On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro stepped onto the stage of history, as he and other revolutionaries launched an attack on the Moncada Barracks of Cuban dictator Batista. After being captured, Castro made an eloquent defense of his action, saying, “history will absolve me.” Less than six years later, Castro led the Cuban revolution to victory by overthrowing the corrupt and cruel U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship. This act alone – leading a revolutionary movement to victory on a small island just 90 miles off the coast of the U.S. – would be enough to make Fidel Castro an unforgettable hero in the struggle of oppressed people for liberation. But this was just the beginning of Fidel Castro’s 49 years of contributions to the Cuban people’s liberation and to oppressed people the world over.

Fidel Castro announced that he would not seek or accept the position of president or commander in chief in Cuba’s February elections. He said he would still devote his time to being a soldier in the “battle of ideas.”

Freedom Road Socialist Organization would like to take this opportunity to recognize and honor Fidel Castro’s lifetime of tireless dedication to fighting for liberation and building socialism. Fidel Castro led the Cuban revolution to victory in 1959 and has done the even more challenging and complex work of building socialism in Cuba through exceptional challenges.

Cuba’s socialist revolution inspires people worldwide. In Latin America the example of Cuba has proven that it’s possible to defy the U.S. in its own backyard and win. Cuba’s internationalist solidarity with liberation struggles in Africa has earned it high respect there. And Cuba’s missions of sending doctors and providing free health care to the poorest countries and people around the world has been a shining example of internationalism in practice.

Cuba’s internationalism is built on the foundation of Cuban socialism. Cuba is a small, poor country. But Cuba is a sovereign country, so the Cuban people live with dignity. All Cubans have free health care and education. Cubans don’t starve to death like poor people do every day all over the Third World. The infant mortality rate in Cuba is lower than in the United States. Cuba survives natural disasters such as hurricanes without widespread loss of life. All of this is due to socialism and collective organization of the Cuban people, under the leadership of the Communist Party. Fidel Castro’s leadership and ability to inspire and mobilize the masses has played a great role in giving employment, health care and decent living conditions to the people of Cuba.

From the beginning, the Cuban revolution and Fidel personally came under attack by U.S. imperialism. All such attacks have been defeated. Fidel was the principal leader in defeating U.S. imperialism’s attempted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs; he led Cuba through U.S. imperialism’s nuclear blackmail during the ‘Cuban missile crisis;’ he has survived hundreds of CIA assassination attempts. He has led Cuba through decades of the cruel U.S. embargo. And he led Cuba through the ‘special period’ in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the sudden loss of 85% of Cuba’s foreign trade.

In that context of extreme hardship in the 1990s, Fidel Castro and the Communist Party of Cuba had little to gain and everything to lose from staying committed to socialism. But stay committed they did. They prepared and mobilized the masses of Cubans to hold on to their dignity despite extreme difficulties. Cubans survived the 1990s with their dignity and with socialism intact, emerging in the current decade with an increasingly strong and growing economy, while other Latin American countries that are dominated by U.S. imperialism are suffering. During its jost difficult hour, Cuba was so committed to socialist values of putting people first that not a single school or hospital was closed.

Fidel Castro has stepped down as president and started the transition to the next stage of Cuba’s leadership. His decision is creating a stable transition of power and insures the stability of the socialist project of the Cuban people. The Cuban people, with the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party and Raul Castro will continue building socialism in the 21st century.

We stand in solidarity with the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban people. We reject the dreams of U.S. imperialism that tries to strangle the Cuban revolution with a trade embargo and continues to imprison five Cubans for their opposition to the terrorist plans of right-wing Cuban exiles in the United States. We call on the U.S. government to end the embargo and to free the Cuba 5! We say long live Fidel Castro and socialism in Cuba!

¡Viva Fidel Castro! ¡Viva la revolución Cubana! ¡Viva el socialismo!