[Marxism] On the Seventh Day He Rested

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 7 20:07:08 MDT 2006

On the Seventh Day He Rested
By Mike Fuller

Havana, Aug 7 (Prensa Latina) Today is the seventh day since Fidel
Castro, the president of my country of residence, announced he would
take a rest from his mammoth workload to recover from stress-induced
physical injury.

This is a man who has been called tireless after 50 years of
unflagging dedication to the creation of a viable alternative to
island colonialism, and he has decided to let the concept continue on
its own for a while.

I have had the pleasure of simultaneously interpreting him to a
packed crowd of states people and once shook his hand at a dinner
with foreign visitors. On both occasions I was overwhelmed with his
clarity of thought and ease of relating to other people, and now I am
seeing what inspires such confidence.

When one works within a successful operation it breeds
self-assurance, and one of the most positive characteristics I've
seen about the project in Cuba is its capability for change.

It is not an accident that this process after half a century is still
called a Revolution, and I have had the unique experience of living
through 12 years of it. I cannot say how many times people have asked
me what I thought would happen when a certain leader dies.

I've always answered not much, the infrastructure is already in
place, and I don't see any ground shaking changes.

But it has had its wobbly moments, like upon my arrival in 1994, when
some other people were deciding to depart. As my bus from the airport
chugged through central Havana, there were what I later learned were
suspiciously synchronized street demonstrations, and Fidel had walked
into the middle of one to talk with the rubble rousers.

That evening as my solidarity brigade watched the TV, I remember the
leader saying he was "tired of being a US coast guard agent" and if
anyone wanted to leave he wouldn't stop him or her.

The next day thousands of us that stayed rallied in the Plaza de la
Revolucion while others shoved rafts over the seaside wall downtown
and started paddling northward.

In 1997, my Cuban wife was nursing our six-month-old boy and 500
meters from our living room we felt the explosion of a hotel bomb,
while one of two others took a life. Later they were linked to a
US-based group.

There have been other significant events like the creation of a third
currency to replace the US dollar, a papal visit, sweeping market
reforms, a complete agricultural overhaul, vicious hurricanes, an
international child kidnapping crisis and a group of Cubans snagged
in the US for trying to protect this country against more terrorist

And the system prevails.

A colleague of mine wondered why it should not, even in the case of a
life-threatened leader.

Advocating continuity instead of transition, he asked me "Did the US
change the system when Kennedy died?"

Fidel is recovering from intestinal bleeding, but he was not shot. So
maybe it's better to look at another overachiever like Franklin D.
Roosevelt. The creator of social security in the US went out after
headaches and a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the beginning of his
fourth term.

FDR was a major influence while in office, and it could be argued his
programs were decisive in forming what is still part of that
country´s liberal politics today.

And when he passed away the system continued.

The poor loved him, like they show adore the convalescent leader of
this country, and even though the US immediately offered to "assist
the transition in Cuba" the day after Fidel temporarily delegated his
responsibilities, it doesn't seem like any systemic change is in the

Perhaps instead of assist, influence is what the United States wants
to do, and it has even drawn up a scheme for its idea of how to exert
leverage in Cuba.

Touting "open markets and respect for human rights" it has heavy
funding and uses "persuasive and dissuasive tools," or even covert
operations to achieve its end.

But that doesn't seem likely either.

Last month my neighborhood Committees for Defense of the Revolution
president visited my home and explained the depth of her involvement.

The 36 year-old scientist works full time in a biochemical lab and is
a long time organizer in her community. She also organizes with the
Cuban Federation of Women, has staffed local election booths, and
says "here we are structurally committed to more egalitarian

If the United States will have a hard time assisting, influencing or
even attacking Cuba to bring on a transition, there is another
transformation well underway.

It involves unifying this part of the world against outside
interference, kicking against market dumping, cultural supremacy and
militarism, and it doesn't need any assistance from the US.

Latin America is entering a new moment, which for sure was inspired
by people like Fidel Castro, but it has other leaders like Hugo
Chavez and Evo Morales.

More important are the millions of hitherto underclass citizens
behind them, indigenous, women and landless, pushing for something
new, like Bolivia´s constituent assembly, a true voice of the people.

These movements occur with gratitude for their co-authors like Fidel,
evident in the get-well letters from all over the world except the
US, but will continue after them.

I have been pleasantly surprised in recent times to see education
reaching more remote areas, and I have seen solar panels on top of
rural schools. My son´s inner city primary school has a lab with half
a dozen computers. Education is also targeting different age groups,
with novel ideas like degree programs for senior citizens.

The energy effort, with better supply and increased conservation, has
reduced formerly nightmarish blackouts to an occasional bad dream,
and my household now contains efficient rice and pressure cookers.
Word has it the Soviet air conditioner growling next to me as I write
will soon be replaced by a purring new one.

The billboards read "To Educate Is to Create," and whether in
education, health or energy, revolutionary processes are alive and
thriving here.

The way Fidel smoothly transferred his responsibilities in them seven
days ago suggests there is something much greater than personalities,
rather principles, taking place.

He cited no less than seven people to take over his workload, an
experienced coalition versed in defense, economy, health, education
and foreign policy that will carry on the programs taking place.

And that´s why it is alright if he rests, for a while.

Mike Fuller is a US citizen and contributing editor at

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