The unbeated and eternal leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro raised against injustice and oppression since he was very young, as José Martí did, as well as Ernesto Che Guevara. And he found no other choice but fighting for a better life for his people.
He was always determined to bring justice and freedom for the Cuban people but to do so it was necessary to overthrow the ruthless Fulgencio Batista, who had come to power in a coup d’état in 1952. Batista’s government had protected the interests of the wealthy landowners. In order to control the populace, Batista had carried out torture and public executions, killing as many as 20,000 people. During his regime, Batista was supported—financially and militarily—by the United States. Indeed, the U.S. Mafia’s gambling, drug and prostitution operations flourished under Batista’s government.
So, Fidel and a group of revolutionary men, included his brother Raúl Castro, attacked Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. He was arrested, tried, sentenced to 15 years in prison. At his trial, he famously said in his defense, “Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me.” Finally, he was released in an amnesty deal two years later.
Then he went to Mexico and organized an expedition to come back to Cuba and fight Batista’s regime. On December 2, 1956, 82 men led by Fidel came on Granma yacht and started the war in the Sierra Maestra, and under his leadership, Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Che Guevara carried out the invasion to the western of the island provoking the collapse of the dictatorship on January 1, 1959.
Led by Fidel, the new Cuban government expropriated US-owned property, companies and holdings in Cuba. The United States responded with a punishing economic blockade. The CIA attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the revolution in the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, and they also tried to kill Fidel more than 630 times.
Human rights began to be respected in Cuba, and free education and health care was implemented for all, without exception and regardless sex, age, skin color and origin. Landlords were restricted in the amount of land so that the landless had the opportunity own some to grow crops to allow them to keep body and soul together.
Following José Martí’s thought “Cuba is humanity”, Fidel Castro practiced a unique form of internationalism. Nelson Mandela credited Cuba with helping to bring down the system of apartheid in South Africa. Cuba played a major role in the independence of Angola and Namibia.
Cuban internationalism, started with Fidel, and it is still goes on, to open the doors of solidarity with those nations needing help in education, road and house building, epidemiology, plague control, sports, and health care. The latter include the special service of the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade in case of natural disaster and pandemics, which has fought Ébola and the Covid-19 almost all over the world.
The actor-singer Harry Belafonte said: “If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!”