International Commission, YCL-LJC

Dec, 2016

Between Friday night and Saturday morning of last week, it was with great sadness that we learned the death of the main architect of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, at the particularly noble age of 90. This is particularly remarkable given the 638 listed assassination attempts which imperialism financed and attempted to set in motion.

To the Cuban people, in particular their youth organization, the Union of Young Communists (which is a sister organization of the YCL-LJC Canada), and to all organizations fighting for peace and against imperialism, to all progressive organizations in Canada, Quebec and around the world, we extend our deepest condolences at the loss of an unparalleled revolutionary that history has finally absolved.

Fidel Castro came to personify the Cuban Revolution, whose contributions to the people of this Caribbean island are innumerable and no longer have to be proven. However, the importance of universal access to health and education (which is not guaranteed in many countries that are much richer than Cuba), and to culture and sports, must be emphasized.

Under conditions that were often extremely difficult or even hostile, Fidel dedicated himself to developing his country in an independent direction, responding to the needs of the people and not the large American companies, all the while at a stone's throw from the United States. During the time of counter-revolutions in the USSR and Eastern Europe, the Cuban people refused to abandon this hard-won sovereignty and thus sent a clear message to the whole world that the so-called "end of history" had not taken place and that it was still possible to choose a path of socialism and independence. The fact that socialism was built on a small island and that it is still sustainable today shows the strength of the socialist system.

Wherever people are in struggle they have found Cuba as an ally in their emancipation. This is particularly true of the Sahrawi people who have lived under the yoke of Moroccan imperialism since 1974, but also the Palestinian people who have been confronted since 1948 by Israeli apartheid. Cuba has consistently mobilized considerable resources to enable Palestinians and Sahrawis to reach particularly high levels of education in several areas so that they can become actors of change in their respective countries. Fidel, along with hundreds of thousands in the Cuban armed forces, dealt several major blows against colonialism in Africa in directly aiding the liberation of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Cuba is also a leader for peace at the international level. Two examples are that Cuba has a more than exemplary history of participation in the World Peace Council, as well as its primary role in the creation of CELAC, which has made Latin America a zone of peace since 2014. This has manifested itself in concrete terms with the peace talks in Colombia, which are about to be ratified.

The progressive youth worldwide also found in Fidel an unfailing ally. The role of young people in the struggle, of the youth who try to build a new world, was particularly important to him. This enthusiasm led him to become personally involved in the founding of the Latin American and Caribbean Continental Organization of Students (OCLAE), the only contemporary international organization bringing together anti-imperialist students.

As we mobilize for the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS), we cannot help emphasizing Fidel's role in the revitalization of this movement, a convergence of tens of thousands of young anti-imperialist militants from all over the world. Indeed, in 1997 the decision to organize the 14th WFYS in Havana made it possible to again mobilize the world youth in the fight against the first enemy of the people; imperialism.

If Fidel died, the Cuban Revolution is alive and well. We are confident that Cuban youth are prepared to meet the challenges ahead, especially with the election of a new US administration that not only risks ending all the hopes raised two years ago with the resumption of dialogue between the two countries, but which will mark a return to a menacing tone from the Empire.

In this sense, we welcome the refusal of the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, to follow the US down this path when it comes to Cuba, which has also broken from the hostility of the former Conservative government. Let us be clear: this is not a profession of faith in favor of socialism, but rather a respect for the sovereignty of the Cuban people and their inalienable right to choose their path of development. Unfortunately, this position is not one that guides Canadian diplomacy in general, as Canadian invasions alongside NATO in the Middle East illustrate.

In Canada, there has been a determined effort on the part of the Conservative party and the corporate media to demonize Fidel Castro and Cuba, as well as criticizing the Trudeau government’s respect for Cuban sovereignty. Shamefully, this led to Trudeau’s decision to not attend Fidel’s funeral. This campaign to label Fidel Castro a dictator stands history on its head. Fidel was a liberator, like Jose Marti, Toussaint Louverture  and Simon Bolivar before him. The Cuban Revolution has brought a vibrant democracy to Cuba with many democratic institutions that allow Cuban workers to rule themselves, without the United States and without a capitalist class in control. The aggressiveness of this ideological campaign, along the lines of other “responsibility to protect” propaganda, gives rise to the possibility of further imperialist interventions against Cuba under the new Trump administration.

We call on all progressive and democratic minded people and friends of Cuba to mobilize in solidarity with Socialist Cuba and in particular for the immediate lifting of the criminal economic blockade imposed on the Caribbean nation since 1962, and for the dismantlement of the US military base in Guantanamo to and its return to its rightful owner; the Cuban people.

Fidel is not a person of the past, but a revolutionary of the present and of the future. For us, young Communists, he is an example that we will continue to follow in many respects throughout our struggle for peace, against imperialism, for international solidarity and for social and revolutionary transformation. This is the best way for us to honour his memory, for Fidel lives in each of us through our struggles.

See the Cuban Revolution

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Since 1993, the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade has offered hundreds of Canadians the opportunity to join an exciting and informative 2-week tour of Cuba. Volunteers are afforded a first-hand view of the gains and victories of the Cuban Revolution through both a tour of significant historical and political locales of Cuba and by working alongside ordinary Cubans. The next Brigade leaves in Spring 2017.

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