Trembling with Indignation in the Belly of the Beast

If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.

— Doctor Ernesto “Che” Guevara

And now Che’s closest comrade is dead.  Rest in peace, Fidel.  You were one of a small handful of national leaders for which I’ve ever had a shred of respect.  You survived the bullets of Batista’s army.  You survived the C.I.A.’s Bay of Pigs Invasion.  You survived an estimated 638 assassination attempts, and took your last breath at the age of 90.  You showed the world that it is possible for a tiny band of ill-equipped rag-tag rebels to overcome the scourge of neo-colonialism, imperialism, and all the malignant, malicious, voracious militarism of Empire.  You defied all odds, and were one of the most vilified and hated people whose face ever graced United States television screens and newspapers.  You showed the world that another way is possible.  Under your guidance, little Cuba became more than a doormat for Empire, and stood tall in its shadow, proclaiming freedom and justice for all.

You will be missed, Fidel.  You worked quietly behind the scenes with John F. Kennedy to defuse The Cuban Missile Crisis.  You helped inspire a civil rights movement within the corporate barbed wire of Empire.  Without your example, Malcom and Martin might not have defied the status quo.  It was you and Che who convinced a generation of youth that wars for profit, although good for business, are a very bad idea.  You marched beside me in the streets of Tempe, Arizona after the Kent State Massacre.  You were there, a few months later, at The Yippie Pow-wow in Disneyland.  I shared a joint with you on Tom Sawyer’s Island, just before we marched down Main Street and shut the whole show down.  They kicked us, along with 29,000 others, out of America’s favorite fantasy land.  It still makes me smile.

Fidel, you were with me when I told the Selective Service to take a flying fucking leap in 1970, and again in ’71.  You were with me when I Occupied Wall Street in Phoenix, and you were with me when I marched against Monsanto in the streets of Kahului, Maui.  You were with me, just last week, when I demonstrated in solidarity with Standing Rock, in the parking lot of Bank of America in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Although we never met, I miss you already, Fidel.  But I know that you’re busy at Standing Rock.  You’re taking all that abuse, alongside our brothers and sisters.  You’re standing up against the Machine, the Man, Wall Street, and the Pigs who protect the interests of Empire.  You’re standing tall against the water-cannons, mace, and rubber bullets.  You’ll be arrested, strip-searched, handcuffed, jailed, and harassed.  You’ll be there at the end of the Standing Rock chapter, when the full force of Empire comes down on the water protectors like a ton of fascist bricks, and the corporate media sweeps the whole thing under a Kardashian/Christmas/Trump rug.  It’s what they do.  It’s what they’ve always done.

You’re still with us, Fidel.  You sleep with the homeless in the streets of Detroit.  You go hungry with the families in Los Angeles, who’ve opted to pay their rent in lieu of eating dinner.  You suffer and die with those who can’t afford medical care in Omaha.  You go to prison with the guy from Miami who stole food for his family.  You feel the degradation of the Minneapolis factory worker, whose job has been shipped to Mexico, where it will be performed for slave wages.  Wherever there is injustice, you still tremble with indignation.

You won’t soon fade into history, Fidel.  Like Che, you’ll loom larger in death than you were in life.  The legacy you leave us is one of hope.  Hope against all odds.  Hasta la victoria siempre, comrade!

John currently resides, writes, and protests injustice in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and walks among the spirits of those who once occupied the 79 Disappeared Pueblos. He can be reached via email at:
halls245@msn.com.

Read other articles by John Rohn.