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Nov 28, 2016

The Legendary Fidel Castro Dead at 90; Cuban Ambassador Speaks of Legacy

Fidel Castro

Comandante Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution in the 1950’s, who became the longest-serving leader with unbroken service in the Americas, died late Friday at the age of ninety. An immediate cause of death was not released with the official announcement by President Raul Castro, but Fidel had been in poor health since 2008. Described as the “fiery apostle of revolution” by the New York Times, Castro came to power in January 1959 after he and his guerrillas defeated the repressive dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. He survived many assassination plots and forecasts of his political demise. Castro used Cuban troops to support revolution in Africa and Latin America, which is now hailed as part of his anti-colonial legacy. Most notably, he helped bring apartheid regimes to an end and helped to secure Angola’s and Namibia’s independence. Closer to home, Castro supported Belize’s territorial integrity and sovereignty against Guatemala, and was our staunchest supporter during Belize’s fight for independence. Belize has benefitted greatly from its bilateral relations with Cuba, primarily in education and health.  Aaron Humes visited today with Cuba’s emissary to Belize to recall the life and times of this complicated national leader and global icon.

 

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

This quiet street in the Buttonwood Bay suburb of Belize City will be ground zero for the next few days as Belize joins the region in remembering the late Cuban president, Fidel Castro. A book of condolences has been opened for visitors to sign for the next week following his death on Friday night. The Cuban national flag is at half-staff, and black bows adorn the building and the flag inside facing portraits of Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro. The legendary Fidel Castro’s legacy is at turns complicated and simple, but for newly created Cuban Ambassador to Belize, Her Excellency Lissette Perez Perez, this moment is most about a nation’s sudden loss.

 

Lissette Perez Perez

Lissette Perez Perez, Cuban Ambassador to Belize

“We [were] surprised with the news on November twenty-fifth, at ten-twenty-nine, when we knew of the death of our leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro. It was very sad news for all the people of Cuba, for myself, for my family, for all of us, for the Cubans, because Fidel is a symbol, is an icon of our revolution. Fidel inspired all the Cubans, for many, many years, to be a better people, to have dignity, to try to be better persons, to help others, to transmit solidarity to others, not only inside Cuba, also to other people all around the world.”

 

In Belize and the Caribbean, examples of that philanthropy include the exchange of students on educational scholarship opportunities, particularly in medicine, and the sending of doctors from Cuba to other countries to both teach and study. Ambassador Perez has committed to expanding bilateral relations into new areas, like culture and agriculture.

 

Lissette Perez Perez

“We are helping with doctors here, with some scholarships, but we also keep the interchange and the flow of cooperation in other many areas as agriculture, as culture. We know about the creation of Houses of Culture all around Belize, and it was in part inspired in the Cuban cultural system. We also try to help in the case of sport, but of all we have, that is basically the development of human resources, we try to share with other people of the Caribbean, including Belize. We are of course humble cooperation, but it means a lot and it makes a lot for the people, and that is why we consider that it is very important for Belize in this case.”

 

Ambassador Perez also noted Castro’s support for a united Caribbean region, including Belize.

 

Lissette Perez Perez

“I think that the Caribbean also received the shows of solidarity of Cuba because of Fidel; because he was thinking all the time of the Caribbean, of the people of the world, in the poor of the world. That’s why for us, we think that Fidel will always be alive, because this spirit of solidarity, this spirit of good and better persons and helping others, will always be alive. And we believe in that. Cuba, all the time had been very close to the Caribbean in their struggle for independence, in self-sovereignty, and also we tried to help the Caribbean in the case of health care; in the case of education; in the case of sport, in area where we can share some experience, and it has been very useful for the Caribbean and for Cuba also because [we have] been creating linkages with all our brothers in the Caribbean Sea. Cuba, for us, is part of the Caribbean family and we consider us as a part of all the CARICOM members.”

 

According to Ambassador Perez Perez, Belizeans and the world would best remember the fallen Comandante by following his exhortation to help and love others.

 

Lissette Perez Perez

“I think that the best way to remember Fidel, is to be a better person, to be a very good person, to help others, to try to help even our family and our kids, trying to improve there and try to help them be better people. This is the best homage that we can do to Fidel, because he always thought to be a better person, and try to [make] the world a better place to live. I think that I can say for me, this world, if we can see better things, it is because his life in many things, because he always defended the social justice. And this is a concept we can never forget and never stop [defending] for the social justice.”

 

As the great man himself said, it does not matter who condemns him; history will absolve him. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Former Prime Minister Said Musa will appear on Open Your Eyes on Tuesday morning to discuss the life of the deceased president as well as the relations with Belize. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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