No Pasaran, Commandante Fidel!

by Andre Vltchek

Cuban villagers before the revolution.

Cuban villagers before the revolution.

Many years ago, Fidel declared: “Men do not shape destiny. Destiny produces the man for the hour.”
It did; destiny shaped them all, los Barbudos, and threw them right into the center of the whirlpool of world history. As they fought for the freedom of Cuba, of Latin America and the entire oppressed world, they actually managed to defy their own words: in the end they irreversibly shaped the fate of our planet, of the entire humanity.
Fidel stood firmly at the forefront of the struggle, from the very outset to his last breath.
I was driving through Central Vietnam when the message of Fidel’s death arrived on my phone screen. For several minutes there was absolute emptiness and silence inside me.
Then, on a wide and beautiful river I spotted several marvellous ships belonging to an ancient Vietnamese fishing fleet, and a boat proudly flying both the Communist red flags with yellow stars, as well as several desolate black flags – symbols of mourning.
In a remote place in Asia, Fidel’s death managed to disturb the calm, to stir the serene surface of the river.
Later everything fell back to where it was supposed to be, and the sounds returned. The emptiness inside me also evaporated. A great man has left, but the revolution has not stopped. It can never stop, as the very existence; the very survival of humanity now depends on it.


What was Fidel’s gift to the world and what did his Cuba achieve?
Results do not always have to be material.  Although yes, of course, we could talk for days about the great education, culture, creativity, medical care and equality.
Socialist Cuba gave more, much more than that.
It gave hope, where hope was fading.
It gave strength, where only resignation reigned.
It gave heart to those places where only vulgar mercantile interests were recognized.
It gave optimism to counter the deadly embrace of nihilism.
Once Fidel shouted: “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”
Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel and his comrades, fought wars of independence in the most devastated parts of Africa; it stood by Vietnam during its most testing moments; and it offered its intellectual and ideological leadership and skills to the latest wave of Latin American revolutions, from Venezuela to Bolivia.
Cuban doctors and teachers were sent to some of the most remote parts of our planet, in order to offer unconditional internationalist help.  I saw them in action in places such as Kiribati, Timor Leste, and post-apartheid South Africa.  They fought for human lives in the poorest countries, and in those places devastated by natural calamities.  They fought with courage and dignity, and also with kindness and respect, learning to communicate in local languages and valuing local cultures.
Fidel’s Cuba never broke down, never surrendered under the pressure.  It defended itself when attacked by the mightiest nation on earth.  It survived a brutal embargo, ideological propaganda and even biological warfare.

Playa Giron: First major defeat of Yankie imperialism in Latin America

Playa Giron: First major defeat of Yankie imperialism in Latin America

It inspired the world with its determination and its valor, just as it inspired millions worldwide with its music, cinema and poetry.
Patria no se vende!” – “One does not sell the Fatherland!” This is one of the greatest slogans of this marvelous country: a slogan which brought a clear message to all the countries humiliated and plundered by the Western Empire: ‘Not everything is lost. It is worth standing tall.  It is better to die than to lose one’s pride and dignity!’
When Hugo Chavez was standing in the rain, bald after chemotherapy, clenching his fist in heroic defiance, and shouting at the enemies of the revolution “Here no one surrenders!” it was clear and obvious where his inspiration had come from: Cuba, and from his mentor Fidel.
Color-blind, passionately internationalist, resentful of all forms of racism and imperialism, Cuba gave itself fully to Latin America and to the world. She did not do it as some sort of sacrifice, but as a revolutionary obligation. She did it with simplicity and humanism, asking for absolutely nothing in return. To quote the closest comrade of Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara:
The sacrifices that one makes should not be exhibited as some ID card, instead they ought to be seen as the completion of one’s duty.”


Fidel Castro was very well aware of the fact that “a revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.”
Decisions one has to make when changing history are tough.  A revolution is not a discussion club, or a charity gala concert, or a managerial meeting of some human rights NGO.
The main adversary, imperialism, has murdered hundreds of millions of people all over the world, and it would not hesitate to slaughter further multitudes.

US Terrorism: After the bombing of Santiago de Cuba passenger jet

US Terrorism: After the bombing of Santiago de Cuba passenger jet

Any show of weakness is often synonymous with defeat, and defeat means further suffering, hopelessness and humiliation for the masses, which have often for the first time tasted both the sweetness and intoxication of hope.  That is why a true revolutionary has no right to show weakness, to back up, or to betray principles.  He or she has to always stand at the vanguard, to lead his or her troops into battle, to risk everything, even his or her own life, unconditionally.
Both Fidel Castro and his closest comrades were made exactly of such pure revolutionary stuff: they had both guts and hearts.
They were no saints, definitely not … because sainthood was not what Latin American people truly needed. Saints only pray and periodically sacrifice themselves.  Fidel and his comrades were expected to fight and to win, not for themselves and for their personal interests, but for the hundreds of millions of the wretched of this world.
On 1st May 2004, when it appeared that the United States might once again attack Cuba, President Castro spoke in Havana, addressing the then President, G.W. Bush:

You have neither the morality nor the right, none whatsoever, to speak of freedom, democracy and human rights when you hold enough power to destroy humanity and are attempting to install a world tyranny, side-stepping and destroying the United Nations Organization, violating the human rights of any and every country, waging wars of conquest to take over world markets and resources and installing decadent and anachronistic political and social systems which are leading the human race into the abyss.”

At the end, Fidel declared that if Cuba was attacked, he would do what he was expected to do, and what he had already done on several previous occasions – he would go and fight! And none of us had any doubt that he would. But he had one regret in regard to President Bush:

My only regret is that I would not even see your face because in that case you would be thousands of miles away while I shall be on the frontline to die fighting in defense of my homeland.”


While Cuba is mourning the departure of its great national hero, the President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is overjoyed:

Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights … I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

Just to refresh readers’ memories: Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506) was a CIA-sponsored group of Cuban exiles/terrorists, formed in 1960. Its mission was the overthrow of the Cuban revolutionary government headed by Fidel Castro. It carried out the abortive Bay of Pigs Invasion landing on 17th April 1961.
The scum that terrorized the Island is now celebrating in Miami and elsewhere. At the same time, the true friends of Cuba and Latin American revolutions have been in deep mourning.
As Xinhua reported:

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday that history and people will remember Fidel Castro, calling the Cuban revolutionary leader “a great figure of our times.”
Fidel Castro, founder of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuba’s socialist cause, was a great leader of the Cuban people, Xi said, adding that he has made immortal historic contributions and devoted all his life to the Cuban people’s great cause of struggling for national liberation, safeguarding state sovereignty and building socialism.
“The late Cuban leader has also made immortal historic contributions to the world socialist development,” Xi added.
“The death of Fidel Castro has made the Chinese people lose a close comrade and sincere friend. His glorious image and great achievements will go down in history,” Xi said.
President Xi then concluded: “The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade. Comrade Castro will live forever.”

From Uganda to Chile, Kenya to Moscow, people have been writing to me that their nations are in deep shock.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, remembered Fidel with warmth and respect:

Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia. He embodied the high ideals of a politician, a citizen and a patriot sincerely, convinced of the rightness of the cause to which he dedicated his whole life. His memory will forever remain in the hearts of the citizens of Russia.”

Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela, parted with his friend by sending a revolutionary message to all corners of the world:

To all the revolutionaries of the world, we have to continue his legacy and his flag of independence, of socialism, of homeland.”


Here in Vietnam, Fidel Castro is remembered with admiration, love and great respect. Like two brothers, shoulder-to-shoulder, the two countries fought against Western imperialism and colonialism, for many years and decades.
Trân Đai Quang, President of Vietnam, declared:

For all Vietnamese, Fidel was a great friend, a comrade and a very close brother.”

On November 15th 2016, President Trân Đai Quang was one of the last world leaders to see Fidel, during what was seen as a warm and symbolic encounter.
Now walking through the ancient towns of Central Vietnam, I felt overwhelmed by sadness and an irreversible feeling of loss. But despair did not last for long.
Deep inside I was convinced that Maduro was correct.  Precisely now, when Western imperialism is showing its horrific fangs, when it is ready to lead its soldiers and mercenaries into the final battle for global domination, there is no time for weakness, for respite, for hesitation.
Instead of mourning, we should celebrate an exemplary, heroic life. A man is mortal, but his great works, his struggle, his victories, can be eternal.
In Vietnam, I recalled a poem by Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, one of the ‘Cuban 5’ patriots who were imprisoned brutally in Miami, for infiltrating US anti-Cuban intelligence operations.
In this stunning poem written in a Miami prison, Rodriguez argues that love that can pass is not really love.  That true love could resist even death itself and is, like nature, eternal.
So is true revolution.  Like true love, true revolution cannot be broken, or extinguished, even by death itself.
Fidel Castro has just departed … But millions of his sons and daughters are still here, damn it!  Therefore nothing is lost.  Therefore, everything is just beginning!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.


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Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Nov 30, 2016 8:48 PM

Please do forgive me, but some comments are so priceless that they must be shared. I’m stealing this from the The Burning Blogger of Bedlam’s website, something casually dropped by M. Semet:
This isn’t exactly on the same subject, but I had to add this. I picked up this hilarious story from a comment board on the Saker blog, and I almost did a spitake after reading it:
From “Terry”
Of all the innumerable brilliant things Fidel did over the decades, perhaps my favourite was when then US President Jimmy Carter started mouthing off about all the prisoners in Cuba being “Political Prisoners”, and stated he would welcome them all to the glorious USA if only that horrible criminal Communist slavemaster Castro would free them.
BINGO! The light bulb goes off in Fidel’s head and he says, “Yes! You’re right! They’re all political prisoners!”
And Fidel heads to the nearest prison and says “Great news, Guys! You’re all going to Miami!” And the Cubans emptied out their prisons and drove them to the port of Mariel where they were loaded onto the waiting US ships and set free in Miama to rob, rape, kill, cheat, and carry on whatever criminal activities had originally landed them in prison.
Of course, the US Govt. soon realized they had shot themselves in the foot, and demanded that Cuba not send any more criminals to Miami. But Fidel just grinned from ear to ear and “We have no common criminals. Only political prisoners.” and kept shipping them, and the US was forced to keep accepting them.
It was wonderful. It saved the Cuban economy a fortune by getting rid of thousands of vicious criminals being fed, clothed, and housed at the expense of the Cuban people, and permanently dumped the criminals in the USA, which was much better pickings for them, so they had no desire to return. The Cuban jails were virtually empty for years afterward. I visited Cuba in 1986, a few years later, and just for the heck of it walked into the local jail in the town I was staying in. I asked to see the cells and the desk sergeant said “OK” and took me back there. Empty. I said “There’s nobody here.” and he said “They’re all in Miami.”
***********LOL. No wonder Fidel’s such a “dictator”. I do wish someone would collect all the funny stories about this guy and publish a book about it. I know I’d buy it just for the comedy relief. Honestly, this story really illustrates why he’s so hated by the usual suspects.
On another note, since disparaging Fidel as a dictator clearly isn’t working, some disinfo trolls are now trying to “prove” that Fidel was a CIA asset all along, because hey–the CIA has a 100% kill rate, they are always perfect, and they never make a mistake. Sarcasm aside, I do think the CIA is overwhelmingly successful in getting you dead, if that’s what they want. But no one is perfect, no matter how they stack the deck. Sometimes, luck just isn’t on your side, CIA or no. Apparently, he was controlled opposition all along, and maybe there will be files and incriminating pictures that show he was part of the shadow elite, participating in pedo orgies and satanic rituals, fully owned by the rothschilds or whatnot. LOL. God, I would love to see the photoshopped pictures of that! I don’t know what’s funnier, the true stories about Fidel’s wicked clever moves, or his detractors pathetic attempts to discredit him.

Brian Harry
Brian Harry
Nov 30, 2016 10:12 PM
Reply to  Norman Pilon

Great story about Cuba’s “political prisoners”……No wonder the USA’s prison population, 2,220,300 in 2013, is SO high. There are also 4,751,400 on probation or parole. Maybe the USA should stop going around the world restoring “freedom and democracy”, and fix the massive domestic problems afflicting the USA…….

Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Nov 30, 2016 7:24 AM

Parenti on Cuban Socialism (1986)

Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Nov 30, 2016 6:05 AM

Castro, along with all the other men and women who gave themselves completely to the revolution, was a selfless talent who delivered on his revolutionary promise.
In 1958, under a capitalist regime, literacy stood at around 23%; after the revolution, in a few short years, most everyone could read. Education, from preschool to the level of a Ph.D., was free, as guaranteed by the Cuban constitution. Before the revolution, health care was to all intents and purposes for the rich only; after the revolution, it was an enshrined constitutional right for every Cuban, and even the ethics of doctors dedicated them to service to the people, not to profit and status. Life expectancy before the revolution was less than 60 years; after the revolution, it gradually increased to what it is presently, namely, 75 years for men, and 80 years for women. Infant mortality is now less than that of the U.S., at roughly 4.7 deaths per 1000 live births compared to 7 per 1000. In 1959, there were 6300 doctors in Cuba; today there are some 40,000 domestically, and some 30,000 abroad, not to mention that Cuba trains, free of charge, some 70,000 foreign students in medicine. So Cuba not only takes care of Cubans but of a great many others abroad. (source)
Taking into account the unremitting and draconian sanctions imposed on Cuba by the U.S., I think it is fair to say that the revolution accomplished much, even if perhaps less than the revolutionaries themselves may have hoped for.
Fidel, like all of his co-revolutionaries, deserves a good and fond farewell. In truth, he did enough.

Nov 28, 2016 11:08 PM

I certainly disagree with Andre about what the survival of the human race depends on. But Cuba, despite Fidel’s frightening hostility toward Jehovah’s Witnesses; I’m not one but I worship Jehovah God – always made me feel good when I thought about it and the example Cubans set as a nation of successful resisters of the US-led wild beast of corporatocracy.

Nov 28, 2016 4:20 PM

Castro’s own career shows contrary to what he said, though probably didn’t believe, that great individuals can definitely change history and destiny.

Greg Bacon
Greg Bacon
Nov 28, 2016 11:02 AM

Let’s compare Castro to the USA. How many countries did Cuba tell lies about in the MSM in order to bomb that nation to bits?
Was Castro involved in the Israeli masterminded 9/11 False Flag, which has gutted our Bill of Rights and the excuse to murder millions was granted to the liars?
How many stock market swindles where millions of Americans lost trillions of wealth was Castro involved in?
Does Cuba have a powerful central bank that gives away trillions to the same ones who pulled off those swindles, keeping them afloat to loot another day?
Did the KKK have a Cuban affiliate?
Does Cuba have a weather changing HAARP facility on their island?
Do they have an NSA that illegally listens to millions of calls and read millions of texts each day?
I don’t know enough about Castro to make a judgement, but who’s the real SOB here?

Nov 28, 2016 12:45 AM

May U rest in peace EL COMANDANTE. Has always been a controversial figure. IE: Conspiracy on how he played a role in Gueveras demise in South America. How he manged to escape all the assassination attempts on his life and how he survived and the likes of the late great Hugo Chavez did not. One thing is 4 sure he rattled the Pax -Americana clan to no avail. Controversy aside Cuba is a model that befits most third world countries trying to lift their citezens out of abject poverty . Model health care and education services 4 all and not only the elite. The way cuba helped Angola and Mozambique against western colonialism. Time and history will be kind to Fidel unlike all the POTUS that he outlasted. Old Che expression
LA PATIRIA HO LA MUERTE. Will resonate thru out history Both Che and Fidel changed third world politics forever.

Nov 27, 2016 11:32 PM

Fidel: the greatest mole in history. At one end of Cuba we have Havana, at the other end we have… a very large US Naval base called Guantanamo (45 square miles for which the US pays a nominal amount of rent… less than what you’d pay for an efficiency in Cleveland, Ohio… in uncashed checks). Supposedly, Fidel was a thorn in Washington’s side all those years… but they just couldn’t touch him… even with a huge American military base at his doorstep! It’s really quite hilarious, when you think about it. Che, on the other hand, was real. Which is why he died very early in the charade. Every other Lefty Leader Washington wanted dead, in that part of the world, got that way much sooner than later (eg, poor Chavez)… dead or deposed… but not magical Fidel. Fidel was Our Man in Havana, after all. Yes, I know: it sounds crazy… like so many other things. Look at well-born Fidel’s early years… and consider the Bay of Pigs “invasion” in light of the fact that a very large American military installation was already on the island as the “invasion” was supposedly being repelled! Again: hilarious. Just as Washington prefers to install its various South American and Caribbean dictators rather than leave all that to chance, they installed Fidel. He did a great and highly theatrical job of shaking his fist for 50 years and keeping any genuinely Leftist threats to US Hegemony, down there, well under control.

Boo Radley
Boo Radley
Nov 28, 2016 2:09 PM
Reply to  StAug

Correct. A quick look on his imdb page shows the 2 Hollywood films he was an extra in pre-revolution. Probably when his handlers recruited him for the major role (the of the rest of his life).
The idea that America was unable to remove him if they had wanted to is beyond retarded. Every real socialist in Central / South America i.e. Allende, Arbenz etc was taken out.

Nov 28, 2016 2:25 PM
Reply to  Boo Radley

You realize, of course, that in this opinion we’re the fringe of the fringe? Laugh. So be it.
I was discussing Chavez’ death (and the sudden spate of “cancers” among Lefty Leaders south of the US border) with a friend when a light bulb went off in my head and I suddenly realized how absurd Fidel’s story is. But that’s the thing about Propaganda: it works best when it’s telling you something you want to be true.

Sorry, Not Buying It
Sorry, Not Buying It
Jan 8, 2017 12:14 AM
Reply to  StAug

Something things you ignore:
A) The CIA tried many times to assassinate him. Not a single CIA officer, Mafia enforcer or Cuban exile has ever come out and said that the weren’t “really” trying to kill him or that these operations were just for keeping up appearances.
B) Decades of sabotage, agricultural biological warfare, terrorism and economic undermining against the island while Castro was in power.
C) A little thing called the “Soviet Union”, which seems to be completely missing from your analysis. America couldn’t very easily just invade the island at will without drawing a Soviet response.
D) Cuba’s military involvement in Africa, which caused enormous headaches and problems for the US and its de facto South African apartheid ally. During the Reagan years, Cuba risked its existence on these operations, having to divert enormous amounts of resources to its own military defense while also letting its economy suffer due to the supplies and equipment being shipped to Angola. The Cubans went way further than the Soviets were comfortable with (the latter were engaged in delicate nuclear disarmament talks with the US and didn’t want revolutionary “adventures” in Africa. There’s a book you should read called “Visions of Freedom” with the back story and diplomatic record on this saga, showing that it was the Cuban intervention that finally broke the back of South Africa’s stranglehold on the region, and that the Cubans more often than not acted outside of Soviet control and did things that they would have preferred not to be done. Cuba’s diversion of resources to the Angolan operation continued even when it became clear that Soviet assistance to the island was no longer assured. This internationalist operation deserves the respect of all anti-imperialists, but I’m sure you’ll find something about it to denigrate it as another “mole” operation on behalf of the CIA. Perhaps next you’ll be telling us that Mandela was also a CIA plant. The CIA tipped off the South African intelligence agency BOSS about his whereabouts, leading to his arrest and incarceration for 27 years. Mandela hailed Castro as a dear personal friend and helper of the struggle against apartheid, just as Allende, Chavez and Morales have hailed Castro.
E) Castro was willing to go all the way, if need be, with nuclear war and assured Khrushchev of this. Castro was on the Soviet, not American, side during the Missile Crisis.
F) Chavez died in 2002 but had been in office since 1999. So what you’re saying is that it took the CIA over 10 years to get around to killing him. Yet this doesn’t put a dent in your notion that maybe the CIA always gets its man? It doesn’t give you pause to wonder whether there is a spectrum of success in US regime change operations, from immediate success to eventual success to near misses and failures? By banking your entire appraisal of Castro on him not being assassinated and ignoring all the countervailing evidence that he was anything but a “mole”, you adopt a tortured narrative replete with mind-boggling contradictions (namely that “Castro the mole” kept doing things to irk the US and undermine its credibility around the world, while serving as a source of embarrassment to the US empire and inspiration to Latin Americans and other more generally by showing that it was possible to stand up to the hegemon).

Nov 27, 2016 9:26 PM

Castro led Cuba to the glorious defeat of Batista and then led the island down a cul-de-sac. Castro’s legacy dissolved in 1994, when the Maleconazo persuaded him that the only means of survival for his dictatorship was to sponge off the capitalists. Tourists were welcomed. A blind eye was turned to prostitution. And the most capable of young Cubans were allowed to leave in the knowledge that they would send money back to their families.
The Cuban economy can withstand nine days of mourning because so few people are meaningfully employed. What the Cuban economy couldn’t stand is nine days of celebrations in Miami, because the reduced transfers really would hit Cuba hard.
As for the ‘scum’ in Miami, yes there are supporters of the previous dictatorship. However, it is worth remembering that around 60,000 Cubans fled to the US due to Castro’s victory over Batista. Over a million have left Cuba due to Castro’s own dictatorship. A large proportion were balseros, people who sailed to the US through shark infested waters on four inflated tyre inners and a kitchen tabletop. The bravery shown by these people was not inspired by US propaganda but by their own experience of the ‘Revolution’.
All that Castro leaves is myth. Perhaps the biggest myth of all is that of the ‘blockade’ by the US. Would tourists fly to Cuba if there was the likelihood of being shot down by US military fighters? Do the oil tankers from Venezuela really out chase US naval vessels? There is a trade embargo – rightly or wrongly. You can buy just about any US product you want in Cuba – if you have dollars. The problem is that the only Cubans who can afford these products have relatives outside Cuba or a tourist in their daughter’s bed. The educational achievements of Cuba have largely been wasted by an incompetent man who interfered in and mismanaged just about everything in the country. So much so that the Cuban armed forces decided to go into business themselves.
The question that remains is whether Cuba is transformed under Raul, always more pragmatic and less ideological, or whether it has to wait for his death. Nuestro dia viene llegando.

Nov 28, 2016 7:53 AM
Reply to  chrisb

There is always some anti-Cuba anti-Castro troll like you under Castro articles like this one, spewing anti-Castro talking points which are in fact lies or half-truths. The most common lie you trot out is the old ‘if Cuba under Castro was so good why did so many Cubans leave?’. The obvious answer is because of a TOTAL trade embargo which cut off over 90% of pre-Revolution trade with USA, always Cubas main trade partner. They left Cuba because of what USA did to Cuba’s economy, by strangling it. Not to mention the most vile and extreme Helms-Burton act–a trade sanction so extreme that it made it illegal for foreign companies to do business with Cuba if they also has business interests in USA. Oh–and I would be remiss to not mention the $10,000 USD fine and 9 months jail time for any American who traveled to Cuba and has a Cuba entry stamped on their passport? The US justice dept even fined a French bank some ongodly huge amount because it dared to provide banking services to (gasp!) Cubans. Sorry armchair politico jr, you convince nobody with your lies and half-truths. You’re a class act: a great leader dies and you go out of your way to shit on his legacy.

kevin morris
kevin morris
Nov 28, 2016 10:43 AM
Reply to  deschutesmaple

I agree with much of what you say, but ‘anti-Cuba, anti-Castro troll’?
Someone has just expressed a view. That view might well conflict with one or two of your sacred cows -by the way we all of us have them- but why the need to use such derogatory terms? I greatly admire Castro’s and Cuba’s achievements, but those have to be countered by their failings. There clearly have been many, but as you make it clear, those failings have not been one sided.
I greatly value off Guardian for its valuing of comments of all shades of opinion, without censorship. There really is no need for accusations of trolling just because someone says something you take exception to.

Nov 28, 2016 11:35 AM
Reply to  kevin morris

I offer no apology. You’ll just have to deal with it. I’m passionate in my positions, and I call a spade a spade–or in this instance a troll. I get so sick of hearing the same disingenuous attacks of Castro under articles and videos such as this. It pisses me off–especially when the guy has just died. Give no respect, get no respect.

Nov 28, 2016 4:26 PM
Reply to  deschutesmaple

“You’re a class act: a great leader dies and you go out of your way to shit on his legacy.”
I’m bone tired of “great leaders”. The world is a bloody gulag of illusions, delusions, massacres, shit and KOOL-AID because of all these “great leaders”. Some people idolize Reagan, some idolize Marx, some idolize Castro, some idolize Thatcher, Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mandela, JFK, Obama, L. Ron Hubbard and/or Lady Gaga. I blame the Religion gene. Maybe in ten, one hundred or a thousand years the Followers will learn to Lead themselves and stop being such perfect targets and receptacles for the Myths that always surround the charismatically power-hungry… maybe then we’ll finally advance beyond humanity’s endlessly recycled tragicomedy. I can only hope.

citizen Si
citizen Si
Nov 27, 2016 8:06 PM

To lose 25% of your population to emigration to the US is not a good sign of a great leader . To be in power for 60 years is not a trademark of a democracy. The poverty of the Cubans is a tragedy. Fidel was propped up by the USSR until that socialist paradise failed. He berated the Cuban people in his speeches for failing his revolutionary example. He executed (it is thought) over 6,000 opponents as well as the thousands who died attempting to escape to the US.
Why is it that the European left is besotted by these regimes where the trademark is repression poverty and anti americanism?

Nov 28, 2016 8:06 PM
Reply to  citizen Si

Sounds to me like citizen Si needs to bone up on the history of Cuba. I would recommend going way back to 1890 and moving forward. Pay special attention to how indigenous Cubans were treated by both Spanish and then American occupiers. Do you have any idea what life was like in Cuba before the Revolution? Obviously not from you post here. Read about the massive sugar plantations, ran like American feudal colonies, most Cubans living in squalor. Read up on how Batista came to power by a coup–he was not elected–and how he was loved by Washington’s political elite not to mention extensive American mafia connections. Your failing is a common one in the digital age: you want to talk–but not listen. But where’s the beef holmes? You ain’t got any.

Brian Harry, Australia
Brian Harry, Australia
Nov 28, 2016 8:25 PM
Reply to  deschutesmaple

Thanks for that tip. I looked Batista up on Wikipedia and guess what? He sounds like the rest of the right wing stooges that the USA has installed in various countries in South America(and elsewhere of course), with links to the Mafia(CIA?). I recommend any others who don’t know the history of Cuba to take a look.

Citizen Si
Citizen Si
Nov 28, 2016 9:53 PM
Reply to  deschutesmaple

What does the condition of labourers in Cuban sugar plantations in 1895 have to to do with Fidel’s conduct as a leader. He failed the Cuban people and left them in poverty so most wanted to leave. Cubans joked the only way they could benefit from the much vaunted medical services was to save up for 30 years and go to Africa where he was busy propping up any crazy Marxist regime he could find. His support for the Ethiopian regime and it’s responses to famine caused millions of deaths. Cubans now live in grinding poverty in decrepit accommodation where you are locked up for voicing dissatisfaction with the regime. I could go on. Not surprising he never stood for open election. The left love him simply because he was anti American. To them nothing else matters.

Nov 29, 2016 7:50 PM
Reply to  Citizen Si

“What does the condition of labourers in Cuban sugar plantations in 1895 have to to do with Fidel’s conduct as a leader.” you ask? It has everything to do with it. Think about it: before Castro, Cuba was just another banana republic with a Washington owned and operated thug running the show. The Cubans were just brown servants for American capital, tools for profit, a 3rd world island. Castro changed all that: that is why the condition of laborers in 1895-1959 Cuba is important. You need to understand life in Cuba was like before Castro to appreciate his accomplishments. This is what I mean by you want to criticize Castro–but not take the time to see the actual achievements he made. I can see your mind is already made up about Castro, you recite a typical right wing list of misinformation about Castro. Here: I just did a quick google search of ‘Castro’s achievements to Cuba’ and got this list-
#1 The 1961 Literacy Campaign
#2 Reorganization of the Health Sector
#3 Redesign of the Educational System
#4 Rapid Expansion of the Tourism Sector
#5 Provision of Medical Services to Latin America and Other Countries
#6 Survival in the Face of the 1989-1993 Economic Melt-Down
#7 Winning Economic Support from the Soviet Union, 1961-1990 and Venezuela, 2004-2010
#8 Establishment of the “Polo Cientifico” and the Development of the Bio-Technological Sector
#9 Dedication to their Jobs by Cuban Citizens during the Catastrophic Decline in Real Wages and Incomes after 1990
#10 Fruitful Collaboration with Foreign Enterprises
Source: http://thecubaneconomy.com/articles/2010/10/cuba%E2%80%99s-achievements-under-the-presidency-of-fidel-castro-the-top-ten/
It appears to be a fairly neutral site. Now in all fairness I’m very willing to consider Castro’s mistakes, bad policy choices, human rights violations. I agree: why was he the only leader for so long? Good question. The main reason I believe, is because Cuba was always at war with USA during all that time: there could not be any normalization as USA waged not only economic war (the total trade blockade plus the Helms-Burton Act which was totally brutal), but also HUNDREDS of CIA backed attempts to kill him. How can you have regular elections in a small country when there is a giant military police state constantly trying to totally, completely destroy you? This is probably why.
There is an in-depth analysis of each of the above 10 bullet points of Castro achievements. I recommend you read them. Don’t just look for facts that suit your agenda; rather look for facts which challenge it, call it into question.

citizen Si
citizen Si
Nov 30, 2016 5:31 AM
Reply to  deschutesmaple

Thank you, I will look at the points you make. This is becoming an interesting discussion. In every individuals history there are good and bad moments and decisions, many of which cannot be properly assessed for years after. The overall contention that Fidel was a good or bad leader is subjective but must be based on evidence. Your points are serious and substantial, unlike I may say some other contributors.

Brian Harry, Australia
Brian Harry, Australia
Nov 27, 2016 7:48 PM

Fidel Castro stood up to, and saw out 9 USA Presidents, from Kennedy to Obama, all of whom would have been happy to have him ‘eliminated’. Apparently the CIA tried to ‘eliminate’ him over 600 times(Maxwell Smart must have been in charge of the CIA’s ‘elimination’ squad).
Castro got rid of the American gangsters Mayer Lansky and Lucky Luciano etc, and the Americans never forgave him. Castro was a remarkable man, given the enemies he made, it’s amazing that he survived until now.

Nov 29, 2016 8:03 PM

Great points made Brian, totally agree–esp your last insight about how Washington ‘never forgave him’: if Washington hates you you’re probably doing something right, and you’ll be demonized according to your degree of effectiveness 😀

Kevin Morris
Kevin Morris
Nov 27, 2016 6:46 PM

Eloquent words, and like all eloquent words, suspect. Fidel was a great man but he also had feet of clay. In my book, feet of clay do not diminish a man because after all they are part of the human condition. I am wary though of those who wish to ignore such faults as exist because there might be real danger for all of us when admiration is elevated to the level of idolatory.

Nov 29, 2016 8:09 PM
Reply to  Kevin Morris

Very vaguely said. You see Castro as a flawed character and see danger afoot when people honor is death at age 90, and reflect upon his accomplishments. Interesting.