By CIRCLES ROBINSON
HAVANA TIMES, January 2 – The Cuban Revolution has survived 50 years of challenges including a relentless hostility from Washington but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the woods. In fact, even amid the world financial crisis, the greatest danger appears to be within, noted President Raul Castro on Thursday evening.
At a solemn ceremony held in the same plaza in downtown Santiago de Cuba where the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro proclaimed victory over the US-backed Batista dictatorship on January 1, 1959, Raul set the tone for what’s ahead in what is still his first year in office.
He said the many achievements of the Revolution do not mean there is less danger: “Let’s not entertain any illusions. As we commemorate this half century of victories, it is time to reflect on the future, on the next fifty years when we shall continue to struggle incessantly.”
Mr. Castro then recalled the historic speech by his brother at the University of Havana on November 17, 2005, less than nine months before the adnominal surgery and prolonged recovery that has kept him out of the public eye ever since.
“Fidel told us all: This country could destroy itself, this Revolution could destroy itself, but they [the enemy] cannot destroy it. We could destroy it ourselves, and it would only be our fault,” said Raul.
Without going into detail on the specific modern day problems facing the country, the president urged tomorrow’s leaders “to never forget that this is a revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble” and “never to distance themselves from our workers, our farmers and the general population.”
“Let’s learn from history,” he said in what may have been a reference to the countries of the former Socialist Bloc of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
The hour and forty-five minute commemoration was draped in an air of history and started with the screening of the documentary “Ode to the Revolution.” The film by director Roberto Chile traces many of the most dramatic moments for Cuba over the last five decades, stressing the leadership role of Fidel Castro under the most trying of times.
Afterwards, several speakers reinforced the example of those like Frank Pais, the 22-year-old Santiago leader, who died in 1957 struggling for a truly independent Cuba.
The front rows of the audience were partly reserved for the surviving officers of the Rebel Army, many of whom went on to military careers in the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and to hold top political positions. Several are considered to be in the inner circle of confidence of the government still being fully put in place by Raul Castro.