Fidel Castro, a Life of Struggles for Social Justice

By Waldo Mendiluza

Havana, Aug 13 (Prensa Latina) The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro (1926-2016), would celebrate today 92 years, a day that Prensa Latina uses to remember passages of his life and his struggles for social justice.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926 in Biran, eastern province of Holguin. His father, Angel Castro Argiz, son of poor peasants from Galicia, was a wealthy landlord. His mother, Lina Ruz Gonzalez, came from a peasant family in the province of Pinar del Rio.

He learned to read and write in the rural public school of Biran and continued primary education in the private Catholic schools of La Salle and Dolores, in the city of Santiago de Cuba. He began high school studies at Colegio de Dolores and concluded them at Colegio de Belen, of Compañia de Jesus, in Havana, where he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in June 1945.

Jesuits priests spoke highly of young Fidel for his proficiency and school performance. He also stood out as an athlete and won the admiration and affection of all.

In September 1945 he enrolled at University of Havana to study Law, Social Sciences and Diplomatic Law. He involved himself in the political struggles the students were pushing forward and held leading posts in the University Students Federation.

As part of his political activity in those years, he organized and participated in innumerable acts of protest and denunciation against the political and social situation in the country. More than once he was beaten or imprisoned by the repressive forces.

Between July and September of 1947, when he was in third year, he enrolled in the expeditionary contingent organized to fight the regime of Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. The expedition trained at Cayo Confites. He was promoted to lieutenant, squad leader, and then to battalion commander.

The expedition, which was transported by ship, was intercepted by a frigate of the Cuban Navy. Fidel jumped into the water with his weapon to avoid being captured. He considered it a shame that the expedition ended up being arrested without a fight.

He came into contact with Marxist ideas when he was already a university student.

After his participation in the expedition against Trujillo, he traveled in 1948 to Venezuela, Panama and Colombia as a student leader, with the aim of organizing a Latin American Student Congress to be held in the latter country.

He was in Bogota when people revolted for the assassination of a Colombian leader in April of that year. He resolutely joined that struggle. He survived by pure chance.

Fidel graduated as Doctor in Civil and Diplomatic Laws in 1950. From his office, he devoted himself mainly to defend humble people.

When the coup d’etat of Fulgencio Batista took place, on March 10, 1952, he was among the first to denounce the reactionary and illegitimate nature of the de facto regime and called for its overthrow.

He organized and trained a large contingent of more than a thousand young workers, employees and students, who came mainly from the Orthodox Party ranks. With 160 of them, on July 26, 1953, he commanded the assault on the Moncada garrison in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo’s Carlos M. Cespedes military barracks (also in the former Oriente province), an action conceived to trigger the armed struggle against the Batista regime.

When the surprise factor failed, they were unable to reach their goal. He was taken prisoner by the repressive forces of tyranny a few days after the military setback and was held incommunicado for 76 days.

He was subsequently tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In a reserved and guarded environment, he assumed his self-defense before the court that tried him, and pronounced the allegation known as History Will Absolve Me, in which he outlined the program of the future Revolution in Cuba.

From prison he continued his work of denouncing the oppressive regime, while he matured his revolutionary plans and deepened the theoretical and ideological preparation of his companions.

As a result of strong pressure and popular campaigns, he was released in May 1955 with the rest of his comrades. In the weeks that followed he undertook an intense work of agitation and denunciation, and founded the July 26 Movement to continue the revolutionary struggle.

In July 1955, when it was impossible to continue the anti-Batista struggle by legal means, Fidel left for Mexico to organize the armed insurrection from exile.

Under precarious economic conditions and subject to close surveillance and persecution of Batista’s agents, he carried out an arduous organizational and preparatory work, while an intense campaign to spread the ideas and purposes of the insurrection movement continued.

With the motto that: ‘In 1956 we will be free or we will be martyrs’, Fidel, Raul, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ernesto Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and other distinguished revolutionaries trained doing long walks through the streets of Mexico City, mountain climbing, personal defense, guerrilla tactics and shooting practices.

On June 20, 1956, the head of the July 26 Movement, Che and other combatants were arrested, the ‘camp houses’ were discovered and an important part of the weapons were seized.

Despite growing pressures, the revolutionary conspiracy accelerated. They bought the Granma yacht, which sailed for Cuba at dawn on November 25, 1956, from Tuxpan River with 82 fighters on board, whose average age was 27 years.

After seven days at sea, they landed on December 2 in Las Coloradas, south-western coast of the former province of Oriente. Batista’s forces detected the landing and harassed the expedition members.

On December 5, the army of tyranny ambushed Fidel and his combatants in Alegria de Pio. The revolutionaries were decimated, several were arrested during the persecution and many were killed on the spot.

With the valuable collaboration of peasants, Fidel met Raul Castro in Cinco Palmas and regrouped what was left of the revolutionary force. He then left for the Sierra Maestra to continue the revolutionary struggle from there.

On January 17, 1957, he led the first armed action against Batista’s army against La Plata barracks and won his first victory. The Rebel Army began to grow and strengthen.

In his capacity as Commander in Chief, he led the military action, the revolutionary struggle of the rebel forces and the July 26 Movement during the 25 months of war. He had under his direct command Column I ‘Jose Marti’ and personally participated in almost all the operations, fights and most important battles during the war in the territory of the First Rebel Front.

After the resounding defeats of the elite troops of the tyranny, their commanders decided to recognize the rebel victory in the theater of operations of the province of Oriente, on December 28, 1957.

At dawn on January 1, 1959, Fidel led a revolutionary general strike to abort a coup d’état in the capital of the Republic, organized and promoted by the US Government. He entered that same day victorious in Santiago de Cuba and arrived in Havana on January 8.

At the end of the guerrilla struggle, he maintained his functions as Commander in Chief. On February 13, 1959 he was appointed Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government.

As the top leader of the Revolution, Fidel directed and participated in all actions undertaken in defense of the country, in cases of military aggression from abroad or actions by counterrevolutionary bands within the territory, especially the defeat of the invasion organized by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, known as Bay of Pigs, in April 1961.

A day before the invasion, he proclaimed on April 16, 1961, the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution. The following year he led the Cuban people in the days of the dramatic Crisis of October 1962

He served as Secretary General of the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations, and later as Secretary General of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba. From the Constitution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba in October 1965, his position was that of First Secretary and Member of the Political Bureau, which was ratified by the five Party Congresses held since then.

Fidel was elected Deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power, representing the municipality of Santiago de Cuba, in his successive sessions since the body’s creation in 1976, and from then until 2008 he held the positions of President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers.

He presided over official Cuban missions in more than 50 countries.

He received more than a hundred high Cuban and foreign decorations, as well as numerous honorary academic distinctions from higher education centers in Cuba, Latin America and Europe.

Fidel strategically directed the participation of hundreds of thousands of Cuban fighters in internationalist missions in Algeria, Syria, Angola, Ethiopia and other countries, and promoted and organized the contribution of tens of thousands of Cuban doctors, teachers and technicians who have served in more than 40 countries of the Third World. He opened Cuban universities to train tens of thousands of students of those countries.

He led the steadfast position of the Cuban people against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States for more than forty years and the economic consequences of the collapse of the European socialist community.

In addition, he promoted the tenacious effort of Cubans to overcome the serious difficulties resulting from these factors, their resistance during the so-called Special Period and the resumption of the country’s economic growth and development.

He also led the struggle of the island for the release of the five Cuban anti-terrorists sentenced to long sentences in the United States and for the return to their homeland of the child Elián González, kidnapped in the northern country.

Over the years, he promoted and led the battles of the Cuban people for the consolidation of the revolutionary process, its progress towards socialism, the unity of the revolutionary forces and the entire people, the economic and social transformations of the country, the development of education, health, sports, culture and science, defense, confronting external aggressions, leading an active foreign policy of principles, and actions of solidarity with peoples who fight for independence and progress.

Its legacy includes the defense of multilateralism, of Latin American and Caribbean integration, of a world free of nuclear weapons, of the environment and of peace, positions that it promoted in various international forums, including the United Nations.

He died in Havana, on November 25, 2016.

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