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The fabulous Fidel
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The fabulous Fidel
WILLIE JACKSON OPINION

“A great and charismatic leader”, was how former MP Donna Awatere Huata described the Cuban legendary president Fidel Castro in an interview I had with her after the death of the great man. Donna visited Cuba in 1979 and was overwhelmed by what Castro had put in place after he led the revolution against the corrupt right wing American backed Batista Cuban government.

Donna was particularly impressed with the literacy and health programmes that Castro initiated and have been heralded as the best programmes in the world. Her view of Castro was backed up by a number of prominent leaders around the world, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said “Castro was a massive figure in the history of the whole planet”, Chinese president Xi Jinping said “Castro’s glorious image and great achievements will be recorded in history forever”. And former London mayor Ken Livingstone called him “an absolute giant of the 20th century”, even the Pope got in on the act and broke from normal Vatican practices to send a personal message of sympathy.

This was in direct contrast to US president elect Donald Trump who said Castro was a brutal dictator who oppressed his people for nearly six decades and whose legacy would be one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. Trumps comment is an example of the hatred that America had for the great man, Castro humiliated the States like no other world leader ever has. He not only got rid of the corrupt US backed government with his stunning revolution in 1959, but he beat them into submission when the yanks tried to take him out with the CIA backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1962.

He then set up a communist regime that became an example to socialists and communists all around the world virtually on the back steps of America. Cuba is only a stone’s throw away from the nearest American city Miami so it was amazing that Castro was able to build the greatest socialist country right next door to the greatest and most powerful capitalist country in the world.

Castro was of course not perfect and his human rights violations cannot be condoned but he fought against the globalisation policies of the US and the evil apartheid regime in South Africa and is one of the few world leaders who can claim victory against these two countries. He was celebrated by Nelson Mandela who said Castro was “a source of inspiration to all freedom loving people”. Fidel Castro was without doubt that, for me and many Maori involved in politics he along with his partner in the revolution Che Guevara will remain heroes for eternity and he should be recognised as the greatest revolutionary leader of them all.

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