[Marxism] Documentary shows Cuba's Castro as young rebel

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue May 31 15:18:23 MDT 2005

(The film looks great and those who want to know
more about this period are obliged to consult 
Lionel Martin's Indispensible THE EARLY FIDEL:
The Roots of Castro's Communism which can still
be purchased on the internet very reasonably.
The key to the entire Cuban Revolution can be
found in Fidel Castro's idea of linking the
formation of a revolutionary organization with
the political and cultural concepts advanced 
by Jose Marti, the apostle of Cuba's struggle
for independence. Looks like a fine film.)

Documentary shows Cuba's Castro as young rebel
Tue May 31, 2005 02:25 PM ET

By Anthony Boadle

HAVANA (Reuters) - How did a well-to-do country boy with a conservative
education called Fidel Castro turn into a fearless rebel and enduring leader
of one of the world's last Marxist states?

For Finnish documentary-maker Folke West, granted rare access to early Cuban
state archives, the answer lies in Castro's formative years, long before he
became a Communist.

His 2-hour, 50-minute "Young Fidel" traces the Cuban president's life from
his father's ranch through Jesuit schools and volatile university politics
to a nearly suicidal raid on Cuba's second largest military garrison, prison
and finally exile in 1955.

"Most biographies jump most of his life before 1955. Without that background
you cannot understand Fidel Castro and how he developed into what he became.
Clearly, he was not a Communist," West said.

West got access rare for a foreign film maker to pictures of the young
Castro in state archives. His documentary is based on 27 interviews that
include fellow insurgents, historians and biographers. Only one family
member, Castro's elder brother Ramon, agreed to be interviewed.

West plans to release the film in Cuba in August, to coincide with Castro's
79th birthday, and at international film festivals in Toronto in September
and Amsterdam in November. It will also be shown on Cuban television.

The film shows pictures of Castro hunting and fishing, a love of nature that
later helped him survive in the mountains where his small band of rebels
held out against a brutal right-wing dictator, Fulgencio Batista.


At Jesuit schools, Castro learned discipline with no discussion allowed,
which he later demanded of his followers.

"The Jesuits taught him discipline and when he became a leader he was always
the unquestionable leader who would not stand opposition," West said.

Castro's university days developed his oratorical skills and turned him into
a man of action who inspired a movement of young idealists ready to die for
their cause.

The penniless young lawyer was so determined that there was no escape plan
if things went wrong in the 1953 assault on the Moncada barracks in Santiago
de Cuba.

"It was a suicidal plan, doomed to failure. Sheer idealism," West said.

The assault was repulsed and almost all the 120 attackers were killed or
captured, but it established Castro's leadership of a national movement that
would oust Batista in 1959.

Castro was convinced a revolution needed a strong leader and the political
movement had to come from the grass-roots: 90 percent of the Moncada
attackers were workers, not students. With the exception of Castro's younger
brother, none were Communists.

Castro and his insurgents were not reading Marx and Engels. They took their
inspiration from Cuban independence hero Jose Marti, who was killed in
battle, following his motto that to die for the fatherland is to live, West

It was two years after his rebels won in 1959 that Castro, facing American
antagonism and invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles, became more radical and
declared his government Socialist, turning to the Soviet Union for aid.

At odds since then with the United States, Castro has sought to weather the
collapse of the Soviet bloc and preserve the one-party Communist system.

"We wanted to bring out the other Fidel. What we see today is an elder
guerrilla giving endless speeches, but he is still the agitator he was as a
young man," West said.

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