And so the curtain descends on a dynasty that has dominated Cuban politics for nearly sixty years. On Wednesday, the Cuban National Assembly selected current Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez to succeed 86 year old Raul Castro as the Caribbean nation’s new president. Although Raul Castro — Fidel Castro’s younger brother and comrade in the Cuban revolution against former dictator Fulgencio Batista — will continue to wield influence as the powerful head of the Communist Party, the transition of power from one of the Castro brothers to Bermudez marks a very substantial shift in Cuban politics. It also highlights the end of an epoch that for decades dominated Cold War rhetoric and the movement against western imperialism. Raul, and more importantly Fidel, shaped Cuba’s destiny and global image since the older Castro brother overthrew Batista in 1959. It was, in fact, Fidel’s charisma and trenchant critiques of capitalism and American imperialism that identified Cuba as a revolutionary regime, and one that stood to oppose corporate and western interests. The narrative that Castro and now Cuba as a country adhered to thus becomes central to understanding how post-colonial studies and critical theory evolved throughout the twentieth century. The experiences of Cuban guerrilla warriors in the 1959 battle against Batista’s forces played a fundamental part in shaping revolutionary Che Guevara’s politics, and formed the basis of Guevara’s famous treatise ‘Guerrilla Warfare’. Moreover, Frantz Fanon also highlights Cuba’s example in his crucial book on post-colonial theory, The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon adumbrates how in a post-colonial nation, it is the peasant class, and not the urban proletariat that forms the backbone of a radical movement. To truly alter the dynamics and contours of the state and of the economy in a post-colonial country, therefore, Fanon argues, revolutionary leaders must instigate the peasant class. This is exactly what Castro did in his victory over Batista. We must, therefore, base our studies of Cuba and of the Castro brothers’ rule in the context of a post-colonial, anti-imperialism narrative, and not simply on economic indicators — as neoliberal scholarship is wont to do. The Castro brothers’ significance lies not in how much GDP Cuba has, but in how Cuba’s staunch opposition to American designs against the communist regime motivated anti-imperial movements and supported voices against neo-colonialism. The significance of Castro brothers lies not in how much GDP Cuba has, but in how Cuba’s staunch opposition to America’s anti-communism designs motivated anti-imperial movements and supported voices against neo-colonialism For sixty years, Cuba held its ground against hostile American action and propaganda. American activities against Cuba manifested themselves in the form of a Sugar blockade (Sugar was Cuba’s largest export and major source of revenue), and reached its acme in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion when CIA sponsored insurgents attempted to overthrow Fidel. The invasion itself was poorly planned and relied on hopes that anti-Fidel elements would rise up against Fidel once the invading forces attacked. This never happened, and Fidel survived. America’s opposition to Cuba stemmed from multiple issues. The first was the obvious Cold War furore that gripped Washington since the end of the Second World War. America’s campaign against communism rested on fundamentally curtailing the spread of communism and on Eisenhower’s ‘domino theory’. This theory postulated that if one country in East Asia fell to communism, others would follow. American policymakers extended the contours of this theory to South America, and feared that Cuba would aim to export its communist agenda to the Caribbean and to Latin America — something Castro in fact ardently tried to achieve. Cuba’s fall to the red wave of communism was, therefore, anathema to America’s efforts on winning the Cold War. Here was a tiny island nation — a few hundred miles from Florida — that had dared to experiment with communism and to challenge American hegemony. Another element of the American opposition has historic roots and stems from America’s desire to claim hegemony over its immediate vicinity. Not since the Haitian Revolution had any nation truly challenged American power in the western hemisphere, and this dominance was formally codified in the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ of 1823. The Doctrine was propounded by then American President James Monroe and claimed all of South America and the western hemisphere as America’s sphere of influence. The Doctrine was tacitly agreed to by European powers and gave America effective control of Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, for Castro to overthrow Batista — a staunch ally of America and more a representative of American corporate interests than the Cuban people — was a direct challenge to the Monroe Doctrine and to America’s aims for global, not just regional hegemony. Cuba’s opposition to America, therefore, becomes all the more remarkable considering the history of American dominance in the region. It also became a beacon of hope for movements such as the Algerian revolution, the Vietnam War, and even the Civil Rights movement in America. Despite this, it might very well be true that posterity remembers the Castro brothers as oppressors who stultified Cuba’s growth. And there is a ring of truth to it. Cubans struggle to make ends meet, and many have moved to Miami, which now hosts the largest diaspora of Cubans anywhere in the world. However, this myopic narrative fails to take into account Cuba’s role in the anti-imperialism and post-colonial movement. It also ignores how Cubans continue to enjoy excellent healthcare and the contributions Cuba has made to movements such as the Algerian struggle for independence. In fact, Cuba was also the country which sent the most number of doctors to Pakistan in the wake of the 2010 floods. As readers of history, we must remain cognisant of the forces that shaped Cuban politics, and indeed in our own country Pakistan. Only through such a sound analysis that takes American and western imperialism to task can we truly judge post-colonial nations, including the Castro brothers’ Cuba. The writer is assistant editor, Daily Times. He graduated from Aitchison College and Cornell University, and also studied at Oxford University. His interests include studying the politics of class, gender and race Published in Daily Times, April 22nd 2018.