STAY WELL & SPARKLE: What I Love About Fidel

Fidel and Che were dashing agents of change
Fidel and Che were dashing agents of change

He was once someone’s bouncing little baby boy. But who knew he would make such a difference in this world? This was his marquee moment – returning to Cuba to drain the swamp of oppression and corruption. But you know whatMurphy’s Law says?

Well, go wrong it did, at first. ‘Granma,’ that old mama boat they bought;it sprung a leak. Emptying it out by the bucket scarcely kept them afloat. Built for a maximum 12 they packed it 82 rebels fresh from guerrilla training in Mexico. A man fell overboard. They did crash landed in a swamp actually, at Playa Las Coloradas. It was like a Don Quixote comedy of errors. Then things got deadly in a heartbeat. Dictator Batista’s military immediately almost wiped them out. Only Fidel and 19 others survived – with 2 guns. In those days Fidel slept with a loaded rifle under his chin so that he would never be captured alive. When his little brother Raul (now President) hooked up with the rag-tag band of liberators, he brought 5 guns. Fidel is reputed to have exclaimed, “Now we have won the revolution!”

That’s what I love about Fidel – his irrepressible optimism! Funny and folksy, he simply embodied the confidence that human beings have the capacity to change themselves, and to change the world. And how right was he! You see, Fidel knew battles are fought first in the mind. The mind then transforms reality on the ground. He never had any doubt that he would make a difference one day. Though born of wealth and privilege, he chose to be a restless and daring activist. He lived a charmed life of guts and danger. Your job is to live long enough to tell me if any other world leader this century commands the deluge of salutes you are about to witness.

Earlier on, Fidel had failed in his campaign to become president of the Federation of University Students. However he did receive national attention for riveting public speech in 1946. As a result, he was targeted with death threats by violent, powerful pro-government gangs, which dominated Cuba rampant crime scene in those days. So even as a student he was ‘packing heat’ and surrounded with bodyguards. In 1947, Fidel heard of plans by revolutionaries to invade and overthrow American ally Rafael Trujillo,the brutal dictator of the Dominican Republic. He joined the adventure. That failed. Castro somehow evaded arrest. In 1948 he turned his attention to student protests in Columbia. That failed. He was somehow cleared of stealing guns from a police station. Back in Cuba,his protection failed. He was badly beaten and had to flee to the United States for refuge.

In coming days, you will hear endless stories of the revolution and how Cuba grew to what it is today. But do not be distracted by the people in Little Havana Miami, gleefully dancing on Fidel’s grave. They are the direct heirs of the corrupt Batista regime. These bitter people live in everlasting torment that they could not destroy Fidel.

Cuban air power proved decisive in expelling the Apartheid South African invasion of neighbouring Angola in 1975. As a geography and math teacher at the Wesley High School at the time, my students became well versed in all revolutionary struggles in Africa. How Cuba got men and materiel across the ocean for such a major operation still boggles the imagination of military historians. The storied Battle of CuitoCuanavale,the largest on African soil since World War II, was a triumph of black and coloured forces against nuclear-armed South Africans. Thanks in part to Fidel; the world subsequently was blessed with arguably the most extraordinary statesman of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela.

Nevertheless, imperialism struck back in a most cowardly fashion.  Terrorists from that samedancing ex-pat Cuban community, the discriminators of blacks in Florida, bombed Cubana Flight 455 out of Barbados, October 5, 1976. They killed all 73 on board. This included the young Cuban fencing team, which had just won all the gold medals in a recent international completion, not to mention the 11 promising CARICOM citizens who never again saw the light of day.Despite suffering this and other atrocities too numerous to mention, Cuba under Fidel remained unwavering in its commitment to humanity. He gave voice to the voiceless and strengthened the arm of courageous women and men everywhere fighting to better their conditions.

Even conservatives like our own Dame Eugenia Charles faced down Bush’s Vice President Quayle by insisting she was going to visit Fidel. Ever the pragmatist, she maintained the good relations started by Rosie Douglas, something continued by all subsequent Dominican administrations.Fidel respected her for this as it encouraged other middle ground countries to do business with Cuba. Those were the days when the United States severely sanctioned smaller countries for having anything to do with the socialist state. At the end of the day, from Maurice to Mamo, CARICOM generally stood firm as a bloc when it came to Cuba.

Caribbean leaders Eugenia Charles and Maurice Bishop
Caribbean leaders Eugenia Charles and Maurice Bishop

Cuba is a relatively small country of 11 million. 77 countries have bigger populations. China and India for example, are over 125 times bigger. Many of those other countries never make the news unless there is some major disaster or conflict. Castro’s Cuba in contrast, has rocked the world, not only in liberation struggles, but also in medicine, education, sports and genuine assistance. At a time when the entire world was scared shirtless about Ebola breaking out of Africa to their shores, Cuba sent way more doctors than any other nation to stop the plague dead in its tracks. Not only that; these amazing medics pledged that if they contracted the dread disease, they would not be repatriated and risk bringing it back home. One of them, DrFeliz Baez Sarria, did in fact contract Ebola during his service in Sierra Leone. By the grace of God he recovered, and guess what? He went right back to the danger zone to battle the epidemic! Sorry. This just sent a shiver down my spine…

Will the new US President continue Obama’s warm relations?
Will the new US President continue Obama’s warm relations?

These doctors tend to channel the commitment and zeal of Dr. CheGuevera, Argentine physician. He was Fidel’s brother-in-arms, who fell in battle. In the world of medicine, the Cuban Medical Brigade stands out as giants. They are verymuch deserving of their mythical image internationally. Despite a crushing embargo, Cuban science has produced vaccinesand numerous innovations that there is not enough time here to tell. Thank God President Obama stopped the madness by coaxing the United States to make nice with Cuba. That’s why I love Fidel!

Now it’s time for Raul to sparkle. Remember, he was the one who brought the tools for Fidel to finish the job?Raul is already graduallymoving in the direction of releasing politicalprisoners, encouraging religious freedom and free enterprise. At the same time, he draws the line when it comes to maintaining law and order and indigenous control of the economy. It is unclear how they handle the stage when there enough doctors in a country. To understand delicate balance, my brother Gabriel’s recent insightful book,“Aboard the CommandantePineres,” is a must read. https://www.amazon.com/Aboard-Commandante-Pineres-Caribbean-Liberation-ebook/dp/B01GS4OIUYIt is based on his 1978 trip to Cuba and his analysis of how Fidel impacted the independence movement in the Caribbean. The ship of the revolution will sail on to continued good works. Soon I may be saying to baby brother, “That’s why I love Raul!”

Dr. Sam Christian was President of the United Student Council, Secretary General of the National Youth Council and President of the Dominica Mental Health Association. He now serves as Public Relations Officer of the Dominica’s New Freedom Party.’ Dr. Christian can be reached at 767 440-9133 / 265-0886 / 613-8345 or by logging on to www.urgentcareda.weebly.com

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26 Comments

  1. Can't think for themselves
    November 30, 2016

    Fascinating to listen to those who have never contributed anything to society, their nation, their race, heap vitriol on those who do. It’s not really about Fidel, is it? What he did is done and history will judge him. It’s our turn to determine our own destiny. Harriet Tubman declared, “I have freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they realised they were slaves.”

    I notice that about Dr. Sam. He thinks for himself. He charts an independent course. He stood up for poor and neglected in America and he is standing up for the poor and neglected in Dominica. No doubt he smiles at all the hate. Like Harriet said when they realise their slavish mentality, Dominicans will come on board in a big way.

  2. Can't Handle the Truth
    November 28, 2016

    You have to take the good with the bad. Instead of just regurgitating imperialist propaganda, just check the facts that Dr. Sam so succinctly educated us about. I did. It’s all there on BBC, CNN, Wikipedia and Fox News even.

    You think the people Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea care about Castro not holding traditional multiparty elections? They are alive because of Cuban doctors. What did you and your kind do for them?

    You think Angola and S. Africa worry that Fidel drank whiskey? They’re free because of Cuban soldiers. What did you and your kind do for them?

    You’d have preferred Fidel cuddle the murderers and 638 assassins and say that’s not nice?

    Agreed, Worker’s & Labour party deserve full credit for establishing and continuing relations. Maybe the point was too subtle for you. What Dr. Sam pointed out was that EVEN AS A CONSERVATIVE, Mamo was pragmatic enough to work with Cuba for Dominica, maybe not as slavishly as now, but you don’t get to choose the facts of…

    • viewsexpressed
      November 30, 2016

      Thumbs up 4 thinking deep. The morale of ur essay I concur. I hate Dictators. However the reality of the suffering that took place in Cuba under Castro`s brutal 40 years rule will hunt him forever. Castro should have transformed Cuba into a democracy that the world cherish and believed in his people to steer the course. It rather became all about Castro as the Cuban people risks their lives and ran to Miami. Education and health care is a must not a privilege in any country. Look at Barbados, high Democracy, elections literacy health care. Cuba was supported by other countries and not done on their own resources. I object to the US type of interference, they use the wrong tools to challenge Cuba, as against mighty force of fear. The revolution did not work in Grenada and they killed our Maurice Bishop. Within his camp were also brutal guys. I witnessed it, for example in St. Georges more that five in a group talking on the road, you were dispersed. In 5 yrs where will Cuba be. I fear.

  3. Dante Jones
    November 28, 2016

    Chavez – gone
    Castro – gone

    Just goes to show no amount of revolutionary will can overcome the great equaliser. The people celebrating have every right to as his death is like a ray of hope for all those people who have suffered and are still suffering under the rule of the Castros. A lot of Venezuelans rejoiced too when Chavez died.

    • Anonymous
      November 29, 2016

      Mugabe ready to go
      Maduro ready to fall

      ….who else again?

  4. Titiwi
    November 28, 2016

    Dr. Sam, it sounds all so romantic and idyllic but Fidel Castro was also an egocentric, who brooked no opposition. His ideology turned out ideal for him since it afforded him a life style the ordinary Cuban could not even dream off. A private island, Capo Pierra with a private yacht. The exclusive Punto Cero residence in Havana and string of concubines and lovers earning him the nick name el caballo. With a private fortune estimated at U.$.$.900 million by Forbes in 2006 and a penchant for Chivas Regal whiskey. I seems to me that that he succumbed to expensive capitalist tastes, which seem to be hall mark of all dictators, regardless of their political outlook. I think a reality check is in order, don’t you?

    • Rev. John De Secalour, DD, Evangelist
      November 28, 2016

      Oh yes! Our friend Mr. Castro was a brutal dictator and a true egotist.

      Incidentally, he was a Freemason (33 degree) and a key puppet of the NWO for keeping up the myth of the Rothschild’s money-train’s ‘cold war’ .

      How people can write this junk about a man like that is really beyond me.

    • lee77
      January 27, 2017

      When Forbes Magazine published the ridiculous claim that Fidel had a private fortune estimated at $900 million, Fidel challenged Forbes, or anyone else, to prove it, and neither Forbes, nor anyone else, was able to do so. The claims that Fidel lived a life of luxury, etc. as alleged in the book, “The Double Life of Fidel Castro” by fired bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sanchez have been debunked. YOU are the one in need of a “reality check.”

  5. Laventi Beria
    November 28, 2016

    Communism, was propounded by Satanist Karl Marx. :-x

  6. 100%FreeMarket
    November 28, 2016

    Gabo & Sam are my two biggest disappointments as Dominicans, both of them got educated in America, but love communism. Gabo is an expert on Castro who knows all castro speeches reading books glorifying the leftist leader but he never reads books on people who suffered at the hands of castro, he would never read The Black Book of Communism by Stéphane Courtois, he subjects himself to one-sided views, he likes the story of one man fighting imperialist, at what cost Gabo. I respect other people views but stop hiding in the shadows of academia portraying a killer as a saint when u should know better. 8)

    • viewsexpressed
      November 30, 2016

      Amen, Amen,,,,,Did I hear a Amen. ell said. Who has or represent the voices of the Cuban suffering people. Don`t tell me you offer Health and Education,…give me a break. A baby is born into your care, milk, honey and care and loving is your job to nurture that chid and not abuse with physically, sexually and mentally, The Castro\’s and their henchmen to this day made and continue to make big mistakes.

  7. Backwardness is our Heritage?
    November 28, 2016

    The backwardness of those who slam Doctor Christian is a good reason for why people in Dominica lag behind. They mouth off before engaging brain and engage in insult not reasoned debate. We fail where we do not champion any worthy cause of community development or global solidarity and waste our lives like crabs in a barrel. The Cubans organized themselves and helped us and others. What has Marcus done to educate Dominicans? Or tend to the sick? Doctor Christian helps many. His detractors castigate and throw insults on Cuba but cannot refute anything the good doctor said in his article with facts. He used his name and I wish each of them would be as brave to stand for community development as he has and proudly use your names. Cowards! . Long live the good Fidel did – and he did much good.

    • Marcus
      November 29, 2016

      there is no logical causality between slamming Dr Christian’s articles and beliefs and a fact that “people in Dominica lag behind”. Dr Christian can believe whatever he likes and we can disapprove, disagree and criticize as we see fit. Its called a pluralism and most likely in your church nobody bothered to explained you what it means. Its impossible to insult Cuba, God or ideas because they are non-corporal, so Dominicans can tell about Cuba what they like. Dr Christian didn’t express any facts about Fidel, its just his romantic sentiment toward dictator and there is nothing good or bad in it.
      As for your statement that Dominicans “lag behind”, there are completely different sets of economic reasons why Dominica in such pity state. I believe easy logical thinking can give you a pretty quick answer to that.
      However, the most intriguing aspect of that is a schizophrenic approach of many dominicans towards America and Cuba: you love USA, you want to be there…and you praise…

      • Dominican
        November 29, 2016

        You have a very valid point there. I don’t see many Dominicans lining up to go and live in Cuba, or Venezuela for that matter but at the sasme time wopuld give thier right arm for a green card. The facts stare us in the face and yet are hard to swallow at times.

    • viewsexpressed
      November 30, 2016

      My friend kill this backwardness of yours. We are sharing and debating and not putting down anyone. We are NOT in Cuba and therefore we must agree to differ and debate, that\’s what makes it healthy. I appreciate your contribution and have learn from it. Thank you, and I am not here to ridicule you. Therefore the Christians are not immune to or must not be immune to comments, critics and questions. They are intellectuals and I also appreciate their contributions to medicine and law. Lets us stay focus on the issue.
      Cuba did well, we know where and how, so we do not questions that. We are debating the bad side that everyone is scared of talking about r even to offer meaningful debate that we can comprehend and help make things better. Once Raul is gone, which he says in 4 years, we have to pray for Cuba, as I fear a crumble as happened in USSR, Germany etc. There is that much a people can take.
      \”Senor Rual Castro, please break down that wall.\” Cubans are trained, they will…

  8. Sea Soe
    November 28, 2016

    Dr. Sam what are you trying to give Mamo credit for? The Cuban graduates suffered under Mamo until UWP came and liberated them in their own country. Mamo did well but please don’t go down that deceitful road of trying to give Mamo credit for anything relating to Cuba. I know you want to be accepted in the Freedom Party but PLEASE.

    I note you made no mention of UWP that established diplomatic relations with Cuba but Mamo you try to give credit. Oh what hypocrites we have in Dominica. You sound like the MARPIN news during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Dominica establishing relations with Cuba. In MARPIN’s piece they made mention of all those that were affiliated with Cuba including Rosie, Pierro, Skerro but no mention was made of the government that established the relationship that was being celebrated.

    Come again Dr. Christian. Shame on you. I will remember that when you come campaigning.

  9. Omega
    November 28, 2016

    Fidel meant well and help develop Cuba in many ways, however the blockade for over 50 years imposed by the US, affected Cuba economy

    • viewsexpressed
      November 30, 2016

      They had the USSR and all their allies………

  10. Marcus
    November 28, 2016

    Absolutely naive article. Glorious commandante leaded his country to a state, when Cuba is a zoo for tourists with impoverished people, rampant prostitution, huge corruption and ruined economy…sinile gerontocracy talking bull#### about communist future, while women are ready to sell their p#### for any money to foreigners just feed their families? What country is that? Fidel was charismatic dictator who hijacked entire island for 60 years, plundered it, lived very long and nice live and lets hope will burn in hell (if it exists, which I sincerely doubt)

  11. Vaffanculo_PM
    November 28, 2016

    Raoul Castro is a KGB agent, Che Guevara is a cold blooded killer and Fidel Castro is a war monger blood thirsty tyrannt who almost cause a nuclear war with Russia twice and wanted to bomb manhattan, u people need Jesus.

    • out of south city
      November 28, 2016

      Jesus is what’s causing all the wars in the world. We are blinded by christianity by which many have been massacred, imprisoned, countries being taken over by those who come as sheep in wolves’ clothing. We need to be more militant and take what is ours, especially our land and resources from the hands of oppressors, capitalists and imperialists. Down with Oppression.

      UNAPOLOGETIC

      • CRIME STOPPERZ
        November 29, 2016

        idiot

      • viewsexpressed
        November 30, 2016

        There is nothing wrong with Christianity, and the Bible just as there is nothing wrong with Communism, socialism, and democracy. It is acolytes maybe like you who use and abuse it for the wrong reason. Please open your eyes. My God, some wait and abuse any opportunity to pull down, Christ and Christianity. It wont work, God Bless you in Sout City. I hope that you are an asset to Grand Bay working towards elevating it from its poverty and recognising and promoting the rich culture and inteellectual it portrays. I hope you are not waiting on the Dictator inept Skerrit and his corrupt Labour Party Government to feed you on this. They are fakes, please run far away from them.
        Fidel Castro and Cuban People received, embraced the Pope in Cuba, you recall??

  12. No riches
    November 28, 2016

    Leaders who stay in power for a long time are tend to amass riches, get increasingly arrogant and disrespectful to their citizens – socialist, capitalist or otherwise. No one has reasonably accused Fidel of that. This to me should the thrust of your article.

    Well said otherwise.

  13. pope
    November 28, 2016

    fidel betrayed che goggle che and find out

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