That Fidel inside us: The Humility of a Great Man

That Fidel inside us: The Humility of a Great Man
Fecha de publicación: 
4 December 2023
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Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz has not gone to any distant place: his presence can be felt everywhere. He did not become poetry with his physical departure. He already was. Hence, he is everywhere —as poet Nicolás Guillén stated about Che Guevara. And he grows bigger. Everything he said and predicted is confirmed as time goes on, in both Cuba and the world.

Fidel —perfect disciple of that Angel called José Julián Martí y Pérez— said it all as well. Or is not that truth, sad and pure, shared by him, that the only disease of Men with no antidote is the desire for war and war itself?

Now that we witness how the planet bleeds from an unhealing wound (the holocaust of the Palestinians in Gaza), we wonder what Fidel would have said. And despite so much pain, the strong denunciation and the horror, we know that he would also encourage people to fight and prevail; that it is better not to be afraid; that it is beautiful to be consistent right up to the end; that we fight until our last breath; that human beings still treasure a dose of shame; that even when dedication is often stumbled by the likely ingratitude of men, we shall not lose faith in the betterment of humanity; and that life should always have a beautiful meaning.

*“Men must never give up their dreams. Men must never give up utopias. Fighting for a utopia is, somehow, like building it,” *the Commander in Chief once said. And he was right. Otherwise, what would make sense to human beings?

These lines, which combine testimonies from journalists who knew Fidel, who coincided in time with him —and where there are also statements from others who were not close to him due to that very same time— pays tribute to a man we miss so much, as we continue in the struggle to put our pieces together again and strengthen what we are as Cubans, when the key struggle —amidst a chaotic and dehumanized world— is the same our Commander in Chief had: nourishing virtue and not the evil we hide in our souls. Alina Perera Robbio (Havana, 1971).


I met Fidel Castro in my dreams. I was barely seven years old and my grandmother – a loyal follower of Fidel from her birth until her early death— told incredible stories about the *“El Caballo*,” that giant “bearded man” who guided the nation destiny. Since then, the 1970s, I
thought all the time about what I would say to him if I happened to “bumped into him.”

I wanted to study *“the best job in the world,”* according to El Gabo’s opinion on journalism, so I could, one day perhaps, meet Fidel. And it happened then — amidst the turbulent years of the 1990s— this recent graduate, inexperienced, optimistic and dreamer girl was able to meet that
exceptional man dressed in olive green

As a journalist, I met Fidel many times. I asked him questions, and he answered me back, although there were no few times when he answered me with another question. That’s the way he was. I had the honor to report several press coverages inside the country and abroad. I did so with some state visits to countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, not to mention the attendance to swearing-in ceremonies of many presidents, Summits, and global conferences…

I watched him all the time with the same amazement of that girl who, long ago, searched for his speeches in newspapers; searched for his universal prominence on television images and his distinctive voice in radio addresses, which paralyzed the nation and the people turned on their TVs and radios because *“Fidel was about to deliver a speech.”*

And yes…Fidel belongs to each of us. He belongs to a nation. But each of us has our own Fidel inside. That very sad November 25th, 2016, a voice vanished for a moment, but emerged again to continue challenging threats, dangers, and tricks, with his moral vest, with his heart on his sleeve.

Fidel was not only the leader of a Revolution that learned to stand strong against any adversity; but he was also a teacher of a people; and at the same time, its most extraordinary disciple.

After his physical departure he remained in the air, in the dust, in the water, in the soil, everywhere. He is the guerrilla man, the President, the intellectual, the father, the friend, the inseparable brother of the *“little one”* —that other great Cuban who continues to repeat to us, with unchanging love and loyalty, that *“Fidel is irreplaceable.”*

The Commander impressed with his sincerity. His wisdom dazzled. His power of persuasion was contagious, the special gift of words, the virtue of simplicity, solidarity and nobility. He left us the teaching to serve truth and ethics, to always go to our roots; and, above all things, defend Cuba.

Thinking, working and creating, preserving the unity of the nation, is the best tribute to an extraordinary man; not even death believes he passed away. His greatest merit is having remained alive for his people. Cuba will always have Fidel; Fidel will always have Cuba; and I will continue to believe in that Fidel who lives inside me. Angélica Paredes López (Pinar del Río, 1971)


Among my greatest moments after thirty years working as a journalist, I can say that one of them is having the privilege to accompany the historical leader of the Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, on several national and international stages.

I saw him shine as a statesman in major events such as the Millennium Summit, held at the New York headquarters of the UN; I appreciated his efforts to strengthen Cuba's role in the international arena as well as Cuba’s relations with countries such as Venezuela, Malaysia and Libya, to name a few. But there was an event that allowed me to assess, first-hand, his enormous qualities as a human being, humble, sensitive and entirely devoted to the well-being of his people: the passage of Hurricane Michelle,
one of the most devastating storms that has affected Cuba in the last decades.

On Sunday, November 4th, 2001, when the meteor hit the southern coast of the island’s center —as a category 4 hurricane, with winds exceeding 135 mph— and Fidel, as usual, decided to go to the epicenter of the danger. I was informed by the management of the Cuban Television Information System that I had to go with him, along cameraman and director Roberto Chile.

The convoy moved on, already at night, in the midst of torrential downpours and hurricane-force winds, until reaching the resort of Varadero, where the noticeable deterioration in the weather forced us to spend the night. The very next day, just before dawn,

we toured the affected areas. There was no town or hamlet in the provinces of Matanzas, Villa Clara and Cienfuegos, no matter how small they were, where Fidel did not stop to inquire about the damage and talk with the residents, who, even in the midst of the difficult moment, came to meet with the leader to show their love and support, convinced that they would not be abandoned.

Back in Havana, late at night, I had received no response from my request. I then understood that due to the complexity of the time and his busy agenda as a head of state, it would be impossible for Fidel to meet my request. I then devoted myself, along with Roberto Chile, to process and edit the recorded material. At some point, someone knocked on the door of the office we were working at. An officer of Fidel’s personal guard asked me to go with him. Fidel wanted to see me.

We arrived at the office where the Chief, huge in his olive green uniform, was waiting for me. After the greeting, he put his arm over my shoulder and invited me into the office, furnished with Spartan simplicity. Next to me, he walked through that space several times, which seemed immense to me.

After being interested in the progress of my work, he expressed to me with great humility that he had received my request, but it would not have been objective to conduct an interview when the data of the havocs caused by the hurricane were still preliminary, which might lead to a wrong assessment of the magnitude of the damage.

Fidel told me that the assessment would take a few days and then a comprehensive information would be offered to the people. He promised me once it took place, I would be there to accompany the country's leadership in the task. And so it happened.

My report on Hurricane Michelle's passing was aired the next morning, titled “*Una Batalla Más* (One More Battle).” Basically, it was like that: a new fight in which, despite the difficulties, Cuba, led by its Commander in Chief, emerged victorious again. Héctor Martínez Marrero (Havana, 1962).


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