26, 1953. Fidel Castro leads 158 men to attack Fort Moncada, in Santiago de
Cuba, the island’s second largest military installation. Flashback. 1860. John
Brown’s raiders hit Harper’s Ferry. Brown, like Castro, lost the battle. Both of
these visionaries or madmen planned to distribute arms to their collaborators.
Both Brown and Castro believed that a dramatic military victory would inspire
partisans to rise up and overthrow slavery or, in Castro’s case, the Batista
achieved his goal posthumously when, three years later, Lincoln emancipated the
slaves. In 1954, Castro, on trial for rebellion, declared: "Sentence me. It
doesn’t matter. History Will Absolve Me." On July 26, as Cubans celebrate
the 47th anniversary of the attack on Moncada, has history absolved Fidel? I
would say the Cuban Revolution was a success. Note the past tense. Why?
achieved the primary goal of the Cuban Revolution, which really began in 1868
when Cubans fought their first war for independence against Spain. In 1895,
Cubans tried again, but the United States intervened before they could defeat
the Spaniards. In 1932, yet another Cuban revolt fizzled. Finally, in January
1959, five and a half years after the Moncada fiasco, Fidel’s guerrillas
overthrew the US-backed military dictatorship, and then, with serendipitous aid
from the Soviet Union, they built a nation. Fidel led Cubans into the mainstream
of modern history. For three decades, Cubans danced on the world stage. They
made their mark in world art, literature, and science. Cubans won more Olympic
gold medals than major European powers and regularly beat the US baseball team
in the Pan American games. Cuba boasts health and literacy rates that should
make third world leaders drool. And Cuban troops altered the destiny of Namibia,
Angola, and South Africa when they defeated of South African troops in Angola in
the 1987-88 battles of Cuito Cuanavale. Nelson Mandela himself acknowledged the
South African majority’s debt to Cuba when he embraced Fidel at his presidential
July 26th Cubans who understand the meaning of that initial attack on Moncada
will pay tribute to Fidel’s ruthless determination, a will and a vision that has
allowed him and the Cuban revolution to survive nine US presidents over almost
42 years of unrelenting US hostility.
without her Soviet benefactor Cuba has endured in the corporate global world.
But Cuba no longer stands as a model. Foreign investors don’t flock to Cuba,
because Cuba refuses to allow corporations to control its labor force and
environment and because US laws place obstacles in investors’ paths. But Cuba
continues to maintain its health and education systems — in a precarious
holding pattern, with no clear economic plan. Yes, the word socialism still
resonates there and the consumer society has not taken hold.
the year 2000, US imperial hostility serves Cuban leaders as a justification to
deny political freedom. The US government, which has stated that its goal is to
destroy the Cuban revolution and its leaders, fosters the dissidents in Cuba,
pays for their telephones (including cels), faxes, Xerox machines and email, and
then blithely accuses Cuba of infringing on free speech when it periodically
arrests these dissidents. Some of them are indeed brave people and have
legitimate concerns about State restrictions on liberties.
the United States continues to pursue its irrational aggression into the 21st
Century, Cubans are, for the first time, truly independent — and quite alone.
They still win Olympic Golds and excel in the arts and sciences, a tribute to
their disobedient leader and the resolve of the Cuban people who will not easily
give up the rights and dignity they have won. On July 26, 2000, unlike John
Brown, Fidel Castro’s body does not lie a "moldering in his grave."
He’s still making speeches. Saludos companero!
O. La Bounty Chair of Applied Interdisciplinary Knowledge, California State
Polytechnic University, Pomona Pomona, CA 91768 tel:909-869-3115
fax:909-869-4751 mailto:[email protected] http://www.csupomona.edu/~slandau