Memories of January
By Graziella Pogolotti
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It seemed symbolic. The triumph had come with the new year. This time the rebels had entered Santiago and the invasion from East to West took place, led by Camilo and Che. From the remotest places in the world, looks turned toward the little Archipelago, so far unknown.
The overthrow of the dictatorship, which had a professional army trained and armed by the empire, overturned predictions of specialists, rectified by the bearers of common sense. It was the result of a strategy elaborated from a deep knowledge of the historical development of the country, of the analysis of the determining factors of yesterday’s setbacks and of the real contradictions latent in the background of the society. From this stratum was born the victorious popular army that, with its mane [hair], beard and necklaces, showed the unprecedented face of the nation.
For some, it was all over. In the midst of the general euphoria, Fidel was quick to point out that the most difficult battle had just begun. The project of social justice and the conquest of full sovereignty would encounter numerous obstacles. It would imply, among other things, an urgent task of collective learning, of acquiring the first letters to open up paths to science and culture, of understanding where we come from and becoming aware of the place we occupy in the world, because the conflict between exploiters and exploited is reproduced on a planetary scale.
To carry out this collective learning, thought, word and action were brought together into a single beam. The propitious environment was the multitudinous Plaza de la Revolución, but also the TV, a medium that favored the most intimate communication and accentuated the dialogic character of Fidel’s speeches.
In every circumstance, he would reveal the causes of things and from the tumult of ideas, the way to face problems would emerge. No matter how hard it was, the truth had to be shown in its clearest profiles. So it was with the unwavering defense of principles during the dramatic days of the October Crisis and much later with the early prognosis of the possible collapse of the Soviet Union.
With its tiny oligarchy subject to the interests of the empire, Cuba was carrying the scabs of the colony, denounced years ago by Rubén Martínez Villena. It was a destiny shared with many countries that, at the turn of the ’50s of the last century, were fighting to break the old ties. In the United States, the struggle for civil rights was gaining strength. It was not long before the Vietnam War produced a process of radicalization in the emerging generalization. Added to the anti-racist demands were the demands of women and those discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
In the United Nations, Cuba’s thoughts and words became an emancipatory voice. In an extensive speech that broke the established rules of the game, Fidel warned about the dangers derived from the imposition of neo-colonial forms of domination in the countries that had just gained political independence. His speech kept an expectant audience in suspense. At the Theresa Hotel in Harlem, he received the visit of outstanding personalities of the national liberation movement.
The murder of Patrice Lumumba, captured and tortured, was a sad example. Amilcar Cabral, one of the most lucid African leaders, disappeared. Che fell in Bolivia. The coup against Salvador Allende frustrated his reformist project and with the dictatorship of Pinochet, established by the Chicago boys, through the use of violence, the neo-liberal doctrine. In this way, transnationalized big capital imposed, a new form of colonial appropriation. The consequences are visible in Latin America with the growth of inequality and the exercise of violent practices aggravated by the expansion of drug cartels, the trafficking of persons to which those who aspire to emigrate succumb. The neoliberal resurgence also undermines the welfare policies implemented in the First World as safeguards against the model of a socialist perspective in Eastern Europe.
An attentive and critical observer of the passing of the contemporary world, Fidel warned early on of the dangers looming over our species. His call at that time transcended borders and ideologies. But the depredation of the planet has continued at an accelerated pace.
Apparently dispersed in discourses born from concrete circumstances, free from dogmatic ties, Fidel’s thought was prorojected with remarkable organicity and coherence, to the point of constituting an indispensable tool to continue accompanying us today.
With his ear attentive to the rumors of the earth, his vision encompassed the essential features of the planet’s events. Never axiomatic, he always went through the complex twists and turns of analyzing reality. We cannot fragment it. It is up to us to rescue it in its entirety.