Farewell to a friend

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ryon Jones Staff Re­porter

CUBA'S REV­O­LU­TION­ARY leader and for­mer Pres­i­dent Fidel Ale­jan­dro Cas­tro Ruz has been hailed as a friend to Ja­maica.

The bond of friend­ship be­tween Ja­maica and Cuba was de­vel­oped in the 1970s while the late Michael Man­ley and Cas­tro were at the helm of their re­spec­tive coun­tries and it has sur­vived to this date.

CUBA’S REV­O­LU­TION­ARY leader and for­mer Pres­i­dent Fidel Ale­jan­dro Cas­tro Ruz has been hailed as a friend to Ja­maica.

The bond of friend­ship be­tween Ja­maica and Cuba was de­vel­oped in the 1970s while the late Michael Man­ley and Cas­tro were at the helm of their re­spec­tive coun­tries, and it has sur­vived to this date.

Cas­tro has now left it up to his brother, Raul Cas­tro Ruz, who he ceded power to in 2006, to carry on that com­rade­ship af­ter the fiery, no-non­sense rad­i­cal passed away at 10:29 p.m. on Fri­day fol­low­ing a long pe­riod of ill­ness.

Cas­tro, who was 90, over­threw Ful­gen­cio Batista on Jan­uary 8, 1959 and went on to hold power for 49 years – longer than any other liv­ing na­tional leader ex­cept Queen El­iz­a­beth II.

Then Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) pres­i­dent and prime min­is­ter, Man­ley, had dared to show sol­i­dar­ity with Cas­tro when he pub­licly de­clared that he would “walk with Fidel to the moun­tain top” at a time when the com­mu­nist leader was fac­ing strong op­po­si­tion from the United States and the rest of the west.

FRIENDS TO JA­MAICA

But for­mer PNP Cab­i­net min­is­ter and his­to­rian Arnold Ber­tram be­lieves Cas­tro and the peo­ple of Cuba have done more than enough to jus­tify the ca­ma­raderie that the PNP has shown them.

“Fidel Cas­tro and the peo­ple of Cuba record show, no doubt, that they were friends to Ja­maica,” Ber­tram told The

Sun­day Gleaner. “He (Cas­tro) did not miss an op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish his sol­i­dar­ity; whether he was as­sist­ing with our health ser­vices or ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices and, more im­por­tantly, he never tried to im­pose his pol­i­tics on Ja­maica.

“As a man of African de­scent, I can never for­get his con­tri­bu­tion to the lib­er­a­tion of the peo­ple of South Africa from that racist ap­atite regime.”

A state­ment from the PNP out­lined some of the ways Ja­maica di­rectly ben­e­fited from its re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nist coun­try.

‘Re­gard­ing Ja­maica, to­day, our health care sys­tem is the bet­ter for the hun­dreds of doc­tors and health pro­fes­sion­als trained in Cuba; our in­fra­struc­ture is much im­proved due to the en­gi­neers trained in Cuba, our sport­ing prow­ess bet­ter be­cause of con­tri­bu­tions like the G.C. Foster Col­lege of Sports Ed­u­ca­tion, our ed­u­ca­tion much im­proved be­cause of selfless con­tri­bu­tion of the Cuban peo­ple for the José Martí High School and the Gar­vey Maceo High School,” the PNP said.

Cas­tro reigned in Cuba for nearly five decades with an iron hand, de­fy­ing a US eco­nomic em­bargo in­tended to dis­lodge him to write his name in world his­tory.

“He will go down in the an­nals of his­tory as one of the lead­ers who, though com­ing from a Caribbean is­land de­vel­op­ing state, has had the great­est im­pact on world his­tory,” Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness said. “Many Ja­maicans still vividly re­mem­ber his vis­its to Ja­maica and his pas­sion­ate speeches in defence of the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Por­tia Simp­son Miller hailed Cas­tro as a great

leader and con­sum­mate friend of Ja­maica, whose le­gacy will live on well be­yond the 90 years of his life.

“Fidel’s pass­ing rep­re­sents the end of an era and the tri­umph of hope over de­spair, ser­vice to the peo­ple over self and the vic­tory of the hu­man spirit of kind­ness and love over selfish­ness and hate,” said Simp­son Miller. “I am deeply sad­dened by his death, but re­main eter­nally in­spired by his ex­am­ple of great­ness and selfless ser­vice to the Cuban peo­ple and to hu­man­ity.”

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter P.J. Pat­ter­son char­ac­terised his old friend as “in­dis­putably, one of the great­est po­lit­i­cal and world lead­ers of our time. Fidel was, and will al­ways be, spo­ken of

FILE

Prime Min­is­ter Michael Man­ley and Dr Fidel Cas­tro in­spect­ing a Cuban guard of hon­our in July 1975. BER­TRAM AJ NI­CHOL­SON In this 2005 photo then Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Cuba Fidel Cas­tro (right), makes a com­ment to then Pres­i­dent of the Bo­li­var­ian Repub­lic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez Frias (left) much to the amuse­ment of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter P.J. Pat­ter­son. SEAGA MUN­ROE HOL­NESS SIMP­SON MILLER

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