Prime Minister Honourable Allen M. Chastanet, Minister for Health and Wellness, Honourable Mary Isaac and Member of Parliament for Laborie, Honourable Alva Baptiste, will leave for Cuba today to pay homage to former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
On Friday 25th November the world learned that the revolutionary and one of the world’s longest-serving and most iconic leaders, died at age 90.
Cuba has been significantly involved in helping Saint Lucia improve its healthcare sector, most notably with the Cuban Miracle Eye Restoration program, specialized kidney and cancer care and hundreds of scholarships in the field of medicine for Saint Lucians. Earlier this year Cuba and Saint Lucia signed a new cooperation agreement on healthcare. Saint Lucia has had diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1979.
World leaders, diplomats and people of all walks of life will pay homage in Havana from Monday November 28 until Tuesday November 29. On Tuesday evening there will be a mass event with the people of Cuba, the Government and international delegations at Revolution Square in Havana. Cuba has declared nine days of national mourning for the death of Fidel Castro, ending with his remains being interred on December 4th.
The Cuban Embassy in Saint Lucia has made available a Book of Condolences for signature from 9am to 6pm this week until Saturday December 3rd. Persons wishing to sign can do so at the Cuban Embassy at Rodney Bay, Gros Islet.
During the Prime Minister’s two-day absence Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives Honourable Ezechiel Joseph will serve as acting Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Honourable Allen M. Chastanet responded to the news and sent condolences to the Government and People of Cuba on behalf of the Government and People of Saint Lucia. He referred to the former revolutionary leader as “truly remarkable” and an “incredible figure” in world history:
“Former President Fidel Castro will always stand out as an incredible figure in the history of the world and the Caribbean,” said Prime Minister Chastanet. “We must commend his achievements, what he did for his own country and what he has done for the Caribbean in terms of education and healthcare. He was a real revolutionist and whether one agrees with his ideologies or not, you certainly have to appreciate his tenacity. What he has done for Saint Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean is really invaluable.”
“I have already spoken to the Ambassador of Cuba to Saint Lucia this morning to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the nation of Cuba and to let the Cuban people know that Saint Lucia stands by their side in this time.”
The Prime Minister says that the Saint Lucian flag will be flown at half mast in recognition of the passing of the former president. He also said that his Government will be reaching out to the Opposition in relation to attendance at the funeral service.
Said Prime Minister Chastanet: “I know that former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony had a special relationship with the former president. I also know that former Prime Minister Stephenson King and other former leaders throughout the Caribbean had a special relationship with Mr. Castro. I only got to meet the president in a private capacity and never in a public forum and this is something that I regret. At the end of the day I do recognize what he has achieved and what he has done as truly remarkable, especially when you look at history and the revolution and where he took Cuba. To take on the US the way he did, whether you agree or not you have to admire those achievements. Again, our deepest sympathies to the people of Cuba and I must express our gratitude for what this revolutionary leader has done for us and the rest of the Caribbean.”
Cuba’s Government has announced that former President Fidel Castro will be interred in a December 4, following several days of mourning and a tour of his ashes throughout Cuba.