By Carlito Rovira
On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1958, the revolutionary guerilla army of the July 26 Movement, under the leadership of Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, entered the capital city of Havana, Cuba. This was the final act in the overthrow of the notorious U.S.-sponsored Fulgencio Batista regime.
The closer the guerilla army approached the city on foot, horseback and vehicles, the more frantic the oppressors of the Cuban people became. Their world of lavishness with cocktails drinks on hand was abruptly disrupted. Mafia gangsters, prostitution pimps, drug peddlers, casino club owners, operatives of the CIA and other imperialist agencies, high ranking military and police officials as well as top bureaucrats of Batista’s government, were all crowding Havana’s airport in a desparate rush to leave Cuba, to avoid capture by the revolutionaries.
This event marked the dawn of a new era in that country’s history which sent shock waves throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Cuban Revolution has had a tremendous impact on political circumstances in Latin America, the Caribbean and the entire world ever since.
Cuba has been a staunch advocate of Puerto Rico’s right to independence and has brought to light at the world arena the horrendous nature of the U.S. colonial presence; it provided political and logistical support to the Palestinian liberation struggle as well as sending thousands of Cuban troops to Africa in an effort to assist freedom fighters there in their quest. The most notable example of Cuba’s solidarity with Africa’s freedom struggle is the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. In a combined effort with the Angolan military the Cuban Army surrounded and smashed the racist apartheid South African Army.
Of the most notable of Cuba’s acts of humanitarianism is its creation of the Latin American School of Medicine. Students from poor and oppressed communities from the United States and Third World countries, who otherwise could not financially afford it, are provided with a free education to become medical doctors, paid for by the Cuban government.
And to demonstrate how serious the Cuban Revolution is about its own convictions and sense of humanity, many people in poor countries have received desperately needed medical attention for the first time thanks to Cuba’s well-known international medical program. Cuba has sent thousands of medical professionals to the poorest communities throughout the globe to heal and prevent deceases, even under the most dangerous circumstances.
Cuba has also provided a safe haven to many political refugees sought by the agencies of imperialism, like Puerto Rican freedom fighter William Morales and Black Panther sister Assata Shakur. Cuba has also been a firm supporter for the release of political prisoners in the U.S., like Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Justice now had a new meaning, defined by the revolutionary aspirations of the oppressed. Uniformed villains of the Batista military and police who once tortured, murdered and raped the people were rounded up and brought to face criminal charges. Tribunals were held throughout the country for all to witness and participate in a completely new form of justice — people’s justice — in which victims partook by providing testimony and in deciding the fate of these overthrown government officials.
Thanks to the Cuban Revolution the people were no longer deprived of free healthcare, free education, and access to food. Such are the vital necessities denied to the working poor here in the United States.
60 years have past and the Cuban people remain firm on defending their right to self-determination. They have been exemplary in their resilience in the face of repeated U.S. government attempts to undermine their sovereignty. These attempts include terrorist actions on Cuba’s tourist industry, CIA subversive attempts to incite counterrevolutionary activities within the country, 600 known attempts on the life of the late Fidel Castro Ruz, and a continuous economic blockade that still continues to this day.
Despite these acts of aggression and Washington’s 60 years propaganda war aimed to demonize the revolution, no one can deny Cuba’s achievements in eradicating illiteracy, advancements in medical science, food production & agriculture, housing development and the infrastructure.
Cuba’s revolutionary leadership has prioritized the needs of the people and continues to make good on its pledge never to allow foreign exploiters, oppressors and conquerors to return the country back to the suffering that once existed under the domination of the United States.
So as we celebrate the coming of the new year, we should salute the Cuban people on their glorious anniversary. And may the year 2019 bring us here in the United States a step closer to a world without exploitation, deprivation, oppression and racist violence.
LONG LIVE THE CUBAN REVOLUTION!