‘Venceremos’

column-teddy locsin-free fireTHE Associated Press reports, and I quote almost verbatim its moving account. As dawn was breaking over his beloved land, a wooden box containing Fidel Castro’s ashes was placed by his brother Raul in a hole on the side of a granite boulder. The hole was covered by a plaque with one word on it, FIDEL. The boulder lies across from the grave of Jose Marti, Cuba’s Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio rolled up in one. It is alongside a memorial to the rebel soldiers killed in the attack that Castro led on the Moncada barracks, thereby detonating the Cuban and the human revolution that shook the world—and morally remade mankind.

The public, which lined the route of the funeral cortege, was excluded from the ceremony. Only family, the politburo and heads of Latin American leftist governments—from Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Brazil—were allowed to be present.

The decision to keep the burial private came after Raul Castro announced that Cuba is prohibiting the naming of streets and monuments after his brother. It will not allow the erection of statues in his honor. This was Fidel’s dying wish, to avoid
encouraging a cult of personality. Next week the Cuban Congress will make that prohibition law.

In all of Cuba the only icons are those of slain revolutionary fighters, Camilo Cienfuegos and the god of freedom, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, whose photo after he was killed and laid upon a stone slab by CIA operatives is the very image of Jesus.

“All of us,” said Juan Antonio Gonzales, a 70-year-old retired economist, “would like to put Fidel’s name on everything; but in the end, Fidel is all of Cuba.”

Son of a gun.

The Cuban revolution has been a class act from start to the very end, and beyond. Venceremos!

And while my friend on these pages observes rightly that for a revolution that claimed to have brought freedom and justice to Cuba, over a million Cubans fled the island after it; not least for the hardships of a trade embargo imposed by a vengeful United States. Among those who fled were thousands of common criminals that Castro sprung from jail and put on boats for Miami to answer his American critics. Raffy Alunan would threaten the same thing to answer American critics of Duterte’s remorseless antidrug campaign—the US should give refuge to every drug dealer and user who might be wasted.

Every revolution is fought by two sides, winners and losers; those in the right and those in the wrong—and those who regret having been in the right because it didn’t turn out as congenial nor even as kind as they had thought. So Loyalist Americans, but Americans nonetheless, were persecuted and fled the United States for Canada and the UK after losing the fight against American independence. Had they prevailed, the world would still see a monarch of the English-speaking peoples—rigorously trained to constitutional self-discipline and parliamentary wisdom and restraint—rather than Donald Trump.

So, it is still, Venceremos!

 

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