“I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is, in your hearts, a vestige of love for your country, humanity, justice listen carefully…condemn me. History will absolve me.” Fidel Castro said these words during his trial in 1953 defending his actions and fearlessly declaring his political views.
On Tuesday, 19th of February, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, 81, retired as the Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban armed forces, after being in power for 49 years.
Castro’s younger brother and first Vice President of Cuba, Raul Castro, is expected to be nominated and designated as the next President.
Castro’s health had been deteriorating since a long time and he had not made a public appearance for the past 19 months, after undergoing a stomach surgery. He finally announced his retirement on Tuesday.
In his speech he said, “To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me as a Member of the Parliament. I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept the position of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief.”
Castro gained power in 1959 when he overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Cuba.
Highly influenced by the Marxist movement, Castro got involved in the Cuban politics after realizing the strong corporate influence of the United States in Cuba. He will always be remembered as an enigmatic leader best known for his long speeches in his green military fatigue. He is admired for standing up to the US fearlessly.
There were several attempts to overthrow his regime. In 1961, the CIA-trained Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs, rebelling against Castro’s rule, though the US publicly denied their involvement. Castro made a direct statement to the superpower, “If Mr. Kennedy does not like socialism, we don’t like imperialism.”
The US which always considered communism as a threat, were afraid of its spread. At a point like this, when Cuba declared itself as a Communist nation in 1961, they imposed an impediment against their next door neighboring communist state, which also included American citizens traveling to the communist nation.
The Cubans, who knew that the retirement news will be out officially sooner or later, were not surprised. They knew, for a while, that he won’t come back. They had got used to his absence. According to researchers, Castro’s retirement won’t bring about any change in Cuba and nor would it bring happiness on the faces of Cuban exiles who await their return.
He also included in his message, that this won’t be a farewell and he will continue fighting as a solider in the battle of ideas, through his writings under the heading of ‘Reflection of Comrade Fidel’.
He might be criticized by his antagonists as a dictator, but for his countrymen he was always a charismatic leader.
Its ironic how the Revolution Square that once witnessed his speeches inspiring the masses, just had one single solider guarding the Government Headquarters yesterday.
The legendary figure who inspired Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, popularly known as Che Guevara, the leader of the guerrilla forces, and the icon who had the mettle to stand up against capitalism and the individual who faced the emerging superpower nation without fear, all sum up to two words — Fidel Castro.
[image courtesy: http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/195366752/sizes/o/]