The death of Fidel Castro was not unexpected. He died at 90, even as he had faced hundreds of assassination attempts by the CIA and its associates. In The Hindu, I wrote an appreciation of Fidel's role as the voice of the Third World. It drew from my memories of hearing him speak at the 1983 Non-Aligned Movement meeting in New Delhi and the 2001 World Conference Against Racism. 'Castro, for the Third World', I wrote, 'was not merely another leader. He was the mirror of its aspirations. That mirror is now shattered'. You can read the short essay here. A longer discussion of the legacy of the Cuban Revolution will be in the next Frontline.
The picture above is of the exterior of our LeftWord Books office in Delhi. It is a drawing of Castro in the Sierra Maestra, with his heavy pack. A reminder of the hard work of building a new world, one that is - of course - ongoing.
Meanwhile, events in Syria escalate. The Syrian Army has almost finished its campaign in eastern Aleppo. I spoke - at length - to a long-standing contact in the Syrian army, asking him why the forces had decided last month to make a push for eastern Aleppo, and wondering what to make of the outcome. What does it mean for the Syrian army and government to take these cities? The report is here. It ends bleakly,
- 'This civil war will not end unless Syria is able to handle these internal contradictions. Extreme violence cannot overcome them. It will require a great deal of effort to revive the lifeblood of Syrian nationalism, to bring unity to people divided deeply and now with blood as the moat between them'.