Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro bid adieu to millions of his fans, supporters and adversaries on November 25, 2016. Castro had thousands of fans, even in Sri Lanka. Certainly, I was one of them. He had charisma, which many of his political contemporaries (like Richard Nixon or Junius Jayewardene) didn’t have. Period.
In Sri Lanka, many Left-oriented politicians promoted themselves as the ‘Castro of Ceylon (or Sri Lanka), even to the extent of growing a beard like that of Castro. Rohana Wijeweera (1943-1989), the founder leader of JVP was one. Then, there were others like Dayan Jayatilleka (b. 1956), who extolled the virtues of Castroism in his writings. But, Jayatilleka simply flopped in emulating Castro’s deeds in either battle field or politics. At least, he tried! Among Sri Lankans, Velupillai Prabhakaran (1954-2009) was the only one who could emulate Castro’s deeds in the battlefield. In politics, Prabhakaran failed due to two major factors: (1) military advances in technology in the four decades (from 1960 to 2000), and (2) not having the sustained support of a Super Power at the UN Security Council.
Whereas Fidel’s military exploits lasted less than 8 years in the 1950s (peak period 1953-1958), Prabhakaran’s military exploits spanned nearly three decades (peak period 1976 – 2009). Advances in military technology, especially the use of computers in the battlefield since 1991, and the digitalized multi-media (since 1995) doomed Prabhakaran’s army.
Whereas Fidel’s activities were targeted only by one intelligence agency (CIA), Prabhakaran’s activities were targeted by five intelligence agencies (Sri Lankan, India’s RAW, Pakistan’s ISI, Israel’s MOSSAD and, of course CIA).
In 1979, I did write a three part essay on Fidel Castro in Tamil, which was published in the Sutantiran weekly (October 7, 14, and 21), the organ of the Federal Party. I remember the caption vividly: ‘The Protector of Cuba – Fidel Castro’. Sadly, I don’t have the original or copies of this published essay now. I also don’t have a copy of the manuscript of what I sent to Kovai Mahesan. I guess it should have been a sophomoric one. Why I mention this here is that, since then, I have had a fancy in collecting Castro cartoons by political cartoonists. As a tribute to Castro, I provide quite a number I had collected in this memoriam. The most recent one by Patrick Chappatte, presenting the face of Donald Trump is a beauty!