Marcus Garvey’s Glowing Praise of Lenin

Source:  TeleSUR  The Russian Revolution and the Caribbean
November 20 2017

by Earl Bousquet

The Caribbean, then called the “West Indies”, expressed solidarity with and admiration for the Russian revolution and its leader when it shook the world in 1917.

History records that Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the Jamaican who led the largest organization of Black people in the Western hemisphere ever, quickly dispatched a letter from the United Negro Improvement Association, on behalf of its millions of members in the United States, the Caribbean and South America.

 

unia parade in harlem 1924Marcus Garvey’s UNIA parade in Harlem 1924

marcus garveyGarvey’s letter to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin expressed support from the UNIA on behalf of all the workers of the Caribbean region, which was under complete colonial rule.

The colonial rulers resisted his attempts to organize the tens of millions who were not only UNIA members, but also unattached workers of all types on all islands and in all British colonial territories across the region.

Lenin the “Greatest”

Following Lenin’s death in 1924, Garvey also heaped glowing praise on the leader of the Russian Revolution.

In a speech in New York on Jan. 27, soon after Lenin’s death, Garvey said, “‘One of Russia’s greatest men, one of the world’s greatest characters, and probably the greatest man in the world between 1917 and 1924, when he breathed his last and took his flight from this world. We as Negroes mourn for Lenin because Russia promised great hope not only for Negroes but to the weaker people of the world.”

IN DEPTH: Russian Revolution at 100

lenin and the october revolution.jpg

 

Zimbabwe Ruling Party Replaces Mugabe as Leader with Ousted VP

Source:  TeleSUR
November 19 2017

Robert Mugabe 5.jpg
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Grace Mugabe has been expelled from the ZANU-PF party as well.

Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF has removed President Robert Mugabe as head of the party, replacing him with Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had recently been ousted as the country’s vice president. Mugabe remains the president of the country.

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Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife, as well as Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Ignatius Chombo and Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, were expelled from the party.

The meeting, held by ZANU-PF’s Central Committee, the highest decision-making body in the party, comes one day after a march of tens of thousands of people, in favor of ousting the long-serving leader. Protesters waved Zimbabwean flags and hoisted placards with slogans like, “Mugabe Must Rest Now,” and “No to a Mugabe Dynasty.”

However, the army reiterated that their action is “not a coup” and “not against President Mugabe,” but against “criminals” within his sphere and those who support Grace Mugabe’s political ambitions, which splintered the party ahead of its upcoming national congress to select a new leader before planned presidential elections in 2018.

Regarded across Africa and the diaspora as one of the last liberation fighters against European colonialism on the continent, a struggle epitomized in Bob Marley’s song “Zimbabwe,” Mugabe is said to have asked to serve the rest of his presidential term until next year’s elections when he will voluntarily step down. Mugabe made a public appearance days after the army came onto the streets and was seen in photos shaking hands and smiling with the army general who led the military action.

The Zimbabwe parliament

Military leaders are also set to meet with Mugabe later on Sunday, with a Catholic priest expected to mediate between the army and president, who has rejected a deal to step down, CNN reported, citing an official.

The Zimbabwe parliament is set to meet on Tuesday and could vote to start impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

On Wednesday, the army seized power in the capital, Harare, but denied they had carried out a coup stating they were attempting to strike a deal with the president to resign.

The elder statesman put the African nation into a tailspin after firing his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was tipped as his successor.

Zimbabwe’s Indigenization Minister Patrick Zhuwao said the veteran leader “is willing to die for his principles.” Mugabe has been the elected leader of Zimbabwe for 37 years.

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Ousting former president Ian Smith

After having been imprisoned for over a decade by colonial forces, as well as being prohibited from attending the funeral of his three-year-old son, Michael Nhamodzenyika, Mugabe helped lead the Chimurenga Bush War from Mozambique to oust former president Ian Smith and his white minority government.

He’d come under fire for reclaiming land to distribute more equitably among his compatriots. By 2013, despite the British government withholding the white farmer’s compensation package, Mugabe had lived up to his end of the bargain, expropriating or confirming for redistribution most of their land.

The United States imposed a credit freeze on Zimbabwe in 2001. The European Union followed suit in 2002 by imposing sanctions in the form of an asset freeze and travel ban. The measures led to a major trade deficit and adversely affected the country’s healthcare system.redistribution

Four million and counting

Source:  Granma
November 6 2017

by National news staff | informacion@granma.cu

As the tourist high season begins, the island has already received four million visitors thus far this year, according to Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism

four million and counting.jpg Photo: Juvenal Balán

In a November 6 press note, Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism reported that the island has received four million visitors thus far this year; 54 days before the same figure was reached in 2016; and proof of Cuba’s growing popularity as a tourist destination.

Meanwhile, despite the impact of Hurricane Irma and campaigns to deter international visitors from traveling to the island, concerted efforts by different sector entities have ensured continued interest in Cuba.

In this sense, several key resorts including Cayo Santa María, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, reopened this November 1, marking the beginning of the tourist high season on the island, with improvements made to facilities and all destinations fully operational, according to the press note.

Good outlook for tourist high season 

good outlook for tourist high seasonWith over 12,000 rooms nationwide, the Gran Caribe hotel chain is focusing its attention on tourist high season, which officially begins on November 16.

During a press conference at Cuba’s Hotel Nacional, one of the chain’s iconic establishments and a symbol of Cuba’s hotel industry, Gran Caribe directors expressed their confidence in a successful high season.
Eduardo Acosta, the entity’s president, noted that Gran Caribe expects to see positive results in the coming months, with this year’s winter period expected to be more successful than that of 2016.  He went on to highlight the hard work undertaken to repair and improve facilities and infrastructure following Hurricane Irma.

According to the group’s Vice President, Cristina León, Gran Caribe focused its efforts on refurbishment, painting, exteriors, nightclubs and restaurants across its 14 establishments in Havana.  Meanwhile, repairs were also carried out in the company’s hotels in Varadero – Cuba’s number one beach resort – above all to terraces, beach huts, bars and pools; while exterior and communal areas were repainted, and furniture replaced.

Directors went on to note that damage caused by the hurricane to establishments in Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo), demanded serious and professional work, the results of which can be seen today.
These actions will mark the 2017-2018 winter season; offering clients a renewed image, and inviting them to return and discover that we have not only changed but are also a unique destination in the Caribbean, stated the officials.
With a record four million international visitors, the outlook is good for the tourist high season. (ACN)

Ten truths about Cuba’s general elections

Source: greenleft.org
November 17, 2017

Although the media spends a lot of time portraying Cuba as a “dictatorship”, it has barely covered the fact that Cubans have once again begun a process of electing officials, starting from the local and going all the way up to the national parliament.

ten truths about cuba.jpegAlready, 78% of the population has participated in the process of selecting candidates for local government elections scheduled for November 26. A second round is scheduled for December 5 in cases where no candidate reaches 50%.

More than 27,000 candidates (from an initial list of 60,800 nominees) will contest for more than 12,000 seats spread out across 168 municipal assemblies. Sixty-five per cent of candidates are not sitting incumbents and 35% are women.

The second round of the process, to elect representatives to regional parliaments and the National Assembly, is scheduled for early next year. President Raul Castro has already announced he will step down as the head of state following the election of the next National Assembly.

Below, Sean J Clancy takes a look at Cuba’s electoral system, busting some of the myths that are constantly repeated by media pundits and critics.

  1.  “No party basis

Cuba’s elections are organised and conducted in two stages on a “No Party”, as opposed to (and as often suggested) a “One Party” basis.

The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) is not a political party in the sense that this term is generally understood. No PCC (or any other party) candidates stand for election.

This system avoids many inequities and imbalances inherent in its party-political based counterparts and ensures a fairer and more – rather than less – democratic electoral process.

Local government candidates are selected during the first stage of the electoral process, on personal merit, by their neighbours and peers in an open and transparent community-based process. They are elected by secret ballot on polling day.

2.  Fund raising

Candidates can neither – nor do they need to – raise nor spend any funds or offer any favours on election campaigns. All candidates – regardless of their political, social or economic status – are granted equal access to all voters and media.

3.  Candidate information

Information about each candidate and their attributes, experience, qualifications, suitability and ability are posted with a corresponding passport photograph in a uniform CV-style presentation in public buildings and spaces, to which all voters have access.

4.  Voluntary participation

People are encouraged to participate in the democratic process, which is very well organised, supervised and secure.

Voting is not obligatory, but more than 90% of the electorate have traditionally participated voluntarily in the polls.

In a country where migration is an integral part of the societal fabric, the actual turnout is often even higher than recorded, because of the presence on the register of people not in the country on voting day.

5.  Number of candidates that you can vote for

Voters can vote for one, any or all of the candidates on the ballot sheet. Each candidate needs to secure more than 51% of the popular vote to be elected, even when it is a “first past the post” election.

If no candidate in a designated area reaches the quota, a second round is held.

6.  Part-time or full time job?

Participation in politics in Cuba is essentially a part-time (but nonetheless time-consuming), unpaid and voluntary act of public service, rather than a materially motivated career choice. It involves self-sacrifice and effort.

Parliamentarians seconded from their jobs onto one of the full-time commissions that undertake the legislative administration of the state receive the same salary they were paid prior to their secondment and return to their posts once the relevant commission’s work has been concluded.

7.  Participatory vs representative

Cuba’s electoral and democratic model is “participatory” rather than “representative”.

Prior to the passing of any significant new laws, legislators often consider thousands of proposals, suggestions and concerns, raised by millions of citizens at hundreds of nationwide grassroots meetings and internal mass organisation consultations.

Informed popular opinion does not determine political decision-making, but it is given a degree of due consideration absent in most other supposedly “superior” systems

8.  Role of Cuban mass organisations

Candidates for election during the second stage of the electoral process to the provincial and single chamber National Assembly are carefully selected by qualified members of Cuba’s representative mass organisations, including (but not only) the Cuban Congress of Trade Unions, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers and the unions covering university and school students.

Up to 50% of the candidates, who will form the foundation of the higher assemblies, will come from those that have already been elected to local governments. They will stand again in their home constituencies.

The remaining candidates are nominated and selected on merit and can stand in the constituency that would most benefit from their particular skill sets, experience and political proposals and where they are deemed to be most needed.

9.  Neighbourhood-based assemblies

All deputies give an account of their endeavours on behalf of their constituents and relay information about local and national political developments and at neighbourhood-based assemblies.

Constituents freely (and often vociferously) express their views at these assemblies about everything from rubbish collection and street lighting to national taxation policy, the scourge of bureaucracy and world affairs.

10.  More corruption – free

Cuba’s unique and sovereign electoral model ensures that no elected deputy or appointed official is in a position to offer political or administrative favours in return for monetary or material reward.

The Cuban model is probably more corruption-free than any global counterpart, although – like every other – not without its imperfections and critics.

It is a democratic and electoral process from which a lot can be learned and within which there is a lot to be lauded.

Mugabe Makes First Public Appearance, Military Pushes Exit

Source:  TeleSUR
November 17 2017

mugage attending graduation.jpgMugabe attending a graduate ceremony, his first public appearance since the military mobilization on Harare. | Photo: Reuters

Being cheered by a crowd at a graduation ceremony, Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military mobilized in Harare.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe made his first public appearance at a graduation ceremony in the capital city of Harare.

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This was the first time Mugabe had been seen since his military-imposed house arrest that began on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Defence Force announces “breakthroughs” for Mugabe’s exit from power.

“The Army applauds the nation for remaining patient and peaceful while it carries out its operations,” the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, ZDF, said in a statement.

The ZDF announced that it has reached “significant progress” to facilitate the exit of the government of President Mugabe, who has remained in power since the nation’s independence in 1980, and purging “criminals” from the African nation’s political structure.

Negotiations described as “on the way forward” are still under way, the Zimbabwe Defense Forces reported in a statement, which was delivered through state media.

“Significant progress has been made in its operation to identify the criminals around President Mugabe,” said the military, while confirming the continuity of the search and capture of these “criminals”, without giving any specific details or names.

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The army insisted in its statement that these people “committed crimes that caused social and economic suffering” to the country.

The statement continued, “we are working with the President and Commander in Chief Robert Mugabe on the way forward.”

“We will periodically publish press releases to keep the public informed of events in the country, and the Army applauds the nation for remaining patient and peaceful while it carries out its operations,” the statement said.

Opposition leaders told CNN that a plan to remove Mugabe was discussed “a long time ago” by members of the president’s party and members of the opposition.

State media has said that Mugabe does not intend to leave his position and instead wants to continue until 2018, when the 93-year old’s term expires.

The military mobilized to secure power, which they have said is not a coup, after a dispute over the president’s successor.

The Bolshevik Revolution’s Pioneering Gains for Women

Source:  TeleSUR
November 6 2017

russian women demonstrate 1917.jpgThe women’s demonstration for bread, land and peace on March 8, 1917 in Petrograd was the beginning of the end of Tsarist Russia. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The first worker’s state in the world would never have materialized without the steely, militant determination of women.

“Bread!” was the first call to order. “Down with the tsar!” the next. Soon, cries of “Down with the war!” drowned the streets.

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The women workers of Petrograd — then the capital of Russia — roamed through town on the cold morning of Feb. 23, 1917, throwing sticks, stones and snowballs at factory windows, urging their male counterparts to join their clamor. By the end of the day, 100,000 people were out in the streets on strike.

On the sixth International Working Women’s Day, women workers set the course of history: the strike in the juggernaut of the Russian empire would go on to topple the tsar forever, sparking the revolutions that would eventually give rise to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The socialist October Revolution — also known as the Bolshevik Revolution — that would follow February’s fervor set in motion by the demands of working women, would, in turn, bring about massive gains for a society steeped in patriarchy and a semi-feudal order.

Women in Tsarist Russia

In Tsarist Russia — one of the largest empires in human history that spanned nearly two centuries — women were little more than the property of men.

The Russian Orthodox church had a hold in the country, preserving a culture of staunch conservatism. Men were legally allowed to beat their wives. Women also had no right to unrestricted movement, obliged to follow their husbands wherever they went.

They were allowed to work only with their husband’s consent. Education was massively restricted, with only about 13.1 percent of Russian women being literate in 1897.

Divorce, granted in only exceptional cases, put women through a humiliating interrogation process by police and judges and was essentially restricted to wealthy women.

Abortion was banned, and women were not allowed to vote or hold public office.

As capitalism developed in Russia between 1896 and 1899, it spurred women out of the home for the first time — but also increased their workload. Girls as young as 12 years old, or even younger, toiled away in factories, working 18 hour days for meager pay. At home, they were expected to help with household chores.

Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, wrote about this contradication, observing that “it is indisputable that the capitalist factory places these categories of the working population in particularly hard conditions, and that for them it is particularly necessary to regulate and shorten the working day, to guarantee hygienic conditions of labor, etc.

But endeavors completely to ban the work of women and juveniles in industry, or to maintain the patriarchal manner of life that ruled out such work, would be reactionary and utopian.”

The textile and metal industries soon saw masses of women workers join, who quickly formed the majority of workers in these factories. This was to have a profound impact on how the revolution unfolded.

The Bolsheviks counter petty-bourgeois feminists

The women’s struggle emerged in 1889, through the social democratic movement. Study circles were set up by Mikhail Ivanovich Brusnyev, that at its roots were based on Marxist ideas and had the goal of a socialist revolution. By 1890, these circles were teeming with women workers, with some 20 existing across Russia.

Five years later, the various social democratic circles merged to form the Union of Struggle, the forerunner to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Among its 17 founding members were four women, including Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Lenin’s partner.

While the “woman question” was on the program of all Russian opposition parties by that point, it was the Bolsheviks that would take on uniting the working class not only on national divisions, but the gender divide as well. It was the Bolsheviks too that would immediately implement all demands from working women after taking power in 1917.

The turn of the century saw mass unrest in Tsarist Russia, which ultimately transpired into the 1905 Russian Revolution, where women participated in great numbers. That year, more than 50 Soviets — effectively, regional people’s councils, made up of peasants, workers and soldiers — sprang up, with women revolutionaries assigned some of the most dangerous tasks.

One cotton weaving factory, Kashintsev, elected more women than men to the Soviet: 7 out of 8 members.

After the 1905 Revolution, the Bolsheviks worked to win women and organize them within the ranks of their party. Their efforts prevailed: at the Social Democratic Labor Party’s Fifth Congress in 1907, the Bolsheviks had five women delegates for every woman Menshevik delegate, which was the other, more moderate faction of the party.

Despite this, the Bolsheviks came under attack by petty-bourgeois feminists for failing to care about women’s issues. Well outside the labor movement, the primary concern of this group was women’s right to education — meaning, they were only addressing a tiny group of women in Russia at the time.

As the Bolsheviks rejected the petty-bourgeois feminists’ claims that women’s liberation could be fought without socialism, Lenin reiterated the importance of abolishing class oppression alongside the struggle for democratic demands.

“Marxists know that democracy does not abolish class oppression, but only makes the class struggle clearer, broader, more open and sharper; and this is what we want. The more complete freedom of divorce is, the clearer will it be to the woman that the source of her ‘domestic slavery’ is not the lack of rights, but capitalism,” he wrote in 1916. “The more democratic the system of government is, the clearer it will be to the workers that the root of the evil is not the lack of rights, but capitalism.”

Clara Zetkin, the German Marxist that first called for International Working Women’s Day, also spoke out firmly against “bourgeois feminism.”

“The proletarian woman ends up in the proletarian camp, the bourgeois woman in the bourgeois camp. We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed,” she warned.

These warnings rang true: the lack of class perspective within the petty-bourgeois feminist movement led them to support World War I, believing that once men were off to fight, women could play a greater role in society.

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It was the Bolsheviks who opposed the war, calling it a war by imperialists and capitalists at the expense of the working masses. It was also women Bolsheviks who rallied and persuaded the soldiers stationed in Petrograd to join the movement. Many soon left their posts and joined the Bolshevik ranks.

bolshevik woman 1923 magazine.jpgA 1923 edition of the Soviet women’s Bolshevik magazine Rabotnitsa.
| Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1914 the Bolsheviks began a journal aimed at working women, called “Rabotnitsa,” or “Women Workers.” With the first edition published on International Working Women’s Day of that year, seven more were issued before the Tsarist government clamped down on the publication.

Women and revolution

After the February Revolution of 1917, the Provisional Government came to power, toppling Tsar Nicholas II and ending the Russian empire

As time passed and the people’s demands for “Peace, Bread and Land” were not met, the Bolsheviks grew in popularity, as they called for the overthrow of the bourgeois Provisional Government.

More organizing was needed, and women workers were a key element of this process. They not only participated in strikes and demonstrations but also were a part of the armed defense of the revolution, dying alongside men of the Red Guards, the armed wing of the Bolsheviks.

Bolshevik women, in the months leading up to the October Revolution, took part in all activities: speaking at public meetings, distributing leaflets, transporting weapons, and providing care for the wounded.

In this fervor, the Bolsheviks began publishing “Rabotnitsa” again, with Krupskaya and many other women workers from Petrograd on the editorial board.

Lenin, during this time, wrote many articles about the importance of calling women workers to fight for socialism.

The pioneering advances for women under the Bolsheviks

Finally, on Oct. 25, 1917, the armed masses belonging to the Petrograd Soviet, which had been won over to socialist revolution by the Bolsheviks, occupied all public buildings, stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the Provisional Government members.

The Bolsheviks immediately set out ensuring equality between men and women. Just four days after taking power, they introduced the 8-hour working day, advancing possibilities for women, especially working-class women, to take part in politics.

Soon, the restriction on women’s freedom was removed. Women were given equal right to own land.

The church and state were also separated, marking one of the most profound shifts in women’s right: women were given free access to abortion, making Russia the first country in the world to grant this legal right.

Marriage also now took place with equal consent, and divorce was made as easy as possible for both parties.

The concept of illegitimate children was abolished, allowing all children to be treated equally. Paid maternity leave was granted both before and after birth, while night work for pregnant women and women who had just given birth was prohibited. In addition, special maternity wards were set up.

Alexandra Kollontai.gif

Alexandra Kollontai

Long before women would be granted the right to vote in capitalist countries such as the U.K., the United States, Sweden or France, women in Russia could vote by 1917.

Aleksandra Kollontai also became the world’s first woman minister when she was appointed People’s Commissar of Social Welfare shortly after the October Revolution.

The advances in women’s rights and equality ushered in by the Bolshevik Revolution also came part in parcel with advances in rights for other oppressed groups as well. In 1918, a decree was passed abolishing all pre-revolutionary Tsarist laws. The 1922 Criminal Code, for example, decriminalized homosexuality.

“The present sexual legislation in the Soviet Union is the work of the October Revolution,” the Bolshevik Grigorii Batkis, Director of the Institute for Social Hygiene, said at the time.

In November 1918, a series of small women’s conferences culminated in the first All-Russian Congress of Working Women.

During the conference, many new women joined the Bolshevik Party, as well as the women militias, “The Red Sisters,” to actively fight the counter-revolutionary forces known as the White Army, who had the backing of foreign governments.

The women’s department of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks, who had since changed their name to the Russian Communist Party, organized women in the factories and villages into the party.

The Zhenotdel, as the women’s department was known, soon launched a magazine, “Komitska,” with Krupskaya as editor. By 1927, over 18 different women’s magazines were published with a circulation of 386,000, focused on women’s liberation and socialism.

Thanks to the Zhenotdel, women’s membership in the party doubled by 1932, with women making up 15.9 percent, compared to just 8 percent a decade earlier.

”No party or revolution in the world has ever dreamed of striking so deep at the roots of the oppression and inequality of women as the Soviet, Bolshevik revolution is doing,” Lenin observed in 1921. “Over here, in Soviet Russia, no trace is left of any inequality between men and women under the law. The Soviet power has eliminated all there was of the especially disgusting, base and hypocritical inequality in the laws on marriage and the family and inequality in respect of children.”

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“This is only the first step in the liberation of woman. But none of the bourgeois republics, including the most democratic, has dared to take even this first step,” he added.

In 1922, with the creation of the USSR, the Soviet government sought to socialize housework. This was done by creating things such as public nurseries, kindergartens, kitchens and public laundries. The idea was to reduce household labor to a minimum, allowing women the freedom to pursue waged work, education and enjoy leisure time on par with men.

Long after the Bolshevik Revolution, the difference in women’s conditions was staggering. Compared to Tsarist times, life expectancy doubled by the 1970s, from 30 to nearly 74. Infant mortality was also reduced by 90 percent in that time period. Women soared in education, with only 10 percent enrolled in secondary school in 1926 to 97 percent by 1958.

From the first study circles at the turn of the century to the women-led uprising that incited the February Revolution, to the thousands of Bolshevik women who fought on behalf of the working class, the first worker’s state in the world would never have become a reality without the steely, militant determination of women.

New ‘Fidel’ Musical Celebrates Cuban Revolution in London

Source:  TeleSUR
November 15 2017

Late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who is being immortalised in a new London musical. | Photo: Reuters

“With just a few hundred soldiers and limited means, they took on Batista’s army of thousands with its tanks, aircraft and backing from the United States.”

The Cuban Revolution will be brought to London audiences in musical form this week when “Fidel,” a new stage show celebrating the life of the revolutionary in song, premiers at the Actor’s Church.

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The musical depicts Fidel Castro’s life in the years leading up to and during the Cuban revolution of 1953-59. It was written by University of Southampton Professor Denise Baden, who was inspired by what she called the “David and Goliath story” of the Cuban Revolution during a research trip to the socialist country.

“I can’t believe it’s not on stage already as a massive musical,” Baden said.

Baden hopes to depict – entirely through song – how Cuba overcame “impossible” odds against the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista to fight for independence and sovereignty.

“With just a few hundred soldiers and limited means, they took on Batista’s army of thousands – with its tanks, aircraft and backing from the United States… and won,” reads the play’s official billing.

“Their secret was bravery, dedication, and the support of the Cuban people, who desperately longed for justice and an independent Cuba.”

The musical score was composed entirely by students from schools across the United Kingdom through a nationwide songwriting competition, in an attempt to mirror “Cuban values” of “education and inclusion,” according to the show’s website.

One actor, from Latin America, pointed to the stark difference in how the Cuban leader is commonly viewed in the South and the vilifying propaganda so prominent in the U.S. and Europe.

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“Back home he’s not seen in the same way they see him here,” he said. “He is quite vilified in the U.S. He’s like this evil dictator who, whatever. Back home the whole left side of politics still kind of view him as a hero.”

Actress Gabriela Garcia, who plays revolutionary Celia Sanchez, said she is deeply inspired by the role of women in the Cuban revolution, and hopes to depict that to London audiences through her character.

“For me, women like her in the Revolution or most of the time get forgotten. So everything, all the stories you hear, is about Fidel or Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, but actually, when you really start digging in deep and read about all these revolutionary women, there were so many. Especially in the Cuban Revolution,”

Fidel Castro is admired by leftist and anti-imperialist movements around the world for his role in building a sovereign Cuba, staving off the United States, and assisting worldwide revolutionary movements. He died last year at the age of 90.