Hasta Siempre, Comandante

Without a doubt more than a few eye-brows will be raised at the sight of my monthly column dedicated to the passing of Comandante Fidel Castro. It seems neither either orthodox, nor politically correct that a business strategy consultant to comment on such a controversial public figure; especially one who gained more detractors than supporters due to the direction taken by the Cuban Revolution in recent times.

I will never forget how he erupted onto the Latin American political scene when he was tried for the assault on the Moncada barracks (the real start to the Cuban Revolution), and when he proclaimed his now famous defence: 'History will absolve me'. Neither can I forget the rebellion of the Barbudos, the bearded revolutionaries, the battle of Sierra Maestra, and the overthrow of the Batista regime, all of which marked a turning point not only in the history of the New Continent, but also to some extent of the world.

The Cuban Revolutionary Movement generated a dynamic and a climate of change throughout Latin America in a number of ways. The Revolution stood up to the all powerful multi-nationals, brought hope to ordinary people, provided a voice for those calling for social justice, and ultimately, spurred the struggle for basic human dignity.

Despite the crippling boycott which the Cuban economy was subjected to, the first stage of the Revolution brought about enormous social progress. Examples abound: everyone, without exception, was ensured an education as well as high quality universal health care, fair and equitable income distribution, all of which translates into social equality. This was an example that inspired social reform in Latin America. 

Unfortunately for everyone, Castro opted for repression and dissidence in the later stages of his mandate, turning into an autocratic regime which barely defended human rights. What might have happened if the Cuban Revolution had not suffered persecution, isolation and embargo? Could it have become a new model of inclusive development in Latin America? Alas, we will never know.

I admit that I looked up to Castro during my youth. He helped me to understand the need to work for human dignity while fighting against social inequality, putting the common good above individual interests. It is this memory and its influence on me that have moved me to make this short commentary upon the recent passing of one of the most charismatic people of the 20th Century.

I shall always remember the Fidel Castro who said: "As long as there remains one sole Cuban who is going hungry and does not enjoy equal opportunity, we shall have to carry on fighting."

Fare ye well, Comandante.

Read the original article in El Economista.

Sabin Azua

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