by Sabina Becker
…but the unnamed snotball who wrote this for the Canadian Press? Oh yes.
Look, CP presstitute-person, whoever you are, hiding behind your tradition of unsigned editorial cowardice…I understand that you may not like Fidel Castro, but it’s still a fact that he is FAR more popular in all the Americas than Harpo is up here. And the reason for his popularity, not that it matters to the likes of you, is simple: He has kept mafias and monopolies from dominating Cuba. In other words, he stands for Cuban sovereignty. Or, to put it another way: He kicks Stephen Harper’s sweater-vested ass.
Obviously our silly scribes up here in the no-longer-so-great North have no idea how popular the Cuban Revolution actually still is. They seem to think that it was only popular for the time it took to drive out Fulgencio Batista. And that once Fidel revealed himself to be a Marxist-Leninist, it all went downhill.
There is a reason why Fidel lived to retire as president, rather than being killed or forced to flee like any other dictator. And that is the fact that he remains popular. He kept all his promises from the outset of the revolution, starting with land reform; he made sure that his own family’s hacienda was among the first to be nationalized. Of course that didn’t sit well with his mother, who probably had been counting on her sons’ taking up the family tradition of land-owning aristocracy, but…oh, well. Fidel and Raúl, and all their fellow barbudos, made good on their promises to the point of living up to them personally, which is why there is still so little opposition to them today. Had they gone the route of their Russian counterparts, who made a big point of calling each other “comrade” while owning luxurious dachas in the best parts of the country, Cuba too would probably have fallen to predatory capitalism after the Berlin Wall came down.
Instead, Cuba weathered even the worst, the so-called Special Period. Cuban cars are still running, decades after their US counterparts were all either junked or enshrined in automotive museums. Cuban gardeners grow fresh organic vegetables in communal gardens, even in downtown Havana. Cuban pharmaceutical plants, even without massive foreign capital investment, are turning out drugs that work; a recently developed anti-cancer injection, derived from the venom of a native species of scorpion, enjoys such high regard that people are coming from as far away as Italy to receive it. And Cuban medical schools are training doctors from all over the Americas, for careers that will take them not to lucrative private practice, but to helping the sick who need them most. And those can be found in the poorest parts of Latin America, not to mention the ghettos of the United States and…dare we say it? Yes, we do…the native reserves of Canada.
Meanwhile, Cuban educators are teaching people all over Latin America to read and write; Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have now joined Cuba in being declared free of illiteracy by the UN. It would appear that the Cuban literacy program, developed during the revolution by Fidel’s band of barbudos even during the fighting in the Sierra Maestra, has paid dividends!
Canada and the US do not enjoy such distinction. It seems that our politicians are more interested in starving the public systems of funding than they are of making sure that we occupy a real place of pride in the world. It is as if they were actively conspiring to make sure that the corporations own and enslave us all, and that we learn only how to adapt to that, and not to think for ourselves.
That is most emphatically NOT the case with Cuba.
Cuban schoolchildren learn to analyze world events in a way that would bring tears to the eyes of any social-studies teacher up here. They are certainly not cut off through dictatorship or communist propaganda. They do in fact receive news of current events from the outside world, and what I have read in the Cuban media convinces me that it is honest, accurate and uncensored. The only thing lacking there is money, and this is not because of Fidel and his bullheaded adherence to Marxism; it’s because of the US and its bullshit adherence to its economic blockade. Not for nothing does Fidel draw the distinction between them and us; remember, Canada has always had normal relations with Cuba. Canadians have been able to travel there freely when US citizens were actively forbidden by their own government…or when that same government sent them there to spy, and to try to spark a counter-revolution. We all know how well THAT has turned out so far: 638 failed assassination attempts against Fidel. A Guinness world record!
Meanwhile, Fidel remains alive, retired, but still writing. And thumbing his nose merrily at it all.
And now our lovely corporate media is also touting the stupid party line from south of our border. Even the supposedly fair and impartial CP has gotten in on the game; shameful.
Unlike Fidel, I don’t have the time or the space here to give them a more thorough history lesson. Or the inclination, really. All I can do is suggest that they start by reading Che Guevara’s Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War; they might then start to get an inkling. They might also want to watch Steven Soderbergh’s two-part film on the life of Che; it’s a well-wrought and mostly faithful rendering of the actual events. (I have to say, though, that I feel bad for any actor who’s ever played Che; not only was the original much handsomer, he also had far better lines.)
And above all, the CP needs to start hiring fact-checkers again. It’s really fucking embarrassing when a little blogger like me has to school them on the very basics.
Or, for that matter, to remind them to keep a civil tongue in their heads.