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Gonsalves in Cuba to pay last respects to ‘a friend’

Gonsalves in Cuba to pay last respects to ‘a friend’

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is now in the Republic of Cuba, where he will pay respects to the memory of the late Fidel Castro Ruz at Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

Gonsalves, accompanied by his wife Eloise and a member of his security detail, left for Cuba yesterday to join other foreign delegations at what he described as “a big event” being held in honour of “El Comandante”.{{more}}

Before leaving the country, Gonsalves signed the book of condolences that had been opened at the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba at Ratho Mill.

The Prime Minister will join tens of thousands of Cubans and foreign delegates who have already begun paying respect to Castro, who governed the Republic of Cuba from 1959 to 2008. Castro died on Friday, November 25 at the age of 90.

The plaza, a massive concrete expanse where papal masses have been celebrated and Cubans have gathered at key moments in the island’s history, was open to mourners until 10 last night and the tributes will continue today, Tuesday, before Castro’s remains begin making a journey across the island Wednesday. The funeral cortege will follow a route that is the reverse of the one that a young Castro and other revolutionaries took in 1959 from eastern Cuba to Havana after the triumph of the revolution.

On Saturday morning, hours after Castro’s death, Gonsalves, speaking on the National Broadcasting Radio 705 said Castro, known to the people of Cuba and the world simply and affectionately as “Fidel”, was an “iconic revolutionary” who successfully led the political process to “unshackle Cuba from a debilitating imperialism and he strove to establish a just and inclusive society in his people’s interest, free of exploitation. The Cuban people loved him; and, so, too, we in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean, Latin America, and indeed the world over.

“For over 50 years, Fidel led his people and others globally in a quest for a better world of justice, equality, and genuine freedom. Cuba’s internationalism and solidarity with the poor and oppressed people world-wide were manifestations of his humanity and nobility of spirit. We in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been beneficiaries of Fidel’s generosity and solidarity. In other countries, such as in racist Southern Africa, the Cubans under Fidel’s extraordinary leadership shed their blood, selflessly, to assist in the attainment of freedom and nationhood in Angola and South Africa especially.

“Fidel was an extraordinary and towering political figure of immense historical and global significance. He stands alongside the 20th century titans in the struggle for people’s liberation, such as VI Lenin, Mahatma Ghandi, Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, and Nelson Mandela. He was a magnificent son of Our America, Our Latin American and Caribbean civilization.

“Fidel was a warm and humorous person, a finished personality, full of a love for life and living. We will miss him dearly. My wife and I have lost a personal friend.

“…St Vincent and the Grenadines will honour Fidel appropriately during this immediate period of mourning and thereafter. May Fidel’s soul rest in peace. His ideas and example live on. Farewell our dear friend and comrade,” Gonsalves said.

Castro’s funeral services are scheduled for Sunday, December 4 in Santiago, Cuba.

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