HAVANA, Cuba, Thursday December 1, 2016 – CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit says the region will forever be grateful to former Cuban revoluationary leader Fidel Castro.
In his tribute to the former president Castro who died last Friday at the age of 90, Skerrit said Cuba offered its expertise to build up independent countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.
“This was especially evident in the training of medical doctors and other health care workers and the granting of scholarships in other disciplines. CARICOM will be forever grateful to Fidel and to you, the Cuban people, for the great sacrifices you have made against great adversity, in annually sustaining the training of our professionals for decades on both a bilateral and multilateral basis,” he said on Tuesday at José Martí Revolution Square in Havana, where thousands had gathered.
Speaking of Castro’s impact on CARICOM economies, Skerrit said it was difficult to identify a sector that was not changed for the better.
“I can say, without fear of being contradicted, that our health services would be the poorer but for the generous hand of Fidel at critical times in our development. We have recognized that contribution by awarding him our highest honour, the Order of the Caribbean Community, in 2008, the only non-Caricom citizen to whom it has been accorded,” he added.
The CARICOM chairman said Castro’s zeal to untangle the grip of colonisation and oppression went beyond the shores of his beloved Cuba.
He highlighted the Cuban revolutionary’s interventions in Mozambique and the Angolan War that changed the course of history in those two former Portuguese colonies and played a defining role in the struggle to free South Africa and the continent from the scourge of apartheid.
Castro’s ashes will be interred in the eastern city of Santiago – where the Cuban revolution began – on Sunday, ending a nine-day mourning period for the man who ruled the country for nearly 50 years.