Hats off to Fidel Castro

By Kamna Arora | Last Updated: Friday, August 7, 2009 - 09:02
Kamna Arora
Éminence grise

For the US, he is a brutal dictator. But for me, he is a living legend, a strongman I want to shake hands with. He is none other than Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, commonly known as Fidel Castro. The former president of Cuba is truly a great political survivor.

Fidel Castro is a man of strength, a man of ideas, and a man of revolution. He is an inspirer of political moves. With military fatigues, beard and cigar, the charismatic Castro is sui generis. Believe me, he does not need any description.

The name has been haunting the United States of America for years. But for Cubans, he is a revolutionary hero.

Born on August 13, 1926, Castro is the world’s longest serving political leader. Reports claim that US agencies had pondered over many ‘poisonous’ ways to claim Castro’s life. Some of them included poisoned cigar, poisoned toiletries, poisoned scuba diving wet suit, and mind-altering drugs. But nothing could kill the hero. In fact, Castro survived no fewer than 10 US presidents since he assumed power in 1959 until he transferred the political seat to his brother, Raul Castro, in 2008. According to Fidel Castro’s ex-security chief, Fabian Escalante, the former Cuban president survived no lesser than 638 real or planned assassination attempts.

Tired of making one-after-another failed attempts to kill Castro, the US is said to have become so fatigued that it is believed to have decided to give up all attempts on him and wait for his age to catch up and natural death to come.

The story of Castro’s life is not only interesting, but motivating too. He is the man who has witnessed those moments and events that are said to be the turning points in the modern history. He has seen revolutionary movements, struggle between communism and capitalism, the darkest days of the Cold War, to name a few. Moreover, he still is a bearded irritant for the Yankees, located 90 miles to the north over the Straits of Florida.

What interests me the most about Fidel Castro is the fact that he is the communist who successfully lived through the fall of communism. In this era of globalisation, he is still holding the hands of communism to ensure indifference within the Cuban society. Moreover, he is known for his hours-long passionate speeches. His first speech to the Cubans was seven-hours long. He is a miraculous orator, who is full of conviction and force.

Nothing could break him, neither US embargoes nor any assassination attempts. He untiringly stood up for the exploited of Latin America and supported revolutions even in Angola and Ethiopia. His eternal struggle to bring revolutions against oppressors in any part of the world can never be forgotten.

Graduated from the Havana University as a lawyer, Castro was shaken by the difference between his own affluent standard of living and the awful poverty of others around him. This made him a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary. His efforts rooted out the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. "There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy," Castro had said at that time.

Many criticise Castro for poor human rights record. But the US-style democracy cannot be the criterion for judging one-party Cuba. I see Castro as the man who has provided free medical and hospital care to all. Cuba’s literacy rate is more than 98%. And the country has achieved impressive developments in its own style.

Officially, the ailing leader is no longer at the centre of the political scene in Cuba since he has handed over the power to his brother, Raul, in February 2008. But he is said to still have a strong hold over Cuban decisions. Albeit he no longer marks his presence in public forums, but his revolutionary thoughts will always light up Communism aura.

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First Published: Friday, August 7, 2009 - 09:02

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