It could be claimed that for Socialists alone the passing of Fidel Castro is the loss of a leader. For the inhabitants of Cuba that is self-evidently true. In another sense there are many who don’t realise they have lost a champion who in the last decade of his life wrote about the most challenging issues facing humanity. This includes climate change and the threat of a nuclear conflagration. Donald Trump, who declares himself as challenging the world’s elite and status quo, dismisses him as a “brutal dictator”, while at the same time declaring what he will do to millions settling in the United States. Trump’s potential ally, Vladimir Putin described Fidel Castro as “a symbol of a whole era in modern history. The free and independent Cuba that he and his associates built has become an influential member of the international community and has served an inspiring example for many countries and nations.”
Castro did not personally attend the Copenhagen conference on climate change, but he writes about the contributions of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, Venezuelan and Bolivian Presidents and close allies of his. This is just one of the recurring themes in his writing expressing concern about the well being of all people on the planet. On the question of nuclear war he wrote to the leadership of North Korea issuing a warning that the outcome of such a conflict would benefit no one, at the same time reminding the US about their responsibility.
Cuba has scarce resources, added to by a US imposed embargo, yet medical and educational aid has been sent to many countries across the world, their staff not regarded with the same suspicion as those coming from many other nations. Early on in the Cuban Revolution health and literacy were targeted with remarkable results comparable and exceeding so-called developed nations.
Across nations in South America, the Caribbean and Africa Cuba has been an active friend benefitting from Cuban doctors, nurses and teachers. Nelson Mandela saw him as a leading ally in the struggle for freedom from the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Cuban medical aid had already been set up in Haiti when disaster struck this poverty stricken island. Not only did Cuba respond with more aid, including doctors equipped with packs enabling them to reach remote areas not otherwise given help, but Castro wrote passionately about the reasons why Haiti was so poor. A lead was taken in sending help to West African countries fighting an Ebola epidemic while richer countries were still disorganised in providing aid.
The question is now what will become of Cuba and its essential work at home and in disaster stricken areas of the world. It is a phenomenal achievement by anyone’s standards. Donald Trump and others who would see a return to the gangster controlled Batista regime should stand back and take a long, hard look at what supporting people means.