(Telesur) – The revolution that no one said could survive due to its proximity to the United States has not only proved the naysayers wrong, but has triumphed over its main adversary.
On January 1, Cuba will be celebrating the 56th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, commemorating the 1959 victory of guerrilla forces, led by Fidel Castro over the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, who had fled the country that morning.
This year’s commemoration comes on the heels of a major shift in U.S.-Cuba relations. In mid-December, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a televised speech where he admitted that the decades-old policy that attempted to isolate Cuba and strangle its economy had been a failure.
Cuban President Raul Castro made a televised address coinciding with Obama’s, reinforcing what leaders from the island had been defending for decades – that Cuba’s sovereignty must be respected and that the Cuban people have the right to determine what political and economic system they prefer. The seasoned revolutionary welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as Obama’s recognition that 50 years of hostile U.S. policy toward Cuba had not weakened the island’s resolve.
Ever since the unlikely victory of the rebels over the U.S.’ man in Havana, Washington has attempted to destroy the Cuban Revolution and its achievements, with its intelligence agencies supporting terrorist actions against the Cuban people, as well as numerous assassination plots and attempts against the Cuban leadership. Of course, there was also the military invasion at the Bay of Pigs, which the Cubans quickly put down.
Given the intensity of the emnity – spurred by the political clout of the far-right Cuban expats in Miami – and the asymmetry between the two countries, the fact that the Cuban revolution has endured is not only astounding, but also a testament to the resilience of the Cuban people and their commitment to their socialist project.
Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba has enraged many within the political establishment in the United States, who find it intolerable that just 90 miles off their coast exists a socialist economy. These sectors detest Cuba because since its victory over half a century ago has been an example for Latin American progressives ever since. The majority of Americans, on the other hand, support the move.
But the endurance of the Cuban revolution is not only present inside its borders.
When the United States was working to implement a free trade agreement that would cover all of the Americas, Cuba, together with Venezuela, built the Bolivarian Alliance for Our America (ALBA) as an alternative premised on development through solidarity, not competition. In 2014, ALBA celebrated its 10 year anniversary by accepting two new member states, bring the total to 12 nations.
The numerous progressive and revolutionary governments that are now in power throughout Latin America are a testament to the legacy of the Cuban Revolution, with leaders throughout the region expressing the desire to follow Cuba’s lead in terms of social development. Reducing inequality, promoting social inclusion, and providing social programs that attend the needs of the population are now the priorities of many governments in Latin America, especially those that have drawn inspiration from Cuba. Bolivia and Venezuela, for example, have been declared free of illiteracy thanks to the Cuban literacy program.
Cuba continues to inspire those who imagine a better world, with the Cuban government and people repeatedly coming to the aid of those in need. Doctors from Cuba’s much-lauded medical system have been dispatched throughout the world to provide assistance in humanitarian crisis, providing medical attention in places such as Pakistan and Haiti. This year, while its northern neighbour announced it would send thousands of troops, Cuba announced it would send nearly 500 medical professionals to countries in Africa battling the Ebola epidemic.
Despite the resumption of diplomatic relations, the U.S. blockade against Cuba still stands, the revocation of that failed policy will mark an another important milestone in the story of its revolution. Cuban President Raul Castro has stated that the country faces “long and difficult struggle” before the blockade is lifted.
There is no doubt that the Revolution will endure, as it has for over 50 years.