Celia Hart on Anniversary of the October Revolution
On November 7: Fidel and Chávez Are Together, and in Red
This article by Cuban revolutionary Celia Hart, daughter of revolutionary leaders Haydée Santamaria and Armando Hart, was translated by W.T. Whitney from the Spanish original.
On November 7
I like to visit Lenin Hill in Regla. Regla is a little seafaring town that is
farther up the hill. In 1924 a Communist mayor decided to build a monument as a
handsome Cuban tribute to the leader of the workers. I think it was the first
one dedicated to Lenin outside the
flowers for November 7 in front of the church. The beautiful Virgin always
saves the freshest ones for her comrade up on the
hill. No one believes this compañera has any interest in pathetic verbiage from
from the hill down on the port. More than ten years ago, with one stroke of a
pen, the presumptive heirs of the man on the hill decided they no longer needed
My own people
not only saved themselves, with their virgins and everything else, but
anniversary of the October revolution is celebrated in
It happened this way: Hugo Chávez appeared in the doorway as fresh as the sea itself. He had a pale shirt on and beach shoes for indoors. That coloring set off the intense bronze color of his skin. With an ample smile and steady eyes he is endowed with a unique beauty. He gave a military salute with his right hand. He walked slowly toward one particular place. Smiling and moving his head from side to side, he made a familiar gesture. Smiling changed into an outright laugh. He went to the place where Fidel had to stay sitting, because of serious injuries to his knee and right arm from October 20. Fidel saluted his compañero with his left hand—the one he prefers! Chávez drew close and leaned over with two hands on the legendary guerrilla fighter’s shoulders and repeated the familiar “You’re looking great, Fidel, really great.” And he was! With his leg stretched out and his arm in a splint, his whole being gave off an aura of overflowing happiness that seemed to come from within. But something was different with Fidel. For a moment I didn’t understand. Fidel was not in his usual green. Fidel was in red!
It was an intense red that projected out to the stars the optimism he felt at the sight of his young comrade. Why was he in red? It’s the color of the Bolivarian Revolution, which had achieved another popular victory on October 31. By chance it’s the color too of the world revolution and the color of the October revolution. As Fidel explained to Chávez, by wearing that color, he and all of us had taken part in the elections of October 31, and we came out victorious.
doubt those elections deepened the meaning of the August 15 vote. Chávez had
made no hidden agreements, he didn’t deceive anybody, and he didn’t have to
resort to the snide kind of remarks his opponents like, nor did he have to
waste hundreds of millions of dollars. His campaign, tinged as it was with red
and projecting sincerity, appealed to the truth that had made
He asked each governor elected as a Chavista to convert himself into a chieftain in a struggle against big land holdings.
Che would have cut it short: “Either a socialist revolution or a caricature of a revolution.” Perhaps Chávez isn’t aware of a revolutionary message enunciated by José Martí in his radical speech “Insufficient Politics”: “Remedies only work when one takes into consideration the power and urgency of the sicknesses they are directed at. Politics is an occupation worthy of condemnation when it’s used to cover up misery and obvious misfortune—the huge misery and the huge misfortune of the people.” Chávez’s politics is more than sufficient.
“Homeland or death” is one of the Venezuelan comandante’s watchwords. But as José Martí said, “Homeland is humanity.” Beyond that, we Cubans add on another, quite indispensable word, “socialism,” just for the sake of certainty. Carried out to its full consequences, that slogan is one for the whole world.
I go on trying to understand how two peoples just two days apart from each other can bet on such different things. The North Americans subscribe to war, the Venezuelans, to revolution.
tell much from what’s on television, although the cameras clearly showed the
sweating of the two men, in spite of the fresh November air. Chávez leans over
to greet Fidel and renew his commitment. Fidel proudly points out the tiny
flags of our two countries stitched along the borders of his shirt pocket. They
were together for eight hours. I don’t know what they talked about, but I can
imagine it for you—the great win of October 31, by a broad front whose real
victory now will have to be made manifest in concrete actions, and of course
the recent Rio Summit. There, in no uncertain terms, and a bit out of context, Chávez
made an announcement to whoever was formulating a struggle against poverty and
hunger in the southern part of my continent. He said, more or less, “I don’t
see how it can be done with capitalist economics.” And above all else, Fidel
and Chávez would have talked about the triumph of reaction in the
At the end, Chávez was there in front of the cameras sheathed in a beautiful red shirt his campanero had given him, after joyfully accepting a portrait of Bolívar painted by Valdes, an artist from the westernmost province of the island.
It’s November 7 now, and just before having to leave, Chávez, with his quick, piercing glance, will remind us, through a journalist he spoke with, that Fidel and he were “sharing their souls.” I look again at Fidel. I thought about those endless years of struggle and crosscurrents. He’s still there, and his wounds come from combat. It wasn’t at home that he hurt himself, trimming the garden, like most men his age. He had instead been advancing the battle of ideas.
As José Martí said, “When there are a lot of men without honor, there are always others who hold up the honor of many men. They are the ones who, with their awesome strength, rebel against those who rob the people of their liberty, which is the same as removing their honor. With these men go thousands of others, an entire people, human dignity itself.”
At this point in time, the 7th of November, this year, human dignity was enlarged through an encounter of love
feeling bad now about not having been able to visit Lenin in Regla. These two
men, done out in red, hosted a celebration marked by perfection, and my
November 7 was filled up with yearnings of struggle. In the first battle, moral
primer in hand, we will be instructing the people of
I remembered that slogan of Trotsky, heartfelt and appropriate, that said. dum spiro spero (While there’s a breath of life , hope remains). And all over they are still asking what’s going to happen when Fidel is gone. Fidel isn’t going to leave; Chávez, I think, is only 50 years old.