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Date: 26/11/16

The Last Revolutionary?

Photo of Fidel Castro in his office, 1985

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
Revolutionary, politican
b. 13 August 1926, d. 25 November 2016

Right, let's get some things clear, shall we?

Fidel Castro was not a democrat; his régime was often characterised by serious mis-steps in practical, ethical and ideological terms. This - combined with a degree of control-freakery common to all autocrats - led to his government and his nation being the objects of ridicule even from beyond the ranks of the self-righteous 'liberals' who pronounced against him in their wholly-owned corporate newspaper columns. He could (and frequently did) out-bluster any other national leader during his long period of power. Levels of poverty in Cuba remained stubbornly high up to and beyond his term. Oh, and let's carrying on jeering at the sight of sixty-odd-year-old Studebakers trundling around Habana, held together by little more than ingenuity, desperation and piety, shall we?

If all of that is true, or if this is all that is true, then why was Fidel Castro such a towering figure in the second half of the last century, and why does his influence continue today (albeit in attenuated form)?

Perhaps we should bear in mind the achievements of his revolution (and, despite the downplaying of these by our own free, fearless and total independent media right up to today's obituaries by such luminaries of sneer as Rory Carroll, the Guardian's go-to guy for misinformation on Latin America, achievements there definitely were):

Perhaps the one word which most adequately sums up the man and his actions is 'defiant'. His Cuba stood - latterly alone after the collapse of the Soviet bloc - as a reminder that there were other ways - however flawed - of doing things, that it is possible to so order a society and economy that its benefits accrue more equitably, and that it was possible for even a small nation in the shadow of a very large and aggressive neighbour to withstand the pressures of such a position. In the mono-pole world in which we have existed for the last twenty-five years, there is an attraction in such an example, and it may be this which will prove to be Fidel Castro's most enduring legacy.