Fidel Castro in Zabrze. June 1972. Photo © Danuta Dudzik-Lewecka. Source: nz24.pl
Fidel Castro in numbers is impressive, but the numbers don’t offer much of a glimpse of the man behind them. For that we can turn to the remarkable photos of Castro’s flying visit to Poland in 1972, in which he seems to be illuminating the grey days of Gomułka communism with a little sunshine socialism. Whether in a typical regional mining outfit in Zabrze or taking on Wisła Krakow’s best at basketball, Castro made socialism seem an attractive option, largely through the force of his own personality.
Cuba under Castro was certainly no tropical paradise and the number of political prisoners and human rights abuses laid at the door of his regime are frequently cited (though Castro himself would surely point out that the USA is actually running the biggest prison for political prisoners in Cuba in the form of Guantanamo). With his passing on Friday, there will be much discussion of the virtue of Castro’s regime and political legacy. While many consider him to have been a ruthless dictator whose administration impoverished Cuba’s economy, others would argue that thanks to Castro the quality of life for average Cubans is significantly higher than it might otherwise be. For their own part, whilst most Cubans today would not regard themselves as communists, they would proudly call themselves Fidelistas.
Whatever your politics, bars that romanticise Cuban life and culture can be found the world over, including in Kraków. Check out La Habana for rum, Teatro Cubano for music and La Casa del Habano for a cigar – Fidel’s favourite was the Cohiba Esplendido.
* ImdB lists him as an extra in 3 films, including one with Fred Astaire.
Author: Mr. Shaw
1.Fidel Castro in Zabrze. June 1972. Photo ©Danuta Dudzik-Lewecka. Source: nz24.pl
2.Kraków, 1972-06. Nowa Huta. Fidel Castro’s visit to Poland. ©PAP/Zbigniew Matuszewski. Source: wp.pl
3.Fidel Castro, June 8, 1972. Unveils plaque of the patron of the Primary School No. 125 in Krakow. Photo © Otto Link. Source: ipn.gov.pl
4.Fidel Castro in PL. June 1972. Visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. Photo © Zofia Łoboda. Source: auschwitz.org
5.Fidel Castro in Zabrze. June 1972. Photo © Danuta Dudzik-Lewecka. Source: nz24.pl