Fidel to Lead Cuba’s Golden Anniversary

December 28, 2008 | Print Print |
Brazil’s Lula and Fidel Castro

Brazil’s Lula and Fidel Castro

By Circles Robinson*

Fidel Castro will play the lead role at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Cuban Revolution on New Years Day in Santiago de Cuba, whether or not his health allows him to be there personally.

Fidel and his group of bearded rebels entered the city of Santiago on the first day of 1959, just hours after Gen. Fulgencio Batista fled the country. A week later they would ride triumphantly into an expectant Havana.

From then on Fidel and the revolution he brought to Cuba would become major protagonists of world history. They would inspire many supporters around the globe, especially in Latin America and Africa, along with many detractors – including a string of 10 US administrations that have gone to extremes in their failed attempts to isolate Cuba and eliminate its top leader.

To the chagrin of the old-guard exile community in Miami, on this 50th anniversary, Mr. Castro’s influence and stature as a world leader will overshadow any deficiencies in the Cuban political, social and economic systems that they have combated as passionately as he has defended.

Despite overwhelming obstacles, the Cuban revolution has fostered a well-educated and healthy population; an environment that isn’t overrun by cars and pollution; an economy that functions without commercial advertising or credit cards; a thriving Cuban culture, and a strong sense of history. It has also made important inroads in the long-term battle against racism and sexism. These accomplishments have earned the Revolution praise from around the globe, from people who do not worship the marketplace as the regulator of people’s destinies.

The Cuban Flag

The Cuban Flag

Mr. Castro’s clarity of vision is best exemplified by his forecast several years ago that the bubble of speculative finances in the United States was going to burst and hurt masses of people around the world.

Fidel was also a leading voice among those who predicted the damage foreign debt would cause underdeveloped countries back in the 1980s and warned that the privatization schemes that swept the continent were nothing but a new manifestation of economic colonization.

However, Cuba faces many problems as well. Both supporters and detractors would agree that its economy operates at far below its capacity, for a wide-range of reasons, and that many of the younger generations are pessimistic about their future.

The relatively young Cuban Revolution is clearly an open book, and now other leaders including Fidel’s brother Raul, the current president, face the tough challenges of guiding the country within a world in serious recession while at the same time entering a new era.

When Fidel first set out with his tiny rebel army to challenge the US-backed dictator, only those close enough to know his determination and strategic prowess could have imagined that he would be presiding over such a celebration as the one set for New Years Day 2009 in Santiago de Cuba.


What's your opinion?

  • Jack

    Hi Circles,

    I’m a democratic socialist and do not worship the marketplace. But doing without modern conveniences such as credit cards is hardly an accomplishment worth celebrating. Relatively few people use credit cards irresponsibly. Credit cards serve many useful purposes which make life easier and the economy run more efficiently, including booking travel to Cuba by the way.

    I think you overstate Fidel Castro’s stature as a leader on the world stage. Despite some admiration of Cuba’s social reforms, over the past 50 years, no country I’m aware of has followed Cuba’s lead politically or economically. Meanwhile dozens of countries have gone in the opposite direction embracing political democratization and/or market based reforms.

  • Lynden

    Circles,
    I’d have loved to join the celebrations! Well, at least I get to see some of it on tv.

    To those who still don’t get it: CUBA IS A SYMBOL The one authentic symbol of a world very different from that supposedly ruled by the “Free Market”. Cuba is also a symbol of resistance, tenacity, self reliance, courage and independence. Westerners, including self-labelled “social democrats” have a tough time understanding the significance of these concepts to persons in developing (and largely exploited) countries. And apparently they have not been paying attention to the changes underway in Latin America. Perhaps that is only to be expected, considering the nature of the information that they are predominantly exposed to.
    Fidel himself admitted that their biggest mistake was to believe that somebody knew how to build socialism. (NOT the European variant, thank you!)
    Understanding what Cuba means and has done for this world, makes the leader of that Caribbean island the most eminent world statesman. For those who believe, that white pigeon sitting on Fidel’s shoulder is Divine confirmation.
    VIVA CUBA LIBRE! VIVA FIDEL! VIVA LA REVOLUTION! VENCEREMOS!

  • Kees van Kortenhof

    ‘Cuba is also a symbol of resistance’ writes Lynden. I think that’s right if you trefer to the fifties and the sixties. At this moment Cuba is for me the symbol of supression of the individual liberties and the only country in Latin America nowadays where persons are locked up in prison because of their opinions, publications and non-violent political activities.

    Kees van Kortenhof