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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Gracias, Fidel

Tennyson Joseph, [email protected]

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Gracias, Fidel

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WHEN ALL THE DUST and smoke clears, and when our perspective of Fidel Castro and Cuba is stripped of its ideological visor, it will be understood that his indelible contribution will be seen in his supreme example to all small, formerly colonised countries on how to be sovereign and self-determining.

More importantly, he has done so in a country only 90 miles away from the world’s leading capitalist hegemonic and imperialist power, whose history has created an expectation and practice of viewing Cuba as its “natural” possession.

Thus, from John Quincy Adams’ “ripe fruit policy”, through to the Monroe Doctrine and Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick policy” to the present odious and obnoxious Helms-Burton Bill, North Americans have always expected Cuba to be a tighter version of Puerto Rico until the end of days.

That Castro was able not only to make a revolution, but to make a human, social and cultural success of Cuba is the supreme lesson in “how to be sovereign” that the child-like scoffing of his neo-colonial detractors will never erase.

Many formerly colonised countries, such as Barbados, which is now marking the beginning of its 50th year of “Independence”, have had the experience of formal or juridical sovereignty conferred upon them.

However, the experience of how to be truly sovereign and self-determining has escaped most post-colonial states. The excuses for their inability to transform their formal sovereignty into real sovereignty range from the economic-structural (the dependence on foreign direct investment) to the psychological (we cannot make these decisions for ourselves).

Sometimes the above excuses meet together in an embarrassing cocktail of insecurity as in the current condition of mental slavery exhibited in debates about the move to republicanism: “We cannot throw out the monarchy because British tourists will not come to Barbados”. What elemental stupidity.

Gracias, Fidel, for being a living example that makes a lie of all our excuses for why we cannot liberate ourselves. Where we allow our human resources to vegetate on the blocks as potential criminals, you have used your sovereignty – despite a criminal blockade – to transform yours into doctors, engineers and classical musicians.

Where we remain dependent on our former overlords to exploit our natural environment, you have placed research and development, and science and technology at the centre of your project.

Where our “richer neighbours” have paid lip service to being “good neighbours”, you have actualised the concept by opening your schools and universities to children of the Caribbean poor. We will never forget how your armies crippled apartheid.

Moreover, you have placed your life in defence of your homeland.

Rest good, old soldier, and let enemies scoff. Those who are enslavers and who have never struggled against oppression have no legitimacy in judging your project. We shall wear their contempt like a badge of distinction. Vinceremos!!

•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: [email protected]