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How should we deal with communist Castro?


by Dr. Richard A. B. Cox

There is something very “Machu Picchian” (in the contemporary sense of the term) about the death of colonialism in SVG. It has been a quarter century and more since the dawn of October 79 yet many of its useless relics remain on the mountain tops of Vincentian mentality, ruins adored and constantly visited – irrespective of how expensive the trip- whether through our legal system, the ingrained belief of some that you only went to university if you were in Oxford or Cambridge or the nonsensical notion that the “mother country” has our interest at heart.{{more}} This mentally enslaving idolatry we practise daily in the continuing acceptance of a foreigner as head of state of our country, putting on an annual circus called queen’s birthday parade, clinging to OBEs and MBEs of a non existing empire and having streets with names such as Halifax and the like. And that is the Jesus wept version, for in reality the list is marathon long.

As a nation responsible for its own destiny we must stop treasuring those colonial ornaments that smudge our independence, replacing them with symbols reflecting what we have done thus far, thereby inspiring faith in ourselves to emulate those who went before us, courageously charting a course for our freedom and dignity, rejecting any notion of subservience. The names are quite a few (a roll call is long overdue) among which is the Caribbean greatest statesman of all times, the only real colossus we gifted the world stage, Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz.

Dr. Castro, or as we all know him Fidel, is 80 and undoubtedly in the twilight of his political years. Indeed this piece is occasioned due to his present illness (I wish him a full and speedy recovery), which brought an acute and sudden reminder of his mortality. From dust came man and unto dust he shall return, the only questions are when and by which route. But the Caribbean could take tremendous comfort in the fact that for almost 2 1/2 score years he has been one of our main vehicles of service to humanity. And because of this I implore SVG to set an example to the world by inviting him to visit us, so that we may bestow upon him a most deserved honour. I concretely suggest that either the road going to the community college, that leading to the teachers and technical colleges, or the GHS and BGS be renamed in the honour of Dr. Castro, and when the new library is completed, that the main reading hall be called the Dr. Fidel Castro Hall. Why you ask, what is so special about communist Castro? Well, I am surprised. Every Tom, Dick and Harry should know this. However, I am aware that justification through facts is to be preferred over assumption in the acceptance of self-evident truths. So here goes.

As regards SVG, thanks to Fidel from Donny Defreitas our man at ECTEL to Health Minister Duggie Slater were trained in Cuba. And yes from Andreas Wickham, PS in Culture to H.E. Dexter Rose, our ambassador in Cuba owe a debt of gratitude to him. But it’s not just education; it is health, the vision now programme included; infrastructure of which assistance for our international airport is an example; it’s fraternity on the international stage and through all of this, support for the poor and disenfranchised in our country and incredibly, all gratis.

It’s Fidel who supported the independence struggles of Angola and Mozambique, which not only secured their liberation but ultimately played a major role in the death of apartheid and the liberation of Nelson Mandela and Namibia. His commitment to this cause never wavered even after the terrorist attack on the Cubana airline in Barbados (this was the stopover point) where many Cubans were murdered. Grenada has an international airport thanks to Fidel and all over the world thousand upon thousands of intelligent and gifted young people who would have otherwise been denied, are today trained professionals turning once unlocked intellectual potential into realised expertise rendering service to humanity around the world. Fidel is indeed humanity’s greatest philanthropist; remember Jesus’ widow with the dime? Oh and he did more.

Fidel made it his life-mission to do that which every fair-minded person would, stand up against injustice, exploitation and abuse of the poor and powerless of this world. The Cuban people tutored by Fidel are prepared like the Jamaican slave Sam Sharpe “to hang on yonder gallows than spend one more day in slavery.” Yes like Spartacus he demonstrated in deed that life is only worth living when there is a human cause for which one is prepared to die.

And the Caribbean more than anyone else must light that eternal flame in his name, for he belongs to us to the core. His social conscience is a product of our struggles. Yes, he is an international revolutionary warrior for justice for all; but he was fashioned by our history and fine-tuned by our modern Caribbean experiences and realities. Fidel is living embodiment of the calypsos of Sulle, the poetry of Martin Carter, the dream of H. E. Joseph Chatoyer, the blast of Viv Richards’ bat and the bravery of Sheriff Lewis, for his is the voice of protest, that fundamental element of Caribbean nobleness, uncompromising to injustice and domination by others. This is why we should embrace him; this is why we should honour him, for he is “un exemple par excellence” of Caribbean dignity and nobility.

Yes, I could hear those in the “penny section” and the twisted-minded “lumpen proletariat” asking about his political prisoners and about “their” democracy. That’s to be expected; greed and the desire for profit know not principle, decency nor honesty, and ignorance always leads to unintelligent conclusions. The penny section and lumpens cannot see the imprisonment of many in the so-called democracies around the world. They can’t think beyond the CNN and BBC diet, some don’t dare criticize their employee’s party, as they would be put in the doghouse. In SVG some are so imprisoned, they preach that we simply swallow the mountain of filth down at Ottley Hall. No, I am not trying to justify Fidel’s wrongs, I am simply saying, he who has no sin, let him cast the first stone. The perfect must never be the enemy of the good. No one’s blinder than he who just won’t see.

So yes, Fidel is not Christ, but he is beyond doubt the very Good Samaritan. And irrespective of those in the penny section, we must as a people agree to accept and honour our neighbour, brother and friend indeed. No, this is not something for the ULP but SVG as a whole to do. The most ULP should do is as government, initiate this process and that is only officially, as this article in itself is an initiation of sorts. But this is a national issue and we must be wise enough to see the historical role of Fidel, honest enough to accept that his is an exceptional contribution and most importantly, brave enough to honour him for it. But even if we don’t and it’s hundred years after I am dead, “ants go bring news” for as Fidel himself said, history shall absolve him.