Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Happy Birthday, Comrade Fidel!

To celebrate his 80th birthday, Fidel Castro can look forward with hope and confidence towards a speedy recovery after a successful operation and he can look back with pride over 47 years of government at the service of the Cuban people and rendering humanitarian services to the citizens of the world.

Unable to embrace Fidel Castro personally, unable to look into the eyes of this hero of Humanity, unable to see the human warmth in his smile and to hear the sharpness of his wit, all I can do as a journalist is to make a small contribution in the form of a short text.

It is not surprising that so few people in the international community know about the enormous humanitarian aid rendered by Cuba to developing countries because since 1962 the embargo imposed by the USA against Cuba has been almost total and the black-out has included a negative press (without a “them” there is no “us”), imposed by a country whose citizens are so free, that they are not even allowed to travel to Cuba to see for themselves what Fidel’s country is like, a country where the infant mortality rate is lower than the USA and Canada.

It was precisely the following year, in 1963, and despite this embargo, that the internationalization of Cuba began, supplying cooperation in the areas of education, healthcare and development without any interest in economic return. Living with the crippling embargo for almost half a century, nevertheless Castro’s Cuba today finances 28.000 healthcare workers, rendering services in 68 countries around the world, providing doctors and nursing services in the short term and fundamentally, training for future generations, one of Fidel Castro’s main preoccupations, witnessed by 19 faculties of medicine set up by Cuba in Africa and by the Escuela Latino Americana de Medicina, in Cuba, where the stay and course of 9,000 students from around the world is supported by Havana.

It is in these international humanitarian actions that Fidel Castro can derive just feelings of great pride and it is in the act of extreme generosity, offering a thousand doctors to the USA after hurricane Katrina, despite the blockade, that he can feel the satisfaction of his magnanimity, although the result was that the US authorities preferred to turn down the offer and lose thousands of people’s lives instead.

But it is also upon analysis of the internal situation in Cuba that Fidel Castro can feel the satisfaction and fulfilment of his great success. Despite Washington’s embargo, described as profoundly unfair by most members of the international community, imposed as a sort of temper tantrum because the north American elite lost their whore houses and drugs parlours in pre-Castro Cuba and continued as a means to strangle the socialist model, Fidel Castro managed to overcome the energy crisis of recent years, placing a variety of goods once again on the shelves of shops and the good external relations with Venezuela and the PR China allow for the continued success and expansion of the Castro model.

Comparing the Cuba of 2006 with that of 1959, when the regime of Fulgencio Batista (he who forbade political parties, he who suspended the Constitution, he who banned the strikes, he who kept rural workers in conditions of quasi-slavery) was overthrown by Castro, we can see very clearly the successes of Comrade Fidel Castro’s period of government.

The Cuban citizen today is not illiterate and ignorant, but enjoys education and cultural rates second to none in the continent and among the highest in the world; the Cuban citizen today does not have to beg to have access to healthcare, but has free access to the best levels of treatment on the planet; it is no longer a drama to find a house, for it is a birthright, as with a job, access to cultural activities in leisure time and a retirement pension while social mobility is guaranteed through personal qualities and not the identity of one’s parents.

Congratulations, Comrade Fidel! Feliz Cumpleanos!

Forgive our selfishness in asking you for at least a further twenty years so that we can celebrate your 100th birthday with you!

Hasta la victoria, siempre!

Viva la Revolucion!!

Viva Cuba!!

Viva Fidel Castro!!

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY

PRAVDA.Ru

Director and Chief Editor

Portuguese Version

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