Mumia Abu Jamal: Fidel Castro obituary

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Cuba is observing an officially-mandated nine-day mourning period after the death of its longtime head-of-state, Fidel Castro, who died on Friday, November 25th, at the age of 90.

Castro survived multiple assassination attempts and U.S. backed efforts to overthrow his government. As a result, his regime showed little tolerance for criticism and opposition movement building. And while the former elites that made up the early wave of exiles have dominated the narrative and perceptions of Castro’s Cuba in the U.S. – the revolution there is seen by many in formerly colonized nations of Latin America and Africa as a successful, albeit imperfect, model of an anti-imperialist struggle.

Perspectives on Castro and the Cuban Revolution vary around the globe. Proponents point to vast improvements in the nation’s education and medical systems, detractors cite practices like widespread censorship, interment camps for gay men and firing squad executions of political opponents. Others view Castro’s rule in the sum total of its complexities.

But while many, including  Cuban exiles in the U.S,  are quick to point to Castro’s decades-long hold on power, repressive policies, widespread censorship and jailing of dissidents as reasons to celebrate his death, the “Supreme Commander” of the Cuban revolution is fondly regarded by members of Black liberation movements.

A lesser known chapter of U.S./Cuban relations has to do with Castro’s acceptance of U.S. dissidents and social revolutionaries; members of the Black Panther Party criminalized during the era in which J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI. After a wave of politically-motivated imprisonments, targeted assassination and witch hunts, many Black Panther Party members fled to Cuba where they still live today.

Imprisoned former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal – and longtime resident of Pennsylvania’s death row – sent us this commentary from Mahanoy Prison.

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Fidel Castro Ruz: 1926-2016. Viva Fidel!

Fidel Castro, father of the 1959 Cuban revolution has died after 90 years of a life of rebellion and resistance. That this bold, revolutionary figure lived as long as he did is itself a victory, for he outlived at least 11 assassination attempts forged by the CIA against him. Eleven times that the U.S. government has admitted.

As a young man, he earned a law degree, but never practiced in that role. He took to the revolutionary path, and began a struggle against the U.S.-supported dictator, Fulgencio Batista. That struggle, which led to the fall of Batista, inspired people all around the world.

One of those inspired was the late Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, who, in a 1967 jail interview, noted, “When Fidel Castro started the revolution along with Che Guevara, with 12 of them altogether, they realized that they wouldn’t be able to topple oppressive regime in Cuba. What they were essential was an educational body. They engaged with the army; they fought with the army and they showed the people that the army was that bulletproof, that the police were not bulletproof. And that Batista’s regime was not a regime that was impossible to topple, so the people began to feel their strength,” [said] Dr. Huey P. Newton.

Fidel was a friend of Malcolm X, and a lifelong friend of Africa. The racist regime of apartheid South Africa got whipped in Angola, with tens of thousands of Cuban troops in the field. The notorious Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, Angola was where South Africa saw the bloody writing on the wall.

Castro once said, “African blood flows in our veins. Many of our ancestors came as slaves from Africa to this land. As slaves, they struggled quite a great deal. They fought as members of the Liberating Army of Cuba. We’re brothers and sisters of the people of Africa, and we’re ready to fight on their behalf.”

Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution never bowed to the U.S. empire, not once in over half a century. The Cuban revolution produced the finest educational system in the Caribbean and much of the world. They sent their doctors all around the earth.

The world mourns the passing of a giant. Fidel Castro Ruiz, comandante de la revolución, presente.

From Imprisoned Nation, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.

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