In light of U.S. intervention in Latin America, the preservation of the Cuban Revolution becomes more important than ever. January 1 marks the 61st anniversary of the revolutionary triumph – a process which the Cubans have sustained through their rejection of neoliberalism and imperialism. To the chagrin of the US, Fidel Castro’s death merely ushered in a new phase in which Cubans have become more conscious of how important it is to preserve their national and historical memory.
Sabotaging the Cuban Revolution, even after 61 years, remains a U.S. priority. Latin America is once again in the grips of political changes; Chile and Bolivia currently represent the spectrum of neoliberal and imperialist interference. In Chile, the people are no longer subservient to a state that prioritises the legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet. Ongoing revolts point towards the building of a new Chile, as the late President Salvador Allende once predicted. Bolivia, on the other hand, is experiencing the early stages of ruthless violence unleashed by the U.S.-backed coup.
Despite the illegal blockade, the attempts at U.S. infiltration and interference in its regional and internationalist programmes, Cuba is both resisting U.S. imperialism and remaining consistent in building upon Fidel’s legacy.
In his 1960 speech to the UN General Assembly, Fidel declared, “Colonies do not speak. Colonies are not known until they have the opportunity to express themselves. That is why our colony and its problems were unknown to the rest of the world.” U.S. exploitation and the absence of Cuban political independence before the revolutionary triumph ensured the deterioration of a nation by fostering inequality as regards access to basic services and necessities. Meanwhile, Cuban poverty and illiteracy prior to the revolution provided the foundations for the U.S. to thrive partly upon Cuba’s economic and social deterioration.
Fidel’s consistency in achieving the revolutionary goals thwarted U.S. plans. Internationalism was the next step in consolidating the revolution, which Cuba accomplished by its rejection of militarism, focusing instead of supporting anti-colonial struggle and the building of societal foundations. Cuba exported its revolution while the U.S. was busy promoting an interventionist agenda. Decades later, U.S. tactics have not changed. Cuba, on the other hand, has become conscious of the importance of preserving its revolutionary heritage while defending the revolution’s accomplishments to date, both nationally and internationally.
Cuba’s health programme, which includes the services offered by Cuban doctors abroad, has recently been targeted by the US, resulting in the withdrawal of medical personnel from Bolivia, Brazil and Ecuador. Cuba’s medical internationalism is the latest U.S. target; however, this also happened under former U.S. President Barack Obama when Cuban aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina was flatly rejected. The greatest contrast, however, can be gleaned from the U.S. and Cuban responses to Haiti’s humanitarian needs following the earthquake in 2010. In contrast to the deployment of U.S. troops, which Fidel attributed to imperialist designs against the nation, Cuba sent hundreds of doctors and healthcare workers to provide medical and humanitarian aid as required. In such moments, it is possible to decipher Fidel’s perception regarding the politicisation of humanitarian aid and how the U.S. has regularly attempted to leverage its power against Cuba and the nations it has helped.
Remembering the revolutionary triumph goes beyond the anniversary celebration and Fidel. The revolution’s political power and its advances in terms of agrarian reform, health and education now need to be sustained in terms of ongoing implementation as well as collective memory. Cuba has offered a political alternative that rejects U.S. dominance; hence the ongoing attempts to break down the island’s defences, particularly at such times of regional upheaval. For Cuba, neoliberal policies are not the answer. As long as it can sustain a collective agreement between the government and the people to reject U.S. and international interference, the revolution, and Fidel’s example, will continue providing the foundations for resistance and progress.