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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fidel Castro is 87 today

Warfare is a means and not an end. Warfare is a tool of revolutionaries. The important thing is the revolution. The important thing is the revolutionary cause, revolutionary ideas, revolutionary objectives, revolutionary sentiments, revolutionary virtues!
- Fidel Castro (speech, 18 October 1967, in memory of Che Guevara) 

The lamb... began to follow the wolf in sheep's clothing.
- Aesop (flourished ca 550 B.C.)  (Fables) 

I feel that my belief in sacrifice and struggle is getting stronger. I despise the kind of existence that clings to the miserly trifles of comfort and self-interest. I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has been weakened.*
- Castro (attributed) 

Castro couldn't even go to the bathroom unless the Soviet Union put a nickel in the toilet. 
- President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) (interview, September 1980) 

Fidel Castro is right. You do not quieten your enemy by talking to him like a priest, but by burning him. 
- Nicolae Ceauşescu (1918-1989) (at a Communist Party meeting in November 1989**) 

The most honest, courageous politician I have ever met.  
- Reverend Jesse Jackson (b. 1941) (of Castro, during a 1984 visit to Havana) 

Today is the 87th birthday of Cuban communist dictator Fidel (Alejandro) Castro (Ruz) born in 1926 in today's province of Holguin, Cuba. Castro studied law at the University of Havana, later opposed the Batista dictatorship, and unsuccessfully attacked a Cuban army post on 26 July 1953. After his resulting imprisonment, he went to Mexico and founded the "26 July" movement that eventually toppled Batista in 1959. Soon thereafter, declaring himself a Marxist-Leninist, Castro allied with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, repelled the U.S.-supported Bay of Pigs invasion (1961), resisted the still ongoing U.S. economic blockade, and figured materially in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.*** Yet, despite the international collapse of communism in 1989 and his turning over the reins of government to his brother Raul in 2008, he's still there, presiding over a corrupt and bankrupt economy only 70 miles south of Key West. Go figure. 

I well remember - as an M.I.T. undergraduate - the ecstatic welcome Castro was given in Cambridge on the occasion of his being invited to speak at Harvard in 1959 - something M.I.T. would never have done - at least not then. English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote,

"Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Til they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,
A people starved and stabbed in the untitled field..."

* N.B. As they say, "Do as I say, not as I do..." 

** Within a month, Ceauşescu and his wife had been executed by the movement that overthrew communism in Romania. 

*** Now that was a scary experience. I was an M.I.T. grad student at the time, and the night the crisis came to a head - if memory serves correctly - my late wife and I were entertaining for dinner two old and dear M.I.T. friends - Bill Anderson and Charlie Dunford. While my infant twin sons slept nearby, we all wondered whether there'd be a tomorrow to wake up to. 

Castro and Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations in 1960:

               Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations, 1960.

The above was taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, available only via email. If interested in being added to his list, leave your information in the comments.

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