March of the torches across all of Cuba

Source: Granma
January 16 2017

by María Elena Álvarez Ponce | internet@granma.cu

The people united will march the night of January 28, on the eve of the anniversary of José Martí’s birth, from San Antonio to Maisí, with Fidel as always

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Photo: Yaimí Ravelo

The night of January 28

Havana.–From San Antonio to Maisí, for Cuba and Martí, and as always with Fidel, the people united will march the night of January 28, in a tribute to José Martí, on the eve of the anniversary of his birth.

In 168 municipalities 

Confirming the news was Susely Morfa González, member of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee and the Council of State, first secretary of the Young Communists League (UJC). She reported to the press that marches will take place in 168 municipalities across the country, in which men, women, youth, children, workers, older adults, retirees, homemakers, veteran combatants, and students will fill the nation’s streets to honor the national hero.

The demonstrations of patriotism will begin in unison shortly after 10pm on the night of the 27th, in an unequivocal show of support for the Revolution by a people which is true to its roots, proud of its history, conscious of all that has been accomplished, and confident in the future being constructed, she said.

World Festival of Youth

Together we will raise torches, the flame of life and liberty, as Fidel and his generation did on the first such march held in 1953, Morfa explained, departing from the University of Havana’s Grand Staircase and culminating at the Fragua where the youthful José Martí was imprisoned.

The Young Communist League leader additionally noted that the march will take place after a meeting of the national committee making preparations for Cuba’s participation in the upcoming World Festival of Youth, set to take place this coming October in the Russian city of Sochi. (ACN)

Cuban youth have decided to live in our free Cuba

Source:  Granma
January 4, 2017

by: Jennifer Bello Martínez | internet@granma.cu

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Remarks by Jennifer Bello Martínez, a member of the Council of State and President of the Federation of University Students in José Martí Plaza de la Revolución, January 2, 2017, “Year 59 of the Revolution”

Compatriots,

Friends from around the world accompanying us today,

People of Cuba:

Photo: Anabel Díaz


The landing of the Granma  expeditionaries

Called together by history, the present and future, we come together at this historic Plaza only two days after the 58th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the heroic uprising in Santiago de Cuba, the landing of the Granma expeditionaries, and Revolutionary Armed Forces Day.

This celebration has special motives which, for every Cuban, represent commitment, will, and confidence in the future of the socialist Revolution true to the ideas of Fidel and Martí.

We dedicate this commemoration to Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution and our youth, heirs and continuators of our people’s struggles and victories.

A united people

What will take place this morning, is only possible because there exists a united people, the ultimate expression of a Revolution of workers; campesions; students; soldiers; noble men and women who are proud of this society.

Last December marked two years since the announcement of the decision by Cuba and the United States to re-establish diplomatic relations and initiate a process toward the normalization of bilateral relations.

We would not have arrived at this historic moment if it were not for the resistance of the Cuban people, their loyalty to the ideals and principles that have guided them throughout their history as a nation.

Demanding the lifting of the blockade

Much remains to be done to advance in this process, which will be long and as part of which complicated problems accumulated over more than 50 years must be solved. Cuba will not stop demanding the lifting of the blockade, which causes damage and deprivation to our people, nor stop demanding the return of the territory occupied by the United States Naval Base in Guantánamo, against the will of the Cuban government and people. Neither will it stop demanding an end to subversive and interventionist programs intended to provoke changes in the political, economic and social order freely chosen by our people.

A demonstration of this has been the mobilization and energetic participation of students and the entire society, which like a hornet’s nest, we proclaim before the world to defend every conquest. The vanguard will continue to be the vanguard, forever patriots and anti-imperialists.

Bastión 2016

Just as Army General Raúl Castro Ruz remarked in his speech last September 17, during the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela: “Cuba will never renounce any of its principles or compromise its sovereignty and independence. Cuba will not cease defending its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, or supporting the self-determination of all peoples.
As part of the country’s defense preparation we conducted the Bastión 2016 Strategic Exercise, in order to update and carry out actions outlined in defense plans and to combat different enemy actions. Bastión 2016, an essential element to the implementation of the doctrine of “War by the Entire People,” once again demonstrated the unbreakable will of the Cuban people to defend their sovereignty and preserve the work of the Revolution.

Always at the ready to conquer what is to come

Precisely these principles have been those for which we have struggled since the cry of independence, and we are showing this with this Military Review and March of the Combatant People, which bears within it our history, our symbols, the rebelliousness, and heroism of this people. Marching by will be the mambises, (independence fighters) who the homeland will contemplate with pride, on their horses and with their machetes of liberation.

A replica of the Granma yacht, representing the feat accomplished by those 82 expeditionaries who made possible the dream of national liberation, this time will set sail upon a joyful sea of children, the next generation waving their blue neckerchiefs, with the commitment to be the future and be always at the ready to conquer what is to come.

In tight ranks, four columns of youth will march, representing those brave guerillas who created the Rebel Army; from their blood the new homeland emerged: free, combative, and invincible.

Recalling the epic of Girón and the Literacy Campaign

The epic of Girón, decisive for the nascent revolution, will also be recalled. Parading through the Plaza will be 90 combatants from that heroic battle, representing the Rebel Army, the police, and the newly formed National Revolutionary Militias. The decision to bear any cost necessary for the cause of socialism continues to motivate the millions of Cubans who populate this island.

Today, as well, we remember the Literacy Campaign work done by children and youth, with love and bravery, represented by 90 students from the Enrique José Varona University of Pedagogical Sciences, wearing the uniforms which illuminated this plaza when our people raised the banner proclaiming, before the world, that Cuba was an illiteracy-free territory.

Also marching will be seven blocs of combatants who completed missions in more than 40 nations, where they served as examples of respect for the dignity and sovereignty of the country. The confidence gained in the hearts of these peoples, was the fruit of the impeccable conduct of our soldiers.

Our girls and boys are hope, the most pure essence of the Revolution’s work. Representing all of the country’s children here are young members of La Colmenita, (Children’s theater company) little hardworking bumblebees who share love, peace, and wisdom with their honey.

Committees for the Defense of the Revolution

Under the gaze of José Martí, our troops composed of youth from the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior academies; from the three valuable armies; soldiers, and militias will march, and pay heartfelt tribute to the thousands of combatants who keep the peace and provide tranquility for the Cuban people.

Representing the popular character of the country’s defense, the provincial, municipal, and neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution will parade, along with Production and Defense Brigades and our university militias, who respond to the nation’s call: Present!

The people of Havana, representing all of Cuba, will fill the Plaza de la Revolución with the responsibility to continue struggling for our sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.

Since October 10, 1868

Younger generations, as symbols of life, love, human justice, and Revolution, will demonstrate their commitment to the homeland, our Party, to Fidel and Raúl. We walk these streets with the enthusiasm and the drive that characterize Cuban youth, committed to defending this sky and our only flag.

Since October 10, 1868, Cuban men and women have decided to live in a free, sovereign, independent Cuba. No one can make us forget our history, or the symbols of this people’s resistance.

We make our own the ideas of the historic leader of the Revolution, expressed in the plenary session of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba: “To our sisters and brothers of Latin America and the world, we must convey to you that the Cuban people will triumph … We will set forth on the path and perfect what we must perfect, with absolute loyalty and our forces united, like Martí, Maceo, and Gómez, in an unstoppable march.”

Eternal glory to those who have died for the homeland!

Long live the Cuban Revolution!

Long live Fidel, forever!

Viva Cuba Libre!

Fidel Castro: Those who lead are human not gods

Source:  Granma

December 16 2016

by  Enrique Ojito | internet@granma.cu

Fidel’s request that his name or likeness never be used to name any institution or public site, nor any monuments erected, came as no surprise to those who know his ideas.

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Photo: Juventud Rebelde

January 1959: Fidel ordered his bust removed

Sculptor Enzo Gallo Chiapardi hurriedly crafted a bust of Fidel on the night before the Caravan of Liberty reached Havana, January 8, 1959, after triumphantly crossing the island following the Rebel Army’s victory. With the same speed, upon hearing the news of the sculpture erected near the Colombia military base, Fidel ordered that it be immediately removed, to the Italian artist’s dismay.

Given such evidence, it should not have surprised us to hear the leader of the Cuban Revolution’s last wishes – announced by Raúl in Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo Plaza – that after his death, neither his name or likeness should ever be used to name any institution or public site, nor should monuments, busts, or statues in his memory ever be erected.

One of the laws adopted after the revolution

Even prior to this announcement, certain media had been perplexed when President Raúl Castro Ruz communicated Fidel’s death this past November 25, and reported the Comandante en Jefe’s request that his remains be cremated.

More than one international journalist asked if plazas and other public spaces would soon bear the name Fidel Castro. Speculation fueled expectations. Some even recalled that Fidel had previously opposed honoring leaders with statues and avenues bearing their names, while they were alive.

The man who resisted the hostility of eleven U.S. administrations understood the dangers and consequences of personality cults. That is why one of the first laws adopted after the triumph of the Revolution, January 1, 1959, was an absolutely unprecedented prohibition on erecting statues of living leaders or using their names for any street, city, town, or factory… likewise ruling out official photographs of authorities in government offices.

A lack of confidence in the people

Fidel, the statesman, talked about this law in a speech on March 13, 1966, saying, “It is not necessary to be seeing a statue on every corner, or the name of some leader on every town, all over the place. No! Because this would reveal a lack of confidence in the people on the part of leaders; this would reveal a very poor conception of the people, of the masses, as incapable of believing because of a lack of consciousness, or having confidence because of a lack of consciousness – artificially fabricating consciousness or confidence, using reflex responses.”

Marx, Engels,Lenin 

He referred to Karl Marx, Frederic Engels, and Vladimir I. Lenin in his remarks, saying that they never “made gods of themselves,” but rather “were humble their entire lives, until death, loath to cults,” he added.

Fidel knew the history of humanity and was clear on the role played by personality cults, without distinguishing between countries based on capitalism or socialism, ranging from Mao Tse Tung to Rafael Léonidas Trujillo, statues of whom proliferated across the Dominican Republic, where even churches were told to popularize the slogan, “Trujillo on earth, God in heaven.”

Personality cult

Reference texts indicate than the term “personality cult” was first used in 1956 by Nikita Khrushchev, secretary general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in a speech denouncing Stalin, during the 20th Congress of the organization.

In Rosental and Ludin’s Dictionary of Philosophy, it is defined as “blind deference to the authority of a figure, excessive consideration of real merits, the conversion of a historical figure’s name into a fetish.”

The determining factor in making history

Maintaining a philosophical lens, it is not difficult to see that underlying such cults is an idealistic conception of history – as Thomas Carlyle would say – which considers the will of individuals, as opposed to the action of the masses, as the determining factor in making history, precisely as Francisco Franco would have his compatriots believe his self-proclaimed status as god’s messenger and ruler of Spain by the grace of god.

As Fidel stated in 1966, events have confirmed the Marxist precept, “It is not men, but rather peoples who write history,” while at the same time recognizing, “The revolutionary leader is necessary as an instrument of the people, necessary as an instrument of the Revolution.”

In more than one international forum, Cuban researcher and journalist Luis Toledo Sande has spared no words denouncing the allegations of a personality cult of Fidel in Cuba, noting that such accusations are coming, in fact, from countries where university degrees are granted in the name of monarchies.

Attempts to discredit Fidel and the  Cuban revolution

Toledo, who has also studied José Martí, noted that in Cuba, for example, the names of leaders’ family members are not attached to public institutions either, no matter how charming they may be, although it is here, some allege, where a personality cult exists.

Toledo recalled, years later, that his comments were not included in the summary of the event during which they were made, due, he was told, to space limitations. Nevertheless, he has said he would have liked them to have been published, so no one might think they were excluded because he used the metaphor, “the noose in the house of the hanged man.”

The supposed personality cult of Fidel and the media campaign against Cuba are two sides of the same coin; that is both seek to discredit the leader as well as his most important work: the Revolution, in which the people play the leading role.

Plato

When Nicaraguan Tomás Borge was asked about the issue, he responded, “In a country like this one, it is very difficult for some form of absolute power to exist, because Cubans, with their idiosyncrasies, their mentality, argue everything, analyze everything; it could just as well be baseball, agriculture, politics, anything; Cubans discuss it all, they have character, a special idiosyncrasy.”

These virtues, verified in the people by Fidel, are far removed from the perspective of Plato, the first to address the elements associated with the charisma of leaders, who described the masses as ignorant and malleable, at the whim of charismatic individuals.

Leadership and political charisma, are terms which have inspired many to think:

Aristotle, Machiavelli, Weber, Freud and Bourdieu, and have been epitomized in the person who headed the Cuban state for more than 50 years and survived

638 attempts on his life, emanating basically from the entrails of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, looking to eliminate his example that inspired the world.

Despite such real – not mythical – greatness, his body was reduced to ashes, which have been resting, since December 4, inside a massive rock in Santiago de Cuba’s Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. The site dedicated to his memory, could well have been placed on top of Mt. Turquino, exemplifying modesty and austerity, contrary to the forecasts of detractors of the man who did not seek glory, but encountered it along his way.”

(From Escambray newspaper)

Black America and the passing of Fidel Castro

Source:  billfletcherjr.com

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

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It is impossible to discuss Fidel Castro outside of an examination of the Cuban Revolution. And, while I hear that there are many Cuban Americans dancing with glee upon news of the death of President Castro, I know that the emotions within Black America are and will continue to be quite different.

Haiti and Cuba

For any Black American who knows anything about the history of the Western Hemisphere, both Cuba and Haiti have a special significance.  Haiti, of course, for successfully ousting the French in 1803 and forming the second republic in the Americas; a Black republic.  Cuba, in 1959, kicked out the USA, the Mafia, and a corrupt ruling class that had enforced racist oppression against most of the Cuban population.  In the cases of Haiti and Cuba, their audacity in the face of a racist imperialism brought forth the wrath of their opponents.  How dare the Cubans stand up to the USA?  How could a country of all of these ‘brown’ and ‘black’ people insist that they should determine their own destinies?

A special significance

Thus, Fidel Castro immediately had a special significance for countless Black Americans.  When I was quite young I remember my father telling me how his brother-in-law, a professor at Johnson C. Smith University, had sat watching the television as pictures were shown of Cuban exiles entering the USA after the 1959 Revolution.  His comment to my father was that all that he saw were white-looking Cubans stepping off the planes or boats.  No brown and black Cubans.  This told him something about the nature of the Cuban Revolution and its leader, Fidel Castro.

Fidel in Harlem

fidel-y-malcolm-4Castro further endeared himself to much of Black America when he visited the USA and took up residence in the Hotel Theresa in New York’s Harlem.  It was there that he met another icon, Malcolm X.  It was situating himself in the Black community that shook much of the US establishment and told Black America that something very unusual was unfolding 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

In the weeks, months and years to come there will be exhaustive examinations of the work and life of Fidel Castro and his impact not only on Cuba but the world.  If you have not read Castro’s “spoken autobiography”, Fidel Castro:  My Life [http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fidel-Castro-My-Life/Ignacio-Ramonet/9781416562337] I strong recommend it.  I will not try to offer anything approaching an analysis of the man and his times.  What I can say, however, is that there are certainly criticisms to be offered, and differences of opinion of the dynamics of the Cuban Revolution.  That is all fair game.  At the same time, it has been a rare moment when a leader, particularly of a small country, has been willing to thumb his or her nose at the capitalist juggernaut and seek a different path.  Added to this has been, particularly in a Western Hemispheric context, the challenge of taking on racist oppression and approaching it as the cancer that it is, a disease to be removed.

Meeting Fidel

The one and only time that I met Fidel Castro was in January 1999 when I was on a TransAfrica delegation led by the organization’s first president, Randall Robinson.  At the last minute, the night before we were to leave Cuba, we were informed that we would have an opportunity to meet with President Castro.

It was close to midnight when we were informed that we needed to board the bus and head to his office.  When we arrived we walked into a waiting room in anticipation of the meeting.  Suddenly a door opened and out came an old man in an olive green uniform.  Yes, it was Castro.  I think, quite irrationally, I was expecting the young Castro of the 1960s.  But here was someone about the same age as my father.  He circulated around the room and was introduced to our delegation.  We then retired to another room to begin our meeting.

The power of racism

It is hard to describe what happened next, and probably equally hard for anyone to believe it.  We sat in the room with Castro until about 3:30am.  He never lost a beat.  He never seemed tired.  In fact, as the minutes and hours went forward, he seemed to gain energy!  Castro spoke with us about the Cuban Revolution, race, and many other issues.  Yes, he spoke a lot, but we were transfixed.  And, when we asked him questions, he would consider the matter and always offer a thoughtful response, rather than retreating into rhetoric.  It was particularly illuminating when he informed us that the Cuban Revolution had underestimated the power of racism.  As he said at the time, when the 26th of July Movement (the revolutionary organization that led the anti-Batista struggle) took power they thought that it was enough to render racist discrimination illegal and that should settle the matter.  The entrenched power of racism, even in a society that was attempting to root it out, was more substantial than they had anticipated.

Hearing this from Castro represented a special moment.  There has frequently been a defensiveness among Cuban officials about matters of race in Cuba, despite the tremendous advances that they have made, advances probably of greater significance than any other country in the Western Hemisphere.  Yet, manifestations of racism remain and, to our surprise, Castro was prepared to address them.

Facing health challenges

Fidel Castro’s demise comes as no surprise.  He had been facing health challenges for some time.  Nevertheless, given the number of attempts on his life and the other challenges that he had faced, there has been a bit of magical thinking for many people, believing that he would, somehow, always be there.

For many of us in Black America, Castro represented the audacity that we have desired and sought in the face of imperial and racial arrogance.  While it is unfortunate that some of us have withheld concerns and criticisms out of respect for Castro and the Cuban Revolution, it is completely understandable.  After all, this was the country that deployed troops to Angola that helped to smash the South African apartheid army and their Angolan allies.  This was the country that has deployed doctors in the face of countless emergencies, to countries that could never afford such assistance.  This is the country that has studied and come to understand hurricanes in a way unlike most in the hurricane region, so much so that it offered assistance to the USA in the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, assistance that the then Bush administration turned down.

Let his soul rest easy.  And, let the Cuban people continue on their way free of outside interference.  Theirs path has been one upon which they have insisted.  Fidel Castro was one important component in making that happen.  And, if that was not enough, he and the Cuban Revolution shook the world of the 20thcentury.

—————————————–

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a talk show host, writer and activist.  He can be followed on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.

The world bids farewell to a giant of world history

Source:  Granma
November 26 2016

by: Redacción Internacional | internacionales@granma.cu

International media feature the news of Fidel Castro’s death
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From all corners of the planet, recognition of the life and work of one of the great leaders of the 20th century and thus far into the 21st – the guerilla in the Sierra Maestra and international statesman who changed forever the history of Latin America and the peoples of the world: Fidel Castro.

Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was among the first to make a statement following Fidel’s death, late November 25, at 90 years of age, calling for the preservation of his anti-imperialist and emancipatory legacy, writing on his Twitter account, “Sixty years since the Granma yacht ‘s departure, Comandante Fidel Castro has passed into immortality.”

Evo Morales

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, in a telephone contact with teleSUR, said that the best way to honor Fidel is to consolidate the unity of the world’s peoples, and never forget his unrelenting resistance to the imperialist model, adding, “Fidel has given us lessons in struggle, perseverance, liberation, and the integration of the world’s peoples.”

Sánchez Cerén

Likewise, Salvadorian President Salvador Sánchez Cerén expressed “profound pain upon hearing of the death of a dear friend and eternal comrade,” saying that Fidel would live forever in the hearts of peoples struggling for justice, dignity, and brotherhood.

Enrique Peña Nieto

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s head of state, emphasized the role played by the Comandante in promoting relations between the two countries, based on respect, dialogue and solidarity, while the daily La Jornada, with one of the highest circulations in the country, featured the news of Fidel’s death, calling him a “central figure” of the 20th century.

Narendra Modi

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, sent his condolences to the government and people of Cuba, writing on Twitter, “India mourns the loss of a great friend. May his soul rest in peace.”

Sonia Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress Party in this country, lamented the great loss and emphasized Fidel’s struggle for the oppressed of the world, and his role in the Non Aligned Movement.

Jacob Zuma

South African President Jacob Zuma, likewise expressed the pain he felt upon hearing of Fidel’s death, “a great leader and revolutionary,” saying, that the solidarity of Cuba in the struggle against apartheid would never be forgotten.

Konstantin Kosachov

The president of the Russian Senate’s international relations committee, Konstantin Kosachov, commented that Fidel will always be included in world history, since, with his leadership, Cuba was able to resist external pressure and chart its own course.

Cuban singer songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, on his blog Segunda Cita, sent his condolences to “Fidel’s family and the people of Cuba, the world and universe, for the loss of one of the most extraordinary human beings of all times.”

Ivan Marquez

Ivan Marquez, head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) negotiating team in peace talks with the Colombian government, said that the world had lost “the most admirable revolutionary of the 20th century,” adding, “Thank you, Fidel, for your great love of Colombia. May the Peace Accords of Havana be our posthumous tribute.”

Several Colombian media outlets interrupted their nighttime programming to broadcast news of the death of the Cuban leader, including RCN, Noticias 24 and Cable Noticias, featuring interviews and pieces on his life and work.

Both the influential magazine Semana and daily El Tiempo featured the news on their webpages.

The French daily Le Monde published a piece recalling the close relations Fidel shared with numerous intellectuals and artists of international renown, including Gabriel García Márquez and Jean-Paul Sartre.

In Ecuador, according to Prensa Latina, the Agencia de Noticias Andes disseminated Raúl Castro’s announcement of the Comandante en Jefe’s death, while the digital version of the daily El Telégrafo devoted several article on its front page to the leader of the Cuban Revolution.

The Italian news agencies AGI, ANSA, RAI, and important dailies like La Repubblica, Correire della Sera, La Stampa, Il Sole 24 Ore, and Il Messagero, featured the news on their webpages.

Unity, the best tribute

Source:  Granma
November 27 2016

by: National news staff | informacion@granma.cu

It was with deep sorrow and regret that the Cuban people learned of the passing of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. Granma shares some reactions to the news

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PhotoRicardo López Hevia

Hasta siempre, Fidel

His death was met with tributes and moments of reflection by the Cuban people, who neither want, nor are ready, to say farewell, choosing instead to salute the global leader with a “Hasta siempre, Fidel.”

The fact that a man like Fidel is no longer with us is a difficult reality to bear, stated Artemisa resident and Revolutionary combatant Plácido Núñez, speaking to Granma.

Meanwhile, an emotional Maritsa Leyva who works at the Las Tunas based Nuevo Éxito food processing plant, stated, “Honestly, from the very bottom of my heart I’m telling you, so much pain can’t fit in my chest. To say Fidel, is to say Cuba, brother, the world.”

Lázaro Castro Aguilera, director of the Birán Historic Site and National Monument noted that the death of the Comandante “caused great pain. I had a tight feeling in my chest and went to visit the tomb of Lina, Fidel’s mother. I imagined talking to her, telling her that the great son she gave to the world – and for whom she suffered immensely, realizing how he suffered the vicissitudes of a revolutionary – would no longer be among us.”

Genuine pain

He also recalled “the times that Fidel visited and talked about his life in great detail here. It was like I could see him riding up-hill on a horse, like a hunter; I could picture him washing in the river close by, and doing things that kids and adolescents do.”

Despite being deeply affected by the news of Fidel’s death, staff at the farm where the Co­man­dante en Jefe was born will continue to receive visitors that arrive to the establishment over the coming days.

”We must continue researching Fidel, in order to reveal the entirety of his greatness and wisdom, as a way of keeping him alive, to ensure that he always accompanies us,” added López.

According to the director, visitors to Birán are very respectful, and the majority express genuine pain. A book of condolences – which sits next to a photo of Fidel surrounded by flowers – has been opened for visitors to the facility to sign.

The best way to honor him is to remain united

”People approach staff at the Birán Historic Site to speak about all that Fidel has done for the people, the importance of respecting his ideas. The majority believe that the best way to honor him is to remain united,” stated Lázaro Castro Aguilera, speaking to Granma.

All Cubans have been deeply affected by the news. Birán resident Pedro Pascual Rodríguez for instance stated, “I feel bad. Fidel has died! The revolutionary with the greatest ability to organize I have ever known. He was able to unite Cuban patriots and lead them to victory. Then he spent his life doing the same around the world.”

Iraida Martínez Duardo, a retired teacher from the province of Las Tunas described Fidel’s death as an irreparable loss, “Above all because even at 90 years of age he still retained the same lucidity and spirit which have always characterized him. Now it’s our duty to continue his work, the Cuban people will never forget this day. I will never forget it.”

The greatest statesman

Those who remember how Cuba was before the glorious triumph of 1959 know just how much Fidel’s leadership means, stated a visibly emotional Vicenta Calderín, a retiree who lives in the province of Artemisa. “The Comandante offered Cubans a better future, what he did for the people is unparalleled.”

”It was Fidel that led the Revolution and took important steps to eradicate illiteracy, promote health and education. Today will be remembered with sadness,” according to Manuel de Jesús Catalá Balón, Guantánamo resident and combatant of the Rebel Army’s Juan M. Ameijeiras Sixth Column.

For Antonio Marrero Duvergel, Radio Re­belde correspondent in Guantánamo, Fidel has been the greatest statesman in history; an outstanding military strategist; insurmountable politician; leader of the masses; tireless student, with a vast knowledge on matters of science, economics, sports, culture, the environment; an excellent orator… global example of internationalism with an unwavering commitment to the people, the dispossessed; qualities which have seen his work spread across the entire globe, cemented forever among revolutionaries.

Indebted to Fidel

Leonardo Aguilar, a 70 year old Guantánamo resident remembers Fidel as the person from whom he has learned the most in his life.

”I was a literacy teacher, and I have participated in every task required by the Revolution. That’s how I’ve come to define myself over the years. I saw him once when he came to Guantánamo, but only from afar. I would have liked to shake his hand,” noted Aguilar.

Meanwhile, Marrero Duvergel recalled, “I was born in the countryside, and thanks to Fidel and the Revolution I became a journalist. What I am today, I owe to him.”

Joaquín González, a teacher at the Ernesto Che Guevara vocational school in Villa Clara noted, “The Revolution led by Fidel was the same one that provided brain surgery for my daughter in a famous hospital in the capital, and which today pays my wife Nilda a stipend to take care of her. I will never forget this.”

Eternal gratitude

Comments such as these reflect the Cuban people’s eternal gratitude toward the Comandante. His ideas, his motivation to fight and concept of Revolution “Will carry on, in the hands of Army General Raúl Castro, who will have the support and commitment of the entire Cuban people,” stated Eberto Estrada Sao, director of the Las Tunas Provincial Meteorology Institute.

”He will be remembered as a good man, of respect, worthy of these times, an indisputable leader of this nation, of the Americas and the world. Now he will multiply in every Cuban that considers them self to be a worthy continuer of his work.”

Rigoberto Miralles, a retiree from Bayamo, noted that the Comandante’s constant lessons in struggle, tenacity, sacrifice, humanism, solidarity, patriotism “will show us the path to follow to achieve the prosperous society that we Cubans aspire to create, without renouncing the sovereignty woven with the blood of the heroes and martyrs of the homeland.”

Humanist qualities

”I had the luck of knowing him as a child, when we were students at the Número 15 Rural Mixed School, located close to his childhood home. He didn’t seem like the son of the most prominent landowner in the area, given the way he treated the other students,” commented Pascual Rodríguez, a neighbor from Birán.

Rodríguez also noted, “You immediately realized he was very intelligent, and was ready to do anything. When I think back, I realize that even at that time you could already see the humanist qualities for which he is renowned.”

According to Delia Rivero Tour, a teacher at the Volodia Kindergarten in Las Tunas, “Starting now we must keep his memory alive, remember him.

Tenderness toward children

“I always think about his tenderness toward children with a phrase of his which says “a healthy child deserves everything, a sick one even more.”

These words speak volumes about the man he was,” stated the Kindergarten teacher.

Lorena Infante García, a student at the Inés Luaces Middle School in Camagüey, agrees, noting that “we love him as our most senior leader, for everything that he has done for the happiness and well-being of Cuban children and those worldwide.”

According to Infante, for pioneros (elementary school students), the Comandante has been and will continue to be an example to follow, in the same way as José Martí, Ignacio Agramonte, Antonio Maceo, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara and so many other Cuban heroes and martyrs.”

Good people

This means being good, disciplined and committed students, ready to respond to every call made to improve the Revolution, become highly qualified professionals, and above all good people, just like him, always sincere, honest, and concerned about the fate of others, she noted.

“The Cuban youth, for whom he did so much, have lost their Comandante on the physical plane, but will continuously rediscover him by preserving his immense legacy in all aspects: ethical, moral, patriotic. Observing his conduct will be a mirror before which we look at ourselves, to be better and more committed,” stated 23 year old bank employee Lisandra Mar­tínez Acea, from Cienfuegos.

This is a moment to ratify his thought and the principles of the Revolution…His ideas and actions turned our country into an example for the rest of the world, and him into an icon, a source of inspiration, stated Yamilia Almanza a young worker at the Latin American School of Medicine.

A source of inspiration

Fidel is and will continue to be a guide, a source of inspiration, a catalyst for every revolutionary project, the man of Moncada, the Gran­ma expedition, the Sierra Maestra, the indisputable leader…the eternal Comandante.

No one should think that the death of our Comandante means and end to the Revolution, stated Armando Peña Gar­vey, an employee at Guan­tánamo’s La Primada food processing plant, “on the contrary, now we are going to become even stronger and more united. We’ve got to keep on, and show the world who we Cubans are.”

“Fidel isn’t dead at all,” said Jesús Catalá Balón, combatant from the Rebel Army’s Juan M. Ameijeiras Sixth Column.
“What died was his body, but he’s still alive, because there are millions of people here, above all youths, who are following in his footsteps. Here, and around the world,” he added.

To keep the flame of the Revolution alive

Meanwhile, Ángel González Rodríguez, reserve forces Lieutenant Colonel based in Santa Clara noted that “As a child I saw the Freedom Caravan pass by, and at some place, before masses of cheering people, Fidel stated that he would like to see this multitude at his burial, because it would mean that he had fulfilled his promise to the people, to whom he dedicated his life. And that’s exactly how it will be.”

His death is a terrible event, but nothing is going to happen here, highlighted literacy campaign volunteer, Leonardo Aguilar. “Raúl is here, and with him the youth and entire country, to keep the flame of the Revolution alive.”

Fidel: It is worthwhile to have lived!

Extract from speech delivered by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz at the Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of his admission to the University of Havana , in the Aula Magna of the University, on November 17, 2005

fidel-at-the-u-of-h-2

“There must be an end to stupidity in the world, and to abuse, and to the (rule of an) empire based on might and terror.  It will disappear when all fear disappears. Every day there are more fearless countries.  Every day there will be more countries that will rebel and the empire will not be able to keep that infamous system alive any longer.

Salvador Allende once spoke of things that would happen rather sooner than later. I believe that sooner rather than later the empire will disintegrate and the American people will enjoy more freedom than ever, they will be able to aspire to more justice than ever before; they will be able too use science and technology for their own improvement and for the betterment of humanity; they will be able to join all of us who fight for the survival of the species; they will be able to join all of us who fight for opportunities for the human species.

It’s only fair to struggle for that and that is why we must use all our energy, all our effort and all our time  to be able to say with the voice of millions, or hundreds of thousands of millions of people: it is worthwhile to have been born! It is worthwhile to have lived!”

Source:  Fidel Castro, We Can Build The Most Just Society in the World, 2005, Havana, Cuba, Publications Office of the Council of State, p 102.