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Cuban Five Member: Castro’s ‘Fighting Spirit’ is His Legacy in Cuba

© Flickr / Las Razones de CubaFidel Castro
Fidel Castro - Sputnik International
After Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s death last week, nine days of mourning were proclaimed, as many on the island nation looked back fondly on the iconic figure. Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with former political prisoner Fernando Gonzalez about the impact of Castro’s death and what it will mean for the future of Cuba and its people.

Gonzalez, along with four compatriots known as the "Cuban Five," were arrested on conspiracy charges after being sent to the US on behalf of Havana to infiltrate terrorist groups. Gonzalez was released in September 2014. He said that he and the other Cuban prisoners often had Castro on their minds from the time of their capture.


​"We thought a lot about Fidel because of his fighting spirit, something that he has instilled in the Cuban people," he said. 

Gonzalez spoke about a recent event in Revolution Plaza honoring Castro’s life, saying that it was "emotional and impressive to listen to the crowd," and to see "Cubans, especially the younger generation chanting, 'I am Fidel'. That’s the spirit now, that each Cuban becomes Fidel, that Fidel multiplies himself in every Cuban."

Loud & Clear Host Brian Becker pointed out a nearby statue of Cuban national hero Jose Marti, asking Gonzalez if he thought Castro belonged in the same tradition of Cuban patriotism as Marti. 

Cuban President Raul Castro acknowledges the applause from the crowd as he attends a massive tribute to Cuba's late President Fidel Castro in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, November 29, 2016. - Sputnik International
Nearly 1 Million People Attend Fidel Castro Commemoration Ceremony in Havana

Gonzalez replied that Castro is "The Marti of our times," and that, "He achieved the goal of victory by the Cuban people and he was able to defend that victory through 57 years and that’s the spirit that we carry to the future."

He added that "Fidel is certainly most influential in Cuba and in many parts of the world for the past 60 years, but the revolution wouldn’t have been possible without the people of Cuba. People may think that Fidel had control over everything…[but] if the the people didn’t want him there, he wouldn’t be. But he was there because people wanted him to be there and he was the leader of this revolution and the revolution continued after he became ill and retired from politics." 

People place candles beside a picture of Fidel, as part of a tribute, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras November 26, 2016 - Sputnik International
Ceremony to Honor Deceased Fidel Castro Starts in Cuban Capital

Becker acknowledged that Cuba stayed afloat during the "special period" following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of the Socialist bloc, remarking, "One of the remarkable things about Fidel’s leadership is that he not only led the wave of revolution, he was the leader of a mass movement. In other words, his vision was a catalyst, but of course you can’t do it by yourself, it’s the masses."

"It took a lot of courage from our people, and also a lot of courage from Fidel. A lot of confidence in the ideals and concepts we espoused and defended,” Gonzalez said. “Today, I am as proud as I’ve ever been of being a soldier of Fidel Castro. I was a soldier for Fidel in Angola, I was a soldier for Fidel in the United States, and I’m always going to be a soldier for Fidel."

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