Nation Books, 2007
Review by Ramona Wadi
"With the blood of my dead brothers, I write you this letter, they are the only motive that inspires me." The opening line of a letter to former comrade Luis Conte Aguero portrays Fidel Castro at his most determined - a call for justice in the wake of the atrocities committed against the captured revolutionaries involved in the Moncada Barracks attack.
The prologue and epilogue to this publication stand in contrast to the content of this book, both written by critics of Fidel's rule. Luis Conte Aguero (to whom Fidel addresses a considerable amount of letters) was a staunch supporter of Fidel, assisting in spreading his revolutionary philosophy. Soon after the revolution, Conte Aguero's views on the future of Cuba differed from those of Fidel and he fled into exile on April 5, 1960. The content of this book however, is Fidel and the revolution - the precise strategic planning that served as the prologue to a revolutionary triumph.
The letters may be read as a narration of patience which evolved from extreme anger at the injustices under the Batista regime as well as from breaches of loyalty towards him - a grave issue with Fidel. The greatest betrayal was Fidel's discovery that his wife Mirta had been on government payroll during his spell in prison. Refusing to believe the story, he urged Mirta to press charges against such defamation, portraying the event as an attack on his honour. When the truth became clear, Mirta started divorce procedures and a custody battle for their son Fidelito ensued, with Fidel declaring to his sister, "If they think they can exhaust my patience and that I am going to concede, they are going to find that I am wrapped in Buddhist tranquility and am prepared to reenact the famous Hundred Years War - and win it!"
Quoting Jose Marti above all others, Fidel stresses "No martyr dies in vain, nor is any idea lost in the motion of the waves and the blowing of the winds. They move away or they come closer but the memory remains of having seen them."