Many people have expressed some pretty strong opinions about Cuban leader Fidel Castro since he died on Friday, and rightly so. Very few world leaders have polaraised communities, political parties and countries as dramatically as Fidel Castro did. I was tempted to write a more political piece since I spent a chunk of time in Cuba researching a book 18 months ago, but instead I wanted to offer a slightly different perspective.
Love him or loathe him, what was clear about Castro was that he was a superb public speaker who connected deeply with audiences when he spoke about the power of a true community. When I was in Cuba, I decided to try and remain open minded, despite the biased view of Castro I had inherited from Western media, and instead attempted to understand what made him tick. So, I read all of his speeches and spent many hours (and a fair amount of rum) thinking about his words on the beech and when I was in Havana. Having heard about his passing this weekend, I dug out the book of his speeches and went back over some of the words that I highlighted.
Reading some of his quotes in isolation, many of Castro’s words could quite easily have graced the bumper stickers, bibles, notebooks and instagrams of even his most staunch opponents, had his name not been attached to them. But alas.
And so with no ulterior motive, agenda or political bias whatsoever, I just wanted to share a few of Castro’s quotes from some of his most popular speeches that struck a chord with me. Make of them what you will…
“In this present-day world, social problems are not solved by a spontaneous generation”.
“I believe there is something more powerful than weapons: ideas, reason and the morality of a cause… Ideas do not perish with an individual… They will exist as long as our species does”.
“No idea – no matter how correct it is – can triumph if those who believe in it don’t defend it together”.
“Lack of unity can destroy a revolution”.
“People should be warned about excessive optimism”.
“Honor and independence are worth more than political possessions”.
“A revolution is an act of love”.
“The first duty of revolutionaries is to tell the truth”.
“When there is more interest in educating the people than in killing them there will be more than enough money”.
“[We should] analyse what is good, what is useful and what is beautiful”.