History will absolve me

Fernand Léger (1881–1955), The Village, 1914.
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By SILVANE ORTIZ*

The transformation of an individual and the awakening of a new man

The greatest leader America has ever seen. A bloodthirsty despot. The revolutionary who went from consciousness to praxis. There are many ways that the world usually infers when referring to the name of Fidel Castro Ruz. What rarely happens is passivity, as a reaction to his figure. In a criminal proceeding following his arrest in 1953, when he orchestrated an uprising against the (de facto) government of Fulgêncio Batista (1952-1959), Fidel coined the phrase that ended his defense speech and that may well define the existence of this man, so relevant to the history of the XNUMXth century.

So a young lawyer from a middle-class family, Fidel, exasperated by a dictatorial and subservient government, decides that taking practical action, taking up arms, would be the only way to make a real confrontation, given the curtailment of democratic paths. The revolutionary ideal was born which, a few years later, would consummate the longest-lasting Socialist Republic in the history of the West.

In his explanation, Fidel shows all the brilliance and passion that marked his speeches throughout his life. Possessing powerful rhetoric, Castro gives vivid colors to the somber past and present, in which he submerged the future of the island. With the seizure of power by a military group led by Batista, Cuba changed, in fact, from a protectorate (Platt Amendment, 1903) to a North American neocolony. Under the imperialist yoke, inequality soars. Poverty and discouragement take hold of the population, which sees all the achievements of its historic struggle against the Spanish colonial power fade away. Castro says, at one point, that when the coup government was assumed, he, a knowledgeable citizen and still a believer in the judicial system, filed a lawsuit against Batista who, during his coup, had committed several crimes against the Constitution of the Republic. What was his surprise when he realized that a judiciary prostrated before a usurping government could not, against it, judge in favor of constitutional dictates. The mocked, subverted, trampled Constitution ends up, in an act validated by the Judiciary (Court of Constitutional Guarantees!), for being subordinated to the force of decrees. The highest charter of the State becomes hierarchically inferior to the decrees of the dictator Fulgêncio, in an obvious illegal arbitrariness. Defeated by the facts, Fidel gave up guaranteeing means, since they did not emanate any expectation of justice, and left for the execution of a right guaranteed by the Republican Constitution of 1940, the right to resistance (Article 40).

Article 40-The legal, gubernative or any provisions regulating the exercise of rights that this Constitution guarantees shall be null if they are discontinued, restricting or adulterating.

It is legitimate laristenciaadecuada para laprotección de los derechosindividuales previously guaranteed.

The action to prosecute the infringements of this Title is public, sincauciónniformalidad by anyone and by simple denunciation. (Cuba Political Constitution of 1940)2

Although guided by the restitution of a state, now undermined, the act of resistance brings in itself the germ of revolution. From the pain experienced, compassionate, revolt is born, a power of struggle. And this fight only takes shape, and the streets, if it comes from hope. Since hope is the anchor and engine of dreams and action, it would be impossible to take up the fight, keeping this as a mere battle for the restoration of times gone by. It will inevitably emanate higher demands. Of a real revolution, the dialectical aspect (feet on the ground[I]) is the logical result. A supersession from the constitutive state of society into something transcendent, metamorphosed, is the desired leap when starting a process greater than simple reformism. In this, with the intention of defending his country, and people, from dictatorial damnation, Fidel ended up breaking the popular torpor and creating the bases, internal and external, for a new thought. From the most (un)just chains, the most powerful movement erupts. Only the hope of life in fullness and the pursuit of real happiness can justify renouncing the enjoyment of the present.

When he tells of the plans for the July 26th uprising, Fidel emphasizes the level of commitment of his companions to the movement. In addition to sacrificing their own lives, most of the combatants gave up all their assets (material) to invest in the cause. When people are able to donate in this way, the reason behind the fact must be observed. Only based on the hope of a truly auspicious future, man is capable of a deed that threatens, in this way, his immediate existence. The struggle requires such a level of commitment that it ends up exhausting the individual's shallow alienating subjectivity. Just stripped of your eu, egocentric, the being finds reasons to think of a world beyond his time. A reality that he forges, with his arms, for others. This otherness is only measurable when the movement arises and grows of the people, by the people and for the people. The legitimacy of resistance uprisings resides precisely in the idea of ​​a counterattack. It is from the degradation of rights and sociability itself that the strength for revolution comes. Battles fought by armies, groups, joints, hordes, sponsored or subjugated by external forces, by capital or by pure interest of containment and domination, can never be conceived as such.

The Cuban struggle for freedom has always been followed with special interest by its northern neighbor. Since the times of its own colonial emancipation, the United States of America has shown to have in mind an idea of ​​right over the island. Perhaps due to its proximity, being bordered by Florida, Cuba seemed too close to take. Aware of this, Castro foresees that the struggle for freedom in his country would necessarily involve a break with US imperialism. He also knew that the powers, constituted or not, hidden in the evidence of their imposition, were always at the disposal of the Empires. Confronting giants takes more than just courage. In view of this, the battle would have to be, above all, for the ideals of the people. Only a cohesive people, aware of the pain imposed by forces that only see numbers, would be able to unite around an ideal and, shoulder to shoulder, unfurl the banner of hope. And under the aegis of this, like someone wearing impenetrable armor, fight without pettiness, protected by the mantle that only those who dare to stand up for the just can wear. Moments before the action, in a final speech to his men, Commander Fidel encourages and urges his men to the value of their bravery. Even though he had no expectation of a setback, he is confident in the greatness of the act. He counted that, even in case of failure, his uprising would be seen as a selfless example. The people would hear the cry of the non-conformists and line up with them, hoping for a world where the utopia of equality was a possible construction.

In 1963, in a speech given when the revolution had already been consolidated since 1959 (on January 1, 1959, Castro and his men descended the Sierra maestra and, together with the people, overthrew the Batista dictatorship), Fidel Castro, now Prime Minister of the Cuban Socialist Republic, recalls that at the height of his profession of faith in the redemptive power of History, a power capable of illuminating the nebulous reality of comparing the past to the materialism of the practical reality that the present presents, the thought existing there was not yet that of a Marxist. What emanated from those words was the argument of someone who dared no longer accept the dilapidation of his homeland. No more watching the people serving as sacrifices on the altar of imperialism. A man who put his life at the service of an ideal. From his defense speech, what we can perceive, more than anything else, is the transformation of an individual and the awakening of a new man.

* Silvane Ortiz is a law student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).

Note


[I] “My dialectical method, by its foundation, differs from the Hegelian method, being entirely opposed to it. For Hegel, the thought process – which he transforms into an autonomous subject under the name of idea – is the creator of the real, and the real is only its external manifestation. For me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing more than the material transposed into the human head and interpreted by it. […] In Hegel, the dialectic is upside down. It is necessary to turn it upside down in order to discover the rational substance within the mystical envelope.”3

 

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