Official Fervor Towards Fidel Castro Contrasts With the Indifference of
Young People / EFE-14ymedio, Lorena Canto
EFE (via 14ymedio), Lorena Canto, Havana, 5 March 2017 — A hundred days
after his death and although Cuba has limited by law the use of his name
and image, the figure of Fidel Castro is more present than ever on the
island, where the fervor towards the former president is beginning to
take on messianic proportions that have even come to his being compared
with Jesus Christ.
Since the death of the leader of the Cuban Revolution last November 25
at age 90, there is no activity, congress or celebration in Cuba that
does not include a tribute to Fidel Castro in its program, while the
state media also devotes a good part of its space to him.
A good example of this situation was the recent Havana Book Fair, the
most important cultural event of the year on the island. This year's
event was dedicated to Canada and its authors, but the acts and
presentations of numerous titles around the figure of Fidel Castro
eclipsed the invited country.
The situation contrasts with the last will of the ex-president, made
into law last December by the Cuban Parliament: no monuments or public
buildings or streets with his name, in addition to a rigorous
regulations that shield the commercial use of his figure.
In life, the controversial commander was also opposed to the cult of
personality, although paradoxically it was his personal style of
exercising authority, which led some to consider him a leader and others
to consider him a tyrant.
"The charismatic and messianic figure of Fidel Castro was undoubtedly
one of the most popular elements of the Cuban Revolution from its
beginnings in the 1950s to at least the first decade of the twenty-first
century," Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute at
Florida International told 14ymedio.
The key is whether the Cuban Revolution can survive without the physical
presence of the man who so passionately embodied it.
According to Duany, "the worship of and loyalty to the
commander-in-chief became one of the main ideological supports of the
Revolution, although his overpowering personality also provoked intense
disgust and resentment among his political adversaries."
The state media, until now, has avoided the word death and replaced it
with physical disappearance, a shift reminiscent of the way Fidel Castro
used the term biological inevitability.
The newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), official organ of the
Union of Young Communists, went further on December 25, Christmas day,
which marked one month since the death of the Cuban leader: "Time does
not devour redeemers," said the front page, in a veiled parallel with
the figure of Jesus Christ.
"Man, we learned to know you eternal. Just like Olofi and Jesus Christ,
there is not a single altar without a light for you," says the chorus of
the song composed by Raúl Torres after the death of Fidel Castro, a tune
that played unendingly during the nine days of national mourning decreed
Another new constant is the assimilation of the former president with
the Cuban independence figure José Martí, father of the country and next
to whose tomb in Santiago de Cuba Fidel Castro was interred.
For the moderate opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa, what is happening "seems
to be against the will of Fidel Castro."
"It seems that in his last will he did not talk about the media, where
his presence is constant. It is a gap they [the authorities of the
island] have used, but I think that responds to Cuban society's capacity
to forget," says Morua, the spokesman of the democratic initiative "Otro
18" (Another 2018), which advocates free elections next year.
In his opinion, the country's leadership seeks to perpetuate the message
of "do not forget the imprint of Fidel Castro" in a society that "has
been giving a clear and key answer in that direction, very intuitive, to
say that a country must not have a surname."
Transmitting this message to new generations is a particularly
complicated challenge; for an overwhelming majority of young Cubans, the
bearded commander is more of a distant figure than an ideological
In a recent study of Cuban teenagers published by Juventud Rebelde, no
respondent mentioned Fidel Castro among their most admired people.
"The poll seems to confirm an erosion in the figure of Fidel among the
younger generations of Cubans born and raised after the Revolution,
[despite] the government's efforts to maintain his memory as the
undisputed hero of post-Revolutionary Cuba," Duany concludes.
Source: Official Fervor Towards Fidel Castro Contrasts With the
Indifference of Young People / EFE-14ymedio, Lorena Canto – Translating