By Guillermo Fernandez Ampie
HAVANA TIMES, August 23 — Few Latin American leaders have ever stirred up as much hatred and fear among our continent’s wealthy sectors and their principal partners as has the leader of the Cuban revolution.
What’s more, it can be affirmed that no other leader of the region has received such scorn, though currently President Hugo Chavez is not far behind in being the elite’s favorite target of rage against anything that smells, breathes, speaks, defends or acts in the interests of the masses of the historically impoverished peoples of Latin America.
Their spokespeople — the transnational corporations that market the news, along with their national disseminators — do everything possible so that those people who share those progressive sentiments are always excluded. They waste not a single opportunity to tag a photo of Fidel or of the Venezuelan president with some slanderous epithet, just as they do to anyone else who chooses to pursue a similar path, anyone who wants to raise the consciousness of the peoples of the continent.
Nor do they spare any effort to get working people and the impoverished masses to admire and assume as their own leaders those politicians or “statesmen” who in practice — despite how much and how eloquently they speak in support of the poor — have done nothing truly significant to support them.
In this way, even on the most banal television series, it’s possible to hear some reference to “Churchill as a brilliant international statesman” or “Kennedy (from his mythicized Camelot) as a pristine politician.” We hear about the genius, good humor and popularity of Reagan, regardless of him having promoted death squads in Central America, in addition to him having provided protection and facilitated the expansion of drug trafficking cartels.
All this goes without mentioning George Washington and the “founding fathers” of what is today the USA, though it’s generally not mentioned that they had as property — as if heads of cattle — other human beings from whose slave labor they profited.
The same tone is perceived in the “information” provided by the news manufacturing industry and the manipulators of opinion every time a soldier dies after having taken part in the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq. “Remembered as Heroes” was what I read recently as a headline repeated in diverse media. One report emphasized how affectionate the soldiers are toward their families and how kind they are to their neighbors; that paper then discussed the dreams and aspirations of these troops and how much they loved their children and siblings.
I won’t say that any of that is false, but nor do I doubt that the hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered by bombings in those countries — as is now the case in Libya, and previously in Vietnam and Nicaragua — also loved their children and siblings. They too were probably kind toward their neighbors, and they must have also held onto dreams and hopes.
However, the feelings of the victims of “intelligent” bombs are never reported on or covered. They don’t matter and they’re not mentioned because the “informational” strategy of this media is to create the image of the kind and heroic American soldier so that they are seen as heroes around the world.
Those behind the media don’t seem to realize that their heroes are not nor can they ever be the heroes of the people of “Our America.” Nor are they the heroes of other peoples of the world who are oppressed and slaughtered by them. They are not nor can they be ours. On the contrary, their leaders and heroes are in large part responsible for much of the betrayal, death, destruction and misery in our countries.
So much blood has been spilt and there have been so many the deaths, so much effort, struggles and cumulative defeats, but it’s such a disappointment that oppressed Latin Americans are on occasion unable to identify who truly defends and struggles in their interests. They often fail to see who promotes and leads the movements for change that seek to improve their situations of misery and oppression inherited for centuries. Instead they look to those who deliver only flowery but vain speeches.
There are many leaders and heroes of the new Latin America, of “Our America,” and Fidel Castro belongs among them. It’s not surprising that so much ink and paper has been wasted to revile him, as is also being done against Venezuela’s current president.
The same thing happened with other popular leaders of the past. The Mexican hero Hidalgo was damned by the elites and the high new-Hispanic hierarchy. The indigenous leaders who died in defense of their people — Tupac Amaru, Thasunke Witko (“Crazy Horse”), Thathanka Iyotake (“Sitting Bull”), among others — were considered no more than wild Indians by their murderers. In the 1920s, the American military that occupied Nicaragua described the revolutionary Augusto Sandino as a bandit. The commanders of American troops that occupied Haiti ten years earlier referred to Charlemagne Peralte the same way. The list of examples is extensive.
One shouldn’t think that with what has been said I’m trying to suggest that Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez are saints or that they don’t commit errors or have weaknesses. In no way am I proposing this. But it is indeed evident that they have done more for the “wretched of the earth” who are suffering from hunger and thirst, those who desire an education and needed medicine, while many other politicians who never tire of merely talking about loving their neighbor.
In his message to the peoples of the world, in 1966 Che wrote: “How could we look at the luminous future, if two, three many Vietnams flourished in the surface of the globe.” In our current circumstances, we could paraphrase him by saying: How luminous and noble would be the destiny of Latin American people if it had two, three or more, many leaders of the stature of Fidel or Chavez.
Surely; and I’ll repeat words that on more than one occasion I’ve heard in Central America: “Another rooster would sing in Latin America if each country had a Fidel” – or a Chavez and another Evo, and two Jose Mujicas and an additional Cristina Kirchner. We can now start adding them.
Everything indicates that to achieve true independence, to live with dignity, to cease being a subordinate peon, and to speak face to face with the government of the United States and the European countries, to put a limit on the pillaging by the transnationals, to defend the rights of the peoples of the region and to develop all of their potential, Latin America needs two, three, many leaders like the one from Cuba or the popular leader from Venezuela.