Sunday, May 25, 2008
Going On Record: I Give Credit To Castro and Che For Their African Revolutionary Assistance
There you go - my friend - I said it publicly.
I rented the movie a few weeks ago after hearing that it was being shown at a local gathering that I was not able to attend in person. The movie is called "Cuba: An African Odyssey". I watched it in advance of my friend's first viewing of it yesterday when he came over to my house. This friend is a fan of Castro. He says that Fidel Castro is the greatest leader in the western hemisphere because he was able to keep the American imperialists out of his country as well as projecting his power into Africa and other nations for the sake of driving out colonialism. He is an equal fan of Che Guevara as well. Once I saw the movie I knew that he was going to sing both of their praises.
After kicking off the revolution in Cuba they both set out to fight against European imperialism. Che Guevara traveled to Africa and involved himself, along with the help of a boat load of Black Cubans, into the affairs of Congo, central Africa. After the assassination of Patrice Lamumba a band of "Lamumbites" formed a rebel factions to take up arms against the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu who had been appointed military leader by Lamumba had double crossed him, running to the Belgians and American CIA for support if he were to execute a coup. Upon getting the green light in assurance - Lamumba was killed.
Che Guevara assisted in several anti-colonial movements against European powers who were exploiting and oppressing the people, largely for the sake of having free reign at the valuable natural resources contained within, particularly the Kananga region of the country which installed a puppet government loyal to the Belgians.
As we viewed the movie, as expected, seeing the details of this narrative - my friend was more convinced than ever about his love for Che and Fidel. Then, of course, he worked to get me to admit that I had respect for Fidel. I tried to make the point that, as with everyone, there are good elements that need to be praised and negative elements that are worthy of condemnation. Fidel Castro is a perfect model of this point.
Thus my testimony.
I can objectively say that the courage that the Revolutionary operatives showed within Africa is note worth. I have to also make note before I forget that much of this happened in the context of the US/USSR Cold War battle. Where as the average "Anti-America American" will make note of the nefarious actions of the American government both against certain revolutionary actors and in support of the European colonizers, few of them would also make note of the impure motivations of the USSR. Cuba was not just a revolutionary ground - it was also closely proximate to the United States to be a painful thorn in their side.
It is also true that many of the newly liberated African nations splintered as factionalism which was partially fueled by the East/West global chess match vied for the hearts of the people on this fertile land.
Despite all of the added context to explain the real situation - I must give credit to Castro and Che because the forces arrayed against the Africans and their right to self determination. As revolutionary leaders they are to be applauded for their courage for going against the world powers.
I maintain my criticism of Fidel Castro's second act. The suppression of freedom in Cuba is unacceptable. Despite the applause for the free education and health care - the fact remains - Cuba is a totalitarian state and Fidel Castro was the architect.
Just as I can bring myself to compartmentalize the deeds of Thomas Jefferson, for example, which allows me to say that his Bill Of Rights was a net good thing - I must also make note of his slave holding compartment as well.
So often those who are Revolutionaries as they fight against a certain entity don't make good executors of their vision, providing the high level of human dignity that they fought as part of their original stance against the prior oppressor.