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The legacy of Fidel Castro Rus has eloquently offered its own self-defence. As he said it on October 6, 1953, when he prophesied that ‘history will absolve me’, while on trial for his leadership role in the revolutionary grand assault on the Moncada Barracks. Cuban doctors helping in other countries are an inspiration not only to the West but to us Africans too.
The point being made is that history will not only judge Castro on the human rights of those who wanted him dead, but will assess him based on the stupendous gains of the Cuban revolution. The massive investments of the revolution, in the social sector, have yielded good returns for the Cuban people. Education and health services are free in Cuba. These socio-economic needs are human rights in Cuba. That is the social democratic contact of the revolution. The revolution has produced an educated people.


The literacy rate in Cuba is higher than those of many developed countries, including the United States. Even an unyielding critic of the Cuban experiment, The Economist of London, described the health sector of Cuba as ‘first world’. Thousands of Cuban doctors are saving lives in different parts of the world, especially in rural Africa.


Cuban doctors have exuded the humanity imbued in them by the revolution where other countries found themselves in crises situations. Cuban health workers have been out on their mettle during hurricanes and earthquakes in various parts of the world. Cuban doctors were on the ground to combat ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The New York Times had this to say about Cuba’s achievement in the health sector; “The global panic over ebola has not brought forth an adequate response from the nations with the most to offer. While the USA and several other wealthy countries have been happy to pledge funds, only Cuba and non-governmental organisations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.” The newspaper even called on the USA to swiftly restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Castro was not only a commander of guerrilla struggles, he also led a battle of ideas. He spoke against the debt trap of poor countries of the 1980s, saying the dept was ‘neither payable nor collectable’. He warned against the ecological consequences of the reckless capitalist development of the industrialised countries. He was unyielding, until the end, in pointing out the enormous human cost of neo-liberalism, the idea dominating the world in which one per cent owns more than the 90 per cent of the global wealth.


Today, global capitalism, called globalisation, is being attacked for different reasons. Neo-liberalism has no answer to the wave of populism, rising in the West. The beast in the liberal democracy is becoming manifest. Castro was principled and disciplined until the end and provided a model of leadership. An intangible gain of the revolution under Castro’s leadership is the development of a people with national pride and human dignity. The revolution was rooted not just in socialism but also in Cuban nationalism. This is one of the reasons for the exceptional durability of the revolution. The gains of the Cuban people’s experiment with the creation of a just, humane and popular democratic society will surely outlive Castro.

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