Thank You, Fidel Castro, the Voice of Rebellion and Hope

By Rodolfo Benítez Verson, Ambassador of Cuba to South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho

13 August, 2020

August 13th is a special day for Cubans and many revolutionaries around the world. Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, or just Fidel, as the Cuban people call him, turns 94 years old today in eternity. Instead of mourning his physical loss, we celebrate his legacy.

61 years ago, under the leadership of Fidel, Cuba embarked on a quest to achieve its true and definitive independence. The undertaking implied the daring challenge of demonstrating if a small nation could overcome a history of foreign intervention and neocolonial domination, against the interests of our closest neighbor, the United States, the most powerful military and economic nation on the planet.

To evaluate the results of the Cuban Revolution so far and the role of Fidel Castro, it is important to understand that Cubans have had to survive and develop for more than 60 years in absolutely unjust and unjustifiable conditions, under a criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States.

Cuba is far from perfect. We face many problems and struggles. However, there are also many achievements that demonstrate the immense capabilities of our model.

In a world dominated by crude capitalism, individualism, materialism, and inequality, the Revolution lead by Fidel in Cuba has shown that it is possible to create, even under a strong blockade and with very limited resources, a more fair and equitable society based on human solidarity and social justice.

Today, Cuba is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy rate (almost 80 years of age) in the world. The only country in our region without child malnutrition, and the one with the lower infant mortality rate. There is not a single Cuban among the 815 million people in the world, who suffer from chronic hunger today and not a single Cuban child can be found amongst the 18,000 children on our planet who die every day because of poverty.

Cuba is the country with the highest number of doctors per capita in the world. All Cubans receive completely free high quality health care.

There is no illiteracy in our country and education is free at all levels, including university. As Fidel stated, there can be no true revolution without education, and he was an educator par excellence. His more than 20 thousand speeches have a deeply pedagogical character.

He was not against representative democracy but against one that is not representative of the workers. The Cuban Revolution build by Fidel is and will remain a Revolution of the working class.

The preservation of the unity of our people was a great obsession of Fidel, and it must also be ours; achieving unity is the most important task facing true revolutions.

The history of the Cuban Revolution proves that a united people is an invincible force. That is why we are not perturbed by the aggressive steps taken by the Trump Administration, which has strengthened to unprecedented levels the hostility and blockade against our people.

Fidel emphasized that the struggle for social justice has no borders; that solidarity with other peoples of the world must be an essential quality of every revolutionary: “everything that is done for other people, everything that is done for humanity, is what can give meaning to the life of a revolutionary. It is the only thing that allows us to feel like members of the human family.”

Under his leadership, nearly half a million Cuban internationalist combatants came to this continent and fought together with our African brothers and sisters against colonialism and oppression.

Nelson Mandela always thanked the Cuban leader for his important contribution to the elimination of Apartheid: “I will never forget that in the darkest moments of our country, in the struggle against Apartheid, Fidel Castro was by our side”.

In the Wall of Names built in Freedom Park, Pretoria; there is a stone wall with the name of Fidel engraved along with the names of the 2 289 Cuban heroes who sacrificed their lives in the fight against colonialism and Apartheid in Africa. This is a symbolic demonstration of the bonds that forever tie Fidel and Cuba to this continent and to South Africa.

Fidel also sent tens of thousands of doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, engineers and many other civilian cooperators to help more than 100 countries in the world, cooperation that remains until today. Thousands of young people without financial resources of all continents have graduated in our Universities at the invitation of Fidel, who said: “This internationalist spirit is the essence of our revolutionary ideals.”

The leader of the Cuban Revolution rejected any manifestation of cult of personality. He insisted that, once deceased, his name and his figure were never used to denominate institutions, parks, streets or other public places in Cuba, nor erected in his memory monuments, busts, statues and other similar forms of tribute. "Men pass, peoples remain; men pass, ideas remain", he said.

The continuity of the profoundly humanistic Revolution built under the leadership of Commander Fidel Castro is guaranteed. We will always be loyal to his legacy. He will always remain the voice of rebellion, resistance, dignity and hope.

Thank you very much, Fidel!