50 Years on from the Revolution we take a look at it’s ongoing impact
On New Year's Day, the people of Cuba marked the 50th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution. Back in January 1st, 1959 the US-backed dictator Batista was defeated and chased out of Cuba by Fidel Castro and the revolutionary guerillas of their 26th July Movement that included Fidel's brother Raul and the Ernesto Lynch "Che" Guevara.
Although the father of the revolution, Fidel, who has been out of the public eye due to ill health, he did manage to send a message to the "heroic" Cuban people. It was broadcast at midnight on New Year's Eve, during which he said: "A few hours from the upcoming 50th anniversary of the triumph, I congratulate our heroic people."
The occasion was nevertheless celebrated with a series of speeches, concerts and dances as President Raul Castro openly vowed that it would last another 50 years. In doing so he paid tribute to the martyrs of the revolution as he addressed a rally of 3,000 Santiago citizens in front of the old City Hall where his brother had proclaimed the independence of the Cuban people 50 years before hand. The newly appointed Cuban president also went on to state that: "We know that a man alone doesn't make history. But some men are indispensable, as they can have a decisive influence in the course of events. Fidel is one."
In doing so he used a quote from his brother's 2005 speech, when he warned "this revolution can destroy itself" and that, if it occurred, "it would only be our own fault." He added that the revolutionaries' victory was doubly important "for it has been attained despite the unhealthy and vindictive hatred of the powerful neighbour."
The celebrations continued following the laying of wreaths at the mausoleum of 19th century independence leader Jose Marti, at the pantheon of those who fell in the 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks and at the monument to Cuban soldiers who died fighting alongside national liberation forces overseas.
But for us here in Ireland, republican socialists will examine this historic time and its celebration to look at what can be achieved when the priorities of a nation put its people before profit. When it values human development, be it through free health and medical care or even free education for its people. Likewise this includes the internationalist role of Cuban medical teams abroad.
It is true that much has been achieved by Cuban people, in the face of enormous difficulties brought about by the US economic blockade. We have witnessed that over most of these 50 years they have tried to hinder their progress, attempted to demoralise them and misinform the rest of the world - so much the greater should be our admiration.
As revolutionary Marxists we too join with the Cuban people at this time, as with others across the world in the celebration of this historic event. In doing we, the Irish Republican Socialist Party extend our solidarity with the Cuban people in their triumph of the revolution and its gains in the face of US terrorism.
The struggle of the Cuban people is to be celebrated and held up as an aspiration for humanity. For us thechoice for humanity is clear, either socialism or barbarism!