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.