Monday, 25 February 2008

Cuba: Fidel soldiers on

For the past week, the international media has been in paroxysms with the anouncement on February 19, in a measured, sober letter from Fidel Castro, that he would not be contesting the presidency of Cuba, due to be decided on February 24. The Wombats have been astounded with the reaction. No, really.

It was an amazing day in Miami, where all the wonder of nature were on show: there were no earthquakes, meteor showers, signs form God or tidal waves. No glorious rapture took the Miami Mob back to Cuba to return them and their gangsterism to power in the small island country. Time didn't stop. There weren't even the massive spontaneous street-parties where everyone speculated about the fact (which their cousin's wife's grandmother's brother who used to sell bananas in Vedado in 1947 KNOWS is true, because he was THERE) that Fidel actually died in a fishing accident in 1982, and the Soviets provided the regime with a wax dummy.

Worse yet for the wannabe fascists in Florida, there weren't even any protests or outbursts of joy in the streets of Cuba. In fact, when the western media descended like vultures onto the sidewalks of Havana, most them could only find ... well, sorrow, and a sad acceptance that the day had to come when Fidel would step aside.

In fact, Fidel stepped aside almost 19 months ago, in order to undergo life-threatening intestinal surgery for diverticulitis, and handed over the top job to his younger brother Raul, and the country didn't stop then either. The Cuban people didn't stop, but they did express concern and worry about (not the state of the country) but the health of Fidel, who they hold in the deepest regard.

If anything, the announcement only confirms Fidel in the role he has been playing, of leading by example, but also of creating space so that others can learn how to lead as well. It's a role he's had, not only for the past 19 months
, but for decades beforehand, as generation after generation of Cuban youth has been encouraged to step forward and lead the revolution, from the ground up (not top-down, as Cuba's critics imagine, their minds filled with the "big-man" version of history that dominates individualistic, egoistic, capitalist society).

So, on Sunday, February 24, Raul Castro was elected president of Cuba. Once again, no bangs, no supernovas, no Second Comings or capitalist restorations - despite the pangs and Norwegian-Blue-pining-for-the-fjords of the capitalists across the Keys. No great schism between Raul Castro and Carlos Lage. No military coup and sudden economic changes "with Chinese characteristics".

No, life goes on in Cuba, where they are in the middle of a massive public debate about the future of Socialist Cuba (not anyone else's version, patented in Tampa, Fl. on the Potomac, or in Silicon Valley) where 1.3 million proposals for change have come out of 215,687 open public meetings - in communties, workplaces, and universities - over the past year. The newspaper of the Communist Youth - Juventud Rebelde - joins Fidel (who continues to write his newspaper articles for Granma under the title
"Reflections by comrade Fidel") as "Public Critic Number 1" of the problems and shortfalls of Cuban society, of the corruption, the bureacracy and the ineptitude that places the revolution in jeopardy.

The Cuban revolution continues to inspire millions around the world by its ability toproduce the bets of humanity, when facing the worst of us only 90 miles from its shores. And, as the only country which the World Wildlife Fund regards to be developing in a manner sustainable for the continuation of life on earth, we all continue to have a lot of things ot learn from the Jewel of the Caribbean.

Of course, Fidel himself continues in politics too (don't let the media let you think he's retired, or dead, or anything - he's only 81 you know. Plenty of years to go yet.), as
First Secretary of Communist Party, as an elected member of the National Assembly, and, most importantly, as one more, very necessary, "soldier in the Battle of Ideas" that confronts us all, at every turn of the struggle for socialism against barbarism and for the future of humanity.

Gracias Fidel, nuestro camarada de luz en la lucha por el futuro socialista.
Hasta la victoria siempre! Socialismo o muerte! Venceremos!
Condenarmos, no importa. La historia nos absolvera!

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