Monday, November 26, 2018 4:10 pm
By Omoniyi Ibietan
On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro led an armed revolution against the US-backed dictatorial regime of President Fulgencio Batista. Those who started that revolution were less 20, including a teenager (I think he was 14). By December 31, 1959 a communist regime was instituted in Cuba. Castro died 25 November 2016.
Why was there a Castro? Why did the revolution succeed? Very simple! The world needed to know that it was possible for a supposedly poor country to teach humanity fresh lessons in largely endogenous development. And Castro did, just as Mao Zedong and his colleagues did in China.
The lessons are legion but I will mention 3: (1) Unprecedented, spectacular and astonishing indices in literacy rate (evident in ‘exportation’ of medical doctors, I saw many Cuban physicians in the US); (2) Remarkable reduction in mortality rate, especially child mortality, an untamed cancer in Africa (today, plausibly only 4 children out of 1000 die from preventable diseases in Cuba); (3) Amazing improvement in agricultural production to guarantee food sufficiency.
In totalising and deriving from the last point, Castro’s leadership of Cuba, taught the world a practical and concrete lesson to make empirical some established theoretical paradigms. Here is it and it is also evident in the Chinese revolution: Castro demonstrated that the beginning of serious growth and development by nations is to feed themselves, so they can save money that would have gone to food importation and deploy the saved funds to other important development issues such as infrastructure. Let me emphasize this, any country or nation that imports more of the food (and other items) its people consume and/or does not export goods as much as or more than it imports, is not yet on the path of development.
Now, the most significant – and I read this in CASTRO SPEAKS, a collection of his speeches, including the ones at the UN – Castro taught the world that if you increase and improve on agricultural production, and you get your people to feed on nutritious food items, you will not only save money, you will spend less on medical and health issues. This is so true and factual from the history of Cuba.
Indeed, the philosophers have done more than an interpretation of the world, our duty is to live it.
Rest in peace, Fidel Castro.
-Omoniyi Ibietan is a student at North-West University in South Africa