Vol. XL No. 50 December 11, 2016

Homage to Fidel Castro

Sitaram Yechury

THE whole of Havana and various Cubans from different parts of the country had joined in a huge memorial meeting to pay homage to Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz.  The memorial meeting was held at the Plaza de la Revolucion “Jose Marti”.  23 heads of States/ governments, vice presidents from six countries, 13 former presidents/prime ministers, four parliamentary delegations led by the speaker/chairperson and 16 ministerial delegations had arrived to participate in this memorial meeting.  The meeting was held on November 29, barely 72 hours after Comrade Fidel Castro was cremated.  Comrade Fidel had personally decided in the will that upon his death, he should be cremated and his ashes should be interred alongside the grave of Jose Marti and the remains of Che Guevara in Santiago. This was a conscious decision taken by Fidel to prevent any possibility of any emergence of a personality cult, which he personally believed not being in accordance with the humility of humanism embedded in a revolutionary Communist.

The Indian delegation was led by the home minister, Rajnath Singh, and included members of parliament from the Congress, CPI(M), CPI, AIADMK, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal and BJP. The short period of 72 hours between Comrade Fidel’s cremation and the memorial meeting had put a severe stress on the Cuban State to receive nearly 60 special aircrafts landing in Havana.  Despite this, the memorial meeting and the atmosphere of grief was palpably felt in the revolution square.  The grief was accompanied by a sense of determination that Cuba and Cubans will not let the Comandante down.  They will work with double effort to further strengthen socialism in Cuba and continue to act as the fulcrum for the Left-led anti-imperialist movements all across Latin America while steadfastly supporting and expressing solidarity with the struggles of the progressive peoples the world over.

On the day after, November 30, the Indian delegation signed the condolence book placed at the foreign ministry paying the homage on behalf of the Indian people.  All parties represented in the delegation independently expressed their salutes and condolences.  Cuba’s acting foreign minister, Marcelino Medina, met and conveyed Cuba’s desire for further strengthening the Indo-Cuban relations.

Later, the delegation was received by Gladys Maria Bejerano Portela, vice president of the Council of State of Cuba and Comptroller General of Cuba. 

The mourning in Havana was all pervasive.  To those who had visited Cuba and Havana in the past on several occasions, contrast could not have been starker.  There was no music either in the streets, which is usual, or even in concert halls of programmes.  The usual revelry and the inherent fondness for rum of the Cubans was missing.  Without any decree by the Cuban State, there was a voluntary abdication of all such gaiety and revelry that is the characteristic of Cuban people.  This will continue till December 4 when the ashes of Comrade Fidel Castro will be interred.  The whole country is in a state of mourning.