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Commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution

fidel paitningToday remembers the Battle of Moncada Barracks and marks 60 years since the spark that set off the Cuban Revolution. It was on the 26th of July, 1953 that the young lawyer Fidel and a band of followers raided the military barracks in a brave but futile attempt to gather arms and overthrow Fulgencio Batista, the American backed military dictator. Despite being a military failure, it ended as a political success as Fidel’s spirited defense led to far milder sentences of imprisonment and exile rather than death. In his own defense, he made the famous “History will Absolve Me” speech where he justified his rebellion as a just attempt to save the Cuban nation from tyranny. This furthered popular support and exposure for his cause, at the expense of the Batista government’s popularity. In exile in Mexico, he and his brother organized a new daring plan to land a handful of armed men in Cuba and hopefully spark a popular uprising against the Batista government.

Batista was part of the political scene in Cuba at this point for 20 or so years, and his government was notoriously corrupt and completely in the pockets of organized crime, foreign interests, and big business. Cuba was the most prosperous island of the Caribbean, with casinos, a thriving tourist industry and nightlife, but underneath this gilded surface, the Cuban people, especially the campesinos in the countryside lived in poverty. The Cuban economy was entirely in the hands of foreign corporations, a slave to the tourist industry and its sugar produce. Its political life and international standing was essentially that of a pleasure resort and an American controlled banana republic. Fidel resolved early on to make Cuba independent in both name and practice, and to that end, nationalized foreign industries, closed down the casinos and brothels and kicked out the organized crime element. In his nationalizing American companies, he drew the ire of the United States. They had for years been undervaluing their property and earnings in order to avoid taxes, so when Fidel nationalized their lands, he was paying them at their face value, which meant they were going to take a substantial loss. In order to offset American pressure, Castro courted the Soviet Union as a patron superpower. While the Cuban revolution was no doubt Marxist, Fidel was a nationalist first and foremost, and his alliance with the USSR can be seen in that lens as a counterbalance to American pressure. For a nation attempting to free itself from foreign bonds, it made far more sense to have support of a powerful nation far away rather than one ninety miles from its shores. He also attempted as best he could to diversify the Cuban economy, making it less reliant on its sugar crops in order that the country be more self sufficient. Despite assassination attempts and subversion, both covert and overt, Fidel’s government remained strong and by and large popular. He managed to wipe out illiteracy and institute healthcare and education reforms which are still cited today as remarkable successes. Hundreds of miles of roads and homes were built to create a better infrastructure and alleviate homelessness. Today, despite Cuba’s economic difficulties, homelessness, illiteracy, and hunger are not problems which the populace need fear. Cuba’s international standing was increased by both his foreign aide in the form of doctors and teachers, to his commitment to assisting revolutions elsewhere in the third world. In the former, Cuba managed to win a positive reputation internationally for generosity. In the latter capacity, Cuba has sent troops and advisors on guerrilla warfare to nearly every part of Africa and South America. These international ventures were not always ideologically Marxist commitments, as Cuba also offered troops to assist Syria and Egypt against Israel in the 1973 war, and later did the same for Argentina during the Falklands war of 1982. One can judge Fidel’s adventurism how one will, but at the very least they show a firm, passionate commitment to his cause. His work in founding the Non Aligned Movement with other third world nationalist leaders also deserves note, as it was the rest real attempt to establish a voice independent of the Soviet and American camps.

Cuba of course, is not without its problems and the Cuban government is certainly not without flaws. While ideological Marxism is in many ways the antithesis of the traditionalist world view, there is sense in seeing it as a counterbalance to the liberal, Zionist decadence of the west, in practice if not in theory. Francis Parker Yockey, author of Imperium and one of the leading voices of the third position, traveled to Cuba before his death and also praised Fidel’s government as an independent, nationalist leader and saw the developments in the eastern bloc in a positive light, compared to the cultural degradation and decline which were taking place in the West and voiced a similar view in “The World In Flames” and several other of his later essays. The international situation today especially validates this, as the Cold War ended, but Cuba remains one of the few nations not entirely inside the international system, along with Iran, DPRK, Belarus, Syria, and Venezuela. These nations may have vast differences in their spiritual, racial, and ideological orientations, but are at the very least marching to their own tune. Their continued resistance to the international order is at the very least, a step in the right direction and a beacon for others that there is another way.

Liam Mellows, a martyr in the fight for Irish independence once said:

“We do not seek to make this country a materially great country at the expense of its honour in any way whatsoever. We would rather have this country poor and indigent, we would rather have the people of Ireland eking out a poor existence on the soil; as long as they possessed their souls, their minds, and their honour. This fight has been for something more than the fleshpots of Empire.”

The same could be said for any nation seeking to chart its own course, certainly this is the case in Cuba. Despite immense pressure, Fidel’s government endures, but whatever the future holds, his place in history is secure. Cuba could today be another tourist destination like Cancun or Tijuana, known only as a pleasure resort. It would no doubt, be prosperous and there would be far more material wealth in the country. Instead thanks to the Movimiento 26 de Julio, and the sacrifice of many patriotic Cubans, Cuba has an international legacy far beyond its size and population. It may not have the same luxuries one can find in the United States, but Cuba has its independence. Viva Fidel ! Patria o Muerte!

Cuban revolution

About Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson is a New York City resident with a degree in history and interests in philosophy, theology and entomology.
  • RayJWilson

    Thank you for your reply Mr Bernard and I’m glad you brought up that point- I agree. I don’t put much faith in these things, i don’t see literacy as a sign of excellence, so long as the right people are literate, societies with only 10% or less literacy produced finer poets, thinkers, philosophers, and writers than just about any society with 90-100% literacy of the last century. However, I merely wished to demonstrate that despite Cuba’s situation, it still provides its people with a service that the American republic fails to provide for its people. The Cuban model does not guarantee excellence, but it at least guarantees a basic standard of living, and the education system in place in Cuba, even with its socialist and marxist programs, is far healthier and of higher quality than anything in place in American education, save perhaps some of the finest private institutions. Small classrooms, individual attention to encourage students in whatever subjects or specialties interest them. The American system on the other hand, guarantees nothing in terms of basic standards but also does not encourage anything but the worst impulses. This despite having infinitely more resources and infrastructure to provide these services.

    Cuba was never a Soviet satellite to the extent the media in the USA portrayed it. Cuba generally pursued its own aims and used the Soviet alliance as leverage- the USSR did not approve of Fidel’s “adventurism” and despite some lip service, Castro pursued his own agenda. Frankly, I believe had his movement started 20 or 30 years before it did, it would have probably courted the Axis powers, or anyone who would provide a counterweight to the United States.

    Unfortunately, Cold war politics made truly “independent” leadership, aloof from both sides very difficult. the best one could do was play one side against the other. I would argue as well that former marxist states are spiritually in better shape than their “free, democratic” counterparts. Libya under Qaddafi, for example, remained “aloof” from cold war politics as best he could but still courted Soviet assistance and was by and large seen as a friend of the USSR.

  • RayJWilson

    Thank you Mr. Score, the Cuban revolution stirs up quite a few emotions, for its supporters and detractors. Cuban Americans are very rarely willing to give Fidel the benefit of the doubt, or give credit where its due. It is in some cases understandable. There is a different perception of Fidel by Cuban Americans who emigrated prior to 1959 and those who did so afterwards.