Is a strong leader the sign of a weak people?
Oliver Stone: Fidel is not the revolution, believe me. Fidel is popular, whatever his enemies say. It's Zapata, remember that movie? He said, "A strong people don't need a strong leader."
ALB: So you think that if he went off the scene the revolution would continue?
OS: If Mr. Bush and his people have the illusion that they're going to walk into an Iraq-type situation, and people are going to throw up their arms and welcome us, [they are] dead wrong. These people are committed. Castro has become a spiritual leader. He will always be a Mao to those people.
ALB: In the first film, Comandante, he asked you, "Is it so bad to be a dictator?" Did you think you should have responded to that question?
OS: I don't think that was the place to do it. … You know, dictator or tyrant, those words are used very easily. In the Greek political system, democracy didn't work out that well. There were what they called benevolent dictators back in those days.
From a long interview.
Naturally, the more people can do themselves the less they depend on someone else to do it for them.
But strong here refers to more than the ability to make good decisions (intellectual power) and enforce them (police power).
It refers to the control of all decision-making power and strict control of people's behaviour.
Stone thinks that a benevolent dictator can create strong people so that, eventually, he can relinquish control. Just like a parent. That's not unreasonable. Whether Cuba needed a strong leader for 40 years is another story.