‘No’ to pessimisM

540 Minutes with Fidel

We have to fight. We can’t let pessimism win. It’s our duty.—Fidel Castro

This call to duty comes from the person who, long ago, in a court of trial quoted Martí: “A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather, the path where duty lies […]” (Fidel Castro, “History will absolve me”) Of this person, Tad Szulc observes: “Cuban and world history would have evolved differently had this single individual been less determined […]” (Fidel: A Critical Portrait) And, of the same person, Raul Castro said : “The most important feature of Fidel’s character is that he will not accept defeat.” (Herbert Matthews, Castro: A Political Biography)

So, today, Fidel describes the current world period as “harsh and difficult, with everyone asking each other what to do […]”. In terms of the enemy, the aspect that concerns him most is that “they believe that they are in control, they try to impose things, but they are not in control. Nobody really knows what is happening.” Elucidating the point Fidel cited the situation related to Iran. “The principal truth is the danger of war”, he said. Fidel warned: “[T]he most dangerous aspect is that enemy forces are less and less in control of the terrible forces and processes which they have unleashed. This is the situation of the United States and Europe in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they can neither stay nor go.” (Arleen Rodríguez and Rosa Míriam Elizalde, “Nine Hours of Dialogue with the Leader of the Revolution”, Feb. 14, 2012)

Fidel reiterated the need to keep people informed, another news agency report said.

Fidel Castro was having a discussion in Havana. A Reuters news said: Fidel had a nine-hour discussion with intellectuals.

The meeting, “Encounter of Intellectuals for Peace and Environmental Conservation”, was participated by more than one hundred laureates in literature, history and social and natural sciences, eminent thinkers from 21 countries and Cuba including Cervantes Prize (the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world) 2005 winner prominent Mexican writer, translator and diplomat Sergio Pitol, and Nobel Peace Prize (1980) laureate Argentine sculptor, architect and pacifist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. They were attending the 21st International Book Fair of Havana. The discussions covered issues including the state of the world, possible extinction of humanity, exhaustion of the planet’s natural resources, perversions of media transnationals, military and mind control devices, and the 85-year-old comandante’s health. An intimate Fidel gave full attention to all the speakers during these 540 minutes with two brief recesses.

“He is the same Fidel as always”, said Ignacio Ramonet, author of Cien horas con Fidel (One Hundred Hours with Fidel), Spanish journalist, writer and former editor-in-chief of Le Monde diplomatique. The revolutionary’s inexhaustible curiosity was there. As the participants were expressing ideas, Fidel’s thoughts were live with expression; there was his habitual gesture–touching face with index finger or reflectively stroking his beard.

Daniel Chavarría, the Uruguayan-Cuban revolutionary, writer, and winner of the National Literature Prize, mentioned Fidel’s capacity for being ahead of events, of being a type of “historical prophesier”, a “tactical pessimist and strategic optimist”.

Stella Calloni, Argentine journalist and writer, cited the frightening silence of media and part of the left in the face of colonial wars unleashed one after another since 2001 and those threatening to follow the script in Syria and Iran. She called for greater coordination on the Defense of Humanity network. “If we cannot stop these wars, they will come down on us later […] Silence on the part of intellectuals, never again”, she said.

Award-winning Argentine journalist, novelist and politician Miguel Bonasso raised a burning issue: The latest British colonial aggression in the Malvinas. Fidel observed: “They have no choice but to negotiate and leave. What they have done is totally brazen: they even dispatched a destroyer and a helicopter with the Prince as a pilot. The Americans definitely won’t be very happy about that. The situation is not one of war, but pressure has to put on them.” “Pinochet’s no longer here; he was the one who helped the British in their last war on Argentina. They are desperate, and that’s the way in which they reacted when Uruguay recently vetoed the entry of a British ship flying the Malvinas flag. They have no business there, the only option left open to them is to leave”, Fidel said.

The dialogue turned amazing as Brazilian Marilia Guimaraes informed that architect Oscar Niemeyer, a friend of Fidel, is now 104 years of age. “His mind is extremely lucid and he often asks after ‘the 85-year-old boy.’” An amused Fidel asked “Why don’t we make a genetic study of him?” He wanted to know from German Harri Grünberg the way Germany plans to replace nuclear energy. Santiago Alba Rico, “Arab by adoption and a homeless European who, like many others, moves about defending Cuba”, was asked questions on the post-revolt situation in Tunisia–Rico’s present place of residence–its economy, agriculture, and its wine and date production.

Everything that Cuba has done for other peoples was without any desire for competitiveness, publicity or propaganda, Fidel said. He affirmed: The spirit of solidarity is part of the foundations of the Revolution that triumphed in January of 1959. In those years, Cuba had 6,000 doctors. Many of them left for the US when the economic and political blockade was imposed. However, at the same time, some of the professionals who joined the revolutionary process were also prepared to go to Algeria to help that country. “Thus Cuba’s internationalist tradition began”, Fidel noted. He recalled that “the initial aid for Angola was transported in the old Britannia aircraft that Cuba had.

Fidel’s all moves make news. His admirers and enemies keep eyes on him, on all news on him. The discussion with the intellectuals is significant as it brings notice to the deteriorating world situation. The days are much dangerous and uncertain since the Empire’s Iraq invasion days. “No other era in the history of humankind has experienced the current dangers humanity faces.” (Fidel Castro, “Marching toward the abyss”, Reflections, Jan.4, 2012) On the one hand, a section in people’s camp with their inert, ignorant brain is joining imperialists’ covert and overt invasions in the name of democracy, and on the other, capital is cementing ties with one of its old allies, retrogressive forces, while the inert brains join the alliance. Fidel, Guerrillero del tiempo, Guerrilla of Time, in this situation, calls to practice “honorable politics” that should be upheld and practiced at all costs

Vol. 45, No. 8, Sep 2-8, 2012