a great friend of Africa and the down­trod­den peo­ple of the world,” said Cde Chen Chimuteng­wende, pa­tron of the Zim­babwe-Cuba Friend­ship As­so­ci­a­tion.

“He was cer­tainly a global game-changer in world pol­i­tics. Cde Cas­tro was a leader of a small coun­try, but his con­tri­bu­tion in the pol­i­tics of this world was much greater for a leader of such a small coun­try. He was even able to chal­lenge a world power like United States of Amer­ica which failed to do any­thing about him. He was a highly re­spected cadre among the rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies of the world. Cde Cas­tro sup­ported the African lib­er­a­tion strug­gle more than any other rev­o­lu­tion­ary in the world. That is the rea­son why the world is go­ing to miss an iconic leader like him.”

May Cde Cas­tro’s soul rest in eter­nal peace.

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