Though frowned on in the Soviet Union, the cult of personality remains very much the keynote of political life in Cuba.
Though frowned on in the Soviet Union, the cult of personality remains very much the keynote of political life in Cuba. Fidel Castro and his fellow-revolutionaries are treated much as Mao Tse-tung is in the Chinese People's Republic or as Ho Chi Minh was in North Vietnam.
In Revolution Square, Havana, an area from which news cameramen are officially banned, a million or more can gather to hear the latest words from their leader and join in singing revolutionary songs. The Square is the Cuban party's central shrine, a monument to the new order.
No portrait of Fidel Castro appears in Revolution Square, nor is one expected to do so until after his death. But his picture is displayed almost everywhere else on the island, his speeches are constantly quoted, and his teachings are obligatory in the schools.
Every Cuban schoolboy knows how Castro came to power, but there are reminders all the same. Once a year, on a river in a National Park not far from Havana, the cabin-cruiser Granma is carefully cleaned and opened to the public. This was the boat that brought Castro and 82 of his followers to Cuba from exile in mexico in 1958. It ranks as a national treasure.
The revolution is kept alive by thousands of slogans, neon signs and billboards. Eleven years after his triumphal entry into Havana, Fidel Castro is reverse in Cuba as a hero. Even his critics admit he is more firmly in the saddle than ever.