Fidel Castro who had led the overthrow of US backed Batista dictatorship in Cuba and had also led Cuba in the direction of socialism after this, died on November 25, 2016 aged 90 years.
Son of a wealthy plantation owner, Fidel was active in the democratic movement since his student days. In 1945 there was a widespread movement in Cuba against US intervention in the Caribbean in which Fidel also participated. As a student activist, during 1947-48 while pursuing his law degree, he was attracted towards Marxism. He joined the Party of Cuban People led by Chibas. From 1950 to 52 he practiced law. However, with the help of CIA, Batista seized power and annulled 1952 elections.
After the end of Second World War, US Administration was alarmed at the victorious advance of the Communist movement worldwide and had taken to supporting all the reactionaries and dictators in its anti-communist strategy. US rulers any way considered Latin America its backyard and an exclusive zone for exploitation. Towards the end of Cuban war of independence from Spain, US had militarily intervened in 1898 and made Cuba its virtual colony as it had done in Philippines and Puerto Rico. Jose Marti who had become a symbol of Cuban independence struggle, had died at the beginning of this third and final war of independence from Spanish colonialism.
After Batista seized power, Fidel took legal recourse to get this seizure of power declared illegal but was not successful. Having failed in this, Fidel and his colleagues formed an organization named the Movement. On July 26, 1953, 123 of them attacked the Moncada barracks in Santiago and barracks in Bayano to stir a nationwide revolt. This attack was defeated. 9 of the fighters were killed in the fighting and 56 of them were executed by Batista Govt. Fidel and others who had escaped to the forests, were apprehended and put on trial. During the trial, Fidel made an impassioned plea in the Court on October 16, 1953 “History will absolve me …” which made him popular in Cuba and took his message to the people. He was sentenced to a 15 years prison term. However, he and 54 other fighters were later released due to public pressure for the release of political prisoners.
After this attempt which had militarily failed but made him popular and his message reverberate through Cuba, Fidel and his colleagues renamed their organization “26th July Movement” and went to Mexico. There they assembled a fighting force and got help from Alberto Bravo, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, for military training in guerilla warfare. In Mexico, Fidel Castro also made close contact with Ernesto Che Guevara, a Marxist-Leninist, and both agreed to work together for the Cuban revolution. On 26th November 1956, Fidel, Che and 80 other fighters left Mexico on a yacht and reached the Cuban coast on December 2nd. They planned to reach Sierra Maestra, a mountainous forest region. They did reach there but they were reduced to a mere 20. In Sierra Maestra, they established a base area and accumulated strength. They increased their strength among peasant masses and cane cutters, waged guerilla war and brought much of this area under their control.
At the time, Cuba was groaning under Batista dictatorship foisted by US imperialism which was exploiting and plundering the resources of Cuba. 75% of the arable land was under foreign plantation owners, mostly from US. The whole economy was under US control, dominated by US companies and their compradors. Cuban elite was supporting US imperialism and Cuban peasants, workers and patriots were feeling suffocated.
From Sierra Maestra, Cuban revolutionaries belonging to the 26th July Movement attacked forces of Batista and inflicted serious damage. Other forces active against Batista regime included People’s Party of Socialism formed by communist elements and Revolutionary Directorate but 26th July movement was the largest force fighting Batista regime. They militarily defeated Batista regime and conquered power in January 1959. In the course of this struggle, peasants acted as the main force of struggle and mountainous forest regions acted as a base for revolutionary forces. From these regions they attacked the cities, the main centres of political power. From the beginning of their struggle, May 26th Movement took armed struggle as the main form of struggle to overthrow the reactionary regime. They enjoyed wide support among the Cuban people in this struggle against US imperialism and its reactionary allies. After coming to power, Fidel and his party undertook agrarian reforms, passed agrarian reform law in May 1959 putting a ceiling on the holdings of agricultural land. They nationalized plantations and confiscated properties of all foreign companies which were mostly US companies.
While many leaders of the May 26th Movement were Marxist-Leninists, the organization did not openly subscribe to it. In 1961, May 26th Movement united with People’s Socialist Party and Revolutionary Directorate to form a single organization. In 1965, Communist Party of Cuba was formed under the leadership of Fidel Castro. As Fidel himself said that though he was Marxist, his political conduct was inspired by anti-colonial and pro-democratic ideas. This showed that he took the immediate aim of the Cuban people’s revolution to be anti-imperialist and democratic.
However, lack of ideological firmness paved the way for some of the stands taken by the Cuban party on the issues that faced the international communist movement e.g. during ideological struggle against modern revisionism and the direction of the course of socialist construction.
Cuban revolution shook US imperialism which had emerged as the leader of imperialist world after Second World War and that too, in its backyard of Latin America. US imperialism understood the potential of this revolution to act as a catalyst of people’s struggles in this whole region. It went all out to smash the Cuban revolution and even physically eliminate Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro for decades remained steadfast in his opposition to US imperialism and became a rallying point for the struggle against US imperialism in Latin America. In 1960, Fidel Castro made the Second Havana Declaration calling upon Latin Americans to rise in revolution. Communist Party of China had praised this declaration. US imperialism imposed an embargo against Cuba which has not been lifted till date. Kennedy Administration launched Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 which was defeated by Cuban Army and people.
In 1962, Soviet revisionist ruling clique of Khruschev forced Cuba to install nuclear missiles in Cuba and when US Admn. threatened, Khrushchev ruling clique went from adventurism to capitulation, withdrew the missiles in exchange of removal of US missiles from Turkey. Cuban leadership was not involved by Khrushchev in these negotiations with US imperialism. Chinese Communist Party, criticizing this abject surrender by Khrushchev clique, clarified that Kennedy Admn. wants to destroy socialist construction in Cuba.
Cuban Revolution was indeed a historic rising of Latin American people against US imperialism and reactionaries aligned to it. It raised the red flag in the belly of the beast. It was the first revolution in the period when ‘East wind prevailed over the West wind”.
On his death, CPI(ML)-New Democracy pays homage to Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuban revolution and a fighter against US imperialism and hegemonism.
November 27, 2016