Song about Fidel Castro

The main place we need a song about Fidel Castro is early on in the script (e.g. maybe scene 4/5) , written from his point of view, and summarising what his key motivations are and what he wants. It could describe his political antics in the 1940s and early 50s – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_life_of_Fidel_Castro – his disappointment that Batista’s coup meant he was not able to get elected into power. His desire to prove himself with an attack on Moncada barracks. There was an element of ego and arrogance in Fidel, but also complete conviction in the cause and his abilities  – so the song can show both light and shade. So the song should be Fidel’s internal dialogue to enable us to identify with Fidel and what he want to achieve. Or you could go back to his childhood and his formative influences. Fidel was the son of a poor man who made it good, but he grew up in the country among the poor. Other rich kids grew bourgeois and looked down on the poor. But Fidel and Raul played with kids with no shoes, with gnawing hunger, desperate for bread. They saw their friends suffer from poverty and lack. Fidel got sent away to school, but complains it taught him nothing – they made him kneel on a grain of corn for misbehaviour, and told him to respect authority and his anger and sense of injustice grew. He was always a rebel right from the start. You can get more ideas on this theme by looking at the song theme relating to Raul and Fidel.

Many musicals have a song which describes the main character and how they feel about him or her (e.g. ‘how do you solve a problem like Maria‘ in the Sound of Music, or ‘Jesus Christ Superstar‘.

Fidel’s personality: a mix of good and bad qualities see http://fidelthemusical.org/fidel-castro/. He is a bit egotistical and has an amazing luck in terms of escaping death – maybe describe him as a bit ‘egotistical, but with an almost mystical’ ability to stay alive. That will resonate when we see his near misses several times during the musical. He is brave, charismatic, competitive and dogmatic. Also where some people are good at detail, but can’t see the wood for the trees, Fidel can look ahead and see the big picture. He has great self-confidence, always believes he is right, and usually is due to his wide knowledge and interest in everything. He was a great reader. Physically is tall and imposing, and has a larger than life personality to match. He could be very charming, but also get angry quickly. He has the ability to inspire absolute devotion – the Cuban people felt they could have utter faith in him and he wouldn’t let them down due to his strong convictions, determination, stubborn refusal to accept defeat, total focus on the core values of the revolution. he found it hard to admit when he is wrong. Even those Cubans who didn’t agree with his policies still mostly feel that he has integrity and always does his best. He could talk for hours without notes – his 4 hour speeches were legendary and he was great at appealing to people’s hearts and heads with a mix of lyrical metaphors and endless facts and statistics. Once they met him, most were bowled over by his confidence and leadership qualities.

A great option is to have a song where people can’t agree whether he is a hero or a monster, a saint or brutal dictator, maybe as a duet between US and Russian presidents or by different members of the public. You can get examples of both points of view in some of the interviews following his death see http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/stig-abell/why-are-some-on-the-left-romanticising-a-monster/

Another place for the song is scene 15 when Nico could explain to Che Guevara and others what Fidel is like. In the rewrite this scene may well be the opening scene and we go back to find out more about Fidel, so it could also be the opening number. it would need to be upbeat and reflect Fidel’s personality.

A Fidelista is a term for those who like Fidel or believe in his principles so you could do a song called ‘soy Fidelista’. The Soviet President Khrushchev was asked shortly after the Cuban revolution if he thought Fidel was a communist said ‘I don’t know but I am a Fidelista’ (scene 6b). Others who may say this would be people like Celia Sanchez or Che Guevara. Alternatively you could focus on those who hated him such as the Cuban exiles. These were the Cubans who fled to Miami who were supporters of Batista or who did not like he idea of the socialist revolution and who hated Fidel Castro – ‘no soy Fidelista (I am not a Fidelista).

It could be a song by Fidel that explains the secret of his success e.g. you have to believe in yourself, you have to have confidence, you have to believe in a better world, in the power of the people (maybe scene 2b). He was referred to as Maximo Lider, and this phrase could be incorporated into a song. A particular aspect that occurs at many points in the script is Fidel’s ability to turn a positive into a negative e.g. Fidel uses US aggression as to consolidate support as the embargo provides a good scapegoat and reason for shortages. The lack of oil encourages them to keep fit doing things by hand (scene 13b). The failure to reach the target for the sugar harvest helps them to avoid complacency (end of scene 19b). Celia’s death from cancer motivates development in medicine and has led to Cuba’s development of first lung cancer vaccine (final scene). So the theme of turning a negative into a positive can appear many times and be reprised during these scenes.

Other options: You could use the occasion in the script where Marita meets Fidel for the first time – see scene 2b. She is a young girl who falls in love with Fidel, but then later tries to kill him. If you want a song sung by Fidel boasting to Marita then scene 30 is most relevant. Or it could be sung by Marita about Fidel, see scene 2b and scene 4b and scene 7b and scene 9b to see their storyline – it is Ok to reprise a song.

You could also have a song sung by the Cuban people that represent a cross section of Cuban public, for example the crowds that were present during his many speeches, you can show how their views change over time e.g.

Crowd 1:  Militant revolutionary and pro-Fidel. Very supportive of Fidel throughout, and dedicated to communist/socialist ideals

Crowd 2:  Pro Fidel, used to be very poor under Batiste regime and hoped Fidel would be the man to change things , since the revolution is grateful for the greater  security in terms of basic food, accommodation, healthcare and security.

Crowd 3: Someone who constantly moans. In part 1, is always to be found moaning about the Batista regime and how terrible everything is, hopes Fidel will help, but tends towards pessimism, thinks Fidel is too full of himself. Later although he was very poor under Batiste regime and now is better off he still now moans about everything, the shortages, the queuing etc.

Crowd 4: A ‘gusano’ – used to be wealthy before the revolution  and had property. Supported Fidel in the early days as was upset by the corruption and brutality of Batista regime, but gradually turns against Fidel after the revolution as had to give up some land, and now has the same as everyone else – eventually decides to leave island.

Fidel’s death

You could finish the musical with Fidel’s death and show the different opinions about him. The opinions of some Cuban exiles and those in the US are very different to the opinions of most Cubans living in Cuba. A US-funded agency exists whose role is to spread misinformation about Cuba and denigrate its achievements and so it is the US perspective that has dominated in the West. The musical tries to present a more balanced perspective that gives more weight to the Cuban point of view see http://theconversation.com/our-musical-fidel-will-try-to-puncture-the-polarised-debate-about-castro-69508. Also see the interview with Dr Denise Baden on BBC24 following the death of Fidel Castro which got over 3 million views and was deconstructed in an article by medialens.

A finale song could highlight some of the different voices that emerged following Fidel’s death.