Yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) marked the 4th anniversary of the death of Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, the iconic Cuban Revolutionary leader. The anniversary manifestation, attended by scores of Ambassadors, progressive activists and friends of Cuba, also turned out to be a warm historic reception for the new Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Clara M Pulido- Escandell. Thanks to Comrade Tar Ukoh, the Director – General, National Troupe of Nigeria and head of the globally acknowledged cultural group, Mambisa, who provided danceable revolutionary songs with Nigeria’s instrumentals that featured molo, saxophone and talking drums!
At 90, Fidel Castro Ruz lived the fullest of time like his lifelong comrade, Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected South African President at 95. He passed on some three months after the world celebrated his 90th birthday in 2016. One intriguing question begging for an answer by political analysts is: What has longevity got to do with revolutionaries who endured challenges, including fatigue of struggles and assassination attempts? English Wikipedia reported several moves to kill Fidel while alive as a serving President by you-guess-who from which country.
The late Cuban revolutionary leader was born on the 13th of August 1926 near Birán. He eventually emerged as the revolutionary leader of Cuba, following the historic Cuban revolution he led in 1959, at the prime age of 33. Certainly not too young to make a radical transformation in Cuba! In July 2006, President Fidel Castro had gastric surgery and temporarily handed over control of the government to the former Defence Minister, Raul Catsro. He stepped down from power in 2008, 50 years after, and together with his compatriots in the Cuban Communist party, he had transformed his country into the first socialist independent/welfare state in the Western Hemisphere on the high ranking of the United Nations Human Development (UNDP) Index. Four years after Fidel passed on the world had witnessed a lot of changes, albeit without the real changes, with respect to global justice, equality, peace, removal of the 60-year economic blockade against his country.
For one, what would have been Fidel Castro’s reactions to the Presidency of Donald Trump inaugurated on January 20, 2017, few months after his death? What would have been Fidel’s reactions to Black Lives Matter (BLM) in the USA? In 2008, Fidel Catsro observed (rightly too well before life was snuffed out of George Perry Floyd Jr) that “Racism is deeply-rooted in the United States where the mind of millions of people can hardly reconcile with the notion that a black man, with his wife and children (read: the Obamas) could live in the White House, which is precisely called White. It’s a miracle that the Democratic candidate (Barack Obama) has not met the same destiny as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and others who only a few decades ago dreamed of justice and equality.”.
Of course Donald Trump who derided the war credentials of the Republican Senator John McCain posthumously against all ethics did not spare his ideological enemy, Fidel Castro who understandably he labeled “brutal dictator”. What would be Fidel’s reflections on the current Donald Trump’s obscene dictatorship that results in an election he lost in a democratic America? COVID-19 had claimed as many as 1.4 million deaths with almost 60 million infection rates? The United States alone records almost a quarter of global COVID-19 fatalities, some 260,000 deaths compared to Cuba’s deaths and 8, 000 cases and 7428 recoveries. What would be Fidel’s reactions to the disastrous numbers from the “Empire up north”?
Fidel presided over the world’s acknowledged medical capital which Cuba is. What would be his reactions to Donald Trump’s scandalous withdrawal from WHO in the midst of a global pandemic? António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, ably delivered this year’s (2020) Nelson Mandela ( NMD) Annual Lecture speech entitled “TACKLING THE INEQUALITY PANDEMIC: A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT FOR A NEW ERA, “ in New York on the 18th of July.
It was truly revolutionary (Mandela/ Fidel Castro-like) that reminds the world about the “inequality (social) pandemic” against the background of the current health pandemic caused by “a microscopic Covid:virus”. What would be Fidel’s reactions to the damning statistics that between “1980 and 2016, the world’s richest 1 per cent captured 27 per cent of the total cumulative growth in income”, as disclosed by Guterres, confirming the 2020 data released by Oxfam ahead of Davis World Economic Forum (WEF), according to which “world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6billion people who make up 60 per cent of the planet’s population”?
Remarkably, we don’t need to agonize about what the leadership of Fidel Castro would be like at times like this. Precisely Fidel was motivated and led by timeless ideas of justice and equity for all. As far back as 2000, Fidel had warned against new- liberal globalization with his attendant poverty for the bottom billions (before …) and opulence for the global few. Witness him: “.Globalization is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel, that is, this planet where we all live. But passengers on this vessel are travelling in very different conditions. Trifling minorities are travelling in luxurious cabins furnished with the Internet, cell phones and access to global communication networks. They enjoy a nutritional, abundant and balanced diet as well as clean water supplies. They have access to sophisticated medical care and to culture.
Overwhelming and hurting majorities are travelling in conditions that resemble the terrible slave trade from Africa to America in our colonial past. That is, 85% of the passengers on this ship are crowded together in its dirty hold suffering hunger, diseases and helplessness. Obviously, this vessel is carrying too much injustice to remain afloat and it pursues such an irrational and senseless route that it cannot call on a safe port. This vessel seems destined to clash with an iceberg. If that happened, we would all sink with it.”
True to Fidel’s predictions and analysis, the neo- neoliberal globalization “ship” actually almost sank in 2008, with all the casualties of mass job losses, deaths and feverish return to discredited states for bail outs. What would be Fidel’s to the current socialization of the economic impacts of COVID-19 world as central banks print money to bail out corporations but governments ignores the privatization of the benefits which had further deepened the inequality pandemic, António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General just warned the world about?
The new Ambassador Clara sums it up. According to her, what made Fidel extraordinary was his unparalleled love for humanity which explains Cuba’s global solidarity in the current fight against COVID-19 with export of doctors and PPEs just as the small island did in the fight against Ebola, Malaria and Cholera. The Ambassador said sovereignty is the basic principle including sustainable reliable sovereignty vaccine against COVID-19 not relying on imported vaccine from abroad. Definitely the spirit of Cuba for freedom, independence and sovereignty lives on.