Viva, Fidel Castro!

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Viva, Fidel Castro!

Louis E A
Moyston

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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On Saturday, November 30, I attended the meeting of the Jamaica Friendship Association in New Kingston. The gathering celebrated the life and times of Fidel Castro. The turnout and participation from a local Cuban solidarity group from Westmoreland was remarkable and wonderful. The speeches, of course, were complimentary and welcoming, especially from the diplomatic representatives of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. As I watched and listened to the presentation from the youth of the Petersfield Community Cuban Solidarity Group on Fidel, I began to have my own reflections of the man, the time, and the place.

I thought about the books on Fidel and Cuba that I used to buy at Sangster's Book Stores on Harbour Street, before I had direct contact with that country. Some of my favourite titles in the early 1970s are: Fidel Castro (in Sierra Maestro); History will absolve me; Episodes of guerilla warfare; The Bolivarian Diary by Che Guevara, and Venceremos, among others. I use this medium to applaud and compliment the group for their simple yet profound presentation.

Combined with the group presentation was a thoughtful and insightful documentary film on Fidel, lined by a piano-led musical theme that was moving.

In the history of the 20th century, when it is written, Fidel Castro will be a main character, not only for his revolutionary warfare that established the new republic, but also the impact of his revolution and politics across the globe, especially in Africa. Fidel, along with the other immortal, Che Guevara, established a path to liberation that was essentially Cuban and both are to be complimented for the “new man” philosophy that guided the young, socialist republic to the stage of being a most influential power in the world. This new man philosophy, a product of the revolutionary experience, informs a most successful system of education in that country and the world. This critical theory approach to education constitutes a feature of critical pedagogy, which is a form of transformative education that has to do with the liberation of the human spirit, and not just about preparing people for examination and work. One critical theorist argues that human activity consists of action and reflection; it is praxis inspired by critical pedagogy.

This idea of praxis is illustrated from Fidel Castro's observation of Che Guevara's note-taking and teaching during the years of the guerilla war in the Sierra Maestro, Cuba. According to Fidel Castro, “It was Che's habit during his days as a guerilla in writing down his daily observations in his personal diary.” It was the analysis of these experiences that were distilled from his diary and constructed a system of education and training for the combatants. The critical theory informed study calls for active learning as opposed to passive and/or rote learning. It calls for practical applications in teaching and learning to construct new knowledge and solve problems.

I traced the journey of Fidel from his experience in Central America to his episodes of guerilla warfare in Sierra Maestro to a 20th-century political and military force power that faced and defeated the powerful South Africa in Angola. It was this monumental victory that led to the liberation of Southern Africa: Angola, Namibia and South Africa. When the Ebola plague took root in West Africa, Cuba went to the rescue. As a relatively small country, with its meagre resources, it gives so much from the little it has. We in Jamaica have a lot to thank Fidel and Cuba for, and we should not be fearful of expressing that sense of gratitude and appreciation. In the end, truth, justice and the rights of man will triumph over might. I join the Cubans and that brave group from Petersfield in their chorus, “Viva, Fidel!”

Louis E A Moyston, PhD, is a university lecturer. Send comments to the Observer or thearchives01@yahoo.com.


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