Fidel Castro — Beyond Words

We lost Fidel.  We gained a history of examples and wisdom.

The story of Fidel is beyond words — we cannot describe it with words alone.  So I would like to just give a testimony.

He used all his wisdom, knowledge, leadership, and dedication to build, over 60 years, a united and organized people, who have become invincible, faced with the most powerful economic and military forces of the 20th century: the capital of the United States.

For all those years the people have learned how to face the worst adversities, be they natural, like their hurricanes, storms, and lost harvests.  They have faced an intolerable economic blockade.  They have faced a permanent war, including a military invasion — the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

They have faced the difficulties of a society with limited production of material goods and a colonial heritage of extreme inequality, of slave labor, of sugarcane monoculture, and of cultural subservience.

They have faced the worst moments of a peripheral country subject to global geopolitics.

They have won all the battles.

They have built a society that adamantly pursues equal rights and opportunities for all the citizens.

They have overcome ignorance and become a country with the highest education level in the world.

They have created preventive, solidarity, and humanitarian medicine which has sent more than 60,000 doctors to just about all countries in the world, surpassing all the countries and international organizations combined.  For us they have sent 14,000 doctors so that 44 million Brazilians could experience, for the first time, preventive, quality medical care.

They have always been in solidarity with all the peoples of the world who were fighting against oppression and exploitation, especially in Africa and Latin America.

Our movement, the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST), has received permanent solidarity and support of the Cuban people, with their technical schools, at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), where hundreds of poor Brazilian youths have been trained.  Our movement has acquired the experience and methods of adult literacy education (Yes, I Can!).  Together we have built international links of movements: Vía Campesina; the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA); the World Meeting of Popular Movements with the Pope; the Cuban peasants of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) and the agroecology experts of the Cuban Association of Agriculture and Forestry Experts (ACTAF); the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC); the Martin Luther King Center; etc.  But above all we have learned a great deal from their exemplary struggle and persistence.

We have actively participated with the Cuban people in the campaign against the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas — ALCA in its Spanish acronym) and against the empire’s domination over Latin America.

And Fidel was always the organizer and inspiration for all the people.

It doesn’t do, here and now, to keep extolling the personal qualities of this incomparable figure, of this statesman, sage, and political strategist.

I would just emphasize, for our activists, his example in two fundamental aspects of life.  The love of study.  Fidel was a permanent propagandist for the importance of study, scientific knowledge, and liberating education.  He had constantly studied from youth till his last days.  He used to always say, quoting his inspiration Jose Martí: “Only knowledge truly liberates people.”

He was always with his people, every moment, on the front line, in all difficult situations: in war, in the organization of production and knowledge.  He spared no efforts and set an example of the spirit of sacrifice.

Fidel was a brilliant man because of his ideas and his consistency.

He left us a fantastic legacy, as an example to follow.

Viva Fidel!  Fidel will live forever.

São Paulo, 26 November 2016

João Pedro Stédile is a founder of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST).  The original article was published under the title “Uma história que não pode ser escrita com palavras . . .” on the MST Web site on 26 November 2016.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi of Movement Translation Service (contact: yoshie.furuhashi [at]