Fidel Castro led Cuba, a small island country with a population of eleven million to revolution through guerilla war, threw over the American supported dictator Fulgencio Batista government and remained the President and Commander-in-Chief of Cuba for Forty Nine years, half a century! He survived six hundred and thirty eight attempts on his life by the American secret service CIA and passed away peacefully on 26th Nov. 2016 at the age of Ninety. His brother Roul Castro, the present President of Cuba had been given the responsibility in 2008 when Fidel voluntarily withdrew from political life due to health reasons.
A close friend of India, Cuba remained a strong support of India on all international forums. Fidel Castro had a very close relation with Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and called Indira Gandhi his sister. During the civil war in Angola, the Non-aligned Movement had taken a stand to support the freedom movement in Angola. Cuba helped that movement through military intervention by sending its army. This intervention had its impact in Nigeria and South Africa where the freedom movements got a boost because of this. Fidel Castro emerged as a champion of the people’s struggles all over the world. Nelson Mandela himself went to meet him when he got released from the prison after the independence of South Africa.
Born on August 13, 1926 in a family of Spanish migrants in Biran, Eastern Cuba, Fidel studied in several schools before he joined the University in Havana and got a doctorate in Law. Even during his university days he had started taking part in political activities and had participated in an attack in the leadership of Juan Rodrigdge on Dominican Republic to overthrow the American supported government. The attack was not successful. He later joined the Party of the Cuban People. He was planning to enter national politics but the dictator Fulgencio Batista cancelled elections. Fidel attacked Moncada Military station with just 150 people in an attempt to overthrow the Batista regime. But he could not succeed and was arrested. In jail he meditated ways to remove the dictatorial regime and form a people’s government in Cuba.
In 1955 after his release from prison he with his brother Roul, went to Mexico where they met Argentinian doctor and revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara. Che was a Marxist revolutionary and after observing massive poverty in South America during his motorcycle tour and also after observing the Left government in Guatemala, he had decided to bring about a revolution in the world overthrowing the American Imperialism. Fidel also wanted the puppet of America Batista regime in Cuba. They became friends and Che Guevara taught the techniques of guerrilla warfare to Fidel. With just eighty one comrades on a boat Granma they set off for Cuba and with the support of the masses overturned the regime in Cuba. The dictator Fulgencio Batista Fled the country and Fidel Castro took the command. In 1961 American forces with some of the dissident Cubans attacked in Bay of Pigs. In this battle Fidel himself led the Cuban forces riding a tank and giving command.
The battle was won by Cuba. Fidel Castro adhered to the principles of Marxism-Leninism and led a communist government right in front of USA for nearly half a century. He faced severe embargo by the American governments. Eleven American Presidents right from Eisenhover to George Bush tried to remove him through all means including attempts to murder him, but failed. The last President Barak Obama was slightly positive who tried to normalize the relations between the two countries and also visited Cuba recently.
In his leadership Cuba developed its agriculture so much so that the country came to be known as the “Sugar Bowl” of the world. Several new discoveries in health and genetics were made in Cuba. Ernesto Che Guevara was the Minister of Agriculture before he went away to Bolivia for carrying forward the work of socialist revolution. Fidel Castro was a hero of the people and remained so till his last breath. After his demise the whole world paid rich tributes to him. He remains a source of inspiration to the people’s struggles all over the world. Red Salute to this great revolutionary.
Contributed by: Dr. Hemendra Singh Chandaliya