by Arley Gill
Fidel Castro Ruz. The greatest revolutionary that ever lived is no more. His life was one of exemplary human sacrifice for the advancement of the human race.
Now, if you listen and looked at the American media over the last week or so, one will take away the impression that Fidel was a “murderous dictator,” “common criminal,” and every negative thing that go with those pejorative terms.
In St Vincent and the Grenadines, where Prince Harry was visiting, he took part in a minute’s silence as the Vincentian government and people paid their respects to Fidel. The British press created a controversy by saying he was forced to do so, and it was a breach of protocol to have Prince Harry take part in a minute’s silence for this worthless terrible tyrant.
The British press forgot, or chose to ignore, that during the days when “the sun never set on the British Empire,” the British themselves raped, kidnapped, enslaved, murdered, and committed genocide against indigenous populations in the so-called “New World.” These British atrocities were inflicted on millions, including large numbers in the Caribbean and Africa. They are crimes against humanity that Fidel, for all his sins, did not even come close to committing.
The Americans, for their part, have their own laundry list of criminal activities, They include their treatment of the indigenous Indians; the enslavement of Africans; discrimination against people of colour; their economic injustices to the poor and downtrodden; their criminal blockade against Cuba and the Cuban people; their over 600 assassination attempts against Fidel; their invasion of sovereign states; the undermining and sabotaging of governments throughout the developing world; and their assassination of leaders of nations. And these American atrocities, and much more not listed pale in comparison to anything that Fidel would have done over his 90 years of life.
As we pay tribute to the great man, we can acknowledge that the Revolution he led in Cuba was not perfect. As well, the life he lived would have had its shortcomings. But, let the one among us who does not have sin cast the first stone.
The Grenada reality is that Cuba — more than any other country — assisted us in transforming our post-independence society. The Maurice Bishop International Airport as an economic plant would have played, and continues to play, a critical role in our economic advancement.
Cuba and Fidel have made it possible for poor Grenadians to obtain a university education in the fields of medicine, engineering, economics and so on. These professionals have played a critical role in the socio-economic transformation of our country. They have made a significant contribution to our economic advancement.
Cuba has sent their own experts in the fields of health, sport, culture and other professions, to countries and places where their assistance was badly needed. When South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress were under the yoke of Apartheid, and the Frontline States of Africa were in danger of being overrun by western-backed racist forces, Cuba offered to send its soldiers to assist our besieged black brothers and sisters.
The Caribbean has benefitted greatly from the selflessness and generosity of the Cuban people. Citizens of the region and people throughout the length and breadth of the developing world can testify to the Cuban contribution to their countries.
The Americans and the British, for all their wealth, have taken away more from us than they gave.
In Haiti, there was a cholera outbreak after the devastating earthquake of a couple years ago. It was Cuban health professionals that risked their lives to save those of countless Haitian nationals. The United Nations, which in large measure, was responsible for the outbreak has failed to acknowledge the heroic efforts of the Cuban people.
Cuba, today, does not suffer the ills of drugs and crime, as so many of its Latin American neighbours. True, there are economic challenges; but the Cuban people, along with their leaders, have survived and flourished through it all.
The western press would like us to believe that because of its communist system, Cuba is in the economic situation it is in. They fail to acknowledge that it is the economic blockade of more than 50 years that is directly responsible for the strangulation of the Cuban economy and its people. That the country has withstood the blockade is a sheer miracle. No other country the size of Cuba, facing such a measure, would still be on its feet.
In present day America, we see unarmed black men being shot by white police officers in a country that is supposed to be a model for others. But, a society that is riddled with institutional racism. A country in which white folks are more equal than others. And, with all that, they say to us that Cuba is such a terrible society in which to live.
In many ways, I wonder if Fidel wasn’t simply a gift from God to humanity.