Inexhaustible presence, image of the dream fulfilled and truth of a country, Fidel continues to inhabit us from the survival, and emerging undefeated in the endearing memory of those who lived his time
Seven Novembers have passed since his physical departure and, however, Fidel continues to inhabit us since his survival, with that inexhaustible presence that emanates from his eternal and inescapable legacy, and from the endearing memory of those who lived his time.
And it could not be any other way, because as Army General Raúl Castro Ruz pointed out in 2016, in those days of collective mourning, in which a people mourned the loss of their greatest leader: «Fidel dedicated his entire life to solidarity and led a socialist Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble", thus becoming a symbol of the anti-colonial, anti-apartheid and anti-imperialist struggle, and a bastion of the emancipation and dignity of oppressed peoples.
Precisely about that image of Fidel, who does not fit into any mold of politician, statesman, thinker or revolutionary, because his true legend crossed all possible labels, there are hundreds of anecdotes that portray him in the immensity of his unparalleled greatness, and as the extraordinary man – of flesh and blood – who remains a true paradigm.
BE AN EXAMPLE AS A FIRST CONDITION
Fidel liked to lead by example. That attitude earned him, inside and outside Cuba, the admiration of those who had the good fortune to know him personally or to be under his orders, as happened to Commander Juan Almeida Bosque, fellow fighter and close friend of the historical leader.
«With him I learned to be fair, modest, respectful, humane and responsible. He led by example, and being with him complemented the attitudes and qualities that I brought from my family, from my father. "He is greatness personified, a humane and simple man," he would say in an interview.
Also the journalist Lázaro Barredo Medina would witness, on more than one occasion, that shocking ability of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, to overcome any sacrifice, and continue to be an example to his people.
An unfortunate event, which occurred on June 23, 2001, confirmed this. That day, after almost three days of intense work, in which the Commander in Chief had barely rested or fed properly, he fainted in Cotorro; but, when he recovered, he told the people that he would finish his speech at the Round Table, and so he did.
Barredo, who that day had heard the claim of senior leaders of the Party and the National Assembly of People's Power that Fidel should rest for at least seven hours, and abide by that agreement in his capacity as a militant, recounted his meeting hours later with Raúl and Fidel himself.
According to what he said then, when the Army General learned of the concern that existed regarding the Chief's rest, he smiled, turned to where the Commander was and said: "Fidel, you must listen to this story about Lazarus...
«(…) The Head of the Revolution asked him what story Raúl said I was going to tell him, and with some timidity I answered: it is nothing important, Commander, but he insisted that I tell him. I told him what happened in the National Assembly that morning. Fidel looked at me smilingly and blurted out: You know what, Lázaro... (he uttered an expletive and then) nothing of that, how am I going to let them at this point in my life come to govern me and tell me what I should do, when I still have so many things to do, nothing of that...
«I started laughing. But I had that feeling that the Commander would never renounce his style of work, and that idea of dedicating his life to the Revolution and his people.
THE FIRST IN THE FACE OF DANGER
Another anecdote, published by the Girón newspaper, recounts episodes of the heroic days in which a mercenary invasion tried to curtail Cuba's emancipatory dream, without taking into account that Fidel would once again be at the head of its defense.
There the Leader assigned a commander to each tank, and he went to get into the third. Then the people jumped like a spring:
«–Not you, Fidel, you are not going!
–I am going, I am in charge here!
–Not you, Fidel, not you!
According to one of those present at that time, the end of the discussion between the Commander in Chief and the troops ended like this:
«And Fidel's response was an answer that shocked everyone. The way Fidel told us forcefully that he was the head of the Revolution, and that he, as head of the Revolution, had the right to fight and enter Playa Girón just as the rest of the comrades were going to do ( …) people were silent, everyone there was silent. And Fidel left in the tank.
For his part, José Alberto León Lima (nicknamed Leoncito), who was the driver and escort of the Historical Leader, also highlighted, in a testimonial book in which he collects several of his experiences with Fidel, the respect they professed for him, even within the United States, where he went with no other protective vest than his morals.
About one of those trips that occurred in the first years of the revolutionary triumph, he said that in New York "...when we reached the street, there was a sea of people cheering for Fidel and the Revolution. Cuban and July 26 flags were seen everywhere, and those present spontaneously began to sing the National Anthem. The security cordon of FBI agents and police on horseback could not prevent Fidel from approaching them..."
For this amazing way of overcoming obstacles, and making even the impossible possible, Fidel also became a symbol
inspiring for artists, doctors, teachers, scientists and even athletes.
Boxer Ángel Herrera attested to this, who, upon returning triumphant from the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada (1976), in which he was crowned Olympic titleholder for the first time in the 57 kilogram division, had the honor of being received at the airport, along with other of his colleagues, by the Commander in Chief.
«I remember that he greeted us all and we shook his hand one by one. I had won the position at the last minute, since I went to complete the team. When my turn arrived, Fidel happily told me: "You went from youth to Olympic champion." That spurred me to get fully into training, and I did it so hard that I became a two-time world and Olympic champion. Never has praise stimulated me so much,” he said.
Likewise, the beloved athlete Ana Fidelia Quirot, when in 1993 she suffered a domestic accident that caused 2nd degree burns. and 3rd. degree of her, in 38% of her body, she said that the support of the Historical Leader was also key in her subsequent recovery.
«I was on the 22nd floor of the Quemados room, and it was more or less 9:30 p.m., I felt that someone was walking with very firm steps to the room... It was our beloved and invincible Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz. "When I saw it, it was like experiencing a hymn to life," she stressed.
No less emotional was the anecdote told by the Bolivian leader Evo Morales, during his stay in Cuba in 2005, when he was recovering from knee surgery. «I was at an event with Chávez and, at the end, Fidel called me for a “photo of the axis of evil.” When I hear it, I forget to pick up the crutches and walked like that; The doctors were surprised. It seemed like a kind of biblical order: “Evo, get up and walk,” he said.
And that is the image that remains alive of the Olive Green Giant, who never dies in the memory of the grateful.
His friend Hugo Chávez defined it well, when he stated: «Fidel is a dreamer soldier, an example without a doubt for all of us, for all generations of fighters in the world. Fidel has an infinite and gigantic face before history, and no one will take Fidel out of there. History has absolved him.
Sources: *I knew Fidel. Compilation of anecdotes and evaluations about the leader of the Cuban Revolution, by Wilmer Rodríguez Fernández, 2021/*This is Fidel, by Luis Báez, 2009/*A page for Fidel. Tribute to the Undefeated Commander of the Cuban Revolution, by Collective of Authors, 2017.