Statement on the Passing of former Cuban President Fidel Castro

His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona O.R.T.T., S.C, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday 26th November 2016, telephoned His Excellency Ambassador Guillermo Vasquez Moreno, Cuba’s Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, expressing his deep grief and that of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago on the passing of former Cuban President Fidel Castro. His Excellency stated further, that we all stand in solidarity with the great Nation of Cuba, in its moment of anguish and deep sadness. His Excellency delineated the critical role the late President Fidel Castro played in world politics, international diplomacy, foreign policy and sustainable aid.

His Excellency further states:
“We as a Nation and the Community of Nations in the Caribbean are truly grateful for all assistance and support that Cuba under Fidel Castro’s stewardship has rendered to our burgeoning democracies in the Region. Fidel Castro’s investment in the human capital of his country and CARICOM is undeniable. His internationalism has resulted in thousands of Cuban trained Doctors, Health Care Specialists, Educationists, Agronomists, Scientists and Athletic Coaches being sent to the far reaches of the world, to assist countries and citizens that needed assistance. Cuba has one of the most accomplished health care, education and sport systems in the world, rivalling many countries in the developed world with far more resources. Their Biotech Industries and Research Facilities have worked miracles throughout the world bringing great hope to those suffering from glaucoma, vitiligo, leukaemia, various forms of cancer and HIV/AIDS. The Cuban authorities continue to provide cheaper medicine and drugs, both at home and abroad, all grounded in the vision of the late Fidel Castro to create an environment of self-sufficiency, independence and full access to health care for all, regardless of one’s status or geography.

We in the Caribbean have been prime beneficiaries of Cuban outreach and we are grateful. Cuba has assisted many Caribbean Nations including Dominica, St Vincent, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago in the field of Medicine, Health Care, Agronomy and Sport through the granting of scholarships and technical assistance. How can we forget the role of a Cuban coach in Trinidad and Tobago winning its second Olympic Gold medal through the prowess and athleticism of Keshorn Walcott.

The creation of the ‘Internationalista’ remains an indelible footprint of his legacy as a world leader. President Castro possessed the ultimate revolutionary spirit. His revolutionary foresight and vision were steeped in the hope of building a World Order, where big and small should have a rightful and equal place on the world stage.

On two memorable occasions, I met and spoke to former President Fidel Castro at the Eighth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention, the Treatment of Offenders and Criminal Justice in Havana in 1990. What stood out most was his common touch, concern and undying passion for that new world order, his wit, charisma, aura and an unrelenting sense of purpose.

The late President Fidel Castro had a very defining generational presence and significance for some 50 years and with Che Guevara, had an enduring appeal to that revolutionary, transformational spirit that lies within all of us seeking a just and better world. Historically, the Cuban Revolution impacted on the justifiable cry for freedom, social justice and self-determination throughout Africa, the Americas and other Third World countries seeking to break free from the shackles of colonialism, Racism and Apartheid.  We cannot forget Fidel Castro’s critical role in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) just as that of our late Prime Ministers Michael Manley of Jamaica and Dr Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago.

Cuba under the leadership of President Fidel Castro through its Internationalist Movement under the African National Congress (ANC), is credited in helping bring the then Apartheid Regime of South Africa to the bargaining table. Cuba’s major role in the victory and destruction of a battalion of some 10,000 men, tanks and war machinery of apartheid South Africa in 1988, also led to its withdrawal from Angola and Namibia. This inevitably led to the dismantling of Racism and Apartheid in the African Continent.

In these challenging times, we all look forward to a sustainable political maturity of international mediative inclusivity, grounded in our deep sense of humanity to each other and that, the Nelson Mandela type forgiveness and mercy, become part of the political fabric of this changing world.
Our prayers are with Cuba and the Cuban diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world. May he rest in eternal peace.”

The President visited the Embassy of Cuba, 74 Elm Avenue, Bayshore, Westmoorings, Port of Spain to sign the Condolence Book in honour of Former President, Fidel Castro who died on November 27, 2016 at the age of 90.

On his arrival at the Embassy, President Carmona was greeted by Ambassador Guillermo Vázquez Moreno to whom he extended his condolences.

In signing the Condolence Book, His Excellency described President Castro as the true “Internationalista” whose legacy as a world leader was the creation of the Internationalista (the world citizen).

President Carmona ended his comments by offering on behalf of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, our sympathy and our celebration of a life well lived.