MADRE salutes the people of Cuba as they mark the passing of Fidel Castro.
Born into a wealthy plantation-owning family, Castro was disillusioned by Cuba’s stark economic disparities and saw solutions in global revolutionary political ideals. After deposing the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista and coming to power in 1959, he sought to build a Cuba rooted in principles of anti-imperialism and egalitarianism.
Under his rule, Cuba demonstrated to the world that even a poor government could meet its people’s basic needs. He invested in education and health care, raising generations of world-class doctors and health workers, and boosting literacy rates to nearly 100%. He mobilized in solidarity with social and anti-colonial movements across Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Cubans now face historic challenges: how to defend the gains of the Revolution – including its unparalleled advances in literacy, health, education and nutrition? How to uphold civil and political rights, grapple with histories of political violence, and open more space for civil society? How to confront the impacts of harmful US policies, like travel restrictions that separate families or the decades-long embargo that blocks access to food and vital medical supplies?
As Cuba charts the way forward, MADRE pledges to stand in solidarity with the people of Cuba for rights and policies rooted in social justice. For years, we have lived out that pledge, sending lifesaving medicines and supplies to Cuban women and families isolated by the US embargo. We called for the complete reversal of that failed policy, welcoming recent moves by the Obama Administration to normalize relations with Cuba.
As we face a new era between our two countries – Cuba without Fidel Castro and a new US Administration – MADRE recalls that our best hopes for peace, justice and rights have always been found in person-to-person, movement-to-movement connections. As we reflect on the legacy of Fidel Castro, we recommit ourselves to those principles.