On August 13, Cuba honors Fidel. Newspapers, TV, and radio stations feature his enormous life that is synonymous with our freedom . Cuba remembers the birthday of the man who led a Revolution “bigger than ourselves,” who in his 20 years took up arms, along with a small group of other brave men, to change the fate of a country in favor of the most oppressed.
That early morning of 1926, 97 years ago, Lina Ruz – Fidel’s mother- could barely see under the light of the chandeliers in one of the rooms of the house in Biran, Holguin, built on wooden stilts of the Caguairan tree. There, the 12-pound boy was born, whom the family would name Fidel Castro and who would join a family that already included his siblings Ramón and Ángela. Raúl, Juana, Enma, and Agustina came years later.
In conversations with the Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet, he once commented on the influence that his childhood in Biran had on his character, his ties with the Haitians who worked there, his relationships with the poor children of the area, the rural school where he studied, his time in Santiago de Cuba, where he began the revolutionary and definitive struggle.
His enemies never say that this feat was the work of the sacrifice of his people, but it was also the work of his stubborn will and the old-fashioned sense of honor with humility of this man who always fought for the vulnerable ones,” as the Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano recalled; something that resonates in these days of homage.
Inevitably, today also recalls the day of his death, of his physical death, that night of November 25, 2016, seven years ago. And it reminds me of the somber silence in the editorial office of the Granma newspaper, while the next day’s edition was being prepared and with news that no journalist or editor would have wanted to publish. It hurts the memory of that front page with the blank image of Fidel looking at the horizon from the top of the Sierra Maestra. “Farewell, Fidel,” the headline read.
“10:29 at night, the longest night. That hour will no longer be indifferent to Cuba, nor to the world. Fidel has died. They tried to kill him more than 600 times. All failed because men like him are not killed. They die when their turn come up. And they go, perhaps as they intended to. And they do it silently,” Cuban journalist Lisandra Fariñas reported in that edition of the Granma newspaper.
Cuba doesn’t forget the solemnity of his farewell at the Revolution Square, the men, children, women, old people, who came out to the big avenues to say their last goodbye to the humble man who didn’t want monuments or streets in his name as his last wish. Flags, cries, and shouts of “I am Fidel” accompanied the caravan that moved his remains from the Revolution Square, in Havana, across the expanse of the country to the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba.
Cuba also has not forgotten the painful farewell of his brother Raul, who placed his two hands on the small wooden urn for several seconds that seemed like hours, when depositing it in the monolith of the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. Raul’s heavy breathing and the silence that followed. We continue to mourn his physical passing but we know that as Fidel was born he will always remains inside the Cuban people through generations to come. He will never die.
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English