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  The Fall of Commander in Chief

Auðra Radzevièiûtë
2008 04 07

On 24 February, after almost 50 years period, Cuba was electing a new leader of the country: Fidel Castro stepped down from the highest state and party leader’s positions.

Straight after the resignation of Commander in Chief everybody started looking at his 76 year old brother Raul Castro, who promised „major economic reforms“, „structural changes“ and…faith in the revolutionary ideals. Besides Raul Castro, the names of the 56 year old vice president Carlos Lage Davila and 42 year minister of foreign affairs Felipe Perez Roque were also mentioned.

However, the fact that Cuba is not anymore a synonym of F.Castro, says a lot.  Cuba and everything what is related to the country would never be the same as earlier. Hardly there‘ll be any major changes in the country in the nearest future, but for the Western countries it is worth while starting co-operation with the new government of the island.

According to Financial Times, the first step should be the ease of the US trade embargo which was operational for 40 years. Back in 2006, when R.Castro has assumed the duties of president of Cuba, the signs of pragmatic policy showed up, including certain evidences of macroeconomic stability, provision of support to small farmers, development of tourism and development of the relationship with Europe.

Fidel Castro has ruled Cuba 49 years. He could be referred to as a typical Latin America’s dictator who did not loose, despite his nice old age,  the illusion that without him the nation would become an orphan. However, Cuba‘s revolution was not a bloody head striking machine laid at the country‘s door from outside, and Fidel Castro was not a bonehead and murderer enthroned by strangers.

Vitality of Cuba’s regime could be explained by the historic facts and mentality of the nation. Quotation from BBC Russians provides the best explanation of this: „A new world, found by Colombo, became the arena for civilization collisions. Northward of Rio Grandes - protestant ethics, Anglo-Saxon law, entrepreneurship, the cult of freedom and personal success, and stable democracy.  Southward of Rio Grandes – dreams about Eldorado, siesta, carnivals, football, the slave Isaura’s passions, a conviction that there is no need to do anything today if there’ll be a possibility to do it tomorrow, as well as revolutions and putsches. Fidel Castro, „the blessed monster“ showed that revolution could be an entertaining festival of disobedience, romantics of fiery guerrilla, nice slogan „Patria o Muerte“, songs and dances in the streets and passionate offhand speeches.

When seeing Fidel Castro off to the forgetfulness let’s recall several facts from his biography. The Cuban leader was born in 1926 in the family of Angelo Castro, the owner of the sugarcane plantation. At the age of 23 he became a professional attorney.

In 1952 the general Batista, referred to by historians as „a son of a bitch“ and „hangman“, seized power in Cuba.  This event encouraged Fidel to quit the career of an attorney and to play a more risky role of a revolutionary.  In June of 1953 he collected a group of 165 fighters and led an attack on the Moncada military barracks. The riot was suppressed, and the court sentenced its initiator to 15 years in jail. However, soon F.Castro was released under an amnesty and left for Mexico.

When in 1956 Fidel returned to Cuba he launched the guerrilla war in the country. After three years he became the leader of the Revolutionary Government, and in 1956 – the leader of the communist party of Cuba. He signed thousands of orders and duration of his longest speech was 8 hours! Being an 81 year old man Fidel Castro boasted that more than 600 attempts were made on his life, but all of them were unsuccessful.  During his life he has married three times and has 7 children, but there are legends that he has about 5 dozens of illegitimate children.

It is worth while considering one more interesting detail: even the most committed fans of Commander in Chief say that he was not a real communist and was not actually inspired by Marxism-Leninism. The then Cuba was pushed into the arms of the USSR‘s because of the despair after the U.S. announcement of the economic blockade and the political game „my enemy is my friend“.

F.Castro’s hatred towards the United States was passionate and this was and still is a mutual hatred. However, so far the United States didn‘t manage to defeat the leader of the poverty-stricken and irrelevant country.

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