KINGSTON, August 15, 2021 - The Jamaica-Cuba Friendship Association or JCFA in celebrating the 95th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s birthday, has hailed his vision and international outlook, which years after his death, continue to assist Jamaica, particularly in health care and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We in Jamaica know very well Cuba’s internationalist solidarity not exclusively but particularly in the area of health care as it’s Cuban trained Jamaican doctors and Cuban doctors and other health care providers are mainly holding up Jamaica’s health care system in its fight against the COVID19 pandemic and the other health challenges in Jamaica,” the JCFA said in a statement commemorating Fidel Castro’s birthday.
The Jamaica Cuba Friendship Association also pointed to the hundreds of scholarships offered to Jamaican students to study in Cuba, as further examples of the transformative effect of Castro’s international outlook.
“That area of Cuba’s internationalist solidarity we also celebrate is Cuba’s annual issuance of scholarships of which several of us who are members of the JCFA are recipients and as a result of which we are now doctors, engineers, dentists, economists, teachers, tradesmen and other professionals, thanks to Fidel’s internationalist vision.”
“Being internationalist means paying our own debt with humanity. Whoever cannot fight for others will never be sufficiently able to fight for themselves,” Castro declared, in giving a rationale for Cuba’s international vision.
The following is the full text of the statement from the Jamaica Cuba Friendship Association, JCFA:
It is the profound honor and pleasure of the Jamaica-Cuba Friendship Association or JCFA to join with brothers and sisters regionally and globally to celebrate the 95th birthday of the unforgettable and unapologetic revolutionary leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commandante Fidel Castro Ruz.
Architech of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante Fidel Castro RuzThus, in the spirit of Fidel’s birthday, we shout with happiness and joy, “Happy 95th Birthday to you Commandante Fidel! We in the JCFA solidly believe that Fidel’s 95th birthday should be celebrated for a myriad of reasons though we will highlight only five (5) main ones today.
First, Fidel Castro from his days as a student at the University of Havana until the triumph of the revolution on January 1st 1959 played a critical role in the struggles of the Cuban people against the neo-fascist dictatorships which in alliance with the local oligarchy and imperialism ruled Cuba with an iron fist to benefit the interests of the minority rulers and against those of the ruled majority!
So, we celebrate Fidel’s 95th birthday because his political leadership of the Cuban people forever changed not only the landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of providing a distinct alternative to imperialism but it also transformed the lives of Cubans in concrete material ways that hitherto January 1st 1959 no Cuban rich or poor knew a life without imperialism!
Second, Fidel Castro Ruz, also played the leadership role in the attack on the Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953 or 68 years ago which though that attack on a major citadel of the power of the oppressive ruling classes did not lead to the overthrow of their power, it served to demonstrate their vulnerability to ordinary Cubans and helped to galvanize their organized support to end the rule of the oligarchy and imperialism six (6) years later!
In other words, Fidel’s 95th birthday that we are celebrating today is not solely a celebration of the birth of this extraordinary revolutionary leader and humanitarian but Fidel’s birth is also inseparable from the struggles of his people for dignity, self-determination and revolution for the landless, the poor, the workers, students, youths and intellectuals who fought to end the domination and oppression of the oligarchy and imperialism over all aspects of Cuban life!
Cuba's Ambassador to Jamaica, Ines Fors Fernandez promoting bilateral engagements between Jamaica and CubaThird, we in the JCFA proudly celebrate Fidel’s 95th birthday because during his long leadership of the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban government, Fidel played a visionary role not only in Cuba’s transition from its anti-imperialist revolution to a socialist country but during this transition and even from the earliest years of the revolution, Fidel also helped to institutionalize internationalism as the cornerstone of Cuba’s foreign policy.
Indeed, Cuba’s internationalist foreign policy not only played a critical role in overthrowing Portuguese colonialism in Guinea Bissau, in Angola, Mozambique but it also played a major role in defeating militarily and psychologically defeating apartheid rule in South Africa which changed the balance of forces not only in South Africa but also in Angola and Namibia and elsewhere in Africa and the world. Further, Cuban internationalist solidarity was instrumental in almost single handedly end the Ebola virus which ravaged West Africa as well as its fight against other diseases in other parts of Africa and the world.
Likewise, today Cuba’s sterling contribution to the fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic through its multiple medical internationalist missions despite the criminal US blockade is well known around the world!
Indeed, as we celebrate Commandante Fidel’s 95th birthday, many of us in the JCFA also celebrate another aspect of Cuba’sinternationalist solidarity in the fight against imperialism which strangles development in developing countries like Jamaica. That area of Cuba’s internationalist solidarity we also celebrate is Cuba’s annual issuance of scholarships of which several of us who are members of the JCFA are recipients and as a result of which we are now doctors, engineers, dentists, economists, teachers, tradesmen and other professionals, thanks to Fidel’s internationalist vision.
Quite fittingly, Fidel captures the essence of Cuba’s internationalism when he says “ Being internationalist means paying our own debt with humanity. Whoever cannot fight for others will never be sufficiently able to fight for themselves”
We in Jamaica know very well Cuba’s internationalist solidarity not exclusively but particularly in the area of health care as it’s Cuban trained Jamaican doctors and Cuban doctors and other health care providers are mainly holding up Jamaica’s health care system in its fight against the COVID19 pandemic and the other health challenges in Jamaica.
Fourth, whether it’s Fidel’s leadership as a student activist or his leadership in the attack on the Moncada Barracks or his cementing of the idea of internationalist solidarity among his people, one of Fidel Castro’s lasting contribution to the Cuban revolution has become a central pillar to its defense and survival is his concept of unity. Indeed, the unity of the Cuban people that Fidel has played a central role in building has played and will always play a critical role on every occasion that the revolution’s integrity is tested by imperialism as it was tested on July 11th where the empire chose to use the genuine grievances of the Cuban people, as a platform to continue their 60 odd year failed attempt to destabilize the revolution.
It is equally true that the unity of the Cuban people across race, religion, gender, sexuality and region will continue to be tested repeatedly in many forms including the criminal US blockade. So today as we celebrate Fidel’s birth, we also celebrate the ironclad revolutionary unity that he has helped to institutionalize among his people against imperialism and all the enemies of the Cuban Revolution.
Finally, as we in the JCFA celebrate Fidel’s 95th birthday we cannot but imagine Fidel’s response to the multiple challenges of COVID19, the economic challenges of the criminal US blockade that is increasingly pounding the Cuban economy and the brazen attempts by imperialism to stir up protests within Cuba and openly calling for regime change! Sadly, Fidel isn’t here to speak for himself though we believe broadly he has left us some important guideposts to ponder in the context of imperialism’s continued schemes to discredit the socialist revolution and effect regime change.
Fidel stated : “I don’t think it is so difficult to solve the problems between Cuba and the United States; it all depends on whether there is a dialogue, a discussion, or if the prejudices and hatred of people like the extremists and terrorists from the Cuban community, who try to impose their policies, prevail”.
Further, he reminds us that “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?” He also reminds us “Believe me, it's a death struggle. It is either us or them. We have to defend the revolution and make itgo forward. We cannot show any pity.”