Fidel Castro: in his own words
The following in an excerpt from a 1994 interview conducted by Sharon Marshall, the former Manager of Programme Operations at the Caribbean Broadcasting Union with the late Fidel Castro. The interview was conducted at the Sandy Lane Hotel, on the heels of the UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
Sharon Marshall: Some time ago you hinted that you might retire. How confident are you that the Cuban youth will choose a path you would approve of?
Fidel Castro: …Recently, as you know, they began to spread rumors about my health. They have me dead every so often. I do not know who the people are who are wishing for my death so intensely. I am convinced that the day I am dead, my enemies are going to miss me. Do you understand? They are going to find themselves with nothing to do. My friends, however, are not going to believe I am dead because I have been killed so many times.
Marshall: Many years ago, you made a famous speech in which you said: History will absolve me. At this distance, in the 35th year of the Revolution, do you think it has?
Castro: History is very capricious. You should not believe that history is the best judge. I do not know if, on the final judgment day, justice will be met, but in this world, it does not work that way. What I meant to say was that the ideas I was defending were just, and that even under those very difficult conditions, in a prison, and being tried, I was sure that it would not be those judges, but history that would absolve me.
You are asking me a very personal question: What do I think? In general, what happens when people die is that they are forgotten. Only their closest relatives remember them. Time goes by. Many people, however, have lived worrying about history and glory. He who has read a little something about world events knows that in the end, all the glory of the world — as Marti said — fits into a kernel of corn.
I do not think any glory lasts over 2,000 years except that of Christ, or Julius Caesar, or Charlemagne, or other personalities from antiquity. No history, however, has lasted over 5,000 years. No history has lasted over 10,000 years. No history will last 1 million years. No history will last 1 billion years. When the sun goes out, what history will be left? Why worry then about history? I do not worry much about history. I ask myself: What is my duty? What should I do? To be honest, in my opinion, that is worth much more than anything else. To be modest is worth more than everything else. To enjoy the privilege of having been born to do good is the greatest glory anyone can enjoy. This is why I am not thinking, like others: what is going to be said about me? What has been said to date is enough for me. Some good things, and many bad things. In the end, people will have to acknowledge that we were steadfast, defended our beliefs, our independence, wanted to do justice, and were rebellious.