Fidel Castro no more

Havana: Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro is no more. An epoch making era has ended. Castro who has been unwell for quite some time breathed his last on Friday, according to state-run Cuban Television. He was 90. He formally handed over power to rule Cube to his younger brother Raul Castro two years ago. Raul has announced the death of his brother on Friday evening.

An intestinal ailment had rendered him disabled in 2006. Since then he had been in poor health. Castro was born at Biraner on 12th August 1926. He liberated Cuba in 1959 revolution and ruled it for 49 long years leading it till 2008. It was earlier a playground for rich Americans. Castro transformed the small country into a sturdy nation which resisted the hegemony of America for decades.  As many as nine American presidents tried to see the end of Castro’s rule in Cuba, if not Castro himself physically; but he outclassed all of them. It was left to an Afro-American president Barack Obama to visit Castro in Havana in order to establish normal diplomatic relations in March 2016.

Castro faced with rectitude the invasion backed by the CIA, at the behest of the then president John F Kennedy, in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs, with the support of Nikita Krushchev of the Soviet Union.  The 13-day showdown with the US in the wake of the alliance between Soviet Union and Cuba brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Castro stood his ground and Kennedy had to beat a retreat.

The Havana cigar chomping, green military fatigue wearing champion of the poor was known as a warrior fighting against capitalism. He was charismatic and also iron-handed. A number of Cuban nationals left their motherland to escape the wrath of a despot, as they described Castro. At the same time, he was loved by the majority of the people of his country for the efficient way he ran the schools and hospitals for free. The exiles have been living in Miami. Those who fled Cuba had brought pressure on the US administration to end Castro rule. The US has been at it all the years.

In the meanwhile, the Soviet Union had collapsed and got disintegrated. None of these developments could end Castro’s rule. Only his ill-health has forced him to abandon power ceding it to his brother Raul Castro who has been in control of the administration since 2006 for all practical purposes although formally he became the head two years later.

Raul had introduced market economy in tune with the global trends thus undoing his elder brother’s socialist philosophy which dominated the discourse in Cuba for several decades. The symbol of the aggressive discourse is the picture of the bearded revolutionary speaking vehemently punching the air and waving his hands castigating American hegemony.

India has lost a friend. The scene, during the Non-Alignment Movement Conference in Delhi when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister, in which Castro hugged and kissed Indira on her cheek while going to the dais, remains fresh in the memory of old-timers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed deep condolences describing Castro as an icon of international communism. Sitaram Yechuri, General Secretary of the CPM, said an era has ended with the departure of the most charismatic leader of the Left movement.

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