Leaders pay tribute to Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro

first_imgGuyana has joined the rest of the world in remembrance of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the Cuban revolutionary leader, who died aged 90 on Friday. Castro is known for his defiance of the United States, and survived half a century of assassination attempts by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).Cuban President Fidel Castro (L-Front) is seen with former President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo (R-Front), along with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (back left) during ceremonies in La Habana, Cuba in December 2002The Guyana Government in a statement Saturday reflected on the relations shared between the two countries and how Guyana has benefited tremendously under the reign of President Fidel Castro 1976-2008.Guyana hails Dr Castro, globally renowned as ‘El Commandanté’ or, simply, ‘Fidel’ as an outstanding friend and genuine partner, even before the country attained independence. It was under his leadership that Guyana-Cuba friendly and fraternal relationship had been placed on a solid and unbreakable footing.Former President Forbes Burnham and late Cuban President Fidel CastroWhen an unjust embargo had been imposed against Cuba to isolate the Castro Government, Guyana, in 1972, joined three other countries in the region toCheddi Jagan and Fidel Castro share a light moment in Cubaestablish diplomatic relations with a fellow Caribbean state.Since that time, Castro embraced those countries as partners and responded to their critical needs, especially in the health and education sectors.To this day Guyana benefits from scholarship and training opportunities afforded to its young people in becoming doctors, engineers and other specialists. We continue to benefit too, from Cuban doctors and medical experts serving our people in the healthcare system.Guyana’s President Forbes Burnham had visited Cuba in 1975 as diplomatic relations strengthened over the years.The Guyana Government expressed that Castro was an exemplar of unparalleled generosity, revolutionary commitment, national dignity and unyielding patriotism.“Though he was ailing for many years and had prepared his people for the inevitable, the passing of this colossus whose greatness is indelibly written in the history of the world across both the 20th and 21st centuries, will evoke an immeasurable pain and loss in Cuba and beyond. Guyana mourns the death of a dear friend, a revolutionary icon and a giant of international humanitarianism.“The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana conveys to the Government and people of Cuba sincere condolences and assures that at this time of collective global grief, the people of Cuba are not alone,” Government expressed.Parliamentary Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, in its statement, said it was deeply saddened over the passing of the revolutionary leader:“This is indeed a great loss not only to the Cuban people but for freedom loving peoples throughout the world. The late Dr Castro was undoubtedly one of the greatest revolutionaries of all times who during his lifetime had demonstrated that no sacrifice can be considered too great when it comes to defending the rights and dignity of the Cuban people.”Castro led Cuba for decades and transformed the country into a one-party socialist state. He courted controversy throughout his reign, with the United States becoming increasingly alarmed in the early 1960s with his friendly relations with the then Soviet Union.Castro became a central figure in one of the defining moments of the Cold War by allowing the Soviets to place nuclear weapons on Cuba.It sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, leading to fears of all-out nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the US.Guyana-Cuba relations dates back to before 1972.In 1962, Cheddi Jagan’s PPP Administration – in the throes of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the fierce geopolitical rivalry which made the Caribbean a zone of conflict in the second half of the 20th century – embarked on ambitious commercial and political relations with Communist Cuba.Jagan entered office in 1957, two years before the triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution in 1959, and proceeded to forge a friendship between Guyana and Cuba.Relations with Cuba became central to Guyana’s new strategy to preserve its territorial sovereignty in the wake of a series of provocative incidents perpetrated by Venezuela. Particularly, the seizure of Ankoko Island in 1966, the promulgation of Decree No. 1152 (Leoni Decree) in 1968 and the instigation of the Rupununi rebellion in 1969 all occurred while friendly western powers stood by.It is believed that by embracing Cuba in 1972 Guyana was seen to be aligned with Communism and Castroism. This was confirmed by Fidel Castro’s visit to Guyana and Forbes Burnham’s visit to Cuba where he was presented with the Jose Marti National Award. When it provided landing rights to Cuban military aircraft ferrying troops to Angola in 1975, Guyana aligned itself with a geostrategic posture which was to have dire consequences.Cuban intervention in Angola, arguably, saved the MPLA Government from being overrun by the South African army and Western-supported FNLA and UNITA guerrillas.The bombing of the Cubana airliner in October 1976 in which 11 Guyanese were killed, an act of international terrorism, was part of the penalty for this new strategic connection. Guyana’s complaints of ‘destabilisation’ during the 1980s were attributed to the attempts by western states to undermine this assumed socialist solidarity.The collapse of the USSR, the ending of the Cold War and the faltering of Cuba’s economy drained the strategic vitality from Guyana-Cuba relations. (Excerpts from www.guyanachronicle.com, www.parliament.gov.gy, www.landofsixraces.com)last_img read more