[Marxism] Fidel and I, and a nation unforgiven

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Sat Mar 11 12:45:17 MST 2017

What I wrote when Fidel died. I just transferred it to my blog, thought 
I'd share it here.


*  *  *


Over the past few days many people have asked me what I thought of 
Fidel's death. I've done a few press interviews, and to my surprise, I 
found it difficult to formulate an answer, and I think I've finally 
figured out why.

I was a 7-year-old Cuban kid from a millionaire family who had no clue 
everything in his life would be upended by the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

And I was an increasingly rebellious Cuban exile adolescent in Florida 
in the late 1960s who did not recoil when he realized he was being 
increasingly attracted to the ideals of Fidel and Che.

I did not realize then, I could not possibly have known, that these 
circumstances would shape the rest of my life.
Yet they have, and they should not have. That is my reaction to the news 
about Fidel.

Decades ago, the Cuban revolution --and with it the figure of Fidel 
Castro-- should have receded from politics into history. It took 20 
years, give or take, for the United States to accept the reality of the 
other great revolutions of the 20th Century, the Russian, the Chinese 
and Vietnamese. The old disputes were negotiated and settled: "borrón y 
cuenta nueva," we Cubans say, wipe the slate clean and start over.

But it never happened with Cuba.

Donald Trump will become the twelfth American head of state to preside 
over the economic blockade Eisenhower initiated as part of the 
preparations for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Yet the great majority of those that fought at the Bay of Pigs are now 
dead. Those of us who have even the vaguest childhood memories of those 
days are now on Medicare. Isn't it time to let go?

It was time to move on decades ago. But we can't. The blockade --the 
economic war against Cuba-- still goes on. The forcible, violent 
occupation of part of Cuba's national territory still goes on. And the 
insistence of the Americans that they --and not Cubans-- have the right 
to decide Cuba's fate goes on.

What Fidel did was to head the fight for the Cuban people's right to 
self-determination. That, not socialism, not being pals of the Russians, 
not helping to wipe South African apartheid from the face of the earth, 
was his greatest crime.

And that crime could not have been anything but the collective crime of 
the Cuban Nation. So even a death certificate with his name on it cannot 
expiate it. And even with his body in ashes he remains in the fight.

Fidel hasn't died because the Americans won't let him. Even now, the 
United States will not accept that they could not break him, or the 
Cuban people. And until they do accept it, Fidel will remain part of the 

Even in death, he remains unforgiven. The battle he fought, that he 
dedicated his life to, remains unresolved. His people, the Cuban people, 
remain undefeated.

Some day I will reflect on Fidel's death, perhaps in mourning of his 
passing or in celebration of his life. But that day will come when the 
battle he still leads is won.

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