Reflections by Comrade Fidel
SINCERITY AND THE VALUE OF BEING HUMBLE
Any autobiographically tinted writing forces me to clear up any doubts about decisions I made more than half a century ago. I am talking about subtle details, since the essential points are never forgotten. This is the case of what I did in 1948, sixty years ago.
it as if it were yesterday when I decided to incorporate myself to the
expedition to liberate the Dominican people from the
When I decide to travel to Colombia with the idea of promoting the creation of the Federation of Latin American Students, I could not say today, with all certainty, that among the aims there was also the concrete idea of impeding the founding of the Organization of American States, OAS, being promoted by the United States; this is a precocious vision which I am not sure I had yet reached.
The exceptional historian and master of detail, Arturo Alape, who interviewed me 33 years after the events, reproduces some of my answers where I affirm that this was part of my intent in my trip to Colombia in 1948.
Germán Sánchez, in his book Transparency of Emanuel, quotes verbatim a paragraph from the Alape interview: “During those days, confronted by the OAS meeting of 1948 which had been instigated by the U.S. to consolidate its system of control here in Latin America, I came up with the idea so that, at the same time as the OAS meeting and in the same location, we would have a meeting of Latin American students backing these anti-imperialist principles and defending the points I had already expressed”.
edition of that very interview, published in
As a sole resource to dissipate the doubt, I have attempted to reconstruct the aims moving me at that time and up to which point the political evolution of someone was reaching, someone who, just two and a half years earlier, was finishing his twelfth grade education in schools run by priests. I was a rebellious person whose energies had been channeled into playing sports, exploring, climbing mountains and examining the pertinent school subjects with as much knowledge as time would permit, simply as a matter of honor.
Something I was quite aware of during my school years were the news printed daily about battles, from the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 –I had not yet reached my 10th birthday-- until August 1945 --I was about to turn 19-- when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as I related at one point .
From a very young age I suffered the injustices and prejudices of the society in which I was living.
contacts with students from these three countries had been fruitful: they
agreed with the Congress and with the idea of creating the Federation of Latin
American Students. In
Colombian university students put me in contact with Gaitán. Thus I had the honor of meeting and talking
with him. He was the undeniable leader
of the humble sectors of the Liberal Party and of the progressive forces in
sister country, a meeting of representatives from the governments of
myself whether I had advanced in my ideological development to such a point as
to propose to myself the bold idea of obstructing the creation of that
supra-national institution. In any case,
I was against the tyrannies which were represented there, the occupation of
Puerto Rico and
that amazed me was reading, in the Colombian press, the news about the
massacres that were taking place in the countryside under the conservative
government of Ospina Pérez. There would usually
be information about dozens of peasants being murdered during those days. It was a while since something similar had
Things appeared to be so normal that in the theatre where they were holding an official gala and where Marshall and the other representatives from the countries meeting in Bogotá were present, I made the mistake of dropping from the top floor some leaflets outlining our program. This resulted in my being arrested, and two hours later I was released. It seemed that it was a perfect democracy there.
To get to know Gaitán and his speeches, such as his Prayer for Peace, as well as his eloquent, impressive and well founded defense of Lieutenant Cortés –which I heard from the outside because there was no room inside– was something unexpected. As for me, I had just barely finished two years at the Faculty of Law.
Our second meeting with Gaitán and other university representatives was set for April 9 at 2:00 in the afternoon. I waited for the time of the meeting with a Cuban friend who accompanied me, walking up and down the avenue close to the little hotel where we were staying and to Gaitán’s office, when some fanatic or crazy man, no doubt instigated, shot the Colombian leader; the assailant was ripped apart by the people.
moment, the unimaginable experience I lived through in
Arturo Alape traveled to
I had a
lot of fresh memories of the events I could not forget; for his part, the
historian knew everything that had happened on the Colombian side, many details
which I naturally didn’t know about and this helped me to understand the
meaning of each of the episodes I lived through. Without him, maybe I would never have known
about them. However, he was still
lacking one task: to transcribe everything on tape with his people; the other recording
was transcribed in the Palacio de
I think that the mixture of historical events before and after the triumph of the Revolution resulted in a probable state of confusion in my mind. That’s what I am thinking and, in the case of any doubt, the most honorable thing is to explain it.
three years my political ideas had radicalized before my visit to
Subsequently, the struggle in the Sierra Maestra followed, lasting 25 months, and the first victorious combat with only 18 weapons, after our small troop of 82 men was almost wiped out on December 5, 1956.
In the files of the International Red Cross there are records of hundreds of prisoners we returned after the last enemy offensive, in the summer of 1958. In December of that year, there wasn’t enough time to call in the International Red Cross in order to hand over prisoners. With the promise of not fighting, the soldiers in the units surrendering handed over their weapons and remained mobilized and unarmed, while the officers kept their rank and small fire-arms, awaiting the end of the war.
all of that is in the distant past, nobody can imagine the value of a work such
as that of Arturo Alape; he wrote an excellent book about the phase of
revolutionary struggle in
From all of this, the true revolutionary can draw a permanent lesson: sincerity and the value of being humble.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 17, 2008