What I learnt from Fidel Castro, yes I said it right
So let’s get one thing straight — the political ideology referred to in this article is not a reflection of my personal believes. While I am deeply against oppression and repression, there are a lot of differences of opinions in the ideology of socialism, communism, fascism, extreme far-right and far-left, democrats, liberals, conservatives etc, I do believe that everyone has a story worth telling, a journey worth sharing, and maybe we can learn something from it.
This is not a summary of Castro’s life, rather what strikes me the most as I read about him.
1. Nothing would have deterred him from his goal — Leading Cuba.
It took Castro about 14 years until he got into office, which includes running from one country to another, asking for money “through investors”, recruiting ppl into an ideology that they barely understood, manipulated the US’s support, went to prison and found awesome sidekicks!
“I would not be stopped by the hatred and ill will of a few thousand people, including some of my relatives, half the people I know, two-thirds of my fellow professionals, and four-fifths of my ex-schoolmates.
— Fidel Castro, 1954
2. Money, Money, Money
While finding hideouts, recruiting, building his followers, Castro ran out of funds. He decided, as original an idea as it gets, to head to the US to look for sponsors, or better termed as political campaign investors. Despite being almost assassinated by the local opposition party (Batista), the goal was met
3. You are not limited by your geographical location
Local media was banned from publishing anything about Fidel Castro — so he went to NY Times foreign press and made an even bigger name internationally. He also planned and recruited out of Mexico
4. Trustworthy sidekicks are rare — Ernesto Che Guevera
Trustworthy and brilliant sidekick, with an incredible ability to charm people while having Castro’s best interest in mind makes a whole lot of difference
5. Fidel Castro had a PhD in law !
6. Never underestimate the power of the middle class
One of the effects of communism and spreading the wealth is that the middle class lose out. It is human nature perhaps to strive for a better life and without it, one sees no purpose. The middle class is where the economic brain is. When the middle class started leaving the country, productivity decreased and the country’s financial reserves started draining severely after only 2 years of Castro being in power
7. What happens when you fail your countrymen? And would it matter to a Communist leader?
Even if you are a Marxist — Leninist socialist turned communist leader, as a leader if you failed the country, or felt that you did, you volunteer to resign — Re: hurricane 1969 that destroyed the sugar crop, the main economy of the country. Castro attempted multiple solutions — down to implementing 7 days work week etc but couldn’t meet the export quota — that’s when Castro volunteered to resign but was asked to remain in power by the congregation.
8. The enemy of your enemy is your friend
Yom Kippur war — Castro breaking official ties with Israel (Israel — Palestinian War) which earned great respect from the Arab world. Castro was extremely smooth in aligning himself with countries and policies that the US was against, the African, the regimes of South America, North Korea (he did say the nuke was absurd), Soviet (cold war) and China. He built a close relationship which ensured he managed to trade despite embargo from the US and he even assisted these countries when needed.
9. What goes down, really really down — can come up.
In the 1969 hurricane where sugar plantations were destroyed, Castro almost stepped down. In 1973, sugar price went skyrocketing high strengthening the economy of Cuba tremendously
10. Go with the current flow
Castro’s idea of Socialism was constantly altered for his party to survive — ie Soviet influence of Socialism, China’s ideology, Communism (the extreme version of socialism). Eventually, Castro stepped down as the head of government to give way to a much younger candidate as he believed in the need for reform if Cuban socialism was to survive in a world that was dominated by capitalist free markets.
Fidel Castro by Robert E. Quirk
A Biography of Fidel Castro by Peter G. Bourne, Peter G. (1986)