VIVA FIDEL, VIVA JEUNESSE STE. LU­CIE

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - Peter Josie

Two news items caught my at­ten­tion this week. The first was the award­ing of thir­teen schol­ar­ships to young Saint Lu­cians to study in Cuba. Ac­cord­ing to a re­lease from the Em­bassy of Cuba in Saint Lu­cia, the schol­ar­ships to Saint Lu­cia were fi­nal­ized by the grant­ing of thir­teen awards in the fields of medicine, den­tistry and post-grad­u­ate med­i­cal stud­ies. The re­lease said that the Saint Lu­cian stu­dents signed the com­mit­ment to the code of ethics to be ob­served in the Cuban higher ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres, and re­ceived their schol­ar­ship files.

The code of ethics state­ment re­minded me of the late Pres­i­dent Fidel Cas­tro who would have been 92 on Au­gust 13. This is prob­a­bly a good time to re­view Fidel's life and judge for our­selves what he meant to Cuba, the Caribbean and the world. May he rest in peace! The Cuban em­bassy re­lease added that the Cuban Am­bas­sador, Jorge Soberon, ac­knowl­edged the sup­port of the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia in the com­ple­tion of the process of grant­ing the schol­ar­ships. Cuba, it added, con­tin­ued to strive to main­tain the schol­ar­ship pro­gramme. Some 560 Saint Lu­cians have grad­u­ated in higher ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres in Cuba from the com­mence­ment of the pro­gramme in 1980. Ge­orge Od­lum and I were the main light that opened the door to Cuba. I was the first Saint Lu­cian af­ter the rev­o­lu­tion to visit Ha­vana for a world con­fer­ence of work­ers.

We are not aware that there has been a press re­lease from the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia in­di­cat­ing how much money it spends to help these young­sters get to Cuba and the cost of sus­tain­ing them there for four years or more. An in­vi­ta­tion from this writer to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion for com­ment went unan­swered. The most char­i­ta­ble thing I can say about that is, re­gard­less of the min­is­ter in of­fice, the re­sult would have been the same.

An­other is­sue de­serv­ing some thought: When will Cuba- trained Saint Lu­cian doc­tors be re­quired to sign con­tracts with the gov­ern­ments of Saint Lu­cia and Cuba that will ob­li­gate them to make free home vis­its to the sick and in­ca­pac­i­tated in Saint Lu­cia? The pe­riod of such con­tracts of ser­vice to the poor and unin­sured in Saint Lu­cia should be a mat­ter for na­tional de­bate.

Also: When will Saint Lu­cia em­u­late Cuba by send­ing doc­tors and den­tists to help in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries? Shall we for­ever be at the re­ceiv­ing end of char­ity? Still on the is­sue of train­ing, it may be time to more ag­gres­sively ex­pand this is­land's agri­cul­ture tech­nol­ogy by closer co-op­er­a­tion with Cuban agri­cul­tur­ists.

Most wor­thy of men­tion in this dispatch: the ex­cel­lent per­for­mance by the is­land's un­der-four­teen foot­ball team in a re­gional tour­na­ment in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. The na­tional foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion and its coaches must be com­mended for their ef­forts. By now ev­ery­one in­volved in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of foot­ball on the is­land knows how im­por­tant it is to mon­i­tor progress in these young­sters—male and fe­male—and to keep them con­stantly en­gaged. They must be kept in the spot­light un­til they grad­u­ate to the is­land's na­tional se­nior team or some pro­fes­sional team over­seas. I have not read an anal­y­sis of the be­low-par Saint Lu­cia team per­for­mance in the re­cently con­cluded Wind­ward Is­lands Games at Vieux Fort. We seem re­luc­tant to re­view and an­a­lyze our per­for­mances in sports and ar­rive at what must be done to im­prove. I've seen the same reluc­tance in other spheres of lo­cal life. Some peo­ple avoid anal­y­sis be­cause it ex­poses mis­takes and weak­nesses, which point fin­gers at in­di­vid­u­als. And that, to some, must be avoided at all cost. This is pre­cisely why it is nec­es­sary to re­view why Gre­nada and not Saint Lu­cia topped the in­ter-school tour­na­ment this year. How can we im­prove if we don't re­view?

I pray that this news­pa­per's ex­cel­lent sports­writer David Pas­cal will press the coaches of the Saint Lu­cia na­tional school team for an­swers. In the mean­time, we should show ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the as­sis­tance the govern­ment of Cuba con­tin­ues to of­fer in train­ing and ed­u­cat­ing the youth of Saint Lu­cia. Fidel is dead, long live Fidel!

Fidel Cas­tro's le­gacy in­cludes the con­tin­u­ing re­la­tion­ship between Cuba and Saint Lu­cia through ed­u­ca­tion.

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