I was deeply saddened to learn early this morning of the passing of Mr. Fidel Castro, the former President of Cuba. He was 90.
Mr. Castro, the son of a sugar cane farmer, became involved in politics at an early age as a reaction to the dominance of his island by foreign capitalist interests. He created history on 01st January 1959 when he led a small group of revolutionaries and seized power from the dictator General Fulgencio Batista, becoming a hero for the Cuban masses and progressive people everywhere.
Mr. Castro’s regime immediately began a series of reforms that led to enhancement of life for poor Cubans. He nationalised and redistributed land and implemented programs to raise literacy and education among the poor rural population. He also created a free universal health care system.
His 49-year rule, saw Mr. Castro surmounting many challenges, before he stepped down due to his failing health in February 2008. His imposing presence contributed to shaping our region in the 20th century and aspects of his influence continued into the early 21st century with the emergence of the “Pink Tide” in Latin America and forging increasingly closer relations between CARICOM and Cuba.
Mr. Castro’s life and his control over Cuba, his personal efforts at improving the lives of his people and his role on global stage have already engaged the attention of historians of different social and political stripes.
The enduring legacy of the man who featured in some of the world’s most iconic dramas will no doubt live on in history and in legend.
Today I join the Cuban people and the world in mourning the passing of this political colossus, Mr. Fidel Castro. May his soul find eternal peace.