Fidel Castro: Freedom Fighter, Leader, and Inspiration

Today Fidel Castro, one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th Century, who overthrew the US sponsored fascist dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, and resisted 49 years of US imperialism and terrorism, including The Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and 368 assassination attempts, announced today:  

Fidel Castro

“To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honour in recent days of electing me a member of parliament … I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept — I repeat not aspire to or accept — the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief.”

Although he vowed to remain a solider of ideas in the struggle against US imperialism. End of an era perhaps, but comrade Fidel will continue to be an inspiration to anti imperialists throughout the world. Viva la revolución!

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33 thoughts on “Fidel Castro: Freedom Fighter, Leader, and Inspiration

  1. Heather -

    If it were a right-wing fascist dictatorship the United States would be going all out to support it. So it must be a left-wing dictatorship. Which of course is really really evil, as opposed to the Batista dictatorship and the Central American corporofascist dictatorships which are/were really really good.

    Thus spaketh the American right wing as they supported death squads, mass murder, torture, repression, oppression, and financial devastation from which they could make a profit.

  2. @ Heather

    It’s communist and it’s far too bureaucratic to be a genuine democracy but for all that it is more democratic than the US and a far cry from the Batista fascist dictatorship that was propped up by the Yankee dollar. Hopefully Cuba will become more democratic and less bureaucratic, but hopefully it will continue to resist American imperialism and neoliberalism (fascism).

  3. @ Ric

    That’s exactly the point. 49 years of with a superpower trying to assassinate him, overthrow his people’s government and imposing an trade embargo on Cuba, has had a negative impact on freedom of speech but what’s America’s excuse? Bush has taken to murdering journalists he disagrees with, Al-Jazeera isn’t the channel it once was.

  4. Steph.
    The Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia (a very humble and polite and selfless man) accompanied with a small delegation of Cuban journalists in Sept 2007, said they had discovered over 1000 plots to assassinate Castro. To which they added… “and that is only the ones we know about!”

    The Bolivar revolution is true inspiring. The forces these Bolivarians are fighting AND WINNING against are huge. My heart trembles when I think of justice squashing the occidental fascists , the filth and the plain evil that have tried for hundreds of years to put that part of the world permanently into the gates of Hell.

    There’s still a long way to go, but it’s being done!

    Now if only the Muslim world could shake off their disgusting regimes too. Is that too far fetched? I fear it may be so.

  5. Should add: I was annoyed at Castro for not doing more against the obvious con regarding the US’s lease of Guantanamo, which I believe a US Puppet, President of Cuba initially signed over the US, in a deal the US was never likely to step out of.

    A whole swathe of things could have been done but never seem to have been undertaken, e.g. legal challenges, UN representations, civilian invasions to reclaim it etc. etc. Civilian candle lit vigils seemed a bit of a ‘display’ rather than anything meaningful. I know it’s easy to be an armchair analyst/critic, but still, I’m very sure greater pressure could have been applied.

  6. @ Heather (1)

    I raised similar point to the afore mentioned Cuban delegation. They told me Cuba did have elections. They also said many of the Cuban people supported Castro (but of course it also means some would not, but I think the majiority do.)
    If the Presidency was offered for election there is a real danger that a Pro-US neoLiberal could win it simply by the tonnes of money that would almost definitely pour in there from the US. End result could very well be the nightmare that befell many Latin and South American counties over 100 years.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that Cuba’s health system (purported to be one of the best in the world) would be utterly destroyed (how many tens of millions of USans don’t have medical insurance – itself a scam) and thrown to the econ-fascist health (misnomer if I’ve ever heard one) companies

    That history is a very strong case indeed NOT to offer the Presidency, and do so purely on a point of principle that is very likely to bring disaster upon the people is foolish. A great argument against “Democracy at that level’ – Anyway, you don’t really believe the US presidency (and many statesmen’s positions) is/are a result of a pure democratic process do you?, or indeed ANY working democracy?

    And what if the people chose to a dictatorship – that is a democratic choice too isn’t it? Some Arabs don’t see the reason why they need to elect a leader – why can’t their leader just do good when appointed by the guardians of a state? If that is the peoples desire then really, shouldn’t that kind desire for that political structure be respected?

    To offer the Presidency for election given that history and oppression, one can see it is a very powerful argument against doing such a thing.

  7. @ LWTC

    The Cuban president is elected indirectly like the American president. I wouldn’t call it a dicatorship because there is voter particpation but there are issues around freedom of speech and political dissent but that is a reponse to American imperialism.

    Good point about Guantanamo, Cuba could have done more.

  8. The Cuban health system is all people want to believe it is and the ed system is also an indoctrination system. Castro was/is a dictator and belief that humanity should tolerate endless autocracy is sad. Cuba should be seen as a nation that has stood tall against bad odds and opposition. Cuba spent a long time at the teet of the USSR though so it wasn’t such a solo act.
    On the by and by I have friends from Cuba that date back to hating Batista and the Castro solution. I think America should normalize relations even if it’s with a Castro. It is and would’ve been the surest way to avoid so much.

  9. Thanks Fray

    You remember how he “lost” his job ?

    The same way Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy lost theirs!

    Being constantly reelected as or even elected for life doesn’t make leader a dictator, in the same way that only serving for 11 days doesn’t make a dictator not a dictator. A dictator rules by diktat.

    I agree with you about normalising relations, which hopefully will lead to Cuba becoming more democratic and open.

  10. in3thefray.
    I would seriously recommend you reappraise that opinion on the merits of the Cuban health system.

    Here’s just two google search results:

    1) Dr Peter Bourne(Oxford University): , …the remarkable system in place in Cuba, which enjoys the highest ratio of physicians to population of any nation. Trained at 21 medical schools, more than 20,000 family physicians each serve around 600 people. Universal, free, accessible health care is guaranteed in the Cuban constitution. Results are a life expectancy of 76, the elimination of most infectious diseases and the lowest incidence of HIV/AIDS of any country with a population over one million.[1]

    - And all that after being strangeld by the US for 50 years. bloody remarkable if you ask me.

    2) Harvard School of Public Health: the health care needs of all its citizens, providing free preventive, curative, and rehabilitation services. This National Health System, as it’s called, is an international success story[2]

    Gimme gimme gimme! Is what I say!

    [1] http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/newsAndEvents/archives/2003/Cuban_Health_System.htm

    [2] http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/review_summer_02/677cuba.html

  11. @ lwtc

    That is very good point, although having a good health system doesn’t mean that Cuba is democratic, Nazi Germany was more medically advanced than the rest of Europe, but Cuba had never had the chance to turn into a truly democratic country because as you pointed out before, the Americans have been trying to fund a coup.

  12. @lwtc. I won’t get involved in a link war proving my point.You have your opinion and you’re welcome to it.The fact is the Cuban system is not the great thing people like M.Moore wants us to embrace.
    There is a doctor shortage since medics are shipped around the world especially Venezuela.This is like currency as well as foreign policy.Like the Soviet days pure sugar for crappy oil.The facilities are two tiered. Clean and efficient for many poorly staffed,nasty and ill equipped for even more.Does the embargo cause this ? No since medical supplies are not included in restrictions and families send countless med supplies back via “care” packages. I dare say the system took the big hit post Soviet collapse. Also keep in mind I’ve not bashed the system based on it’s intents and some of it’s efforts.Cuban solutions for Cuban issues are something I concede without remorse. I’m just saying I’m far happier being a card carrying Yankee system consumer.
    The HIV/AIDS war Cuba has is a bit dishonest. It mandates testing,(a good thing)is an island and quarantines pts. that test positive.(not welcomed elsewhere) Just for the record if it wasn’t clear earlier. I’m not anti-Cuba just pro truth.

  13. I am not saying it is free of problems, and you too are similarly entitled to ignore the overwhelming unbiased documented studies by academics and health professions that show it is one of the best health services.

    Doctor shortage? I’ve not heard of that, but I’ll take your word for it. Given that, it would be highly unusual when one considers the past attention to health servicing that any imbalance wasn’t in the process of being neutralised.

    As to two-tieredness, I have no information about that and it may well happen, but is there a society which doesn’t have that to some degree? Just look at the US that you seem so proud of – You may have medical insurance, but what about the others who don’t? And given the costs in the US of health care, people are TOTALLY excluded from ANY treatment. Does that happen in Cuba?

    I’m going to repeat the 76 year life expectancy figure becasue given the resources, it is absolutely astounding, and day-to-day health seems great too.

    Is there any better system than Cuba’s?

  14. As for HIV stats, I have to put more weightage on Dr Peter Bourne’s deliverance of that becasue he is very likely to be stating legitimate comparative figures. Why would he be putting forward ‘dishonest’ figures?

  15. @lwtc24. I’ll gladly allow you the last word but I’m just a little concerned about being understood. In reverse order sort of. HIV comment wasn’t calling the science dishonest. I’m saying give me an isolated island with mandatory testing and quarantine policies and I’ll eradicate AIDS.
    France has pretty impressive system as I understand it but would be perfect if more private enterprise could wiggle in.This isn’t the place for US system debate. The MDs are like a commodity that especially post Soviet support are a means of $$$. If the embargo was squashed and Cuba could be competitive across the trade spectrum it would be good. One has to wonder though much like say Canada would a looser grip on it’s citizens still allow skilled people staying in Cuba ? And last the links I could offer are from many sources all credible. Las last thing from me. Some shocking web honesty and manners. I thank you for sharing and engaging perhaps I’ll stop by your “place” and enjoy other dialogue. And thanks to Steph for providing the thread.

  16. @ Fray

    Leaving Cuba aside, what do you think would be the perfect model for health care?

    I don’t believe in free universal health care for all but I do believe in free health care for those who can’t afford to pay.

  17. Steph I like the idea of finding ways to make healthcare affordable. I like the idea of government overseeing super groups being created to lower costs. I think these groups should be linked by risk but not necessarily geography. I think there should be limits on litigation. Except in cases of obvious malpractice there has to be a limit on $$ recourse/payouts. People might find me priceless but dying during a complicated surgical procedure shouldn’t be overly compensated.I like the idea of having shortcuts for access. In Boston a drug store chain (chemist ?) wanted to host MD’s and nurse practitionors providing basic primary care. The city and the unions went nuts. I for one say it was better than people going to emergency rooms. Ultimately since I don’t want to waste space I believe in creating smarter consumers who can access affordable models that meet their needs. This is worthy of some more thought-thanks for the brain kick,have a great weekend.

  18. Saying “The HIV/AIDS war Cuba has is a bit dishonest.” Is what lead me to believe you casing aspersions on what Dr Peter Bourne said. If that is my misreading, then I apologise.

    I don’t see why a fully functioning and successful health service (Cuba or France) should embrace market forces. Personally, I think the infiltration within the UK service proves that it causes many unnecessary problems.

    France may be good but I’ve never heard of anyone espousing it. I don’t think the Soviet health system propped Cuba up at all. It was probably the other way around as I have some port-holes into Medical profession, and certainly as of a few years ago, the Russian health service (the actual general nuts and bolts of it) was very poorly thought of.

    I am sceptical of common consensus, but I have no reason not to believe its cheering for the Cuban health service.

    Re: Super-groups. I believe in the UK there was quite a lot of concern about not understanding the needs of community based clinics/hospitals and treatment. It seems people favour smaller units, most likely not for ideological reasons, but for practical reasons. We see detachment of the boardroom to the shop floor even in small organizations/services and businesses.
    But doesn’t a government and its respective department of health not constitute a ‘super-group’ to fulfil the things you mention? Health services could be made more cheaper if more of the grass roots of health care were under public ownership e.g. prosthetics designers and manufacturers, caterers, chemicals and supplies. Legalisation was adopted which forces pharmaceutical companies to provide FREE medicine to everyone below a certain income range.

    You may not be so happy with my site, as I’m highly critical of these who are driving your country into the abyss.

  19. 1,2,3, cause I’m in a time pinch. Not Soviet healthcare just the Rubles,Super Groups just = more buying power in my use. If I wanted/had to talk only to people that agree with everything I say I’d be very sad.

  20. @ Fray & lwtc

    My view is that even though Cuba has a small population so total health care is easier, but Doctors seem to work for prestige rather than money in Cuba. In some Latin American countries having a priest in the family is a great honour, having a doctor in the family is obviously a great honour in Cuba, running off to become a highly paid plastic surgeon in Miami, is probably like announcing you’re going to marry a donkey.

    But in the UK it is impossible to run a good heath care system, and I doubt that America could either. The more money we throw at it, the worse it gets. I wonder why we there is this belief that we shouldn’t pay for some medical services. I will pay around $100 to go to the hairdresser but if I go to the GP, see a consultant, get surgery – it’s all free. all I have to pay for is my drugs. I could understand that if you’re on a low wage. Italy has a much better health care system than the UK. Somethings are free and some things are means tested.

    I think there should defintely be a min and max standard charge for A&E admissions, consultations and treatments. Local government can pick up the bill for those on low wages or benefit, like the current housing benefit arrangement.

  21. The French system is very good – not sure why everyone keeps ignoring it or saying it needs to change to become capitalist or why anyone in the US or UK would be afraid to go to such a system. I think the only thing I am afraid of is that Sarkozy will bring capitalism into it and completely ruin it. Why should someone make giant profits off someone else’s illness ? That’s just stupid, backwards thinking and it’s how the US system ended up as bad as it is now. People from the UK come to France all the time for the good health care, and compared to the US where I used to live, where health is run by for-profit ‘HMO’ organizations who have paper-pushers making medical decisions it is simply amazing to see the difference. The level of care is better overall, and the attitude towards patients is a universe apart. I have also visited Cuba and it seemed to me the doctors there (and it was something I noticed immediately) actually CARED about patients. It seemed people went into medicine to help others, not to make it rich as they do in the US. I also notice this attitude towards patients in France. In the US and in the UK I found doctors treating people like cattle in and out of their offices, and in medical school in the US I know they are taught to think of their patients as lesser beings, to distance themselves in order to make the correct ‘medical’ decisions etc..

  22. I don’t use the NHS, so why should I have to pay for it? We should have a fully private health care system. I already finance the dregs of society’s binge drinking and drug taking, why do I have to pay for treating the results of it too? Cuba’s health care system works because Castro wouldn’t stand for any of that nonsense.

  23. @ Simon

    Disagree with the first part but I agree with the second part.

    I already finance the dregs of society’s binge drinking and drug taking, why do I have to pay for treating the results of it too?

    You’re right you shouldn’t have to pay for either. How are you funding their binge drinking and drug taking though?

  24. @ Jennifer

    I agree, the French system from what I’ve read is pretty much what I’m advocating, I think?

    A partially or fully subsidised health care plan based on earnings. I think the only difference is I’d adopt a system of minimum and maximum tariffs, otherwise in the UK you’d have the situation, like there is with dentists, very few are willing to work for the NHS.

    My sister lives in Rome and she’s noticed the difference between Italian doctors and English ones too. I don’t think it’s that English doctors don’t care, I think they’re just overworked and overstressed.

    I think our National Insurance is a good scheme, which could be used like the French use theirs but the NHS itself, is an outdated model.

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