"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Ink_Drops
Full Name: Syed M. Aslam
User since: 17/Jul/2009
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“History will absolve me”

By Syed M. Aslam

Born with the proverbial golden spoon in his mouth he chose to betray his affluent class to become hero to his people and the oppressed and exploited everywhere. He is a living revolutionary legend of the downtrodden and the marginalzed masses across the nooks and corners of the world. His revolutionary throw of a dictator in 1959 is hailed as one of the greatest revolutionary victories of the modern era we breathe in.

Born to one of the richest sugarcane farmers of the country in 1926 and educated in the finest Catholic schools, he studied law to become a lawyer who preferred to defend the poor for free instead of making money. As a student leader and later as lawyer he fiercely opposed the dictator in private and public. In 1953, he lead an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the dictator, who had behind him the approval and full support of America . Many of his comrades were captured and tortured to death dozens of others, including him, were arrested.

On public pressure the dictator was forced to release him and he went into exile only to he publicly informed the dictator that he would be returning to his country in 1956 a year in advance. The small boat that carried excessive load of his comrades and ammunition sank near the seashore where dictator’s forces were vigilantly awaiting to stop his entry- at least alive. Many of his comrades died on the spot. He and less than half-a-dozen of the die-hards, under the most unfavourable circumstances continued the struggle in hills and plains for long three years to finally enter the capital city victorious on tanks to the roar and applaud of his people. The dictator did what dictators do- flee. He stepped down as the undisputed leader of his country last year after nearly fifty years in power, the first several decades of which were spent in battling over 500 attempts by an angry US, just 60 miles across the sea, bent to eliminate him to stop the revolution reaching neighbouring countries of South and Central America . The passionate speech that he delivered in front of panel of judges in his and his companions’ trying him for the unsuccessful attack on an army check post in 1953 to overthrow the dictator is remembered as “History will absolve me” speech. A number of excerpts of that speech is reproduced below to better understand the legend known as Fidel Castro. The passionate and the lengthy speech is a brilliant mix of laws, legalities, humanity, intrepidness, un-wavered commitment to cause and ideals that everyone of us holds dear, purity of thought, clarity of action, taking responsibility. It was sprinkled with quotes from globally respected philosophers, thinkers, liberators, freedom fighters in circumstances absolutely unfavourable.

“Never has a lawyer had to practice his profession under such difficult conditions; never has such a number of overwhelming irregularities been committed against an accused man... Honorable Judges: Why such interest in silencing me? Why is every type of argument foregone in order to avoid presenting any target whatsoever against which I might direct my own brief? Is it that they lack any legal, moral or political basis on which to put forth a serious formulation of the question? Are they that afraid of the truth? ...The article in question reads textually: A penalty of imprisonment of from three to ten years shall be imposed upon the perpetrator of any act aimed at bringing about an armed uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State. The penalty shall be imprisonment for from five to twenty years, in the event that insurrection actually be carried into effect...In what country is the Honorable Prosecutor living? Who has told him that we have sought to bring about an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State? Two things are self-evident. First of all, the dictatorship that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional power, but an unconstitutional one: it was established against the Constitution, over the head of the Constitution, violating the legitimate Constitution of the Republic. The legitimate Constitution is that which emanates directly from a sovereign people. Secondly, the article refers to Powers, in the plural, as in the case of a republic governed by a Legislative Power, an Executive Power, and a Judicial Power which balance and counterbalance one another. We have fomented a rebellion against one single power, an illegal one, which has usurped and merged into a single whole both the Legislative and Executive Powers of the nation, and so has destroyed the entire system that was specifically safeguarded by the Code now under our analysis.

“Just as serious or even worse is the housing problem. There are two hundred thousand huts and hovels in Cuba; four hundred thousand families in the countryside and in the cities live cramped in huts and tenements without even the minimum sanitary requirements; two million two hundred thousand of our urban population pay rents which absorb between one fifth and one third of their incomes; and two million eight hundred thousand of our rural and suburban population lack electricity. We have the same situation here: if the State proposes the lowering of rents, landlords threaten to freeze all construction; if the State does not interfere, construction goes on so long as landlords get high rents; otherwise they would not lay a single brick even though the rest of the population had to live totally exposed to the elements. The utilities monopoly is no better; they extend lines as far as it is profitable and beyond that point they don’t care if people have to live in darkness for the rest of their lives. The State sits back with its arms crossed and the people have neither homes nor electricity.

“In any small European country there are more than 200 technological and vocational schools; in Cuba only six such schools exist, and their graduates have no jobs for their skills. The little rural schoolhouses are attended by a mere half of the school age children - barefooted, half-naked and undernourished - and frequently the teacher must buy necessary school materials from his own salary. Is this the way to make a nation great?

“Thomas Paine said that ‘one just man deserves more respect than a rogue with a crown.”

“If all the weight of the law does not fall upon the guilty because of cowardice or because of domination of the courts, and if then all the judges do not resign, I pity your honor.

“I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”

Living under the thick dark shade of the dreaded super power of the world- the only one after the dissolution of USSR a decade ago, has never bothered him because he has always truly fidel to his people all along through thick and thin. After acquiring the power he initiated the land distribution scheme to poor peasants in which the first lands given were his father’s lands.

Fifty years later today Fidel Castro’s Cuba produces more engineers and more doctors as percentage of population than any other country in the world. The education is free and so are state-of-the-art medical facilities. Cuba has lower infant mortality rate than the US; 5.82 compared to 6.26, and one-tenth that of ours at 65.14 deaths per 1,000 live births. Cuba has higher literacy rate than the US- 99.8 per cent compared to 99 per cent and matches US life expectancy at birth of 75.65 years

Less than 14 per cent of the size and 6.5 per cent of Pakistan’s population Cuba spends 9.1 percent on education as percentage of GDP than the US’ 5.3% and Pakistan ’s negligible 2.6% combined. And while it matches the US in School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) at 16 years it beat ours 7 years hands down. Cuba’s budget revenues and expenditures stand at $ 41.06 billion and $ 43.33 billion compared to Pakistan ’s $ 22.14 billion and $ 32.09 billion. See how small the fiscal deficit is in the case of Cuba and how wide-gaped it is in our case.

History seems to have already absolved Fidel Castro- Fidel to the core to his people and the only living revolutionary legend of the world. In fact, it has bestowed on him the glory of a living legend that he is. The name of the fleeing dictator, who the world prefers to forget, was Fulgencio Batista.


Syed M. Aslam is an APNS (All Pakistan Newspapers Society) Award-winning journalist, writer, analyst and Column Writer.
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