New Anthology of ‘Fidelism’ / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 12 December 2016 – The first
impression one gets of the book “One Objective, One Thought” is that
throughout its three volumes the reader can assess the political
evolution of Fidel Castro, author of the quotes contained in the tome.
The initial assessment is owed to the portraits appearing on the covers
of each volume, which show the physical and psychological transformation
of the man.
The first cover shows the leader with a black beard, olive green beret
and defiant gaze. It is the image of the guerrilla in power during the
‘60s and ‘70s. On the second volume he is seen in the dress uniform of
the Commander in Chief, notably graying and with the look of someone who
has an answer for everything, as he presented himself in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The image on the third cover reflects a moment in Castro’s life in this
millennium. The former president is on the brink of old age, with a
certain halo of wise experience, but maintaining his willful authority.
It is a snapshot from before 31 July 20016, when he announced his
retirement from public life due to the serious state of his health.
However, beyond the impression of transformation offered by these three
images, the book presented this Saturday at the Palace of the Captain
Generals in Havana, is simply a compilation of the ex-president’s ideas
organized chronologically around 50 topics. A bundle of carefully chosen
quotations to show more the continuity of his thought than its evolution.
The edition was conceived to honor the leader’s 90th birthday,
celebrated this last August, but its launch has taken place a few days
after his ashes were placed in a vault in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in
Santiago de Cuba. The work thought of as a summary of a life has become,
in reality, a condensed post mortem of Fidel’s legacy.
The work, priced at 30 Cuban pesos (less than $1.50 US), has as an
antecedent the “Dictionary of the Thinking of Fidel Castro,” prepared by
Salomon Susi Sarfati for Politica Publishers in 2008. Another
compilation of high value is “Thus Spake Fidel Castro,” from Roberto
Bonachea Entrialgo, issued by the Spanish publisher Ediciones Idea, also
The text was presented by Eugenio Suarez, director of the Office of
Historical Affairs of the Council of State, along with the main editor
of the volume, Rosa Alfonso Mestre, as a guide for action and ideas for
future generations. The presentation took place in front of 50
participants, among them, notably, the faces of officials, admirers of
the deceased leader and members of the Communist Party.
The editors state that “for this compilation 4,000 bibliographic sources
were consulted, covering a period from October 1953 to April 2011 (…)
from which around 8,000 quotes were selected.” Speeches, interviews,
Fidel’s newspaper column “Reflections,” have been the principal sources.
But the reader finds a highly filtered text, which avoids quoting
Castro’s mistakes, rants and more intolerant positions. For example,
under the theme of terrorism, a speech he gave for the 15th anniversary
of the creation of the Ministry of the Interior is omitted.
On that day in 1976, at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, the leader
admitted: “If we dedicated ourselves to terrorism, it is certain we
would be effective. But the fact is that the Cuban Revolution has never
used terrorism. That does not mean we renounce it, let us warn you!”
In addressing drug trafficking, the anthology does not mention a single
word from Cause No. 1 of June 1989, when high officials from the armed
forces were tried and condemned to death for their supposed implication
in this crime.
On the subject of self-employment and private enterprise, the editors
avoided the speeches given during the 1968 Revolutionary Offensive,
where Castro emphasized, “We propose to eliminate all manifestations of
private commerce, in a clear and decisive manner.” Three decades later,
he had to once again authorize the non-state sector, to ease the
profound economic crisis caused by the fall of the Soviet Union.
In the chapter dedicated to racial and gender discrimination, you cannot
find a single one of the multiple occasions on which he expressed his
well-known homophobia. Conspicuous by its absence are the remarks Castro
delivered in March of 1963: “Many of these bums, children of the
bourgeoisie, walking around with their too-tight pants; some of them
with a little guitar and an ‘Elvis-Presley’ attitude have taken their
debauchery to the extremes of wanting to go to some public gathering
places and organize their faggot-y shows for free.”
Despite the extreme partisanship in the selection of the texts included
in these three volumes, the workflow the editors faced is clear.
Filtering hundreds of speeches, interminable public presentations and
long hours of soliloquy must have been a marathon and exhausting task.
But the most arduous work is that of the reader, peering into these
pages of such a chaotic, contradictory and disproportionate legacy, like
the man who created it.
Source: New Anthology of ‘Fidelism’ / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar –
Translating Cuba –