July 26 was the 49th Anniversary of the Moncada Attack
Cuba: The quality of courage
By Dayan Jayatilleka
"...And mine is the sling of David" - Jose Marti
The fall of the Cuban revolution was deemed imminent soon after the collapse of the mighty Soviet superpower in 1991. It is over a decade since, and Socialist Cuba is still standing defiant. As Castro has often said, Cuba did not ask for anyone's permission to make its revolution; Cuba did not consult anyone as to how and when to make its revolution; Cuba did not make a single one of its strategic decisions at the dictates of the Soviet Union . Therefore its will to resist and defend its revolution and its socialist option has not been weakened by the collapse of the USSR - indeed it has been strengthened by the knowledge that its situation is singular and unique: it is alone, the last incarnation and perhaps even the last defender of the socialist idea and ideal. Defence Minister Raul Castro likened the situation of Cuba to that of the three hundred Spartans who defended to the last man, the pass at Thermopylae against the overwhelmingly superior forces of the Persian empire.

There was a brief and welcome thaw in relations between Cuba and its Northern neighbour during the Clinton administration. As the Elian Gonzales case dragged on, public opinion polls showed that a majority of Americans supported the return of the boy to his father in Cuba, and the US Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno went head-to-head with the rightwing Cuban mobs in Miami. But that thaw is over. Despite opinion polls which show a majority of American citizens (and US corporations) support the lifting of sanctions, the Bush administration has lately ratcheted up the rhetoric against the Cuban revolution and its leadership.

Step-motherly treatment
Why does the administration of a country so obviously rich, powerful and successful as the United States - and at the apogee of its success - hate and loathe Cuba? Could it be due to the war on terrorism? Castro unequivocally denounced the September 11 outrage, Al-Quaeda and terrorism. Moreover, there has never been a single act of terrorism in the United States sponsored by Cuba, though a great many terrorist actions against Cuba have originated on the soil of its neighbour. Could it be because Cuba has a 'despotism'? Why then no squeeze on Saudi Arabia to democratise? Is it because Cuba has a one-party system and that party is a Communist party? What then of the ties between the USA and Communist party-ruled and nuclear-armed China, which has 'most favoured nation' status? Is it the influence, specially within the Republican party in Florida, and therefore on the Bush administration, of the wealthy anti-Castro Cubans, a group that has sponsored as many acts of bloody carnage (blowing up airlines, killing athletes) and drug-trafficking as has any terrorist outfit anywhere in the world? Or is it because Cuba, a little country, an island ninety miles from Florida, sets a bad example by refusing to accept hegemony and maintains complete sovereignty and independence? Is it that Cuba gives offence by refusing to get with the programme and subordinate everything to the marketplace and the private profit motivation? Is Cuba's abiding sin, protecting a system that has given it far better social indicators than the countries which have adopted the policies urged by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - and in some sectors such as public health, better social indicators than the US itself? Is it that Cuba commits an unpardonable crime by speaking out against injustice, aggression, terrorism from all quarters, and double standards? Is it that Cuba cannot be tolerated because Cuba's is "the sling of David", and Castro's words are argumentative and analytical stones that hurt the rulers of the world?

Selected countries can be arm-twisted into sponsoring resolutions against Cuba at the Human Rights sessions in Geneva, countries that have incomparably worse records (Mexico slaughtered hundreds of demonstrating students on the eve of the Olympics in 1968), and can be bought or bribed or threatened. Yet in the UN General Assembly, the blockade against Cuba has been voted against by record majorities, majorities that have never been seen in the UN's history (over a hundred something to three), in two consecutive years including last year when the world was fully supportive of the US after the outrage of September 11.

Champion of the under-dog
In defending the Cuban revolution and its leader at this particular time, one is merely attempting two things. Firstly to repay a bit of the debt that we owe Cuba. Cuba has never charged a single dollar for its volunteers, be they doctors, soldiers or teachers - or for its blood shed on foreign soil in support of others' struggles, which they embraced as their own.

While we owe the metropolitan countries many millions of dollars which we repay at great cost, we of the global South owe Cuba a debt in moral terms, a debt that is greater because of its non-monetary, non-quantifiable nature; the debt of being a tribune and a fighter, a gladiator for us all in the international arena.

The defence of Cuba stems from another reason.

While it means a jeopardising of individual interest, it is an act very much in the tradition of the Cuban revolution and its leader, since the socialist state of Cuba has many times sacrificed its own interests, has sacrificed the material rewards and opportunities it may have enjoyed, because of its principles on internationalism, of solidarity with causes and with the struggles of peoples. It has set an example.

It is not that Cuba has practised an abstract internationalism. Cuba presents in fact the finest example rooting socialism and the revolution on its own soil, in its rich and fertile tradition of national resistance to Spanish colonialism and later American dominance. Without nationalist heroes like Marti and Antonio Maceo, there would have been no Castro - or rather Castro would not have been the Castro that the world knows. And without Castro, Che Guevara, described by Jean Paul Sartre as the most complete man of our time, would have remained Ernesto Guevara, the brilliant, perceptive, iconoclastic, adventurous Marxist intellectual and writer. The deep national roots of the Cuban revolution are not the only reason that it remains undefeated. The Cuban people know that it is the revolution that has given them prestige, it is the revolution and its leader that has made Cuba a country known and respected throughout the world, a country taken into account. A little country but a country that has a presence and an influence; a country that stirs emotions throughout the world and has made its mark in history. The Cuban people know what economic neo-liberalism has done in Argentina, with its soup kitchens for the impoverished middle classes, and in Brazil with its police death squads which executes streetkids. They also know what Cuba was before the revolution - a neocolonial backwater, a country of extreme inequalities, a country of racism and wide class cleavages, a country of great rural poverty and few educational opportunities for the children of the many. It was a playground of gangsters; of ruthless police repression and military rule. At that time, no one was concerned about democracy in Cuba, about human rights and multiparty rule.

It is now, when Cuba produces more doctors per capita than any developed country, when Cuban doctors serve as volunteers in the most remote and poverty striken parts of the world; now, when Cuba has the highest production of books per capita in the Western Hemisphere (one billion books printed in the 43 years of the revolution), that the great democracies are concerned about democracy in Cuba! When an elected president Arbenz of Guatemala was toppled, when Salvador Allende was removed by a bloody military coup which installed a Torture State in Chile for decades, when the Indonesian junta massacred over half-a -million people and later invaded and annexed EastTimor, when Stroessner of Paraguay was feeding political opponents to the crocodiles, there were no sanctions imposed on them; no economic blockades, no Project Varelas and Radio Martis!

Cuba could have received rewards if it did not send its fighters to resist apartheid South Africa's forces when they invaded Angola in 1975. Cuba could have had the pressure on her ease-up if she did not fight against the South african invaders once again in 1988-89 in the battle of Cuito Cuenevale on the Namibian border - a battle that was won, expediting negotiations for Namibian independence and Nelson Mandela's release from prison , because as Mandela said, it was the news that the invincible South African army had been militarily beaten by Cuban forces that shattered the morale of the white supremacist regime of Pretoria. This is only a small part of the debt that the world owes Cuba.

Being openly identified with Cuba, taking one's stand alongside it, is a risky, costly business. Cuba is controversial and will always remain so, however knowledgeable, rational, responsible and irrefutable the arguments of Castro in global forums. Cuba has the most powerful of enemies.

Furthermore, by refusing to bend the knee and tug the forelock, by its proud and outspoken behaviour, by the guerrilla war of arguments and opinions it ceaselessly wages, by its continuing nonconformism and permanent rebelliousness and resistance, Cuba shows that there is another - higher - way of being in the world; a way of being whereby a small, poor third world country with a relatively small population can live and work and produce and fight and experiment and study and dance and create and exist with self-esteem, honour, dignity. This then is the deeper debt that we owe Cuba's Castro and Fidel's Cuba.

The concise guide to the Anglo-Sri Lankan lexicon Part IX by Richard Boyle
Love potions from the loris
There are five primate names recorded in the second editions of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED2) and Hobson-Jobson (H-J2) that are exclusively or partly associated with Sri Lanka. However, the number of species represented is actually four, because the Sinhala adaptation rillow is an obsolescent variant of rilawa, while toque monkey is a synonym for rilawa. But then the Sinhala adaptation wanderoo is a generic term for at least two species. The remaining name, loris, is of French/Dutch adaptation. Date of first use is provided in brackets.

loris (1774). Sinhala Unahapuluva. According to the OED2 it is "A small arboreal primate of the genus so-called, distinguished by grey or black fur, large eyes, and thin limbs, and found in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and southern India; also called slender loris." This name is applied to the species known as the Slender Loris, Loris tardigradus.

The earliest reference given in the OED2 is from Goldsmith's Natural History (1774:373): "A little four-handed animal of the Island of Ceylon, which Mr. Buffon calls the lori."

However, the earliest reference from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka is by James Emerson Tennent from Ceylon (1859:I.111): "The only other quadrumanous animal found in Ceylon is the little loris, which, from its sluggish movements, nocturnal habits, and consequent inaction during the day, has acquired the name of the 'Ceylon Sloth.' There are two varieties in the island; one of the ordinary fulvous brown, and another larger, whose fur is entirely black. A specimen of the former was sent to me from Chilaw, on the western coast, and lived for some time at Colombo, feeding on rice, fruit, and vegetables. It was partial to ants and other insects, and always eager for milk or the bone of a fowl. The naturally slow motion of its limbs enables the loris to approach its prey so stealthily that it seizes birds before they can be alarmed by his presence. The natives assert that it has been known to strangle the pea-fowl at night, and feast on the brain. During the day the one which I kept was usually asleep . . . its perch firmly grasped with all hands, its back curved into a soft ball of fur, and its head hidden deep between its legs. The singularly large and intense eyes of the loris have attracted the attention of the Singhalese, who capture the creature for the purpose of extracting them as charms and love-potions, and this they are said to effect by holding the little animal to the fire till its eyeballs burst."

rillow (1681). "Zoological Obsolescent [adaptation of Sinhalese rilawa, plural rilaw] = Rilawa, bonneted rillow, the Bonnet Macaque of Southern India." Rillow became obsolete with the introduction of the more authentic form rilawa circa 1840. This name was applied to the species known as the Toque Monkey, Macaca sinica.

The earliest reference is by Robert Knox from An Historical Relation of Ceylon (1681:26): " . . . This sort of Monkeys have no beards, white faces, and long hair on the top of their heads, which parteth and hangeth down like a man's. These are so impudent that they will come into their Gardens and eat such Fruit as grows there. They call these Rillowes."

The OED2 gives two other references from zoological works dated 1792 and 1797, but does not include the postdating reference by Robert Percival from An Account of the Island Of Ceylon (1803:290): "The rillow is a very large species, not less than our larger dogs. It is distinguished by long parted hair lying flat in its forehead. This species is extremely numerous, and a great annoyance to the corn fields and gardens, which they rob in the face of the owner, while they deride him by antick gestures."

rilawa (1840). "Zoological [Sinhalese rilawa c.f. RILLOW] The Toque Macaque (Macacus pileatus) of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). This name is applied to the species known as the Toque Monkey, Macaca sinica.

The earliest reference given is by Tennent (1859:I.129): "The little graceful grimacing rilawa is the universal pet and favourite of both natives and Europeans."

However, there is an earlier or antedating reference by Major Forbes in Eleven Years in Ceylon (1840:I.115): "As we proceeded, we fell in with troops both of the Wandaru and Rilawa monkeys . . . The Rilawas . . . are of reddish fawn-colour with the hair on the top of their heads spreading from a centre, and projecting far over their faces; this causes them to appear as if surmounted with a broad Scotch bonnet, but their manners do not correspond with their sober aspect and covenanter-looking head-dress: they are small sized, restless, wonderfully active, singularly inquisitive, and unconquerably mischievous."

toque monkey (1840). Sinhala Rilawa. "Also simply toque: the bonnet-monkey or bonnet-macaque, Macacus pileatus of Ceylon." This name is applied to the species known as the Toque Monkey, Macaca sinica. The earliest reference given is from Cuvier's Animal Kingdom (1840:59): "The Bonnetted Macaque Macacus sinicus and the Toque (M. radiatus) have the hairs on the top of the head disposed as radii."

wanderoo (1681). "[Adoption of Sinhalese wanduro, monkey, cognate with Hindi bandar, representing Sanskrit vanara monkey, believed to mean literally 'forest-dweller.' The French form ouanderou (Buffon) is a re-spelling of the word as given by Knox.] A name properly applied to the langur monkeys (genus Semnopithecus), inhabiting Sri Lanka, but until recently almost always misapplied to the Lion-tailed Macaque (Macacus silenus) of Malabar." This name is applied to two species, the Sri Lanka Grey Langur, Semnopithecus priam thersites, and the Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey, Tachypithecus vetulus.

The earliest reference is by Knox (1681:25): "Monkeys . . . of which there are an abundance in the Woods, and of divers sorts, some so large as our English Spaniel Dogs, of a darkish gray colour, and black faces, with great white beards round from ear to ear, which makes them shew just like old men. There is another sort just of the same bigness, but different in colour, being milk white both in body and face, having great beards like the others; of this sort of white ones there is not such plenty. But both these sorts do but little mischief, keeping in the Woods, eating only leaves and buds of Trees, but when they are catched, they will eat anything. This sort they call in their language Wanderows."

The OED2 entry gives a number of interdating references, primarily from zoological works, the first of which is dated 1774. The first reference after Knox from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka is by Percival (1803:290): "The wanderow is remarkable for its great white beard, which stretches quite from ear to ear across its black face, while the body is of dark grey."

An interdating reference from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka given in the dictionary is by Maria Graham from Journal of a Residence in India (1811[1813]:97): "As we went through the woods, I saw one of the large baboons called here Wanderows, on the top of a coco-nut tree, where he was gathering nuts, with which he ran along the tops of the trees with surprising agility. I at first took him to be a man, but I discovered my mistake, when he peeped at my palankeen through the leaves, by the large grey ruff he has round his face." William Dalton, writing in Lost in Ceylon (1861:81), provides a reference from fiction in which a wanderoo is shot in order to feed a party on a jungle trek: "'Monkeys!' said I, perceiving some twenty or thirty of the little animals called wanderoos busily engaged with their morning meal, the seeds of the tree.

"'Yes sar; good for eat,' said the boy; and before I could reply he had snatched up my rifle. There was a chattering and screaming as the little animals, with their young ones in arms and regardless of height or width, leaped from branch to branch with astonishing accuracy of aim, and a mother and her young one fell dead at the feet of May."

Ernst Haeckel, writing in A Visit to Ceylon (trans. 1883:263), reveals he was not averse to shooting primates, even though he was an eminent biologist and philosopher: "Hunting monkeys was more interesting; their scolding was to be heard on all sides; and I here shot several fine specimens of the tawny Rilawa (Macacus sinensis), and of the large black Wanderoo (Presbytis cephalopterus)."

Constance Gordon Cumming writes in Two Happy Years in Ceylon (1892[1901]:87): "That night we anchored beneath a Suriya tree, covered with blossoms. Vivid sheet-lightning illumined the sky and the forest, even wakening up the old Wanderoos, who hooted their indignation. These are rather small, very grave, bearded monkeys, the patriarchs of the race, of the most venerable appearance, clothed in thick, dark iron-grey hair, with a rough shaggy white beard, and a thick fringe of white hair on their head. Some species, however, are grey, with black beards. They go about in troops of twenty or thirty, swinging from branch to branch, and carrying their neat little babies. They are very easily tamed, and some have been taken to visit sacred monkey-shrines in India, where they are held in special honour because of their grave demeanour. Their deep-toned sobbing cry, as we so often heard it resounding through the silent forest stillness of the early dawn, was most eerie."

The postdating reference given in the OED2 is dated 1907. However there are many later references from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka. For example R. L. Spittel writes in Wild Ceylon (1924 [1951]:139): "There is no flesh the Vedda loves more than that of the wanderoo (grey langur). He will sometimes be seen to halt by a tree and strike its trunk three resounding blows with his axe-head. This is to discover the whereabouts of the wanderoo. On hearing the sound these animals, imagining it to be that of a falling tree or rock, give vent to the 'a-he-hik' so characteristic of them when startled." There is a corresponding entry in H-J2 in which Knox is also credited with the earliest reference.

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