Fidel and Armando Hart, then Minister of Education, on December 22, 1961, in the Plaza of the Revolution. Photo: AP

On that tragic night that Fidel departed to immortality, he had finished the book When I Became a Fidelista, which, of course, is dedicated to Fidel's memory.

And don't ask me why, or how, but in those sad days of mourning, when Fidel left, I knew that the end was very close, I knew Armando so well that I could intuit it..., then, it was like this, just a year and a day later, he went with him... And although for more than thirty years we shared everything... only then did I come to understand that Fidel was for him, like Frank and Enrique, and that's why Armando, like Abel and Boris, lived so that Fidel could live and Haydée knew it from then on, that Armando had also given his life to her, the rest was a matter or matter of the destiny of each one and a little bit of chance that always does its thing....

That's why I think that when Armando went with him, to that other dimension, to continue in the loyalty in which he lived for him all his life; He left calmly, he left calmly... But time passes, I say it passes, it flies... and we have already counted seven interminable years since Fidel's departure and six years since Armando's.

But it is by no means madness, nor living outside of reality, that I still feel; because for me, He is with me, They are still here in dialogue with the present and the future, although perhaps they are not fully seen. What's more, I'm sure that as long as we remember them like this, they will never leave.

Just a few hours after learning the unfortunate news of the physical departure of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Armando shared with me these ideas that were later published in the newspaper Granma, and I quote these paragraphs of his, Hart said:

"I can say with certainty that my life is divided into two fundamental stages: before and after meeting Fidel. That happened first by references and later personally. This idea grew to the extent that I could see the personal qualities, extraordinary intelligence, firm will to face the most complex situations with wisdom, and the great nobility and solidarity of Fidel with his comrades in struggle and ideals, which was nothing more than another form of expression of his infinite love for his people.

I remember that the events of March 10, 1952, marked a decisive moment in that course that led both of us to find ourselves in a close community of ideas and gradually widened as I realized—along with other valuable comrades in the midst of the insurrection—that I had finally found the ethical leadership that we had so long so eagerly sought. in a country that at that time was torn between bewilderment and frustration.

July 26, 1953, was for me the heroic confirmation of all those ideas and raised before us the figure of Fidel and the brave young people who accompanied him to "take heaven by storm." Those were definitely the leader and movement we aspired to, the one Cuba needed and within which the greatest sacrifices would be worthwhile, including giving one's life to the cause of freedom and justice for the Cuban people.

However, I was still very far from imagining what fate and the hard struggle had in store for me, and even then, I could not have imagined that Fidel would be able to become the central figure, the organizer and the leader of the Centennial Generation, transcending, even, our borders and projecting himself into Latin America. the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

But it could not be otherwise, because that man who conceived, led and has defended intelligently and without any hesitation, the gigantic work of the Cuban Revolution, was called to be — in today's convulsive universe — a very high and uncommon example of culture, security, experience and firmness of principles: all in one piece.

For me, it is a source of legitimate pride to have known him, to have followed him and accompanied him, learning from his decisions and his timely and correct orientations, from the second half of the twentieth century until now. And if today I had to summarize what is, in my opinion, his most characteristic trait, I would say that it is his ethical thought, the one that he demonstrated and put to the test in the most difficult moments, from the times of Moncada, until he became the essential force of the Revolution, with more than half a century of victory.

We Cubans will never forget his talent, genius and originality, because Fidel was the one who brought to the field of facts, the methods and principles capable of relating and dialectically articulating the ideas of Socialism with the tradition of the Cuban nation, to make it triumph.

Fidel is that good man with decorum, who carried José Martí in his mind and heart throughout his life and was his best disciple; because he enriched his ideas like no one else, with the knowledge and experiences of political practice and he was also the man who carried in his privileged conscience all the ethics and political wisdom that was lacking in the twentieth century and still lacks in the twenty-first.

Our grateful people will not forget their valuable and invaluable contributions to peace and to humanity as a whole. It is true that, although I do not want to say it, it is so, his absence represents a void that we cannot fill, much less forget, because his life and his immense work of human and revolutionary creation will always be present in the very foundations of these efforts to transform a higher future for our peoples and countries in Cuba. Latin America and the world.

From the depths of my heart I pay my purest tribute to that giant of history and I say thank you Fidel, for your life of sacrifice dedicated to our people, for having given us your Cubanness and your exemplary record of service to our homeland and to humanity, because the Cuban Revolution is and will be, Forever, a universal reference, just like the paradigm and the legend that your life and your ideas represent, which will never be buried.

That is why I ask, who says that Fidel is dead? Fidel is and will be forever among us, because men like that never die, his life as a legend, as a giant, grows and will grow with the days and history. That is why on a day like today, my thoughts and my fond memories come to my mind, the comrades who have fallen over more than half a century, those who, like him, fighting with heroism and determination gave the best of their lives for our country.

And once again I reiterate my thanks to Fidel and before his sacred memory, I ratify our eternal gratitude and our commitment that we will continue to fight to defend with dignity your ideals and identical principles to which you gave yourself with your unsurpassed and gallant conduct as a legendary hero of the victorious and memorable Cuban Revolution.

Before your unforgettable memory, Commander-in-Chief of all battles, I feel the sacred duty to link the slogans of the nation and the Revolution: Independence or Death, Freedom or Death, Homeland or Death, Until victory always, because forever We will win with the immortal example of your life and your ideas, dear, eternal and undefeated Commander in Chief."

Armando and Fidel, as protagonists of the Centennial Generation, made virtue, decency and ethics fashionable in every second of their extraordinary existences; And that's the reason, why in a world like this; Examples for all are still necessary and paradigmatic.

When humanity is going through the most acute crisis that the so-called Western culture has gone through in its entire history, which is revealed in the bankruptcy of ethics, political and legal principles and philosophical ideas that after long evolution served as the foundation of the capitalist system itself; when a new type of lumpen of Cuban origin, declassed and amoral, has become fashionable at the service of imperialism; for whom it is natural to be crude rudeness, obscenity, indecency, vulgarity, levity, lying, capable of any baseness; Those who represent the worst of anything goes and are today our adversaries and enemies. We must intensify our crusade in favor of life and peace, which Armando and Fidel promoted from the beginning of the Revolution; with more education, more ideas and with all the culture, as Fidel told us; In this way, we will surely defeat them as we have done up to now.

The history of Cuba is already marked forever by the actions of the revolutionary vanguard of the Centennial Generation, which with its struggle forever promoted the radical change of our history.

Hopefully these humble words dedicated to remembering Armando and Fidel, will also serve as a tribute to the heroes and thinkers of our lands; those who have thought, lived and fought for our unity, independence and sovereignty, inspired by the example of the immortal figures of Bolívar, Martí, Che, Chávez and Fidel himself.

May they live forever in our memory and may their immortal examples never be extinguished.