Fidel with adolescent girls in La Mota, a remote settlement in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Photo: Korda, Alberto

I would have entitled this article The humanist and the humanism of Fidel, if it hadn't been too long. There are enough experiences to corroborate his particularities in this area. Time and again, events that demonstrate this come to my mind, ones which I have witnessed at different times. I have referred to them, and many others, in my work as a journalist.


I have never witnessed such a delightful conversation between Fidel and a group of adolescents, about life and knowledge. I still have the scratch pad with the notes I took, although I incorporated the event into an article.

I was sitting on a stool, as was common when Fidel went around the countryside, surrounded by people. But this was a spot fairly removed from town, on the southern coastline of Oriente, near Mota, where he visited the home of “Old man” Cardero, a man of the mountains. Family members and friends of the campesino were arriving. In this environment, outside the bohío, he spoke with a group of adolescents with whom he had been exchanging impressions that afternoon at the same location:

"A while ago, you told me about a friend of yours who lost her house during the hurricane, and needed someone to build her another one, but also, about the movie theater in Yara. Do you think we should first solve the problem of the theater or the woman's house?" Fidel asked one of the girls. She answered that the house should come first.

The girl, Hilda, said more, "The park in Yara isn't finished, and the cows go in there."

"Well, that's not good. A park must be taken care of," Fidel responded, and went on to talk more about his life, pastimes, and aspirations.

"Why doesn't your friend speak up, what's her name?" Fidel inquired.

"Her name is Marta, but I don't why she doesn't say anything," she answered and, right away, the person mentioned spoke.

"I was listening to you," she explained, and Fidel continued the dialogue. He asked her age and if she was working or going to school.

"I had a boarding school scholarship, but I had to give it up, to come help my mother because she was sick, and my siblings are boys," she responded.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Fidel asked.

Marta didn't answer, but Hilda commented, "Seems like there's something more…"

"So, you had a boyfriend, he dropped you, perhaps because you were away?" Fidel continued.

"He got married," she said.

"And you're still thinking about that man? He showed he didn't love you, we can arrive at that conclusion," said Fidel, and another member of the group, Sofia, spoke up.

"What she needs to do is fall in love again. There are a lot of good men around."

"You are sure right! You're very intelligent, but this afternoon, you hid inside there and when I asked you if you were going to school, you answered that you weren't interested," Fidel said to Sofia, and continued.

“Later you said you were going to study. I thought that response of yours wasn't heartfelt, and I discovered at the table that you are intelligent.”

"I was observing," she answered. "First I observe things, and speak later."

"Where did you learn this philosophy you have? You don't hit the ground without knowing the terrain, right?"

"That's it, but I didn't learn it anywhere. It's mine. I think things over and analyze them," Sofia answered smiling. She was the smallest of the three girls.

“We're going to the beach tomorrow," she said, "Why don't you come, to get to know it?”

"Is it close to here?" Fidel wanted to know.

"Yes, over there on the coast. You going to come?" Sofia insisted - her personality was coming out.

"I'm not going to promise, because we need to leave early," Fidel answered. When the girls left, the leader of the Revolution talked a good bit about the dialogue, "How many situations and personalities there are around here in the mountains! A mistaken conception exists presenting campesinos as inept, ignorant people. The conversation we had with these girls proves the opposite." His comments were extensive and instructive.


The helicopter flew over Birán. Local guajiros seemed to perceive Fidel's arrival everywhere.

"It's rained around here, look how green these pastures are," he commented with satisfaction. He was glued to one of the helicopter's windows, looking at the fields.

Captain Venero and Lieutenant Carrión flew the craft along the route Fidel indicated verbally. Once on the ground, he was surrounded. An old Haitian, among several, approached Fidel.

"Young man!" he says, and Fidel recognizes him.

"Piti, how are you? And the throat problem?" he asks.

"Good now, so-so," the Haitian responds, and Fidel turns to another older man, asking, "What's going on, Jesús?"

"I had a stroke, Fidel, chico."

"But you look good. Did you retire?" Fidel encourages him.

The Haitian confirms the supposition and another campesino adds details, saying, "Fidel, almost all the Haitians have retired."

Educators couldn't miss this moment. The teachers of the "August 6th" - as they call Birán - approach and tell Fidel how the school is doing.

He comments, "Now everyone who wants to can study," and says goodbye amidst shouts of, "Come back, Fidel, to come to the batey."