Fidel Castro’s legacy
According to Harvard professor of sociology, Mahzarin R. Banaji, each of us carries implicit bias. One may try to be progressive on the surface but he/she can be prejudiced on an unconscious level. With our affiliation towards our clan, society, and the country, we start stereotyping other social groups by the age of five, according to Margo Monteith, professor of psychology at University of Kentucky. Peer pressure, mass media, and the actual balance of power in the society promote these stereotypes. So, socialist Fidel Castro, who stood against the capitalist countries that benefited from colonialism, imperialism, and hegemony in the name of democracy, is portrayed mostly as a dictator by the West while political participation in Cuba has been widely debated among the intelligentsia.
Without understanding the reality of developing countries where corruption is rampant, majority of people are illiterate and struggling for survival, imposing democracy there can do more harm than good as apparent from instability in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and many other countries. Looking through the lens of unprejudiced beliefs, Fidel Castro did preach democracy and reform to prepare Cubans after accomplishing social progress - racial integration, universal education and health care. His 1959 speech quoted Lincoln's line on democracy, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people” criticizing the burgeoning oligarchy in capitalist countries. In his speech, he compared Cuba’s democracy with the one that first existed in ancient Greece where the people discussed and decided their fate in the public square; the only difference with Greece being that the Cubans are not slave owners, farmers.
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), influenced by Peru’s shining path’s ideology of proletarian democracy as in Cuba, was seen to follow Fidel Castro’s egalitarian agrarian reforms to direct effort towards the exploited peasant families. However, after coming to power as the ruling party in 2008 CA election, they got entangled in the web of elite rule, and the promise of securing breakthrough in literacy and healthcare like Cuba’s merely remained in speech.
Fidel Castro got exposed to social and economic inequalities when his father admitted him in a prestigious Jesuit school in Havana. The first hand experience of inequality there motivated him to eliminate the extremes of opulence and poverty to produce wealth enough for everyone to get by. Schools and hospitals were built in rural areas during his leadership to achieve 100% literacy rate and a complete health care. For Castro, it was the extreme greed of capitalist society that is bounding the poor to be at the mercy of the rich. "We do not want to make a living from the wealth of other countries, but from the wealth of our country", he said in a speech.
The philanthropist Fidel Castro, who used to provide free legal services to the poor before toppling the dictatorship of Batista in 1959, was unfortunately forced to resort to totalitarian model so as to disrupt foreign attempts to thwart socialism. There are evidences of heinous acts of US such as CIA-organized invasion at the Bay of Pigs to set off revolt and various assassination plots against Castro. US should also be held responsible for nuclear confrontation in 1962, human right abuses, economic woes, and political oppression in Cuba. In the United Nations convened for its 50th anniversary in 1995, Fidel Castro called for “a world without ruthless blockades that cause the death of men, women and children, youths and elders, like noiseless atom bombs” hinting at US blockage on his country for decades.
Irrespective of difference in ideology, the prosperous neighboring country US could have been supportive of Cuba’s endeavor to be self-sufficient through industrialization programs such as producing their own steel and other products. But, when Fidel Castro had to nationalize U.S. and British oil refineries and U.S.-owned banks,the US imposed the trade embargo. It started in 1962 and crippled the Cuban economy as state-led development and investment became costly. Many educated young Cubans struggling to find work left the country for better opportunity in the United States. Unfortunately, the same defectors, for whom US opened its door, were used against Fidel Castro. However, he unwaveringly continued to minimize the capitalist influence by erecting billboards carrying patriotic slogans of the revolution even when capitalism was sweeping the world including the communist regimes.
Several waves of Cuban migration - the exiled Batista supporters, the discontent wealthy, the portion of whose properties was used for socialist purpose and political dissidents against Carlos government – have formed a strong community in Florida. They have blamed Castro brothers for misery, suffering, and rampant killings under their decades of dictatorial style politics, and are demanding for restoration of democracy in Cuba.
Too much focus accorded to prosperity and grandeur by any capitalist country is diverting people’s minds away from the values of common humanity socialist ideas promote. The short term materialist happiness is having precedence over long term spirituality and well-being. The success story of capitalism in terms of wealth accumulation and materialist lifestyle is so much hyped that the slum like condition, racism, and inhumanity, are rendered invisible behind the high rises of capitalist countries. The 2016 democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, who declared himself as democratic socialist, and garnered unprecedented support especially from younger generations, did praise Fidel Castro for totally transforming Cuba. He was vocal about the inequality in wealth distribution in US, and during his campaign, he repeated the claim "the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent."
Perhaps, instead of democratic form of rule, most of the developing countries like Nepal need strong benevolent leaders like Fidel Castro who held true to his belief “Socialism or death” and tried his level best to improve the living standard of the poorest despite colossal internal and external pressure to foil his humanitarian mission. Castro proved that socialism itself is not an inept and bankrupt idea, and kept on knocking at the doors of the capitalist countries to ruminate on their missteps during their colonial rule and to redress them by extending true helping hands – not those contaminated by greed, profit motives, and undue interferences– to the needy countries.
We take pride in Sagarmatha and also Bhagwan Buddha. We should introspect as to what has been “our” contribution in the making of both. The tallest mountain landmark is the outcome of tectonic push against the bigger landmass creating the upward drift that created the Himalaya. Prince Siddhartha, on the other hand, was born 2556 years ago or 23 centuries before Nepal got unified under Prithivi Narayan Shah. Siddhartha is believed to have attained enlightenment at the age of 35 or around six years after leaving Kapilvastu.
All this pointed that the election will be held with public support despite efforts by those against it. But all that changed after three people were killed in Rajbiraj after the police opened fire on Madhesi Front cadres who were ‘hurling petrol bombs’ toward the venue where UML Chairman KP Oli had just finished his short address.
Men at work
Currently the larger part of our urban area resembles a war zone with bulldozers and mechanical diggers running amok. What is left behind the unfinished work typically consists of mangled water pipes, jumbled up and torn telephone and electric wires, mounds of dug earth and gravel heaps, unfilled ditches and incomplete manholes.
A great aviator in the Nepali skies
Deepak was not only a competent pilot but also someone who had the inner strength to always remain cool, calm, and collected. That nature helped him make a total of three emergency landings in his career as a pilot when he suddenly had to deal with technical malfunctions while flying an aircraft.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.