Mon | Sep 25, 2017

PM, Opposition Leader and other Parliamentarians pay tribute to Fidel Castro

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2016 | 12:06 PM
Holness (left) and Simpson Miller.

Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller this afternoon led tributes in Parliament, hailing the work of late Cuban President Fidel Castro.

"He has achieved significant benefits for his people and his country," Holness said of Castro who led a revolution of 1959 that established him as the communist leader for almost half a century.

Holness on at least two occasions stressed that his tribute in the House of Representatives would not cast any judgment on Castro and the revolution.

The former leader had been criticised, mainly by western powers, such as United States, which failed in attempts to overthrow him, for a leadership that suppressed the freedoms of Cubans and perpetuated human rights abuse.

"Cuba's civil liberties and freedoms are not the same as Jamaica's civil liberties and freedoms," was the closest Holness went.

He highlighted Cuba's healthcare and education development which he noted have benefited Jamaica.

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PHOTO: In this September 6, 2005 photograph, Cuban President Fidel Castro (right) makes a comment to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (left), much to the amusement of Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.

Holness is head of the Jamaica Labour Party which upon forming Government in 1980 under Edward Seaga cut diplomatic ties with Cuba.

Simpson Miller, meanwhile, hailed Castro for steering Cuba towards "economic self-sufficiency" despite the US embargo.

"He was a consummate leader and great friend of Jamaica," she added.

The Opposition Leader also remembered Castro for his "undying  internationalism" which she said manifested in Cuba sharing its "modest resource" throughout parts of the world.

"He was sharp as a tack and filled with great ideas", she said.

Castro died on November 25 at age 90.

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IN PHOTO: Placed in a small coffin covered by a Cuban flag, the ashes of Cuban leader Fidel Castro are driven along the streets of Havana, Cuba on November 30.