THE MSJ SALUTES AN EXEMPLARY LEADER HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE FIDEL!
The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) expresses our profound condolences to President Raul Castro, the Cuban Communist Party and the people of Cuba on the passing of the Founder and inspirational leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz. Raul has lost a brother, Fidel’s children have lost their father, the Cuban Communist Party has lost its visionary leader, the Cuban people have lost their resolute defender of Cuban independence and sovereignty and the people of the world have lost a truly great fighter for social justice and a voice with the moral authority to demand another world, a better world.
Fidel Castro was an exemplary leader who was undoubtedly one of the most important and influential persons of the Twentieth Century. Fidel’s legacy is immense. There is no challenge to the fact that he was not only courageous but also stood by his convictions and principles. This was demonstrated from the time of his leadership of the student movement at the University of Havana in the late 1940’s; and his early involvement in party politics as a candidate for the Orthodox Party which won the 1951 elections but which government was removed by a coup d’etat in March 1952 by the dictator Batista. The dictatorship of Batista led Fidel to organize the July 26th Movement and the famous attack on the Moncada Army Barracks on July 26th, 1953 in the city of Santiago. That attack failed – a number of young revolutionaries were killed; and Fidel, Raul and others were arrested and tried. It was at this trial that Fidel gave his historic address “History will Absolve Me”.
And indeed, History has absolved Fidel! From 1953 to the triumph of the Revolution on January 1st 1959 and from that date to the present the Cuban Revolution, first with the July 26th Movement and then the Communist Party of Cuba, both led by Fidel, has been a beacon to all in the world who believe in social justice and the dignity of all people; and the right to self determination, independence and sovereignty of all nations. That Cuba under Fidel’s leadership “walked the talk” is manifest by:
- The undoubted social progress in Cuba with the ending of illiteracy in the first few years of the Revolution; the development of a quality education system that was unprecedented in Latin America and the Caribbean; a health care system that is internationally recognized as one of the finest in the world; infant and maternity death rates that are lower than all but a handful of so called “developed countries”; and life expectancy that is on par with or significantly higher than the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.
- The development of science, research, culture and the arts and sport in Cuba; and the encouragement of movements of artists and intellectuals through institutions such as Casa de las Americas, Casa del Caribe and Intellectuals for Humanity;
- The holding fast to the right to determine its own economic and political system in the face of tremendous pressures by the United States, which pressure included: diplomatic isolation; the 50 year old economic, financial and trade blockade; the infamous “Bay of Pigs” invasion; numerous acts of terrorism (the worst of which was the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline off Barbados), sabotage and aggression; and hundreds of attempts to assassinate Fidel.
- International solidarity through the provision of: thousands of scholarships to students from the “third world’ and even from the US itself, to study at Cuban universities; medical brigades consisting of top class health care professionals who are providing health care to hundreds of thousands of people who would not otherwise have such access in scores of countries; emergency medical care for countries who have faced disasters – hurricanes, earthquakes, ebola, and the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl.
- The fight to end racism, apartheid and colonialism in southern Africa through the solidarity military brigades of Cubans who fought in Angola, Namibia against and defeated the military might of apartheid South Africa. It was this involvement of Cuba and the selfless solidarity of the Cuban people that brought an earlier end to the Apartheid system in South Africa and ensured the independence of Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Fidel and the Cuban Revolution inspired and gave hope to millions of people the world over and in Latin America and the Caribbean in particular, that “Another World is Possible”. Fidel led the movement against the Foreign Debt Crisis promoted by the IMF and the World Bank in the mid 1980’s; he lent his moral support to the social movements struggling against neo-liberal globalization as manifest in the World Trade Organisation, the IMF, World Bank and the Washington Consensus (which includes the US State Department) that were pushing for so called free trade agreements such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Fidel has been vindicated by:
- The introduction in the late 1990’s of debt relief policies;
- The failure of the US policy of political isolation of Cuba and the unanimous international condemnation of the blockade;
- Social movements and progressive political parties throughout Latin America which initiated change, starting with the Chavez government 15 years ago, and which changes are now being reversed by the elites in those countries
- The failure of globalization and in particular of free trade as is now being seen by the Brexit vote
Today, therefore, we do not mourn the passing of Fidel. Rather, in the words of the Guyanese poet, Martin Carter, we say “Now from the mourning vanguard moving on Dear Comrade (Fidel) we salute you and we say Death will not find us thinking that we die”
Long live Fidel’s legacy and contribution to humanity and the struggle for social justice!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre, Commandante Fidel!
Movement for Social Justice