Happy Birthday, Fidel
|Fidel at home, October, 2010|
Today marks Fidel Castro's 85th birthday.
There is ample cause to celebrate this milestone in the life of a man who remains an inspiration the world over to those who aspire to find a better way to live than one in which a tiny minority, not through any merit of their own but by happenstance of birth, connections, or through sheer ruthlessness enjoy the best of life at the expense of the vast majority, who are left struggling to get by.
As Americans watch their living standard deteriorate and learn first hand how it is to be on the receiving end of the relentless drive of the Capitalist class for the accumulation of wealth, it is worthwhile to remember what Fidel stands for.
"He is a redwood. Everything else has been clear-cut around him," Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison has said of Fidel, referring to the moral authority he has gained over the decades by such acts as sending thousands of Cuban medical and eye doctors free of charge to the poorest parts of the third world, to being first on the ground with relief to earthquake-ravaged Haiti while the Americans dithered over how to assure security for US troops, to sending Cuban troops to Africa for an intervention that Nelson Mandela credits with turning the tide in black South Africa's struggle for freedom.
Michael Chossudovsky, editor of the newsmagazine Global Research, who visited Fidel last fall, in an article today reflects on Fidel and his significance, updates us on how Fidel spends his days keeping abreast of world events and writing his weekly columns and includes photos that offer rare glimpses into Fidel's private life, including photos of his wife, Dalia Soto del Valle.
Fidel stands as a symbol humanity, and of Socialism, in the very shadow of the American Empire, whose elites are terrified of the idea that the world's wealth should be shared equitably. He has assured the survival of his little island nation, where health care and higher education are free, where you are guaranteed a job and a place to live, during the brutal, 50-year old American blockade. He has survived dozens of US attempts to assassinate him. He has outlasted president after president, CIA chief after CIA chief, and the likes of racist swine like former NC Senator Jesse Helms who as head of the foreign relations committee promised that Fidel would leave Cuba, and that it didn't matter to Helms if he did it in an upright or horizontal position.
Helms is now horizontal.
Fidel, as always, stands tall, and as long as people dream of a better world, always will.
Happy Birthday, Fidel.