Cubans Honor Fidel
by Stephen Lendman
I remember when Fidel liberated Cuba in January 1959. On New Year’s day, US-supported dictator Fulgencio Bastista fled the island state for the Dominican Republic.
On January 7, Fidel-led freedom fighters triumphantly entered Havana. In April 1961, the Kennedy administration launched the Bay of Pigs invasion. Attempting to remove Castro from power failed.
Allan Dulles, Eisenhower’s CIA director, planned it. Kennedy, chastened by failure, refused another attempt like it. During his 1960 presidential campaign against Richard Nixon, he criticized US support for Batista, saying:
“He murdered 20,000 Cubans in seven years…and he turned…Cuba into a complete police state - destroying every individual liberty.”
“Yet our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled (him) to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror.”
“Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista - hailed him as a staunch ally and a good friend at a time when (he) was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections.”
On Tuesday, world dignitaries, largely from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, are arriving in Havana to honor Fidel. The second day of a weeklong memorial tribute began with a 21-gun salute.
On Monday, tens of thousands lined up to pay their respects to El Comandante in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, many openly weeping.
They somberly filed past a floral arrangement in front of a young Fidel portrait in freedom-fighter garb, a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (FAR) honor guard at attention beside it - emotionally moving to see without being there.
On Monday, Fidel’s ashes in a wooden urn, surrounded by white flowers, were honored by Raul Castro on national television. A mourner said “(h)e was always there in the face of any situation facing the country. I can’t imagine life without him.”
A grieving woman said “(i)t was he who gave us dignity as a people. He was the one who made us feel proud to be Cubans.”
Tuesday evening, foreign dignitaries arriving earlier will pay their respects to Fidel. Hundreds of CIA plots to kill him failed. He passed peacefully last Friday evening.
Interviewed by Edward R. Murrow weeks after entering Havana, triumphant in January 1959, he said “(m)y obligation (is) with the people. What I have to do now and in the future is…(for) what’s good for my country, and if for my country it is necessary that I renounce any position, I would gladly renounce (it) because sincerely, I don't (have) ambition (for) power, money, nothing, only to serve my country.”
And that he did until drawing his last breath. How tragic to lose him. How sorely he’ll be missed. America has no one remotely his equal in stature.
A Final Comment
Cubans are urged to pay tribute to Fidel by signing an oath, upholding his revolutionary ideals - first pronounced in a 2000 May Day speech, saying:
“Revolution means to have a sense of history. It is changing everything that must be changed. It is full equality and freedom. It is being treated and treating others like human beings.”
“It is achieving emancipation by ourselves and through our own efforts. It is challenging powerful dominant forces from within and without the social and national milieu.”
“It is defending the values in which we believe at the cost of any sacrifice. It is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism.”
“It is fighting with courage, intelligence and realism. It is never lying or violating ethical principles. It is a profound conviction that there is no power in the world that can crush the power of truth and ideas.”
“Revolution means unity. It is independence. It is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.”
Fidel said what he meant and meant what he said!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.