A close reading of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz’s speeches and interviews, his concept of Revolution seems to take on a special significance, which for decades has marked, and continues to mark, the political life of Cuba. This definition emphasizes a macro-historical change reflected in the process of decolonization and independence in Latin America.
It is worth recalling that after the conquest and colonization, and the 20th century wars of independence, the countries of this continent were subjected to political and economic domination by the United States.
In this context, the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel marked an important turning point. However, the objectives and achievements of this feat were by no means new; just has he did in History Will Absolve Me, Fidel drew a line of continuity between the country’s wars of independence and the Cuban Revolution, which triumphed in 1959, and was understood to be a process of profound change that would only be complete once the island had overcome external threats and achieved social justice for all.
In the closing ceremony of the International Conference for World Balance, January 29, 2003, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Cuba’s National Hero José Martí, Fidel stated: “Those of us who on July 26, 1953, resumed the struggle for independence begun on October 10, 1868, precisely 100 years after the birth of Martí, had learned from him the ethical principles without which one could not even conceive of a Revolution. From him we also received inspirational patriotism and a concept of honor and human dignity greater than anyone else could have ever taught us.”
For Fidel, Revolution meant a profound reshaping of the political and social structures of a country, as well as its values system. It represented a world that began with the promise of freedom and happiness, especially for the dispossessed, that would become an enormous and constant effort during which the greatest collective dreams were realized.
Of course, such projects do not function alone, but must be solidified within a broader framework, such as an ideology and a political project. The Cuban Revolution therefore, cannot be understood without considering Marxist-Leninist doctrine and the aim to build a socialist country.
Thus, in the same way that the Revolution makes Cuba what it is today, it has also provided the country with, in addition to the values historically held by the Cuban people, principles which set it apart from other such processes, just like the Comandante en Jefe stated on the 100th anniversary of the start of the Ten Years’ War, October 10, 1968:
“(…) and nothing will teach us better to understand what revolution is, nothing will teach us better to understand the process revolution represents, nothing will teach us better to understand what revolution means, than the analysis of the history of our country, than study of the history of our people and of the revolutionary roots of our people.”
The public speeches in which he refers to the start of the Cuban War of Independence in 1895, reveal the importance of the need he felt to promote a Cuban process of popular ideological development. The need to understand the times and change and preserve, in equal measure, all necessary elements, on the basis of a platform of principles which must be constantly updated in accordance with its historic function. This is why he described the people as political subjects of the Revolution.
If, in these speeches, one fails to notice the specific intentionality with which he seeks to combine, within the Cuban context, the three concepts of history, revolution, and people, his ideas in this regard are overlooked. Fidel was explicit about the links between one concept and another, depending on what each historic situation may require. In the same way, if his phrases are to serve as his legacy, we must go to the core and take them as a guide to action.
A REVOLUTION WITH A SENSE OF THE HISTORIC MOMENT
Fidel’s greatest ideological legacy, presented publicly May 1, 2000, was his concept of Revolution as a historic event understood as a process, in which a group of people, composed of the majority, resolve to achieve great goals or objectives. If we thoroughly analyze each point, we will realize that his concept of Revolution is a political testament to the Cuban people. Each definition not only describes what Revolution is, but also how to be a revolutionary, the kinds of values a revolutionary should have, and shows us the path to continue his work.
It is noteworthy how the Comandante en Jefe begins his concept by referring to history. This brings to mind how he turned the defeat of the Moncada Garrison attack into a victory and the driving force of the Revolution. And how the delayed Granma landing, and ambush at Alegría de Pío, didn’t prevent the expeditionaries from reuniting in Cinco Palmas, where short of weapons and men, Fidel stated: “Now, yes, we have won the war,” against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. And they did. These are just some early examples of the struggle, of what it means for revolutionaries to have a sense of the historic moment.
Over the years, this concept has, in every moment, provided the Revolution a guide to action even following the collapse of the Soviet Union and onset of the Special Period, when under Fidel’s leadership, we did what needed to be done at that historic moment, and despite difficulties the Cuban people resisted heroically.
Today, in order to develop a coherent political strategy, we must first analyze the realities of what is going on in Cuba and the world, the dangers and opportunities, what every individual thinks, wants or opposes; this is having a sense of the historic moment.
From this perspective, Fidel showed a constant concern for the present and future of the Cuban political process, because the present makes the future viable, through a position directed toward constructively changing reality and promoting active awareness of the great objectives to be achieved.
Hence the importance he placed on arming oneself with ideas and revolutionary concepts for the future; building ideological trenches without disregarding at the same time, trenches of stone, and making the youth the standard-bearers of these ideas.
Fidel was a master at using an educational approach and carefully considered the political-moral behavior associated with the political position he assumed. And he did so with the intention of presenting such content as concrete, historic proposals which encompass the revolutionary doctrine which forms part of national tradition.
In this way he contributed to conveying and detailing the concepts of revolutionary policy in the interest of shaping public opinion, of motivating the people, and closely linked to this, of developing individual consciousness around the distinctive nature of the revolutionary process, based on historical analysis.
This is why, for Fidel the sense of the historic moment is a political construction in dialogue between ideas and reality, aspirations and present demands, between theory and the specific problems of the nation and the people. But at the same time we also see his permanent awareness and consideration of the national and international context, and review of history, creating a reservoir of ideas to guide social action.
Likewise, Fidel Castro never ceased to push the course of history in the direction indicated by his ideological and doctrinal principles, which is why his political thinking goes beyond the present, no matter how important it may be, tending to think about it in relation to the near and distant future on the horizon - which makes him profoundly consistent in ideological terms and politically responsible.
This concept of Revolution shows us that victory is the only option. Fidel entered into immortality with the knowledge and assurance that the Revolution will continue to triumph. His concept of Revolution is an expression of his confidence that the Cuban people will continue to uphold the banners he taught us to defend.