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A Mambí with his foot always “in the stirrup”

Raul castro cumpleOn the occasion of Raul’s 90th birthday, Cubans recall his loyalty to the Revolution and service to the homeland, as Fidel said, an extraordinary cadre who happened to be a brother

When on July 26, 1953 Raul Castro snatched the pistol wielded by a Batista police chief attempting to take him prisoner in the Santiago de Cuba Court and pointed the gun at his would-be captors, in less than a second he radically changed the course of the history he was living, saving not only his life and those of his comrades, but also a piece of the Revolution that had begun to take shape that very day.

Fidel spoke of his loyalty and service to the homeland at the First Party Congress, when he recalled that in the Revolution “nepotism cannot and will never exist,” but that sometimes “two cadres get together,” and that Raul, beyond being an extraordinary cadre, happened to be his brother.

Something very similar was recalled by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, upon assuming the position of Party First Secretary, when he evoked Raúl’s immeasurable contribution to the Revolution, from the Moncada and the Sierra to the process of continuity that he prepared, conducted and led, always on the basis of loyalty and modesty.

This is the same altruism described by Nikolai Leonov in his biography Raul Castro, a Man in Revolution, when he came across a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to his literary project: His hero, also his friend, does not seek publicity, “he rather avoids it,” Leonov stated.

When the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the socialist camp fell like a curse on Cuba, and the usual enemies began to rub their hands in glee, he made no apologies for the Revolution, assuring his people, as he had already proven in the luminous days of the Second Front, that resistance was possible; and in the long run he was right: it was possible and is possible.

This was not the last difficult test. He faced the death of Vilma, his companion in all battles, and Fidel’s illness, that obliged him to assume positions to which he never aspired.

At the head of the country, he did his job, not allowing the blockade to prevent him from looking to the future and undertaking the updating of our socio-economic model; renegotiating foreign debt and promoting non-state forms of management; achieving the release of the Cuban Five and leading talks with the United States; while supporting transcendental laws for the country and leading the democratic process of drafting the new Constitution of the Republic.

He has done more than enough to earn some rest, but always the guerillero, he told Cubans last April 16 that, as long as he lived, he will be ready “with his foot in the stirrup,” a phrase that, for a people who know him well, needs no translation.

(Taken from Granma)

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