Cuba and Fidel


I have recently read two works by Fidel Castro. The two works are History will absolve me[ spoken in 1953] & My life: A spoken autobiography [ a collaborative work with Ramonet].

In the two works, that are half a century apart, Fidel remains the same. Always the visionary and very self critical. He says from the onset, which I doubt anyone would disagree, that no one is born a revolutionary, circumstances shape the person and for him this happened at different points in his childhood.

In his book, he talks about the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US supported attempt at counter revolution in 61, 2 years after the revolution. The US support ouster of Chavez, and in many places in Latin America.

He has utmost admiration for Olaf Palme of Sweden, Trudeau Snr, for JF Kennedy, for Juan Carlos of Spain among other leaders through the decades he was the head of the revolutionary council.

He talks about the success of education in Cuba. And how they have managed to achieve that success.

I said at the beginning of this post, he was self critical, yes, he was. In 1952, he says he was a utopian communist. All they knew then was how to carry out a revolution but not how to run a government. In a way, he is glad they didn’t succeed then, arguing that the power arrangements between the USSR and USA at that time would have been disastrous for them and the US would have likely become an occupying force in support of Batista.

He makes no apology for the times they have had to use the death penalty.

He has a good memory. The autobiography was done when he was already advanced in age, but he remembers a lot of things from the past, books he read and so on.

He introduces us, the readers, to great fighters of Cuban independence thought such as Marti, who he has at a pedestal, a saint, if you may.

He talks greatly and fondly of Che.

He is a friend of the third world and of humanity. In a way, he is a great humanist and hoped for a world where we all lived in harmony.

The article and the book are great reading, regardless of how you see Fidel.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

31 thoughts on “Cuba and Fidel

  1. foolsmusings says:

    Interesting. I’ll look for them soon think. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. The historical impact of Cuba under Fidel cannot be overstated. For the world to come closest to nuclear war over that small Caribbean nation in 1962 speaks volumes. He was, no less, the crux of Cold War antagonism.

    Yes, Castro was both the product and victim of great circumstances. The U.S. assassination and coup attempts against him cannot be forgiven, and neither can his dangerous political exploitation by the U.S.S.R. But, like his predecessor Batista, Fidel was a brutal dictator. I cannot honor dictators be they ideologically capitalist or communist.

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    • basenjibrian says:

      He was certainly an authoritarian dictator, but he was a shining star of good government compared to the various aristocrats, thugs, religious creeps, and murderers (any American who complains about Fidel while ignoring the US support for the Duvalier clan loses all right to say anything).

      If not for the outright pettiness of the U.S. government, the austerity of the Cuban economy would probably not have proven necessary.

      I will NOT defend Chavez any more. Venezuela has flown completely off the tracks, and no, U.S. perfidy is NOT responsible for the utter corruption, gang violence, and economic collapse that started under Chavez but ramped up under the utterly incompetent Maduro.

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        Maduro is responsible.
        And I think we are in agreement on the rest, which is sad. I like it most when you make me question my assumptions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • basenjibrian says:

          The thing is, during Chavez’ rule, I was vocally sympathetic in response to people who had some experience with Venezuelans. Their experience was with members of the upper class, of course. My point was the masses were fed up with the corruption and failures of the traditional Venezuelan elites. I was wrong.

          But to me, too often the only thing worse than rule by wealthy and corrupt but reasonably competent elites is rule by an elite of ideologically pure left wing nuts. Would Peru, for instance, be better off under Shining Path? How well has Zimbabwe done under Mugabe?

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    • makagutu says:

      Hi Bob,
      Batista was a thug. Stole money on his way out. Killed undiscriminately. From Fidel’s pov, the ussr was disorganized & didn’t help them much.
      America has an act that allows any Cuban citizen who come over to get a visa within the year. Ethiopia which is a human rights hell hole doesn’t have such an act among the US laws.
      I am not holding brief for Fidel or Cuba but I think they have been unfairly judged and sentenced

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Noel, I agree with you and basenjibrian. That Fidel was arbitrarily undermined, attacked, and demonized by the U.S. is historical fact. For me personally, however, I just have no use for authoritarians and dictators no matter what their true or stated intentions might be.

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  3. renudepride says:

    Thank you for sharing this, my Kenyan brother. I think Fidel Castro is shaded because many people are misled by U.S. propaganda that often portrayed him as a murderous and belligerent tyrant obsessed with world conquest and domination. Until President Obama began normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, this was the popular perception.

    Have a great weekend! Naked hugs!

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    • makagutu says:

      One would think the way he has been portrayed is more true of American presidents. Going to war everywhere on the planet. Cuba has never attacked any country but have defended the rights of others throughout the days after the revolution

      Liked by 1 person

      • renudepride says:

        That and the fact that he wasn’t the maniacal demon many politicians accused him of being.

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      • Peter says:

        Mak how do see the 30,000 troops Cuba sent to Angola in the mid 1980’s?

        Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          It was to help fight the colonialist not in fighting a government of the people

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          • basenjibrian says:

            Yet the MPLA regime has been…imperfect….as well*. They did abandon pure Marxist Leninism, which means that unlike the Venezuelan regime, they can learn. And yet….

            “Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves, and its economy is among the fastest growing in the world, especially since the cessation of the civil war. In spite of this, the standard of living remains low for the majority of the population, and life expectancy in Angola is among the lowest in the world, while infant mortality rates are among the highest.[5] Angola’s economic growth is highly uneven, with the majority of the nation’s wealth concentrated in a disproportionately small sector of the population.[6]”

            Same as it ever was. and, Angola, like Venezuela but unlike for some reason Australia, has suffered from the curse of most resource extraction economies. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

            * Of course, the Civil War didn’t help. Jonas Savimbi and UNITA, the western pawns, were not nice people.

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  4. Yeah, Castro’s a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve met people who fled his regime, and they definitely would contest his version of events. As with most times of highly emotional turmoil, the truth of what goes on is somewhere in between.

    One really ought to question the merits of any government action that forces people to change under threat of violence. From Assad to Bush to Castro to Obama to Putin, and many others in between, I think there needs to develop an empirical view of leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peter says:

    Well I suppose Castro was not as bad as either Chavez or the various Kims in North Korea, but he was a dictator. Some dictators can be very efficient as public complaints can be ignored look at Mussolini (he got the trains to run on time) and Napoleon who revolutionised the french legal system and the sewage system.

    To some extent Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore would be an interesting comparison.In that comparison I would favour Yew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Do you have independent sources, that isn’t some mouthpiece of the US from Florida and Miami about this?
      Chavez, I think, became worse after the coup.
      He didn’t cover North Korea but spoke about Mao and quite a number of personalities.

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      • Peter says:

        Mak my sources on Venezuela are mainly from the BBC World Service. They paint it as a failed socialist experiment that has now turned into a dictatorship.

        I consider the BBC World Service to be reasonably objective, but you may see them as otherwise.

        Here is a report today from the Australian national broadcaster (ABC) about an Australian visitor to Venezuela:
        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-03/how-my-photo-went-viral-in-venezuela/8863660

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        • makagutu says:

          Venezuela under Maduro has failed. It is corrupt and inefficient.

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          • basenjibrian says:

            I would extend your verdict to beyond “failed” to use the term “criminal”.

            What is your opinion, Mak, of the Mugabe kleptocracy? I read that the South Africans allowed the trophy wife to skate for beating half to death a rival for Mugabe’s affections.

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            • makagutu says:

              It’s abhorrent.
              No one can convince me that at his advanced age he is able to provide leadership to the country.
              He is wasting the country.
              And the problem is that those who oppose him are seen as stooges of the West. They have to build local networks strong enough to oust him.

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  6. venturewild says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I recently got back from Cuba myself ( http://bit.ly/2xx13wi ) and had a wonderful time but I have a pretty curious mind and am eager to learn more about the country, it’s culture, and its people. I’ve read a few books, that were suggested but I’ll definitely be checking out these as well! Thanks again for sharing!

    Happy reading!
    Katie
    http://www.venturewild.net

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  7. […] via Cuba and Fidel โ€” Random thoughts […]

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