The real Fidel Castro: Dispelling U.S. lies and CIA slander
Written by Jesse Nevelsky, Member of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and Chair of APSC’s mass organization, Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM). USM is the organization of white people working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party to organize white solidarity with Black Power and reparations to African people.
I grew up in Miami, Florida. I was taught that Fidel Castro was a brutal tyrant who tortured “his own people” if they uttered a word of dissent against him. A picture was painted of a wealthy man who lived in a mansion where he enjoyed lobster dinners while his people starved. He was, I was told, basically the Cuban Hitler, a bearded, cigar-chomping killer whose only supporters were brainwashed thugs. Che, I was told, was Fidel’s sadistic henchman, a rapist who bathed in the blood of innocent men and women after he beheaded them for daring to challenge the totalitarian nightmare of Castro’s regime.
In other words, I was force-fed a bunch of lies.
Let’s look at the truth.
What do Angola, South Africa, Vietnam, Congo, and Haiti have in common? All were among the countries who have been the recipients of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary internationalism since the beginning of the Cuban revolution in 1959.
They are, also, all countries that the United States of America has been involved in bombing, terrorizing or otherwise colonizing over the past century, while trying to murder Castro and overthrow the Cuban revolution with over 638 failed CIA assassination attempts.
If there’s any one characteristic that defines the legacy of Castro, it is the heroism of the leader of a small revolutionary country that has managed to maintain its independence in the crosshairs of the most bloodthirsty, aggressive and imperialist world power in human history, the United States.
Despite a genocidal economic blockade to try to starve the government and people of Cuba they have managed to maintain a nearly universal literacy rate and a healthcare system admired and envied by the nations and peoples the world over. They have extended what African People’s Socialist Party veteran leader Omowale Kefing called “socialist morality” to oppressed peoples around the world.
Class interests form the basis of the anti-Castro euphoria sweeping the streets of Miami right now. The Cuban Revolution displaced the wealthy Batista-era class and the Cuban petty bourgeoisie, that’s why they left Cuba and went to America.
I don’t say this scornfully, it’s just the truth. I know people whose family were repressed after the revolution. It was sad for them and still is. These are people I know and love and care about. But I have chosen look at the whole picture and not distort my vision through a narrow, personalized, emotional lens. The big picture is that revolutions displace one class from power and elevate another to take the reins and force into existence a new social system. It is as Castro himself said a struggle – to the death – between the past and the future. People die in wars. Revolution is a war between social systems. Malcolm X made it plain when he said that revolutions are big and bloody and they destroy anything that gets in their way. Before the revolution, Cuba under Batista was basically a playground for white American tourists where the vast majority of the people lived in abject misery.
Socialism is the workers defeating the bourgeois state and building their own state power. That means the right to shut down a newspaper if the newspaper is promoting the restoration of the system of oppression and exploitation that the revolution overturned. You no longer have the coveted “free speech” to be an exploiter or to promote exploitation and slavery. Not in a socialist society. That is a good thing to me. You will not have the “freedom” to oppress. Good.
The claim that the Cuban revolution was some kind of tyrannical regime that tortured anyone who dared to even whisper a word of disagreement with a policy of the Cuban government is a CIA contrived falsehood. There are many people living in Cuba today who are openly critical of the government but ultimately loyal to the Revolution and its core principles.
Despite the accusations of a “Castro dynasty”, the Revolution was consistent in its efforts to build a new society and made no exceptions not even for Castro’s own family, such as his sister who was a wealthy landowner. After the revolution the government announced they would appropriate land from wealthy landowners and turn it over to the farmers and working people. In response, Castro’s sister packed her bags and moved to Miami to work for the CIA.
It is an exercise in sheer cynicism when opponents of Cuba’s revolution will include in their CIA stockpile of slander against Castro the criticisms of anti-homosexual practices of the early years of the Cuban revolution. Those were real contradictions that existed in Cuba and as a society, government and nation they have struggled to overturn those errors of their past. (The same cannot be said for nasty, oppressive white society within the United States.) Pointing out this history does not help build the case against Castro. Castro himself denounced the fact that in the early years of the revolution there were backwards practices regarding homosexuality. He denounced those things even more strongly than his enemies! He took full responsibility for it and condemned it as a “great, great injustice.”.
I think that is quite admirable and shows a leader of profound honesty and integrity unlike almost any you will find on the world stage today. Can you imagine a U.S. political leader owning up to the wrongs of the past in such a manner? Beyond just empty words, though, today there are many LGBT organizations and high ranking political leaders in the Cuban government including Castro’s daughter. It is also a country where sex reassignment surgery is free and accessible. The same cannot be said for the filthy United States of America where it costs tens of thousands of dollars and is indeed a commodified “privilege” for the elite like everything else in the criminal enterprise known as the American healthcare system.
In addition to high literacy rates and universal healthcare, there is poverty and hunger in Cuba, and that’s because of capitalism, not Castro or socialism. It’s simple math. A small country economically isolated by U.S. imperialism is going to experience hunger and scarcity when it attempts to build socialism in that context. The number one imperialist power locks you out of economic life. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba had no major allies until the emergence of progressive governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia. And the US has done everything it can do to push back the “pink tide” in Latin America as well. Encirclement, isolation, destruction. This is imperialism’s modus operandi.
The social ills of Cuba are not inherent to socialism but to the world system of capitalism that surrounds it. A worldwide capitalism built on the backs of enslaved Africans and on the stolen land of the Indigenous people. This is what African Internationalism shows us, the world through the eyes of the African working class as developed by APSP Chairman, Omali Yeshitela.
In discussing Cuba, Vietnam, Russia, China, etc, Chairman Yeshitela explains that the political conditions for the advent of socialists taking power existed in Cuba but not the historical conditions for the advent of socialism. The historical conditions for the advent of socialism is the destruction of the pedestal upon which capitalism rests which is colonialism. With world capitalism and U.S. imperialism intact, Cuba’s socialism could only go so far. (And even amid a sea of predators it has accomplished magnificent feats.)
That’s why economic warfare was the weapon of choice preferred by the U.S. in the case of Cuba, after the CIA’s hundreds upon hundreds of assassination attempts and terrorist attacks failed to break the will of the revolutionary Cuban people.
The U.S. did the same thing to Nicaragua and Venezuela and they do it to any country that dares to defy their domination. I am sure if the Americans had their way they would go in and “liberate” the Cubans from the “dictator” by way of missile strikes and chemical weapons like they’ve done to every other “dictator who oppresses their own people.” But they know it’s not as easy as it sounds. The imperialist paper tiger is getting its ass kicked all around the world these days and so it should be.
Despite the jubilation in my 305 hometown, the Cuban revolution will not be buried along with Fidel. It is bigger than Fidel. It is bigger even than Cuba itself. Cubans are not dancing in the streets of actual Havana like they are in the streets of Little Havana. The people mourn. When the mourning ends, the struggle continues.
As a member of the African People’s Solidarity Committee being under the leadership of the APSP it is my conviction that the African working class, on whose backs the entire edifice of world capitalism rests, will deal the final deathblow to imperialism and all of the peoples and nations of the world will be able to carry out their revolutions to their logical conclusion in a future without colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed, a word in which the capitalist predatory system of white power/imperialism is six feet under forever.
My role as a North American communist is to organize under the leadership of the African working class, in solidarity with anti-colonial revolutionary struggle and for reparations for the ongoing looting and theft of Africa’s labor, resources, and land. Because the road to socialism is painted black, as Chairman Omali Yeshitela once wrote. A liberated Africa and a capitalist world system cannot coexist in the same universe. One must ultimately overcome the other. Then, and only then, will genuine communism come into being.
Viva Fidel Castro, Long live Cuba, Long live the African revolution through African Internationalism, hasta la victoria siempre to the peoples of the world on the long march towards communism in our lifetime!