Reflections on Castro’s legacy

The legacy of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro lives on not only in the hearts and deeds of his country’s people, but for millions across the globe who revere him as much as he is in that Spanish-speaking nation.

Such were the sentiments shared last night as Barbadians gathered with their Cuban and other Caribbean counterparts in the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Horatio Cooke Auditorium for a panel discussion themed Reflections on Fidel.

Castro, who in 1959 successfully led revolutionary fighters into the streets of Cuba’s capital, Havana, following a guerrilla war against dictatorship, died last November at the age of 90. He had led the nation for 52 years, taking it from being a largely impoverished society with wealth in the hands of a few, to a country which today leads the world in health care and education, among many others.

In testimony to the lasting effects of Castro, the NUPW, the second largest trade union in Barbados, last night officially became the first union and latest member of a Caribbean organization spawned by Castro, the Caribbean Chapter of the International Network in Defence of Humanity.

From left: David Denny, Bobby Clarke, NUPW Treasurer Fabian Jones; General Secretary Roslyn Smith, and President Akanni McDowall, Cikiah Thomas, Margaret Harris and Winston Farrell.

Coordinator of  that group, David Comissiong, explained that its formation was the brainchild of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Castro, whose aim was “to bring together outstanding intellectuals, academics, artists, along with social activists, into a worldwide organization that would stand up for humanity, that would defend human values, and human wherever they might be suffering”.

Activist David Comissiong speaking of his interaction with Fidel Castro.

Following the NUPW’s induction into the group, Barbadian Pan-Africanist and social activist David Denny formally received from Cuban Ambassador Francisco Pena, Cuba’s Medal of Friendship, and subsequent remarks by the Barbadian proved to be further evidence of Castro’s international legacy.

The hand of Barbadian social activist David Denny is held high by Cuban Ambassador Francisco Pena after the Medal of Friendship was awarded.

So moved was Denny that he made clear his view of the high ranking of this honour, the order for which was signed by Castro’s brother and current leader of Cuba, Raul Castro.

Denny said the medal meant a lot “because this is not just an award where you will receive an honour from Her Majesty the Queen [of England] or her family”.

“This is a very important award . . . from a country that has working class power; that has defended the poor and powerless people of this world. This is an award from a country that has defeated the [Apartheid] South African government to create [better] conditions for many African states.

“So this is an award that relates to liberation, . . . coming from a government and people that have made serious sacrifices to defend the rights of the poor and powerless people of the world,” he declared.

Cikiah Thomas, a Jamaican living in Canada, who is the current president of Global African Congress, condemned what he sees as a Caribbean tendency not to pay homage and honour outstanding leaders.

President of Global African Congress Cikiah Thomas.

“But I think with the death of Fidel, and Fidel’s contribution to world politics, this history will begin to change because there is no greater Caribbean personality, public or private figure, that has made such a wonderful contribution than Fidel Castro,” he said.

Comissiong told the gathering that the most memorable of his meetings with Fidel Castro was on Emancipation Day of August 1998, when they shared a speech at the Bussa Emancipation Statue.

He spoke of Castro’s curiosity about the history of Bussa, and how the Cuban revolutionary leader had advised that the future struggle would be a battle of ideas, and the revolutionaries would seek guidance in the actions of men like General Bussa.

“That is why I remain convinced today that the Bussa rebellion and heroic stories of Nanny Grigg hold the key to the sense of authentic cultural identity of Barbadian people,” Comissiong said. “It is in that Bussa rebellion that the authentic root of Barbadian nationhood is to be found.”

9 Responses to Reflections on Castro’s legacy

  1. Joel C. Payne
    Joel C. Payne February 25, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Thank goodness those people in Cuba are freer. Speak with an actual Cuban and see if you’d want to live under a regime that outlawed what Fidel outlawed. In school you have to record the date today is X-X-X- our the Revolution etc. You speak out against the government in basic ways such as “that man is crazy” and you or your whole family is jailed. When you try to leave Cuba the government tells you that you must be cavity searched because any gold or anything of worth that you have on you belongs to the revolution and you have to leave with nothing.

  2. David Denny February 25, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I would like to say thanks to the Government and People of Cuba.

  3. seagul February 25, 2017 at 11:09 am

    This is a man who has GG liberated his country, and has helped to liberate other countries from the darkest forces of racist apartheid and oppression—a man who is a hero to poor people all around the world—this is a man who has presided over a country that was a bordello, a casino for the criminal classes of the US, where black people couldn’t set foot in the same parks as white people or sit on the same beaches of white people. Respect Fidel + Che…

  4. T Brown February 25, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    This article is pure b.s. propaganda. Being Canadian, I have had opportunities to visit Cuba and I can assure you that Cuban people were not (and are not) better off after 50 years of oppression under Castro. It’s true that Cuban wealth was “in the hands of a few” before the revolution, but it remained in the hands of a few (named Castro) after the Batista crooks were overthrown. The vast majority of Cuban people today live in terrible poverty with little more than the clothes on their backs. The government controls all aspects of their lives including what they do, how much they make, what they are entitled to buy, where they can live, etc, etc. There is a huge black market economy where people risk jail by buying and selling items like a pair of jeans or a pair of shoes. Prostitution is everywhere in cities like Havana. Women choose that life because they can’t make enough money in jobs that the government controls… and the government controls all the employment and all the money. Honoring a dictator like Castro is to pay homage to a tyrant. Do your homework before honoring such people.

  5. Jennifer February 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Well done to the man three people in on the right Cikiah Thomas, for your dress code. Looks like you know some thing about our history after-all. Only thing left is to bring it, before the slave trade.

  6. Warrior February 25, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Joel Payne,have you ever been to Cuba or did you get that information from Fox news?Sounds like pure propaganda to me.

  7. Jennifer February 25, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Our idea of liberation is so strange. Why do we think because we can now pi$$ in THEIR toilets and rub shoulders and hump in Bacchanal carnivals that we are liberated. Why are we still marching and own ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON THIS EARTH. And leave your house and car out of it.

  8. Walter Prescod February 27, 2017 at 10:41 am

    El commandante, muchas gracias.

  9. David Denny March 1, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Thanks to all of the persons that attended this programme.


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