During his exemplary leadership and legendary life of revolution, relations between the two countries was one of constant conflict, marked by US hostility and moments of serious tension.
Even when the two countries decided to restore diplomatic relations in 2014, Castro refused to remain silent. He famously wrote, “We don’t need the empire to give us anything,” rejecting President Obama’s call to forget about the past, without mentioning the more than half-century-old embargo and multiple attacks on Cuba.
Some might argue that it was silly for a global superpower to engage in neurotic efforts for over half of a century to take out the leadership of an island nation smaller than the US state of Pennsylvania. The counter-argument is that the danger to the US hegemony always lay in the example the revolutionary leader set: challenging the self-declared US monopoly over human existence.
To be sure, it’s a shame that his life and his campaign in challenging American power is hardly known by the world people. They would find a man of enormous courage and humanity who delivered his country from a neo-colonial status to a sovereign country with domestic success and a major imprint on the world stage.
They would learn that Castro didn’t play a role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, much less push the world to the brink of nuclear war. The crisis is recorded in official US propaganda as the time the Soviets brought the world to the brink of nuclear war by installing ballistic missiles in Cuba. In reality, the installation of said missiles postdated the installation in Turkey of US nuclear-armed missiles pointed at the Soviet Union.
They would learn that what the US cares about in Cuba is not “freedom for the Cuban people”, much as political prisoners and the dearth of freedom of the press and of expression – as proclaimed by President Obama. The sheer disingenuousness of the Cuban-freedom alibi is further underscored by the fact that the US happens to occupy a portion of Cuban territory on which it presides over an illegal prison dedicated to indefinitely detaining, torturing, and annihilating the freedoms of terror suspects.
They would learn that Castro was the most important leader to emerge from Latin America since the wars of independence in the early 19th century. The towering international figure was one of Washington’s first demonized leaders to justify the US government placing the Cuban population under screws to extract their surrender to the old ways of domination.
They would learn that Castro extended support to the people of South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, knowing that would earn even deeper enmity from Washington, an ally of the apartheid regime.
They would learn that Castro’s proposals of international solidarity also extended to the United States: After the Katrina disaster, he quietly offered George W. Bush more than 1,000 Cuban medical personnel, who were prepared to arrive in New Orleans within five hours of Bush’s would-be approval and treat the beleaguered victims without a single cost to the US. Bush completely ignored the offer – even when Castro publicly repeated the offer. Instead, more people died needless deaths.
Beyond anything else, Fidel Castro’s death on Friday, November 25, should merit some reflection on who he really was: A beacon of resistance in Latin America against the American power – beyond the relentlessly negative image that consecutive US administrations and corporate media outlets have conveyed to the people of the world.