Fidel’s legacy at the University of Havana (+Photos)
Fidel’s ideas about respecting rights, legality, and upholding the law, always in consultation with the masses, go back to his years as a student
Fidel’s ideas about respecting rights, legality, and upholding the law, always in consultation with the masses, go back to his years as a student.
In 1945, he enrolled at the University of Havana (UH) to study law, where he continued to expand his political knowledge, eventually developing a revolutionary consciousness focused on Cuba and the peoples of the Americas.
During his time at the university, the young man born on August 13, 1926 in Birán (today, Holguín province), was elected President of the Pro Democracy in the Dominican Republic and Pro-Puerto Rican Independence committees, at a time when the social situation within the country was characterized by popular frustration, given the failed 1930s Revolution and discontent with the government of Ramón Grau San Martín, while on the international scene, WWII was drawing to a close and the so-called Cold War just beginning.
As early as his student years, Fidel knew that the country’s traditional political forces and good will alone would not be enough to destroy the evils eating away at the foundation of the nation.
How did Fidel arrive at this conclusion? The answer can be found in his September 4, 1955 speech in the UH’s Aula Magna:
“My belief that the Communist Party was isolated and that given the conditions which existed in the country, and in the midst of the Cold War and the number of anti-communist prejudices that existed in this country, it wasn’t possible to undertake a revolution from the position of the People’s Socialist Party, although the Party wanted to. Imperialism and the (anti-communist) backlash had isolated the Party enough to categorically prevent it from launching a revolution, and that’s when I began to think about the ways, the paths and possibilities of a revolution and how to achieve it.”
There, in the classrooms of the University of Havana, Fidel forged his ideas as a revolutionary and man of law, those same ideas that helped him defend just causes at the legal firm located on 57 Tejadillo Street in Old Havana, where he worked as a lawyer from 1950-1952; to make his historic self-defense speech known as “History will absolve me,” after the July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada Garrison in Santiago de Cuba; to develop important social programs in the early years of the Revolution; to speak out in international forums in support of the people’s right to development and peace; and to found Latin American integration projects benefitting countries of the region.
Speaking about his years as a student 50 years after first enrolling at the University of Havana to study Law, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution noted, “It was a privilege to attend this university, also because it was undoubtedly here where I learned a great deal, and because it was here that I learned maybe the greatest things of my life; because it was here I discovered the greatest ideas of our age and our times; because it was here I became a revolutionary; because it was here I became a follower of Marti; and because it was here that I became a socialist.”
It was also there, in the University of Havana, where Fidel and another giant of Our America, Hugo Chávez, offered a keynote speech on December 14 1994, during the Bolivarian leader’s first visit to Cuba.
In the university’s Aula Magna on November 17, 2005, Fidel warned of the risk our mistakes would pose to the survival of the Revolution.
Since that warning, it has been repeatedly stressed that to lose the Revolution would not only mean the irrevocable loss of Cuban sovereignty, but also the end of a social model based on principles of equality and justice for the country itself and nations around the world.
The University of Havana represented, for Fidel, an infinite source of vital knowledge in his training to become a lawyer, as well as a platform from which to forever lead the island’s youth, body and soul.
His legacy at the University of Havana is not only present in the department dedicated to the study of his thought and work, and in the images which adorn the walls of this emblematic institution, but also in the students, who since November 25, 2016, have taken the phrase “I am Fidel!” to heart.