Santiago de Cuba.—”All the glory in the world would fit within a kernel of corn,” wrote Cuba’s national hero José Martí, but today it seems that all of the glory in the world fits in a small cedar chest draped with a Cuban flag, bearing a simple inscription: Fidel Castro Ruz, with no letters indicating military rank or position, that weighed heavy in the hearts of those present in this city’s Antonio Maceo Grajales Plaza de la Revolución.
It was not in vain that Fidel united dozens of leaders from sister countries and more than a million Cubans in Havana, moved an entire people along the funeral procession that followed the route traveled by the Caravan of Liberty in 1959 – this time in reverse – and concentrated in this heroic city more dignitaries and friends from abroad and hundreds of thousands of Cubans from the country’s eastern provinces.
“I am Fidel!” was the cry that emerged from the hearts of those moved by the national anthem, because only an undefeated Comandante en Jefe, who inspires us with his example, is able to reproduce himself in men, women, and children committed to continuing his work and making his ideas their own.
As witnesses Fidel had, along with his family and brother – a comrade in all battles – a Black brother who faithfully accompanied him in ideas and action, Juan Almeida Bosque, immortalized in a sculpture on the Heredia Theater flanking the Plaza, as well as the Bronze Titan Antonio Maceo whose likeness calls us to battle.
Thus the pain, the sadness, the silence accumulated over the days since the night of November 25, were during the final tribute transformed into the determination to honor Fidel with commitment.
HIS WORK WILL LIVE ON IN THE HEARTS OF WORKERS
In the name of Cuba’s working class, Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, general secretary of the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC), expressed the deep pain and sadness felt by the trade union movement following the death of the founder of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz.
He said that Fidel was a “political giant of the 20th century; a member of a generation which was able to cultivate loyalty and determination, with its words and actions, and which defended revolutionary ideas and the principles of social justice unconditionally. From him, we learned that only those who struggle have the right to triumph, and the deep conviction that achieving victory depends on leadership, motivation, and the conception of unity we are able to generate within the people and among workers.
“With the triumph of January, 1959, the Cuban working class not only found a solution to its work-related demands and took power, but also became the leading force in the transformations required for the construction of a new social project, on the basis of which unity in the defense of the nation’s interests was created.”
At another point in his remarks, Guilarte said, “Thanks to you (Fidel) Cuba is today an honorable, independent, anti-imperialist, and solidary country.
“Your work will live forever in the hearts of workers. With your untiring struggle, you have shown that a better world is possible.”
FIDEL, FOR CUBAN CAMPESINOS, YOUR WORK AND THOUGHT WILL ALWAYS BE A BEACON AND GUIDE US IN THE DEFENSE OF OUR SOCIALIST REVOLUTION
Rafael Ramón Santiesteban Pozo, president of the National Small Farmers Association, said that since the first moments of the struggle in the Sierra Maestra, campesinos have had confidence in Fidel and in the nascent Rebel Army, noting the multiple ways in which they supported the insurgent forces. “Many of them joined as soldiers and gave their lives for a Revolution that defended their rights and was going to truly liberate them.”
He emphasized that the Revolution’s Agrarian Reform was not only implemented, but went further, giving ownership of the land to the men and women who worked it; as well as bringing science and technology to the fields; ensuring credit to finance production; providing insurance; taking education, public healthcare, sports, and culture to the most remote corners of the country; and most importantly gave us the independence and dignity that only a free, sovereign nation can.
He added, “Fidel, for Cuban campesinos, your work and thought will always be a beacon and guide the defense of our socialist revolution and its achievements. You will always be present, and we will follow you as we contemplate with affection every luminous dawn in our fields, among palms, plains, and mountains, in the effort and sacrifice of every workday as we fertilize the soil to continue cultivating your legacy.”
VETERAN COMBATANTS WILL CONTINUE YOUR WORK WITH SACRIFICE; COURAGE & REVOLUTIONARY CONVICTION
Division General José Carrillo Gómez, who heads the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution, said that members of the organization were deeply moved by the loss of their Comandante en Jefe, undefeated in all of the Cuban people’s battles in diverse arenas, since the last stage of our definitive national liberation struggle began.
He likewise indicated, “The Revolution which you dreamed of, initiated, and carried out, to which you tirelessly devoted your entire life, we will carry forward with absolute loyalty, united in an unstoppable march, like Martí, Maceo and Gómez, onward to conquer all justice and make the golden dream of our Apostle, of yours, and of all honorable Cubans, a beautiful reality.”
General Carillo said, “Veteran combatants will continue the work with sacrifice, courage, and revolutionary conviction. We face the challenge of being worthy of all those who died for the homeland, from the heroic martyrs of Moncada to those who fell in our glorious internationalist missions.
“Everyone, in a monolithic bloc, veterans and youth, reassert that the best way to pay tribute to Fidel is to maintain our unity under all circumstances, and reaffirm our commitment to making a reality of the conception of Revolution he formulated.”
WE ARE ALL FIDEL
Carlos Rafael Miranda Martínez, national coordinator of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) stated that Fidel is Cuba, because Fidel is the people, who continue to love him and are willing to follow him, just like they have done in great battles. “What Cuban doesn’t have in their home, on their desk, in their bedroom, on their dresser, a picture of their leader? He entered into our lives forever and became part of our family.”
At another moment, Miranda noted that the Committees, and of course Fidel, are present in every young person over 14 years of age that joins the organization, in every drop of voluntarily donated blood, in every mobilization to participate in vaccination campaigns, electoral processes, community debates, in every act of voluntary work.
Expanding on this idea he stated, “We are all Fidel. Eight and a half million Cuban men and women accompany me tonight, all CDR members. I speak on behalf of all of them. On behalf of the retirees and homemakers, the doctor, the police officer, the youth and students, recent graduates, carpenters and builders, artists, that is to say, every member of the community, the ordinary people of our neighborhoods.”
WE CUBANS ARE THE REVOLUTION
Representing the Federation of Cuban Women, the organization’s secretary general Teresa M. Amarelle Boué, emphasized that Cuban women have every reason to be proud of the country’s achievements. She noted that “given the values and principles of socialism which characterize the Revolution we defend, FMC members throughout the country have signed your concept of Revolution, as a way of reaffirming the fact that you have entered into immortality, because although your physical body is gone, your ideas and unquestionable truth will take root in every new generation of women born on this island. We feel a sense of commitment for having lived in your time, Fidel, and to continue building the extraordinary work you created.
“We Cuban women are the Revolution! Because it was she that opened the path of liberty and justice to us, because it was she that gave us the opportunity to become full human beings with rights and protagonists of the new Cuba built by you and the vanguard army that you so nobly led, which ripped out decades of discrimination, exclusion and humiliation by the root.
“Fidel is reproduced – as you (previous speakers) have said – in every patriot that stands up against imperialism and cultivates dignity and compassion. You have not died Fidel! You live in every Cuban woman, in our children, in our grandchildren; you live in every revolutionary of your grateful homeland and the world.”
FIDEL WENT TO THE VERY ROOT OF HISTORY TO EXTRACT ITS MOST NUTRITIOUS ESSENCE
Meanwhile, Miguel Barnet Lanza, president of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, reflecting on the figure of Fidel, stated: “None of his contemporaries can measure up to his stature as a giant. He defined for our country a new concept of nation, and as such contributed to the creation of a modern conception of the true meaning of revolution. He went to the very root of history to extract its most nutritious sap. As a young university student he fought against the evils of the neo-colonial Republic. His strong inclination toward the ideas of Martí saw him regarded as a leader and example among his peers.”
“This was Fidel the statesman, but the intellectual was never far behind. In his historic “Words to intellectuals,” he outlined Cuba’s cultural-political program, with a democratic and inclusive vision. The literacy campaign was carried out – the Revolution’s first great cultural achievement – and created were institutions which promoted the arts and letters, such as ICAIC; the Casa de las Américas; the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba; the artistic education system; and a group of institutions which have supported the country’s development.
“Books ceased to be a privilege and became an essential item. The entire program, all of it, was Fidel’s idea and one of his greatest legacies. And in the most difficult moment of the Special Period, as we were approaching rock bottom, the maxim he used to close a UNEAC Council was “Culture is the first thing that must be saved.”
FIDEL LEFT IN US THE INSPIRATION TO CONTINUE EXISTING; TO CONTINUE FIGHTING ON
Jennifer Bello Martínez, president of the Federation of University Students, stated that for Cuban students Fidel symbolizes strength, energy, faith in the Revolution, and commitment to the homeland. “The need to feel the pulse of his words, his ideas, his piercing gaze, the gesticulation of his hands, and firmness of his steps, has increased over these days: Fidel left in us the inspiration to continue existing, to continue fighting on.”
She also noted that the Comandante became a revolutionary at the university, “in the same expanding university where generations of young students today find meaning in life, which translates into a rebellious spirit, profound ideas of justice and human dignity, in an enduring social commitment.
“We will always defend this Revolution, we will never allow the sword or the flag to fall, we students will not fail her. We ratify our commitment to moving toward the future with your principles and ideals. Cuban universities and schools will be our Moncada, our Granma, our Sierra, our Girón. Cuba is ours to look after and defend!
“Before you, Comandante, who motivates us, before the statue of the Bronze Titan and before the people that have come to pay tribute to you, we wish to reaffirm that we will be faithful and loyal continuators of Martí; that we will be faithful and loyal continuators of Maceo. And with them, we Cuban students today state, for you, for Raúl and our Party, that Cuba is and always will be our eternal Baraguá.”
WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE FAITHFUL TO HIS LEGACY AND NEVER BETRAY THE CONFIDENCE WHICH HE ALWAYS PLACED IN THE YOUTH
Speaking during the tribute to Comandante en Jefe Fidel Casto Ruz, Susely Morfa González, first secretary of the Young Communist League (UJC), noted that millions of Cubans and revolutionaries across the entire planet have grown up with the lessons of the Comandante en Jefe. “We learned that principles must be unbreakable, that surrendering is never an option; that being an anti-imperialist is the essence of our historic struggles, that solidarity and internationalism make us grow as human beings and give us the overwhelming satisfaction of feeling useful; that all the glory in the world fits within a kernel of corn, and that we must never lie.”
She also highlighted that henceforth UJC members will assume an even greater commitment to Fidel’s ideas and revolutionary concepts, “We will be better in our studies, at work, in defending the homeland, much more altruistic, committed, and unwavering, we will feel that in every one of us continues the always perfectible work of true revolutionaries such as he, those who find the greatest satisfaction carrying out our duty.
“Our dear Fidel marches toward immortality, and today, overcoming the pain, we new generations of Cubans reaffirm that we will always be faithful to his legacy, and never betray the confidence which he always placed in the youth.”