During 47 years he exercised the absolute authority in Cuba
By Mauricio Vincent
Authoritarian leader just for half of humanity, revolutionary legend and whip of the Yankee imperialism for the most disadvantaged and the militant left, Fidel Castro was the last survivor of the Cold War and certainly the political actor of Century XX that held most headlines along the 47 years of his absolute authority in Cuba.
He made his debut as powerful commander in chief on January 1, 1959 after overthrowing with gunfire the Batista regimen. Not even in the dawn of his existence, after an illness separated him from the Government in 2006, his influence disappeared from an island that always felt short of it, as Castro conceived it as a chess piece in the great game of the universal revolution, his true life objective.
Castro was 90 years old when he passed. His brother, President Raúl Castro, announced his death in a television message. “With profound pain I appear to inform our people, the friends of our America and the world that today November 25, 2016, at ten and 29 at night the commander in chief of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed”, said the mandatary with excitement. “Complying with the express will of the comrade Fidel, his remains will be cremated in the first morning hours of Saturday 26. […] To Victory! Always!”
But after countless journalistic deaths announced from Miami, besides the 650 frustrated attempts, including plans of the CIA with chocolate shakes with cyanide, diving suits sprayed with killer bacteria, it could be said that the real death of the Cuban leader is almost not news.
The biography of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz starts on August 13, 1926 in the little town of Birán, near Holguin, former Cuban province of the East. He was the third of seven children outside the marriage of Angel Castro, a rude Galician landowner arriving in Cuba as a replacement soldier at the end of the independence war, and the Cuban Lina Ruz.
Until Angel divorced his first wife and marries Lina, at the beginning of the 1940´s, he didn´t give his last name to the children, reason why until he was in his adolescence Fidel carry the stigma of being a bastard. Of course, this was not an impediment for him to quickly stand off as a brilliant student in Jesuit boarding schools where he was first in Santiago de Cuba and later in La Habana, training that was imbedded in the hard core of his character.
After graduating as a lawyer in 1950 and open a small law firm, he entered into politics with the Orthodox Party that nominated him as a candidate to Congress in the elections that would take place on June 1952. Nevertheless, on March 10 of that year the history of Fidel Castro and that of Cuba changed forever with the coup headed by the Sergeant Fulgencio Batista.
Broken his relationships with orthodoxy for considering its weak reaction to the coup, Castro conceived an armed action that would provoke a popular insurrection: it was the assault to the Moncada barracks, in Santiago Cuba, on July 26, 1953. The operation wind up in failure and ended with the death of 67 of the 135 participants in the revolutionary command, the majority assassinated after the combats. The rebels were judged in a much sounded process in which Castro took his own defense, the celebrated discussion known as History will absolve me, where he exposed his political and revolutionary program that included among his demands the restauration of the 1940 constitution.
Fidel was sentenced to 15 years of prison and his brother Raul to 13, but the moncadistas were granted amnesty in 1955 and Castro left to the exile. In Mexico, where he met Che Guevara, prepared the landing of the yacht Granma, on December 2, 1956 on the beach of Coloradas, in the east coast of Cuba, action that marked the beginning of two years of guerrilla struggle in Sierra Maestra and that finally ended in the defeat of the Batista Army and the flight of the dictator in the dawn of January 1, 1959.
Fidel came down from the mountain wrapped in the flag of José Martí and turned into a popular idol that embodied the values of social justice in a nation impoverished by the dictatorship. The intellectuals around the world, with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir at the helm, saluted his victory and that magic lasted for some years even though the revolution was radicalized soon.
A revolutionary leader
In that moment Castro enjoyed a great popular support and his image was that of a genuine revolutionary leader: young, dared and full of freshness, not like the gray leaders of the communist countries of East Europe, installed in power thanks to the soviet tanks and for that simple puppets of the Kremlin.
Castro came down from the Sierra Maestra turned into a popular idol
As early as May 17, 1959, Castro implemented the first agrarian reform law, which led to the expropriation of the large sugar estates, many of them North American, followed by a series of social measures.
Religious colleges were nationalized, a national campaign against illiteracy was carried out, and both education and health became universal and free. Already in June Castro abandoned the promise of free elections in 18 months (“the revolution first, then the elections”, he said) and undertook a drastic reorganization of the institutions, while the firings of the early revolutionary times were criticized in the exterior.
The initial disagreements with the United States quickly became aggravated tensions and soon the spiral of measures and countermeasures became indescribable. Washington adopted the first restrictions of the economic embargo and in May of 1960 Castro resumed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, interrupted by Batista in 1952.
Between 1975 and 1989, he sent 300.000 Cuban soldiers to the Angola war
There is no consensus on whether it was the leader of the revolution with his commitment to the socialist route that dragged the United States into confrontation, or whether it was the White House with its intolerance to revolutionary measures responsible for Castro to throw himself into the protective arms of Moscow and an ideology that was not original flag of the revolution. In any case, from the outset the dispute with the United States was at the center of national policy, and although this circumstance conditioned a Cuban government with a besieged square syndrome, so too was Castro’s justification for all.
For half a century Fidel ruled the island with a speech and massively used television to gain popular support, a political treasure he administered with the same skill as he got rid of his enemies at the most convenient time and with which he used his Allies to set up a political system to its measure, in which the Army and the Communist Party were the pillars of its power
He was protagonist of the crisis of the missiles, next to Kennedy and Khrushchev
Always at the head of Cuba and surrounded by a group of trusted historians, for half a century he was the protagonist of all the great events of the country and not a few events with international repercussions. In the spring of 1961, Fidel personally led military operations to defeat the Bay of Pigs invasion, an organized and CIA-funded adventure under Eisenhower and inherited by John Kennedy, which the Communist leader took advantage of to do what until that moment he had not dared: to declare the socialist character of the revolution and to unite still more the Cubans around its figure.
A year later, at the age of 36, Castro was the main protagonist of the missile crisis, when in the name of the socialist brotherhood Cuba became a field of Soviet rockets and the world was on the verge of a nuclear war.
In one way or another, his hands and his head were in everything: the support of the guerrillas and insurgent movements in Africa and Latin America; The failed adventure of Che Guevara in Bolivia, which was preceded by the incursion of the Cuban-Argentine revolutionary in the Congo; The sugar cane of the 10 million in the 1970s, one more of its voluntary economic strategies designed to be the productive salvation of the country and whose stupefying failure forced him to surrender definitively to the Soviet Union.
Fidel Castro was also ultimately responsible for the arrival of the gray five-year period in Cuban culture and the introduction of countless institutions in the USSR; Of the Mariel exodus, which sent 125,000 Cubans into exile in a few months of 1980, a shameful flight that shocked the world and further divided Cuban families; The execution of General Arnaldo Ochoa and other senior officers of the Armed Forces and the Interior Ministry accused of drug trafficking, the most serious internal fracture that had occurred so far within the revolution.
Other milestones were the war in Angola, where more than 300,000 Cuban soldiers spent in 15 years; The triumph of the Sandinista revolution in 1979, sponsored by the Cuban leader in the Cuban training camps and in the protocol houses of Havana; The demolition of two planes of the anti-Castro organization Hermanos al Rescate; The crisis of the rafters or the legendary resistance of the commander to the policy of American economic embargo, a perfect justification for almost everything.
Between 1989 and 1993 the world collapsed for Cuban socialism.
The island lost 90 per cent of its supplies and 35 per cent of its gross domestic product at a stroke, and although Castro’s pragmatism led him to accept a series of reforms, he basically hated them and what happened when someone does something they do not want. This is the only way to explain the delusional contradictions of some of the measures adopted to oxygenate the economy, such as the authorization of self-employment.
Already in 2003, his pulse did not shake to send to jail to 75 dissidents with sanctions of between six and 28 years of prison in spite of the unanimous international condemnation, while the arrival to the power of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela was for him a ball of Oxygen – the exchange of oil for health services was the pillar of Cuban accounts in the last decade – as well as a flourishing of their old dreams of extending the revolution across the continent. The early death of the Bolivarian leader was a blow for him and his brother Raul Castro.
After the serious intestinal illness that almost cost him his life and removed him from the exercise of power on July 31, 2006, Raul Castro took over the presidency of the Government and then the leadership of the Communist Party. Then began a process of very controlled opening reforms, as well as a silent dismantling of the paternalistic system and social gratuities created by Fidel. Since then the Communist leader has been in the background, writing articles on various issues and crying out against the US and capitalism since his retirement.
In January 2015, the Cuban government published a letter from Fidel Castro in which, without showing enthusiasm, he backed the thaw with the US by his brother Raúl and announced in December 2014, but warning of Washington’s hypothetical disloyalty during the Process towards the normalization of diplomatic relations. “I do not trust the politics of the United States nor have I exchanged a word with them, without this by any means a rejection of a peaceful solution to the conflicts or dangers of war,” he said in a calculatedly ambiguous writing, directed to a student federation, which spread the newspaper Granma, an official body of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).
Source: El PAÍS