The towering personality of the 20th century has passed away. His achievements and those of Cuba under him are monumental. Forget the fact that he led the charge against the brutal imperial power in the hemisphere. Forget how he and the country survived the ruthless embargo imposed by their monstrous neighbor and not only built an enviable medical and educational system, but also exported the same to other countries including at grave times of natural calamities. Be it Pakistan or Haiti, Cuban doctors would often be the first to arrive and the last ones to leave. This last fact is seldom reported in the Western media of course.
But forget all that, and note this: the man and the country under him played a leading role in ending the apartheid in South Africa and in the independence struggle of other African countries. How many people know this? This achievement alone would have been enough to mark him down as a giant among men, but when this is combined with all else that he achieved, one is left awestruck at the breadth of his achievements, and those of his beloved, tiny homeland, Cuba, despite being impeded at every step by that ugly neighboring behemoth, the US govt. Again forgetting what the US govt did in the hemisphere, one can go back to Southern Africa again. The role of the US govt there was shameful as it backed the apartheid regime all the way and even supported them in their invasion of neighboring African countries. It was Cuba, with Castro at the helm, which came to the defense of the poor and the oppressed. Declassified Cuban records reveal how Castro had to clash with the Soviet Union to help, arm and train the independence struggles in Africa. If Castro had been a favored ally of western imperialism, these achievements alone would have seen the educated men and women of western media, the lapdogs of the establishment, enshrine him as “Saint Castro”!
However, this still is not his most unique achievement. His more striking, most striking achievement, is an act of unheard of generosity and selflessness, an act which at least in the 20th century has no other counterpart, an act which underlines why he is the Michelangelo among revolutionaries, a genius without match. That achievement is a little known fact about that other little known fact of Castro and Cuba having played the major role in Southern African independence movements and in ending apartheid. It is the fact that Castro and Cuba themselves deliberately decided to take no credit for their decisive role in Africa and in ending the apartheid!?!?!?!?
Why? Because they wanted the credit to be taken by the nationalist African movements themselves, so that the oppressed black people of Africa could confidently forge their future with the assurance that they could do it on their own. None of this was ever known. It is only thanks to Piero Gleijeses great works that these details have now finally come to light. But the general public still barely knows about it. However, those that Cuba helped knew about it. This is what Mandela had to say when he visited Havana soon after his release from prison: “We come here with a sense of the great debt that is owed the people of Cuba. What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?” He also said that Cuban forces “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor”…“was the turning point for the liberation of our continent—and of my people—from the scourge of apartheid.”
In the age of Donald Trump, in times where the times are gloomy, we are in urgent need of the, in Mandela’s words, “selflessness” that Cuba has displayed for decades. Make no mistake about it, Castro and Cuba were prophetic: the Cuban way is the ONLY way that this planet will survive. Otherwise, either one of the two monsters, climate change and nuclear war, would envelop us all. Viva Castro, Viva planet earth!