Farewell to a friend
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
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