Dr. Daya Hewapathirane, Richmond, (BC) Canada:
FORMER CUBAN PRESIDENT was the Longest Serving and a Most Iconic Leader of the 20th Century. He Died at Age 90.
• He was 32 years old when he came to power, toppling a ruthless Dictator -Fulgencio Batista.
• Castro landed in Cuba with a mere 80 rebels to launch the revolution and succeeded with public support.
• Fidel Castro was the Cuban President for 49 years which is a record for a non-royal leader.
• He survived 638 assassination attempts by the USA.
• For five decades, he worked to turn the island nation into a place of equality and social justice.
• His government produced tens of thousands of doctors and teachers and some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere.
Canada Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President. “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.
“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.
“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”
Latin American leaders have been quick to pay tribute. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Castro was a “great friend” of Mexico, while to El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren he was an “eternal companion”. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said “revolutionaries of the world must follow his legacy”.
The Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, said: “Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as a “reliable and sincere friend” of Russia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed Castro as a “great leader” for the Cuban people and said China had lost “an intimate and sincere friend. “He achieved immortal historical achievements for the development of world socialism. He was the great person of our era, and people and history will remember him,” Xi said. “Great Castro will live forever. “
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called Castro a friend of Mexico, who had promoted bilateral relationships based on “respect, dialogue and solidarity.”
“Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Before the ascendency of Fidel Castro as the President, Cuba was ruled for many years by a ruthless dictator Fulgencio Batista. He was ruthless and corrupt, jailing his opponents, using terrorist methods, controlling the university, the media, press and the Congress, and making fortunes for himself and his associates.
In 1944, Batista visited USA, and lived for a while in Florida, where he invested part of the huge sums he had acquired in Cuba. In 1954 and ’58 the country held presidential elections which were manipulated with CIA help, to make Batista the sole candidate. The United States government supported the American-friendly corrupt Dictator Batista regime since it came to power.
Batista regime was finally toppled by the rebel forces led by Fidel Castro, who launched their successful attack in the fall of 1958.
Castro, together with a few supporters that included the professional revolutionary Che Guevara, landed in Cuba to unseat Batista. An accomplished tactician on the battlefield, Castro and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to widespread popular support. Faced with the collapse of his regime and with the growing discontent of his supporters, Batista fled the country.
Within two years of taking power, he declared the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature and allied the island nation firmly to the Soviet Union. He established a one-party state, with the removal of many supporters of the corrupt Batista government.
Popular Cuban support for Castro’s revolution, however, spread and grew due to his personal charisma and nationalistic outlook, and also because of the increasingly rampant corruption, brutality, and inefficiency within the Batista government.
Suspicious of what they believed to be Castro’s leftist ideology and fearful that his ultimate goals might include attacks on U.S. investments and properties in Cuba, Americans were unanimous in opposing the revolutionary movement of Castro.
In the years that followed, the U.S. attitude toward the new revolutionary government became downright hostile. As the Castro government moved toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union, and Castro declared himself to be a Marxist-Leninist, relations between the U.S. and Cuba collapsed into mutual enmity, which continued only somewhat abated through the following decades.
Castro however, defied the US for decades, surviving many assassination plots. He was instrumental in giving Cuba back to the people. Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was a thorn in Washington’s side.
Despite the constant threat of a US invasion as well as the long-standing economic embargo on the island, Castro managed to maintain a communist revolution in a nation just 90 miles (145km) off the coast of Florida.
Despised by his critics as much as he was revered by his followers, he maintained his rule through ten USA presidents and survived scores of attempts on his life by the CIA.
“He gave Cubans a sense of dignity and belonging”.
“Castro is irreplaceable. “He’s the historic leader of Cuba, I’d say, of all of Latin America.”
“Fidel … has been a man without precedents … with his intelligence, his ability, his eagerness to unite all people and fight against poverty”.
“He’ll always be in our hearts, in the feelings of each one of us. His example will always endure”.
“For everything he’s done for us, he’ll always be in our memory.”
“His literacy campaign and his commitment to public health are what will be remembered for in generations to come”
“In every inch of Cuba is the work of Fidel Castro”. “Agrarian reform, he did, Educational reform, he did – everything that he promised.
The years have passed and Fidel continues being our great love, our father”
– Sinhalaya News