A seminar on ‘Fidel’s Legacy for Cuba, Latin America and the World’ was organised by the Friends of Latin America-India at Sahid Surya Sen Bhavan in Kolkata on February 19. The organisation secretary Suman Putatunda started the programme, discussing how Fidel Castor had transformed his country and later, the rest of South America as a symbol of resistance and social justice to the oppressed millions of this planet.
The first speaker, eminent economist Prabhat Patnaik, spoke on the genesis of the Cuban Revolution. He explained how the first attack on Moncada barracks, led by the young and fiery Fidel, were carried out by a handful (120 to be precise) of revolutionaries. The attempt failed, 70 of the rebels were assassinated after being captured and 26 of the survivors including Fidel handed out long-term jail sentences. However, the spirit did not die. Sacrifice of the young revolutionaries, in fact, became inspiration for the oppressed Cubans and became famous as July 26Movement. After Fidel and his brother Raul Castro were freed, they headed to Mexico. After sometime, they returned to Cuba with Che Guevara and 80 fighters on a small boat, named Granma, and started a guerrilla war that culminated in the final victory.
He said Fidel would not call himself a Marxist till he was confronted with stringent conditionalities by the IMF during his visit to the USA after the revolution. This is when he realised that the one, who is really concerned about the people, has to be a Marxist. Despite the tremendous odds after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Fidel, true to his Marxist ideals, courageously carried out international revolutionary obligations that he felt Cuba should undertake. One such example of his internationalist traits is when Fidel sent Che with a handful of Cuban forces, as early as in 1961, to Congo for training guerrilla forces fighting the West-backed strongman Mobutu Sese Seko. The Che-led revolutionary expedition to Bolivia two years later is now history.
The next speaker, Prof. Mihir Bhattacharyya, spoke on religion in Cuban context and elaborated the deep Catholic faith that pervades the entire Latin America, Cuba no exception. Fidel himself, like many of his comrades in the revolution, grew up in a Catholic environment, but that did not come in the way of achieving their mission along with Marxist comrades like Raul Castro. In fact, over the first few years after the revolution, the Catholic Christianity prevailed. As the leadership felt the need to strengthen the Marxist revolutionary spirit, the State turned atheist.
Prof. Amiya Bagchi, president of the organisation, chaired the seminar. In his address, he dwelt on the various roles played by Fidel in his long political carrier. As the leader of the Cuban people, he was always interactive and inspiring, even after his retirement. He looked eye to eye to the USA all his life and infused courage among his people. He always said "Socialism or Death". He was instrumental in uniting the Latin American countries, mostly under military dictatorship or US' puppet regimes for most of the times. The discussion was followed by a film show, ‘La Guerra Neceseria’ by Santiago Alvarej, followed by a question-answer session. (END)