At Jimmy's Bronx Café in the heart of the Puerto Rican community, Cuban president Fidel Castro was presented with a baseball bat and an oversized boxing glove. The symbolism was perfect. By the end of his historic stay in New York, the score was: Havana 4, Washington 0.
Castro's successful visits to Harlem and the Bronx, his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and the October 21 march of 3,000 against U.S. policy and subsequent picket lines at Cuba's UN mission in defense of the revolution - all these events dealt blows to the U.S. government's unceasing efforts to isolate and slander Cuba. They won broader support for the Cuban revolution among working people.
The response to Castro's visit, from friends and foes alike, registered graphically the weight in world politics today of the only workers state with a revolutionary leadership.
The Cuban president's speech at the United Nations and his subsequent appearances virtually eclipsed from the political landscape the United Nations's 50th anniversary celebrations. By pointing to the grotesquely undemocratic character of the UN Security Council, Castro explained how the world body remains as much an instrument for imperialist domination as when the United Nations was founded 50 years ago. And he succinctly presented his view of the fight for a world with dignity, equality, and human solidarity - a socialist world.
Clinton's attempt to present U.S. imperialism as the solution to the momentous social and economic problems the overwhelming majority of humanity faces failed miserably. To millions, Washington appeared as nothing more than the bully of imperialist domination that it is.
This was reinforced by the actions of the White House and New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, toward the Cuban delegation. But Giuliani's scorn backfired.
As one Cuban aptly explained to El Diario, Giuliani ended up looking like a buffoon after excluding Castro from official UN dinners and expelling Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat from a concert for UN guests (in which Castro topped the mayor's list of undesirables). Even former mayor Edward Koch, a conservative Democrat who backed Giuliani's candidacy last year, told the current city chief he committed "an outrage" in international diplomacy.
Why is Castro greeted by thousands of working people in the streets of Montevideo, Uruguay, and cheered by crowds in Harlem and the Bronx, but assaulted by the rulers of the U.S. empire?
Because, as Castro explained, the Cuban revolutionaries "have not changed," winning respect and admiration from working people everywhere.
The Cuban working class remains confident in itself and its communist vanguard and continues to stand as a beacon for the exploited and oppressed around the globe. And despite the hard years of the "special period," the Cuban people won't bend on their knees.
The events of the last week are a cause for celebration, reflection, and further action by supporters of the Cuban revolution. They can give a boost to work in defense of Cuba.
The fact that right-wing opponents of the Cuban revolution organized well-publicized protests but were politically pushed back by the pro-Cuba mobilizations is a good omen.
Above all, what will make a difference in Cuba's ability to survive, until revolutionary developments in the working- class movement elsewhere can give a new boost to the socialist revolution there, is what youth and working people do day-in and day-out around the world.
Now is the time to take advantage of the success of the October actions by building local coalitions in every city in the United States and around the world to promote further solidarity actions and projects such as the youth brigade to Cuba in the summer of 1996 and the speaking tours of Cuban youth.
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