Comrade Fidel on Imperialism

Submitted by Vijay Prashad on Sun, 11/26/2017 - 11:28
Communist March in Delhi with Cuba
Indian communists march to US embassy in Delhi, 1961.


A year ago, Fidel Castro departed the world after a career of building socialism and being a sentinel against capitalism.


Fidel Nehru Krishna Menon
Fidel with Nehru and Krishna Menon in New York at the United Nations, 1960.


On April 17, 1961, the United States government tried to overthrow the socialist government in Cuba. The CIA-backed force landed on the Bay of Pigs but were defeated by the will of the Cuban people. This was the first of many attempts to overthrow the Cuban government - and to assassinate Castro (600 attempts!).

In Delhi, as news came in of the Bay of Pigs attack, the Communist Party of India took out a march to the US embassy. The picture on the top is of that march. This was not merely a march of solidarity with Cuba. It was a protest against imperialism - from Cuba to Vietnam, with a stopover in Kerala. Two years previously, the CIA had assisted the Congress in removing the democratically-elected communist government in Kerala. That government had come to power in an election in 1957 and was led by comrade EMS Namboodiripad.


Comrade EMS
Comrade EMS.


John Kenneth Galbraith, the US ambassador to India, would recount drolly what a superintendent of police from Madras State (which included northern Kerala till 1956) would tell him, 'I would like to tell you that I have the most satisfactory relationship with your spies'. The Communist Party of India's march was, therefore, to stand with Cuba but also to stand against imperialism in Kerala - where the government, unlike in Cuba, had been overthrown.

Galbraith presented his credentials in Delhi the day after the Bay of Pigs attack. A month later, in a letter from Delhi, he would advise his president - John F. Kennedy - to create the Special Guerrilla Units out of the Laotian montagnards. This was needed, the 'liberal' Galbraith noted, because 'the entire Laos nation is clearly inferior to a battalion of conscientious objectors from World War I'. The US entered the secret war against the Pathet Lao - the communists - and the Vietnamese forces. Thus the tentacles of imperialism stretched outwards, from the beaches of the Cuba to the Plain of Jars in Laos - which was bombed ferociously by the United States air force.


Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars in Laos is littered with the ordinance of the US air force.


In 1960, as a premonition, Castro went to the United Nations and laid into Kennedy -

'If Kennedy were not an illiterate and ignorant millionaire (APPLAUSE)...he would understand that it is not possible to carry out a revolution supported by landowners against the peasant in the mountains, and that every time imperialism has tried to encourage counterrevolutionary groups, the peasant militia has captured them in the course of a few days. But he seems to have read a novel, or seen a Hollywood film, about guerrillas, and he thinks it is possible to carry on guerrilla warfare in a country where the relations of the social forces are what they are in Cuba'.

There is nothing like watching Fidel at the United Nations. Here is a video of him delivering that speech.

By the way, imperialism would not let him lodge in New York, so Malcolm X arranged for the Cuban team to stay in Harlem. That is when the two anti-imperialists met in New York.


Malcolm X and Castro
Fidel Castro with Malcolm X at the Hotel Theresa, Harlem.