Guillermo Nova –
Images of Fidel Castro and his famous sayings can be found in any neighbourhood or town across Cuba.
But after his death, his likeness will not appear on postage stamps or official portraits in public offices, nor will his name be used for hospitals, schools or streets.
“The leader of the revolution rejected any show of cult of personality, and kept this attitude until the final hours of his life,” Castro’s brother, President Raul Castro, reminded a crowd of hundreds of thousands at a mass memorial in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
Before he died, Fidel Castro requested that “his name and his image never be used to name institutions, public squares, parks, avenues, streets or other public sites, nor monuments, busts, statues, orother similar forms of tribute be erected in his memory”.
Castro may have rejected a cult of personality, but over decades Cuba’s political propaganda machine has produced posters and murals depicting the revolutionary leader with his signature olive-green uniform of commander-in-chief.
Factory entrances display Castro’s image with the slogan “fatherland or death,” while sayings like “revolution is never to lie, nor violate ethical principles” could be seen on fences alongside the country’s highways. Baseball stands commonly declare “sport is a right of the people.”
Raul Castro indicated that Fidel’s will would be enshrined in legal measures to be introduced in the next session of the national assembly, which is expected this month although no date has been announced.
“We’ve always said we were against any kind of cults, of making leaders into gods. It is a tradition that we have truly established,” Fidel Castro told Nicaraguan revolutionary and politician Tomas Borgein in a 1992 interview that inspired Borge’s book ‘A Grain of Corn’.
Castro was interred on Sunday in a tomb near the mausoleum of Marti in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, the cradle of Castro’s 1959 Cuban Revolution.
Castro withdrew from power in 2006, but continued to be considered by Latin American leaders like Hugo Chavez as a “political father”. Chavez frequently visited Cuba before his death in 2013 to meet with Castro to discuss regional affairs.
French writer Ignacio Ramonet and US director Oliver Stone both asked Castro in interviews how he wanted to be remembered after his death, a question Castro always avoided answering.
In a 2003 speech, Castro said it was important to push back against personality cults because leaders “are men and not gods”.
It was Castro himself who requested his body be cremated.
While the reasons for the choice have not been made public, his decision may have been related to his rejection of the idolisation accorded to other communist and socialist leaders, including Chavez, Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, whose bodies were embalmed. — dpa
Guillermo Nova –