How Fidel Castro helped end Apartheid

Fidel Castro addressing a crowd in Havana, circa 1978.

Many people see the death of Fidel Castro as the end of an era. Yet the Castroite legacy is alive in one form. Cuba has played a key role lending support to national liberation movements around the world. One major site of struggle during this period was Southern Africa. There the Cuban leader backed the ANC to the hilt when Nelson Mandela was widely regarded as a ‘terrorist’. Castro opposed European colonialism and fostered ties with independence leaders. This was not simply tactical, it was a part of an emancipatory process. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Cuban revolution was really … Continue reading

Fidel the Saviour, Castro the Monster

Fidel Castro visits Washington, DC shortly after seizing power in 1959.

As a historical figure, Fidel Castro presents some juicy conundrums: justice and injustice, revolution and state power, citizens’ rights and state authority, artistic freedom and restriction, high literacy rates and censorship, communist economics and private enterprise, socialism and tourism. The news of his death at the age of 90 brings many of these thorny questions to mind. And there are many anecdotes to illustrate them. I would like to draw on one in particular – the case of Jean-Paul Sartre and his observations of the Cuban leader as they toured Cuba in the back of Castro’s car in the spring … Continue reading

The BBC is not ‘left-wing’

You often hear the BBC described as having a ‘left-wing’ bias. This is despite all the evidence to the contrary. The logic behind such accusations seems to be that the state and its institutions are inherently ‘left-wing’. Although the BBC is somewhat removed from the market pressures heaped upon private companies, it is still subject to the same sorts of political pressures facing state bodies. The absence of advertising and corporate sponsors does not leave them totally beholding to the state. The BBC does enjoy an aloof relationship with the state. Of course, though the BBC is a public service … Continue reading