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November Sunday

Five years after Fidel's physical departure

It’s been five years since the dramatic date of November 25, 2016, the day when our people and the world learned the news that seemed it would never happen: Fidel had died. Bidding him a farewell compelled to reflection on his legacy, founded on the immensity of the historical challenges he overcame to achieve the great work of emancipation of his Homeland, a fate otherwise forbidden for a small Island very close to the most powerful empire in history and which nevertheless managed to prevail and fulfill its dreams.

He was one of those great historical personalities who found early guidance under a tutor’s wing. Fidel was his own guide and his qualities did not escape the accurate presage of the Jesuit priest and professor at the Colegio de Belen, the Spaniard Armando Llorente, who considered him his best student and wrote in his assessment: "I always saw in Fidel Castro the makings of a hero and was convinced that the history of his homeland would one day have to talk about him".

The noble Jesuit was not wrong, although he did not really imagine the destiny of his pupil whose early youth was enough to rise above the frustrating efforts of the nascent imperialism to thwart the Cuban pro-independence project and the dogmas that paralyzed the revolutionary movement on grounds that it was impossible to make a revolution against the repressive army.

He headed the Centennial Youth and tried to conquer the eastern skies on July 26, 1953, attacking the barracks Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo, respectively.

He suffered a military defeat, and almost half of his comrades were savagely murdered right at the barracks, in the fields and in roadside ditches, but he got over what for anyone else would have been a lifelong lesson to lie low and never again tempt providence by heading for the uncertain course of a Revolution in the making.

The people recognized Fidel as the brave young rebel who gave them a pamphlet with a title that already anticipated victory: History Will Absolve Me, his defense in the trial for the Moncada events, in which he denounced the unequaled murders of his comrades, the sullied rights and the ruling injustice and, above all else, hailed the revolutionary project that he guaranteed with the defeat of the dictatorship.

Then came the fruitful imprisonment of the revolutionary leader and his comrades, his release by popular pressure, his exile in Mexico, the preparation of the new stage and the landing of the Granma yacht on December 2, 1956, turned into a second harsh blow that only 12 fighters survived.
When they met days later at Cinco Palmas, Fidel reassured them of their ultimate victory, an all but insane prophecy that came true a little more than two years after fierce combats, setbacks and, finally, definitive victories that made possible the First of January 1959. He was ahead of his time, however. Once in Havana, in the midst of the celebrations, he warned that from then on everything would be more difficult, and he was right.

He had to lead a people for more than 50 years, facing all forms of military aggression, terrorism, blockade and media campaigns that failed to prevent the birth of the Cuban Revolution and socialism right under the US’s nose. Reluctant to accept defeat after 62 years, the US made the most of a terrible pandemic to tighten its blockade and implement the most innovative subversive strategies of the digital and real worlds, only to reap further defeats at the hands of Fidel's people.

His life was governed by Marti's maxim that "all the glory of the world fits in a kernel of corn", and his last wish was that his cult should not take the form of monuments, nor that his name should honor any work.

Although it would be an act of justice, he does not need those tributes to live on or be remembered only in important dates. It is enough that his teachings and example as undefeated Commander remain alive in our people, who never stop to storm the skies as he taught and stand up to the new challenges and dangers facing the Cuban nation.

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