IS­RAEL WILLACEY

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ryon.jones@glean­erjm.com

pas­sion­ately, in dif­fer­ent ways by per­sons across the po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, eco­nomic, re­li­gious and cul­tural di­vide be­cause he was never ever com­fort­able with the norm, the sta­tus quo; at all times, in life and dur­ing his ill­ness, think­ing what else can he do on be­half of peo­ple, wher­ever they may be.”

He added, “I am hon­oured to have per­son­ally known him and will al­ways re­call with fond mem­o­ries the nu­mer­ous con­ver­sa­tions we had. He al­ways saw Ja­maica as a friend.”

FEAR AND AN­GUISH

The ex­al­ta­tion of Cas­tro was, how­ever, not uni­formed, as for­mer Prime Min­is­ter and JLP leader Ed­ward Seaga dis­agreed with many of his ac­tions, which in­cluded con­trol­ling ev­ery as­pect of the is­land’s ex­is­tence and send­ing count­less men to pri­son.

“Cas­tro may have been a hero for some while oth­ers will never for­get the fear and an­guish his poli­cies brought on their fam­i­lies and friends and them­selves,” Seaga said.

“I can’t use the word friend with Cas­tro be­cause you don’t know what it means. His prac­tices and his poli­cies cre­ated a lot of fear and an­guish and you didn’t know whether that was go­ing to turn on a friend as well as the enemy. I ad­mire that he was try­ing to sup­port the poor, but his poli­cies only made them poorer.”

Seaga noted that at­tempts by the PNP gov­ern­ment of the 70s to fol­low Cas­tro ended as a great fail­ure, with lack of im­ports, food, medicine, oil, ma­chin­ery, spare parts and other essen­tials, caus­ing the econ­omy to go from bad to worse.

But vet­eran politi­cian and for­mer For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter A.J. Ni­chol­son said the PNP ad­min­is­tra­tion has been forth­right in its sup­port for the aims and as­pi­ra­tions of the Cuban gov­ern­ment un­der the lead­er­ship of Fidel and Raul Cas­tro, de­spite the dif­fer­ences in the sys­tems of gov­ern­ment of the two coun­tries.

“Any sup­port that a PNP ad­min­is­tra­tion sought to give to the Cuban gov­ern­ment can­not be seen as a fail­ure in as much as the Cuban gov­ern­ment has been very kind to Ja­maica,” Ni­chol­son said. “There are sev­eral coun­tries that can be crit­i­cised for their [lack of] ad­her­ence to hu­man rights doc­trine and the likes. We are not into that kind of crit­i­cism.”

Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Dr Trevor Munroe, who was one of the prin­ci­pals of The Work­ers’ Party of Ja­maica, which was a com­mu­nist party, deemed Cas­tro’s legacy a mix be­tween the pos­i­tive and the neg­a­tive.

“Only the Cuban peo­ple them­selves, as well as time and his­tory, can make the ul­ti­mate judg­ment as to whether the good out­weighs the down­side of the out­stand­ing achieve­ments of this ex­cep­tional trans­for­ma­tional leader,” Munroe rea­soned.

Cas­tro’s fu­neral will be held on De­cem­ber 4 in Cuba’s se­cond largest city, San­ti­ago de Cuba, fol­low­ing nine days of na­tional mourn­ing which of­fi­cially com­menced at 6 a.m. yes­ter­day.

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