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NO PASARAN, COMANDANTE FIDEL!, by Andre Vltchek

che-and-fidel_art

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. As always, when the giants get reunited with mother Earth, the entire world shook and the ground trembled on all continents.

For several moments, everything stopped, got frozen.

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 marvelous 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.

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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.

It inspired the world with its determination and its valour, 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 marvellous 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!’

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Cuba Will Not Fall, by Andre Vltchek

source: counterpunch

Andre Vltchek and his 1952 horse.
Andre Vltchek and his 1952 horse.

I am not sure who has invented those rumors that Cuba is now facing a mortal danger, that it has lost its bearings, and that it could collapse at any moment, after just one lethal visit by US President Barack Obama. The rumors and speculations are snowballing, and in some circles of the North American and European Left, they are already being confused with reality.

I know, admire and love Cuba. It is an exceptionally strong, determined and resilient nation. Reading all the alarming reports, I decided to return and to speak to the Cuban people directly.

I visited Cuba again. This time in between my work in war-torn Middle East and South America, a continent suffering vicious assaults by toxic counter-revolutionary cliques loyal to Washington and Europe.

This time I decided to drive, to visit remote villages and historic revolutionary sites, as well as the area surrounding the territory stolen from Cuba by Western imperialism – Guantanamo Bay. I drove for over 1,000 kilometers, in the East and West of the country. I worked in Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Havana, Bay of Pigs, Playa Giron and in one of the most remote (and before the Revolution the poorest) areas of the country – Cienaga de Zapata.

I visited Prensa Latina and ICAIC in Havana, but this time my main goal was simply to listen to the Cuban people.

Were they aware of that mortal danger coming from the North? Were they ready to forge compromises? Was their revolutionary spirit getting diluted?

My conclusion is clear and decisive: “No! Cuba is not falling. Cuban people know; they are well aware of what is most likely behind the sweet talk of the US President. They will not yield, and they will not betray the Revolution.”

The danger from the West is real; it is there. It is always there, as it is real. Coercions, tricks, Machiavellian politics – all will be used in attempt to derail, even to destroy the Cuban Revolution. But do not think for one second that the Cuban people don’t see what the Empire is trying to achieve.

Cuba is standing, where it has been for decades. It is doing better than before. It is also stronger than ever. I’m convinced that it is going to prevail.

Before I continue, I have one suggestion to make to those who are thinking otherwise and who are genuinely worried: go to Cuba and help if you think that the country is now facing unprecedented danger. Travel there, talk to people, work, write, film, photograph. Support Cuba abroad. Buy its products, listen to its music, watch films, read books. Spend money there, instead of in Thailand, the Virgin Islands or Egypt, if you need some sun. Do something real, something concrete.

Cuba is the most internationalist country on Earth. It has been showing solidarity with dozens of oppressed and needy countries. It has already done so much for the others – the rest of the world. Now do something for Cuba, instead of prophesying its collapse! Do it if you worry about its future, and do it even if you don’t.

Guantanamo city.
Guantanamo city.

Santiago de Cuba is known to be a brave and strong-minded city. This is where the Cuban Revolution began on July 26, 1953. This is where a great poet, writer, and a national hero, José Martí is buried.

And this is where, on January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro proclaimed the victory of the Revolution from a balcony in Santiago’s city hall.

Like Salvador Bahia in Brazil, Santiago de Cuba gave the world some of the finest musicians. Now, in legendary Casa de la Trova and in many other clubs, cabarets and music halls of the city, mixed couples of all races are dancing to the upbeat rhythms of son and salsa. In Cuba, racism is a foreign unknown factor.

During my visit, on the second floor of Casa de la Trova, a young Chinese man was exchanging love notes with a black girl, while several local mixed couples were dancing cheek-to-cheek on an old parquet floor right in front of a brilliant, euphoric band.

Here, no ‘political correctness’ is needed. Nothing is forced. Racial and gender equality come naturally, instinctively, as a logical ‘by-product’ of the Revolution.

Countless Cuban people fought and died liberating African nations from Western imperialism. Thousands of Cuban doctors and teachers are still deployed in some of the poorest and remote parts of the world. Cuban Revolution fights for humanism. It struggles; it stands on the side of the oppressed, be they men, women or children. The color of the skin matters nothing. To all Cubans, one thing is clear: each person, each race deserves to live with dignity.

This is “my Communism”. Cuba is my “mother country”.

And that is why Western imperialism hates Cuba. That is why it is using its vitriolic propaganda to discredit the Cuban Revolution. That is why it tries to derail the country from the Communist course by all means at its disposal: through direct attacks, embargo, and now, through a new Machiavellian chapter of ‘normalization’.

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