Young educated intellectuals from the southern hemisphere emulated Fidel Castro’s looks during the days when beards were associated with communism, not terrorism. Castro was fascinating because he showed the world that leaders of the South can successfully resist pressure from the mighty North; that South can rise despite the odds.
Fidel Castro survived half a century of relentless undercover machinations by America’s Central Intelligence Agency against his rule as well as his personal charisma. He survived overt war waged against his tiny Island by a super power. He survived the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when Cuba was in the eye of the storm. In the aftermath of the crisis, the American media feverishly tried to convince the Cuban public that Castro was a schizophrenic ideologue, ready to scarify the entire Cuban nation, and it was only Kennedy’s wisdom that saved the Cubans from nuclear annihilation. The heavily funded campaign ended in vain, like every-thing else the US tried against Castro’s entrenched leadership in a tiny island that lay a stone throw away from US’ own landmass. Castro’s ties with his people were so strong that nothing could break them. His leadership survived the economic hardship caused by the decades’ long US economic embargo. He survived the ending of the Soviet subsidy in 1992 when the USSR collapsed.
The important thing to remember as we mourn the passing of this great leader is his unflinching love of his people. Castro loved his people. He loved the down trodden among them. The plans he made for the development of Cuba stemmed from this quintessential love of the people of Cuba. No leadership can ever aspire to greatness without such love.
Just as Castro stood against exploitation of the weak by the strong within Cuba, within the international system, he stood against western hegemony and neo imperialism. Castro must have died a satisfied man as he saw the south rising in the world he leaves behind him. Brazil, South Africa, India, China are powers from the ‘South’ that have emerged strong. Neo imperialism is losing its strength as new structures replace it in Asia, Eurasia and Africa.
Castro is no more but Cubans will always remember his governance as the proudest period in Cuba’s history.