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Vol. 80/No. 47      December 19, 2016

(front page)

Millions line streets across Cuba for Freedom Caravan

Through his example, Fidel Castro showed the Cuban people — and by extension working people worldwide — “that yes we could, yes we can, and yes we will overcome any obstacle, threat or turmoil in our determined efforts to build socialism,” Raúl Castro, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and president of the Councils of State and Ministers, told a massive crowd in Santiago de Cuba Dec. 3. The event was organized to honor the life and work of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died Nov. 25 at the age of 90. (See speech alongside this article.)

The event marked the culmination of a week during which workers and youth turned out by the millions to reaffirm their commitment to the revolution and discuss how to maintain its values of internationalism, solidarity and uncompromising opposition to U.S. imperialism.

Leaders of the mass organizations of the Cuban people addressed the flag-waving and determined crowd. The heads of state of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and South Africa were among international guests seated on the platform. The Barack Obama administration, the 11th U.S. administration to try to overthrow the Cuban Revolution, sent no one.

“Fidel unconditionally defended revolutionary ideas and principles,” Ulises Guilarte, secretary general of the Central Organization of Cuban Workers, told the gathering.

“The Cuban working class not only found a solution to their demands as labor” through the revolution led by Fidel, he said, “but became a protagonist in the transformation demanded by the construction of socialism.”

“Young Cubans accept responsibility for one overriding order — to always take care of this revolution,” said Susely Morfa, first secretary of the Union of Young Communists. “We vow to fight as long as imperialism exists and, with the sound guidance of our party, we will not fail!”

“You encouraged us to unite and organize,” said Teresa Amarelle Boué, general secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women. “‘A revolution within the revolution’ — that’s what you called the participation of women.”

The revolution gave Cuban women “the possibility to become full human beings,” she said, by pulling up by the root “the legacy of discrimination, exclusion and humiliation.”

Fidel “defended the independence of Algeria, fought the unjust war in Vietnam and combated apartheid in Africa,” said Miguel Barnet, president of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. “His anti-imperialism made no truces and was hostage to no concessions.”

“The Association of Combatants will forge the unity of the generations,” said Maj. Gen. José Antonio Carrillo, the association’s president, “with the new pines and the old pines making a formidable beam.” The organization brings together 300,000 Cuban veterans of revolutionary struggles in Cuba and internationally.

“Cuba is ours to take care of and defend,” said Jennifer Bello, president of the Federation of University Students. “Each university classroom will be our Moncada.”

Rafael Ramón Santiesteban Pozo, president of the National Association of Small Farmers, and Carlos Rafael Miranda, national coordinator of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, also spoke.

“Before Fidel’s remains,” Raúl Castro said in closing, “we pledge to defend the homeland and socialism!” The plaza resounded with shouts of “We pledge!”

“And together we all reaffirm,” Castro continued, what Antonio Maceo, hero of the 19th century independence fight, said: “Whoever attempts to conquer Cuba will gain nothing but the dust of her blood-soaked soil — if they do not perish in the struggle!”

The Santiago tribute came at the end of a four-day Freedom Caravan that bore Fidel’s ashes from Havana, retracing in reverse the march taken in January 1959 by victorious Rebel Army units led by Fidel Castro after the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista fled in defeat.

The revolutionary struggle began when Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and dozens of other fighters stormed the Moncada barracks in Santiago on July 26, 1953, aiming to mobilize working people in revolutionary struggle against the dictatorship. Dozens were killed and Fidel was captured and put on trial. His testimony, smuggled out and widely disseminated under the title, “History Will Absolve Me,” was used by revolutionaries to build the July 26 Movement, which led the fight for power to victory.

Millions turned out to greet the caravan, with thousands lining the streets of Santa Clara, Camagüey and other cities, and people standing at attention along the highway in rural areas, some on horseback.

“There was palpable excitement in Santiago and in the small towns along the Central Highway where throngs lined up to greet the caravan,” the Miami Herald was forced to admit Dec. 3.

The Cuban Revolution sets an example for workers, peasants and youth around the world. Members of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S. and Communist Leagues in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, who focus their activity on going door to door in working-class areas introducing their parties and making contacts, are discussing this example.

They make good use of books on the Cuban Revolution published by Pathfinder Press and last week’s Militant, which contains Raúl Castro’s Nov. 29 speech in Havana, a revolutionary pledge signed by millions of Cubans and a letter to Raúl Castro from SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes. The letter concludes, “With unshakable confidence in the working class and its allies, we will continue to organize and act on the course Fidel uncompromisingly presented to the world in 1961, a month before the victorious battle of Playa Girón: ‘There will be a victorious revolution in the United States before a victorious counterrevolution in Cuba.’”
Related articles:
‘Cuba will overcome any threat to building socialism’
Mass tribute to Fidel strengthens revolution
Raúl Castro: Fidel showed us, ‘Yes we can, yes we will’
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