Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fidel's fortune
Granma daily staff writer
SOME of those made-in-the-USA slanderous articles, the sort that circulate on newspaper stands around the world and describe it in their image and likeness, are once again attacking Fidel Castro by publishing fabulous figures related to his "personal fortune," given that they actually think they can keep fooling all of the people all of the time.But don't be fooled by those fairy tales, no sir, because out of the experience acquired by this people over the last 46 years, I can safely say to you that all the winds that blow from the North smell rotten.Nevertheless, I would be so bold as to assure you that Fidel is truly the richest man in the world, although his riches cannot be measured in dollars, in annual income [or] any other financial or stock indicator.Fidel's immeasurable fortune is rooted in knowing that he has always had the support of the immense majority of a people proud of having as president and head of state a man who has fought without rest or respite from his youth for the genuine social justice deserved by billions of this chaotic world's poorest people.His fortune, sir, consists of sleeping very little and dreaming a lot, and employing all of his inexhaustible energies, molded by his strength of courage and determination, to make all of those dreams come true, one after another.Yes, Fidel is the richest man on the planet because, in a small country, he has been able to achieve the reality that jobs, health, education, culture, sports and social security are the privileges of all Cubans, not just a few, and are not unattainable pipe dreams as they are in most countries that have not had to suffer constant threats and terrorist aggressions, nor the most prolonged, genocidal blockade ever known in history.Yes, it is true that he has real and colossal treasures hidden away in his coffers: he took heaven by storm on a July morning, with bird-hunting shotguns, and then after the setback, reinitiated José Martí's struggle that was cut short by the Yankees in 1898 by making it possible for the mambise fighters to enter Santiago as the liberating forces in January 1959.Shortly afterwards, he personally led, from the frontlines of combat·as he always has, does and will continue to do·the first great defeat of Yankee imperialism in our America, when his beloved people defeated the mercenaries at the Bay of Pigs.He did not tremble, and he taught us not to tremble in face of the nuclear holocaust that hung over our heads during the 1962 October Crisis, and the following year, once again risking his life for those of his compatriots, he faced the violent winds and rains of Hurricane Flora, because he has never abandoned anyone to their fate—neither his comrade from the Granma who fell overboard; nor those who have lost their homes in natural disasters; nor the athlete who was hurt in an accident at home; nor little Elián, who was kidnapped by the Miami mafia; nor the five Cuban heroes imprisoned in Yankee dungeons for combating terrorism in the very jaws of the real terrorists.Fidel also possesses the immense fortune of having achieved the monolithic unity of his people under the banners of socialism, proclaimed by him before a sea of workers, campesinos, students, men, women and little more than children with rifles in hand·one of whom, before being killed by Yankee shrapnel, wrote Fidel's name with his own blood.If only, sir, all of the peoples of the world had—at least for one day in their bitter lives·a president like Fidel, who doesn't make promises, but keeps them; who doesn't offer, but gives; who doesn't torture or assassinate or disappear people, but saves them, helps them, cures them, protects them and defends them tooth and nail.The president's true fortune is based on knowing what each of his people's problems are, in confronting them and seeking a solution, with everyone and for everyone, without any exceptions, to the benefit not only those who support and follow him unconditionally, but also those who have greater resources, obtained in all kinds of ways, and including those who receive their mercenary crumbs by selling their souls to the sickening and brutal devil of the North who despises us.But Fidel has another fortune, and it is that of having shown the way for his people to internalize the maxim of our national hero that "the homeland is humanity," and be capable of sharing in solidarity what they possess with other human beings in the world who have less or nothing.Believe whatever you want, sir, but billions of people in every geographical latitude will pay no attention whatsoever to those rotten, slanderous libels, because they know very well that Fidel has lived for his people and for all of the peoples of the world, willing since day one to die for them and with them on the frontline of combat, and not hiding out in a bunker in the fashion of Hitler or Mr. W, because for many years now, with the great riches of his example, he has cast his lot with the poor of the Earth, and has demonstrated that he is·among other things·the president of all of the lowly, and that is an immense personal fortune indeed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A US publication has dealt with a crucial issue: what is Fidel Castro’s fortune.The obsession with statistics is a typical American characteristic, as the citizens of that nation consider that something which cannot be seen in the form of numbers doesn’t exist. “Tell me the truth, give me the numbers,” is a common phrase among executives, politicians and media specialists.
Along that line, Brazilian comedian and author Millor Fernandez was able to address one of the American obsessions when he said he calculated the value of the Statue of Liberty. He looked at the price paid to build the monument, as well as how much it had appreciated over time, the price of the appraisal of the structure, tour tickets, etc. He came up with a figure of several million dollars; that would be the current value of liberty, that object which materializes the vision of American eyes and those of that country’s admirers.
In assessing the net worth of Fidel Castro —a man who was the object of several hundred assassination attempts by the US government, but who above all won the prestige of Cuba by Latin America and the world— they decided to quantify him so as to arrive at their “truth.”
The appraisal done by the corporate giant Forbes magazine is simple: they took Cuba’s Domestic Gross Product and calculated the percentage of it which they assumed” to be Fidel’s fortune. They concentrated on the revenues of the Havana Convention Center, the CIMEX export conglomerate and on the sales of vaccines and medicines. That appraisal amounted to $900 million, making the Cuban president the seventh richest ruler in the world.
The intention is clear. Because the Cuban economy is centrally planned, those with a capitalist mentality assume that the highest level of government will appropriate all of the nation’s wealth. Being accustomed to how wealth is typically administered in capitalist nations, they totally confuse public and private enterprise.
Cuban Central Bank president Francisco Soberon, using those same standards —including the real costs of the Iraq war, according to Joseph Stiglits— calculated the personal fortune of the US president to surpass the fortune attributed to Fidel hundreds of times over.
Forbes is right: Fidel has a fortune that is impossible to calculate. However, that wealth is not his personal property, but that of the real owner: the people of Cuba. They attribute that wealth directly to him, because it was earned under his leadership.
It is the greatest wealth in the world, because no other country possesses it. And it is impossible to calculate, because it can not be accounted in numbers, no price tag can be placed on it, and it cannot be bought or sold.
It has to do with the economic, social and cultural rights won over almost five decades. It has to do with the human values closely associated to those above mentioned values.
This is a population where each and every person is not only literate, but also has at least nine years of schooling. This was achieved through a unique system involving all sectors of the population. We can also point to a university system which graduates tens of thousands of Cubans all across the country. That is a fortune which can not be calculated.
This is a population which has the best public health care system in the world, a population where nobody is left helpless or abandoned, probably the only population in the world which experiences such a situation; and that is a real fortune.