Admiring the Leader

August 16, 2012 | Print Print |

Yusimi Rodriguez

Fidel Castro at the Cuba Book Fair in February 2012. Photo: rguama.icrt.cu

HAVANA TIMES — On Monday, August 13, the perennial leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, celebrated his 86th birthday. Just the day before, the 2012 London Olympics concluded.

One of the last members of the Cuban delegation to compete (the winner of the bronze medal in wrestling), dedicated his victory to Fidel on the eve of his birthday.

Over the years I have seen our journalists repeat the same question to the medalists in international events: “To whom are you dedicating this medal?”

I’ve gotten to the point of wondering if this is a mandatory question, or just a lack of imagination on the part of the journalists.

This also made me ask whether it’s part of the athletes’ training to dedicate their medals to not only their mothers, husbands or wives, but also to the commander-in-chief.

I’m not a great admirer of Fidel Castro, I doubt that his strengths outweigh the many mistakes he committed and that we still suffer.

This feeling (my lack of admiration for him) sometimes gives me a deep sense of guilt. I listen to people of previous generations and to young people from other countries who feel indebted to him and I feel a genuine sadness.

I experienced this on Monday, August 13, while reading the Granma newspaper, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba. All of page 8 was filled with views about Fidel Castro as expressed by Cubans and foreigners who have known him.

They were more like anecdotes, with each aimed at showing us a virtue of the leader. I couldn’t help but to be moved by the story of track legend Ana Fidelia Quirot, the “Storm of the Caribbean.” El Comandante visited her personally in the hospital immediately after she suffered a domestic accident in the early ‘90s.

The leader was beside her, wearing one of those green gowns that doctors have to wear in operating rooms.

That story was enough to make me love, more than admire, our eternal leader. But I kept reading.

There was a brief account of Brigadier General Juan Escalona Reguera. On one occasion, Fidel sent him to Angola to speak with General Leopoldo Cintra Frias to convey to him the following message: “Tell him that if winning the war in Angola means losing him, it’s not worth winning. Tell him that he needs to cease his madness, that he needs to withdraw from the front line, that he needs to be careful.”

This is when I lost it. So those who died in that war and those who returned maimed weren’t our own? They were people we could afford to lose to win the war in Angola?

I always thought if there was some admirable quality in a military commander, it was their courage to be out in front of their troops, on the front line of combat, such as our independence leaders Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez, and like our national hero Jose Marti at Dos Rios, even though Marti wasn’t a soldier.

Does it now turn out that there were valuable lives and disposable lives in the war in Angola? Who determines the value of one life over another?

My brother was sent to Angola when he was 18, during his military service. Wasn’t his life valuable? What was my brother in Angola: cannon fodder in a faraway war attempting to show Cuban internationalism to the outside world? He was fortunate to come back in one piece. He didn’t experience any glorious death.

I guess I missed something. Where was the part of the story about why I should admire the El Comandante?

 

 


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    The future tombstone for the Maximum Leader could well read “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

    • Lawrence W

      Amazing how Americans are fixated on seeing Fidel dead, even suggesting quotes for his tombstone. Am I the only one that finds this somewhat loathsome? They assume Fidel’s passing will hand them Cuba on a silver platter. Not likely, but I encourage you, ‘Moses’, to keep up comments like this to make it even more unlikely.

  • http://www.jerzymade.com jerzy

    You put too much philosophy in your endless splitting of a single hair. Try to think like Americans – boil it down, keep it simple. Forget complicated diplomacy – use ax. Castro is a warrior who dedicated his life to defend Cuba that US is willing to spent eternity to take it. Castro doesn’t walk on water (true) but he gets his job done so far. If you look for absolute perfection – “do it to yourself” in front of a bathroom mirror.

    • Lawrence W

      Fantastic comment!

    • Veronique

      WELL SAID!!

      And to the writer of this post, what exactly was wrong with the comment he sent to the General in Angola??

      You need to understand military strategy and nationalism, to understand why a comment like that is completely acceptable in many contexts. First of all, the General should not be on the front line. Romanticism (particularly in films and books) would lead you to believe otherwise, but the fact is, rarely is the leadership placed directly on the front lines of a war.

      And Angola is the only beacon of nationalism in Africa. It is Africa’s ONLY country that is run by a nationalist gov’t. These nationalists elsewhere are the very last of a dying breed, and their being here and their leadership is important and vital to keep the battle against imperialism alive.

      So I call hogwash on your post. Just say you don’t like Castro as the leader, just come out and say it (I’m assuming that’s what the entire site is about to begin with), but stop trying to split hairs and find controversy where there is none.

      Your brother’s position in the military is not of the same value, militarily, as that of a General or that of a nationalist leader. I know that may sting to some, but that’s the way military and politics work.

      The writer is attempting to deride Castro by exploiting emotionalism and ignorance (on the reader’s part); and you’ve failed miserably.

      You complain and whine about a utopia, instead of understanding that your country has been immune to the many social and geopolitical ills the rest of us are facing because of the sacrifices and fight of this man and the many ancestors/elders who came before you. Shameful and ungrateful.

  • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

    You think that, by undermining the honor of Fidel, you can help prepare the Cuban people for a future imperialist invasion. Guess again.

    People like you, people all over Latin America who betray their homelands and suck up to imperialism, will be disgraced by history.

    • Moses

      As surely as he lives, even Fidel, one day, must die. I do not wish him ill nor a death not of his own time. My comment seems to have aroused quite a stir. What manner of man merits such worship? No one knows what change his death will bring to Cuba but most agree that change will come as a result. Let me clear, I have very dear friends in Cuba and wish none of them the suffering that the innocent of Syria are now enduring. Reasonable Americans do not wish or plan for an invasion of Cuba. Hardly. Even the most stalwart anticastristas have grandmothers and cousins and former neighbors who would come to harm in such an event. Make no mistake, the military might of the most powerful nation in the history of the world would overrun Cuban military resistance in less than a week. But what then? Another Vietnam, or worse? No, instead I recommend that Fidelistas such as have commented above reconcile their hearts to the fact that at 86 and feeble, Hier Castro’s days are numbered. Attacking me will not change that reality.

      • Lawrence W

        ‘Moses’ continues to claim he is being attacked when anyone points out the fallacies and obfuscation inherent in what he writes. Claiming his comment “seems to have aroused quite a stir” is also a bit grandiose. Here is some more critical analysis of what is on display.

        Why does ‘Moses’ insist that anyone who points out Fidel’s accomplishments is a hero-worshipper, a “Fidelista”, despite replies to the contrary? Because he has an obsessive fixation that blinds him to the accomplishments? Or he wants us to spend time dwelling on Fidel’s failings?

        ‘Moses’ spends a lot of time trying to convince us that what he wrote wishes no ill on Fidel or suffering on Cuban civilians like what is happening in Syria or invites massive killing as happened in Vietnam. Unfortunately, knowledge of history and what Americans are currently doing has lowered their credibility to an all-time low.

        We remember the cheering and celebrations that took place when Fidel’s illness was first announced. We know the US government is funding the Syrian rebels just as they fund Cuban Americans who commit acts of terrorism against civilians. And we remember the millions of civilians the US killed in Vietnam – napalming, carpet-bombing and slaughtering mostly civilians.

        Currently, as I write, the US is claiming they have no vendetta against Julian Assange. Yeah, and if you believe that, you will believe I just saw another pig fly by. Sorry, ‘Moses’, your pious disclaimers are belied by the actions of your government. Your credibility is much, much lower than Fidel’s.

  • Lawrence W

    Yusimi, I’m not given to hero worship and am not going to change at this late date, but if I wanted to find a hero to worship, Fidel would be the leading candidate by a long shot. In common with the traditional owners of the land I live in, Canada, I agree with their historical principle that ‘no one stands above or below anyone else’.

    Fidel easily qualifies as a wise elder in their tradition. Unlike native traditional practice, he did not use the principles of participatory democracy they used. But we know their fate and need to heed the lesson I think. Participatory democracy has not been able to stand up to either rapacious invaders or rapacious imperialists. Yusimi, I ask you, don’t we need to consider this when judging Fidel?

  • Mark G

    I find nothing to admire about Fidel Castro. Just another in a long and dishonorable line of tyrants who ruled by the doctrine of ‘L’etat, c’est moi’ (The state, it’s me).

    The fact a few people continue to admire Castro (mostly from afar) means nothing. Pinochet, Franco, Somoza and Duvalier all had their admirers too.

    • john sparre

      to be fair, fidel never encouraged a cult of personalty and resisted for many years those that wanted to make his childhood home into a museum. he ruled by consensus, not like louis xiv. if fidel made mistakes, he didn’t make them alone.

    • Lawrence W

      If you don’t find anything to admire about Fidel, you obviously don’t care about universal health care, freedom from communicable diseases and education that eradicated illiteracy. You are thus removed from the concerns of 99% of the people in the world, indicating you must live a very privileged existence.

      Your selective list of tyrants also indicates an unfortunate blinkered outlook and extremely limited perspective in other areas. By far the greatest crimes against humanity are being perpetrated by leaders from the so-called democracies against citizens of other countries – world tyrants on a global scale practicing state terrorism. I think the details are known, just not mentioned here. There are plenty of past examples close to home in Latin America as well as currently in Africa and Asia, led by “the most militarily powerful country in the world”. I’m confident you know who that is. Fidel certainly does not fall into this category.

      Pinochet, Franco, Somoza and Duvalier were responsible for horrendous crimes against their people. They maintained their rules through a reign of terror. Fidel certainly does not fall into this category.

      Fidel is no longer in power, so he certainly doesn’t fall into “the state, it’s me” category either. Are you sure you are writing about the same person as the rest of us? It seems not.

      • Mark G

        Almost all democratic countries including mine (Canada) have univeral health care and free basic education. Many developing democratic countries (e.g. Brazil, Costa Rica) are also implementing progressive social policies as they become more prosperous. These policies are by no means unique to Castro’s Cuba.

        The reason I don’t admire Castro (Raul as well as Fidel) is because they have systemically denied Cubans the fundamental freedoms and civil liberties they deserve.

        • Lawrence W

          Mark, I’m afraid you are exhibiting large blinkers to your thinking. Yes, most “democratic countries” and undemocratic ones for that matter – Iraq for example had a fantastic one under Saddam but the American invasion put an end to that – have universal health care. There’s one glaring exception that I’m sure you are aware of. Maybe the Americans are just anti-health care – except for the rich of course. Which is what their system is all about.

          But – this is where the blinkers come in – Canada’s health care system is under attack as you must be aware of as a Canadian, if indeed you are one – hard to believe anyone can be so unknowledgeable about what’s going on in their own country, even wearing blinkers. Provinces, with varying degrees of success, are fighting off forces that want to establish private health care facilities despite plenty of examples south of our border of what that brings. Many of these forces, of course, come from south of the border. All signs are indicating we, the people, are losing that battle.

          Try finding a family doctor in Toronto. Then read about the “doctor on every block” policy Cuba follows, responsible for not only good health care but one that allows for monitoring problems – disease outbreaks requiring immunization programs – before they become catastrophic. Reading Havana Times, I understand standards are slipping, but they are higher than Canadians could ever hope for.

          As for “free basic education”, the key word is “basic”. Surely you are aware of the student strike in Quebec opposing university fee increases? Students in other provinces pay even higher fees. We never had free higher education but it used to be affordable. Now students graduate with a massive debt to pay off. We won’t write about the US system where the situation graduates face resembles that of indentured servants.

          Maybe you are unaware – hard to know if this is due to blinkers or ignorance – one leads to the other of course – that university education in Cuba is FREE. Here are some interesting statistics from Wikipedia about education in Cuba that spends 10 percent of its central budget on education (for comparison, the US spends 2%), none of which are matched in Canada:

          – Irrespective of income or place of living, education at every level is free.
          – School meals and uniforms are free.
          – There is a strict maximum of 25 children per primary-school class, many of which have as few as 20. As of 2010, secondary schools are striving towards only 15 pupils per class.
          – Many schools open at 6.30 am and close 12 hours later, providing free morning and after-school care for working parents with no extended family.
          – “Mobile teachers” are deployed to homes if children are unable to come to school.
          Over half of Cuba’s 150,000 teachers have a master’s degree.

          Again, reading Havana Times, I understand these standards are slipping which is causing criticism. Canadians, blinkered by capitalism, don’t even understand what they don’t have and never had! This, of course, is what capitalist countries most fear about Cuba – it sets examples of what can be achieved that threatens to remove the blinkers from citizens’ eyes.

          You write you don’t admire the Castros “because they have systemically denied Cubans the fundamental freedoms and civil liberties they deserve”. I think I’m safe writing no one commenting here admires this in the government. But your blinkers stop you from seeing the ” fundamental freedoms and civil liberties” YOU don’t have, unless you feel freedom of access to health care and education are not fundamental.

          Or that the inability to have them in Canada, what Cubans take for granted, what the vast majority of Canadians want in one of the richest countries in the world, is not a curtailment of your civil liberties because you have not a hope in hell of achieving it the capitalist system.

          It’s time to remove the blinkers and see the light.

          • Mark G

            Fundamental freedoms are those set out in Articles 18 to 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Civil liberties are those set out in the remaining articles of the Universal Declaration and Canadian Charter respectively and include democratic rights, legal rights, mobility rights, equality rights and social rights.

            Every country has failings when it comes to the implementation of the above rights, Canada included. Yet I am grateful to live in a country that at least aspires to meet international human rights norms, rather than in a country ruled by a dictatorship that systematically denies these rights to its citizens.

          • Lawrence W

            Mark, if you think the two documents you cite, one UN and the other Canadian, definitively define all of our fundamental freedoms and civil liberties, the blinkers you are displaying are starting to look more like eye patches.

            Mark chooses to ignore, or is blind to the knowledge that there are many other equally important freedoms we as human beings agree on. In October of last year, for instance, the UN General Assembly renewed its call, for the 20th consecutive year, to reaffirm THE PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM OF TRADE AND NAVIGATION and to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba for the past half century, as reported on the UN website.

            186 voted in its favour, including Canada, and two – Israel and the US – voted against. Presumably, as a reputed Canadian, you agree with this resolution, yet you choose not to quote it. The 50-year-old embargo, as we know, has created major hardships for the Cuban people, infinitely more than what the Cuban government is responsible for as the US insists in trying to get the government in Cuba that it wants, never mind what Cubans want.

            No one is questioning the validity of the rights in the documents Mark cites. As he wrote, every country has ‘failing’s when it comes to their implementation, failings governments characterize as ‘necessities’ when they breach them. There is no difference in this regard, whether justified or not, between Cuba and the US or Cuba and Canada. See the Patriot Act in the US and Trudeau’s War Measures Act in Canada for examples. On the basis of US policy toward Cuba, starting with the Bay of Pigs, Cuban justifications are clearly rooted in realistic concerns.

            Mark’s highly selective expressions of caring about upholding human rights – feverishly supporting some whilst studiously ignoring others – is reminiscent of justifications offered for the notorious ‘humanitarian interventionist’ policies we are undergoing. The NATO bombing of Libya is a recent example, undertaken whilst ignoring equally or worse humanitarian breaches elsewhere. Selective humanitarianism has little to do with caring for humanity and everything to do with demonizing a government you don’t like. In NATO’s case, it started with Yugoslavia and is ongoing in Syria. Clearly there are elements trying to make it catch on with Cuba.

            It works by appealing to our desire to stop human rights abuses. Whenever perspective is offered, like asking why the abuses of some and not others are highlighted, or why good points are ignored, the abuses are endlessly repeated over and over, like a mantra. Sound familiar?

  • http://www.soccer11.ca Andrea Puzo

    I do not know what is takes to respect what Fidel Castro did for Cuba and Cubans …. he has survives 10 USA president…..for decades these presidents have govern the richest country in the world and they still did not find how to make education and medicare free….. Sometimes I wonder with all the natural resources my country (Canada) has … What would the citizen of this country be with a Fidel Castro to govern us………… I see some people compare him to Pinochet, Franco, Somoza and Duvalier ……. how sad …. I travelled in 13 countries and never did I see so many people smiling has I do when I go to Cuba…. I see in 5 minutes more people smiling and laughing downtown La Habana then I do in 1 month in Montreal Canada…. Are Cuban really unhappy or are their principles of life more valuable then ours…… An example Baseball who ever plays major leagues signs for Millions of $$$$$$$ Cuba is amoung the 5 top country who produces the best players and for many it is the second best in the world…..They are the country who has win the most World baseball cups in the planet ….. This year in Major Baseball League …. These are the stats for number of player from main country playing in the MBL..

    Venezuela (88) Dominican Republic (122) Cuba (18) Now tell me why is there not more Cuban leaving their country to become millionaires…..

    Also in boxing these are 2 of the best boxers of all time that refused to turn PRO to stay in their country beloved country….CUBA

    Felix Savon

    The Cuban heavyweight ruled the Olympic scene with three successive gold medals (1992, 1996, 2000) and became known as the successor to the great Teofilo Stevenson. Not only was Savon a three-time gold medalist, but in fourteen Olympic bouts, he only came close to losing once — a 13-11 win over American, Danell Nicholson, in 1992.

    Teofilo Stevenson

    Regarded by many as the greatest boxer to never turn pro, Stevenson took Olympic heavyweight gold in 1972, 1976, and 1980. In thirteen total Olympic bouts, only two went the distance with nine wins coming via KO/TKO. The 6′ 3″ Stevenson, who made a splash on the world stage and became a national hero in his native Cuba, reportedly turned down five million dollars to face Muhammad Ali. Instead, he opted to stay an amateur in Communist Cuba and would eventually become a coach for the Cuban national team.

    Their must be something we do not understand about the real values of life… And this is why when Fidel Castro dies in no way will the Americans be able to take over this beautifull country …. Castro has give to his people the gift of knowledge, education and self respect…..

    • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

      Andrea, thank you for your from-the-heart comments. I have never been to Cuba, but I remember when many United States citizens smiled and laughed and had real heart. This was in post WWII days, basically before the Ronald Reagan era and the conversion of our economy and culture into the horrific mess we find today.

      The Cuban people may have a flawed model of socialism, and they surely do, but they apparently, as you attest, have not suffered the cultural and social degradation of monopoly capitalism.

      Once upon a time the US was like what we see in the old Jimmy Stewart film, It’s A Wonderful Life. People used to have a communal feeling around Christmas time, but no more. It’s all a commercialized caricature of its former self. There used to be a national feeling of meaning and purpose, but now the culture has been perverted and a lobotomized people consent to absurd world militarism and complete enserfment by monopoly bank credit debt.

      Oh, how I envy the noble people of Cuba under Fidel’s moral leadership. Their national purpose is to overcome the constant attacks of US imperialism, preserve and perfect their model of socialism and achieve the promise of post-capitalism prosperity.

      Those who attack Fidel are trying to attack Cuban socialism and equate it with a capitalist dictatorship. Three words to these people, “Happy Birthday, Fidel!”

      • Veronique

        “Once upon a time the US was like what we see in the old Jimmy Stewart film, It’s A Wonderful Life.”

        Actually, that was only the case for the white segment of society.

        The black segment of society was too buy being lynched, and run out of their towns, homes, and schools by whites. Those whites remain on the land and in the homes/businesses/schools built by Blacks to this day, much like you see in present-day Palestine.

        So it was a wonderful life for the white population, who had total freedom to illegally occupy the land and homes of the Black population. To this day, they remain on that land and in those homes, in possession of this illegally attained property – and the government refuses to seek justice to the Black populace for these terrorist acts.

        Cubans, if that is the kind of country you want to emulate, money and materialism by any means necessary, then go ahead and dig your own graves while you’re at it. You’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.

        • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

          Veronique, why would you take such a cheap shot? I am on your side. I was trying to make a certain point about the steady degradation of our US culture due to monopoly capitalism.

          The next time you are inspired to jump at someone like a tarantula, please think it through first. You should not see what a progressive person says in opposition to an anti-Fidel bullshit article as your opportunity to go on a racially-charged tirade.

  • http://www.blackonblackband.co.uk Dani

    Yusimi. I think maybe you are taking Fidel Castro’s words a bit too literally. The next bit of the account is.

    “He listened with respectful silence. Then came what I figured: he continued doing the same, but with greater discretion. Another attitude was not possible to hope for from Polo (Leopoldo Cintra Frias).”

    My interpretation is that Fidel Castro is recommending caution.

  • Luis

    What to say about Fidel?

    He, despite the many mistakes he made, will be considered as one of the most important statesmen of the 20th century. Alive, I think only he and Mandela remains.

  • burrgess

    Just a note,today on CNN a piece about a fourty six year old coloured man in the great old USA ,shot at fourty six times and hit thirty times in a confrontation with the police.If this occoured in Cuba Nato led by the US would be sending in the bombers.This type of thing happens often,but is very seldom reported.The US is a violent and corrupt country,agov. by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful.

  • Okasis

    Feliz Navidad Fidel!

    Many representatives of the ‘anti Hero’ Generation have written of Fidel. That strikes me as sad, and depressing. What shall become of mankind when we no longer see some people as being bigger than life, and seeking to emulate that spark of greatness and heroism?

    Certainly it has been far too long since the last of the Greek Heroes – and not just the Demi-Gods, but the men of Sparta who faced down the Persian invaders at the Pillars of Fire.

    And where do we find our Heroes today, when death arrives via assassins and drones and missile strikes. Should we attempt to emulate those brave warriors in Las Vegas who kill real people, including entire families and infants, while playing Video Games? Perhaps Obama will become a modern role-model of the Hero, with his Victim’s List, personalty chosen no less. That must really take conjones and demonstrate true leadership!

    IMO, people in Cuba, and around the World consider Fidel a Hero, for a lifetime of leadership and Heroic Acts. And then, to add salt to the wounds of lesser beings, he has to have an Intellect to match those of most of the Historical Greats. He and Jefferson could have discussed agriculture and economics. Later John Locke and
    Voltaire could have tossed around ideas concerning Government and Religion, while enjoying a cigar with Fidel.

    Few men of action are capable of developing Intellectual Constructs in their spare time, much less writing about a broad range of topics that affect the viability of life on Earth. Fidel’s writings over the past 20 years are both profound and universal. Global Warming, Nuclear Weapons and War, Water Use, and Organic Gardening; everything seems to interest him.

    Is he ‘Right’ about everything? Does he know it ALL? Of course not. But, he raises the questions that should be discussed in the UN, and the US Congress, and at the World Court – and are ignored in favor of brown-nosing, and insider-trading, and under-the-table money deals.

    The World’s citizens either live in poverty, and war-zones, surrounded by death and disease; or in wealthy countries being entertained with Bread and Circuses in lieu of reality and substance. And, the so-called ‘Leaders’ ignore the problems and assume that somehow they are immune to the Laws of Cause and Affect.

    I envy both the Cubans and the Venezuelans. What must it be like to live in a Country that actually has a Minister of Culture? Instead Hillary Clinton represents our Culture as Secretary of State.

    God help us all!

  • Cimarron

    Yusimi,

    With all due respect, your interpretation of the purported message from Fidel to General Frias is facile, cynical and unworthy of you as a high-caliber journalist with many fine articles to your name. There is absolutely no indication in Fidel’s message that he didn’t feel and wish the same sentiments of survival and preservation for all the Cuban troops in Angola at the time. Indeed what would Fidel have gained by not caring about high casualties among the ordinary soldiers of the FAR in Angola, as you imply? You chose the wrong policy to use to criticize Fidel. The Cuban sacrifice in Angola’s difficult liberation struggle will eternally remain a gem in the virtues of the Cuban Revolution and its leader, Fidel Castro. The heroic Cuban resistance to the joint racist Apartheid South Africa-CIA-UNITA-FLNA aggression in Angola was the decisive factor which catalyzed in a chain reaction the liberation of the whole of Southern Africa from the settler-colonialist regimes. The blood that Cuba shed in Angola was a high price to pay and saddening but it was not in vain! Cuba’s sacrifice was a most morally-inspired effort to militantly counter the brutal aggression of the morally-deficient Apartheid-Imperialist Axis. On this matter, Fidel stands tall as a great leader and an exceptional person with the noblest of virtues.

    As a human being, I totally understand any Cuban’s sensitivity about the Cuban casualties of Angola. We on the outside can only imagine how hard those casualties must be on many Cuban families even to this day. I believe when I watched the documentary, Suite Habana, there was a poignant scene showing a black veteran of Angola, a double- amputee and also a mental case. I thank God that my favorite Cuban musician, David Calzado of La Charanga Habanera, who served in Angola, lived to return in one piece to create such happy music.

    It is quite clear that the Cuban involvement in Angola was not reckless but very principled. As Cuba’s FM at the time, Isidoro Malmierca, explained at the UN in 76, the Cubans, “many of whose ancestors came from Angola, had responded to the call of a legitimate government for assistance against a foreign invasion.” This was the crux of the matter : Had there been no foreign involvement, Cuba would never have intervened. Cuba had earlier on helped Ethiopia to repel a Somali incursion into its Ogaden province but refused afterwards to assist Ethiopia in its internal war with the Eritrean separatists.

    Finally, it is also possible to understand Fidel’s message to Frias from another perspective, one which Fidel had revealed in a speech as reported in the New York Times of July 28, 1988 (http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/28/world/castro-faults-soviet-tactics-in-war-in-angola.html), and also a few years ago in his Reflections column. Replying to certain unflattering statements made by a Russian general about the performance of Cuban troops in Angola, Fidel revealed that it was rather certain incorrect Soviet tactics, opposed by Cuba’s war-front generals but reluctantly carried out, which was the cause of many of Cuba’s casualties. So it is possible that Fidel, as Commander-in-Chief was diplomatically instructing Frias to be cautious about the Soviet tactics and take all steps to prevent avoidable casualties among his troops.

  • http://n/a D.Simels

    Hello from New York City, NY, in the USA. A leader is supposed to be accessible to the people he or she leads. I hope you get the opportunity to speak in person to the Leader. My best wishes to you.