In the heart of Latin American unity

Fidel, along with Che and Raúl, advocated and fought for the indispensable unity of Our America against U.S. imperialism. Photo: Granma Archives




Periódico Granma

Our America is living intense days, but there is no reason, or time, to be discouraged. The continent’s peoples have opened the great avenues of their emancipation, and imperialism cannot close them

Our America is living intense days, but there is no reason, or time, to be discouraged. The continent’s peoples have opened the great avenues of their emancipation, and imperialism cannot close them. Bolívar, Martí, Sandino, pointed the way to unity. “How long will we remain in lethargy?” Fidel asked in 1959, during his visit to Caracas. “How long will we be defenseless pieces of a continent, which its liberator conceived as something more dignified, greater? How long will Latin Americans live in this miserly, ridiculous atmosphere? How long will we remain divided?”

Cuban doctors provide health, well-being, and hope in the most humble and forgotten regions of Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Araquém Alcántara

Early in his formative years, in the 1940s, Fidel was involved in struggles for justice, the region’s most pressing: the Independence of Puerto Rico and an end to the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, among others, and would witness, alongside the Colombian people, the events that today history remembers as the Bogotazo.
His visit to Venezuela, just a few months after the revolutionary triumph, would be portenous.
There he would say, with regard to the necessary unity of our peoples: “And who should be the proponents of this idea? Venezuelans, because Venezuelans launched it on the American continent, because Bolívar is Venezuela’s son and Bolívar is the father of the idea, of ​​the union of America’s peoples.

Chávez and Fidel joined forces, allowing hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans to gain access to health and education, to recover their vision and dignity. Photo: Jorge Luis González

”But Fidel was not referring only to the internal unity of peoples, indispensable for the triumph of justice, but to the unity of nations on the continent, although he knew that there would be "seven-month" governments without faith in their land, ready to hand over the collective wealth and popular needs, in hopes of attaining dishonest personal rewards.
That is why, on many occasions, he sought to demonstrate the advantages of unity, based on respect for the diversity of socio-economic models and identities. “What is the fate, moreover, of the balkanized countries of our America? What place will they occupy in the 21st century? What place will be left for them, what will their role be if they don't join together, if they don't integrate? ”he insisted in 1990.In the final years of this decade of surrender and discouragement, Fidel would re-launch Cuban medical internationalism (which was born in Algeria, in 1963), for the peoples of Central America and Haiti - with no ideologically allied governments. In the wake of two devastating hurricanes, hundreds of health workers traveled to the most remote areas to provide assistance to destitute populations.
The Cuban people came face to face with their brothers and sisters on the continent, without intermediaries.Fidel always met with brigades before their departure, conversing with members as a father.
On November 25, 1998, he stated: “I want to emphasize this right now: our doctors will not become involved, in the least, in matters of internal politics. They will be absolutely respectful of the laws, traditions and customs of the countries where they work.
Their mission is not to disseminate ideology (…) They are in Central America as doctors, as self-sacrificing bearers of human health, to work in the most difficult places and conditions, to save lives, preserve and restore health, uphold and honor the noble medical profession, nothing else.
"That very year, a disciple of Bolivar would reach the Presidency of Venezuela. Two dreamers, two madmen, Fidel and Chávez, would meet, in an effort to promote unity. And ALBA was born, the most advanced project that has emerged on our continent, an agreement based on the people, on our infinite capacity for solidarity. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans gained access to health and education, recovered their vision and dignity.
Our America, a concept of Marti’s that also includes the Caribbean, became greater, as we looked inward and came together to complement each other, in common projects. Imperialism is today attempting to dismantle these conquests, which it fears so much.
On the eve of the third anniversary of Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro’s physical departure, it is worth remembering him as the man who dedicated his life to the defense of unity among our peoples and the nations of Latin America.