FIDEL Castro is dead. The West Indies lost to Zimbabwe, and are on their way home. Donald Trump continues to break all political rules in America. A majority of Grenadians just voted to remain in the Privy Council rather than join the CCJ. In Guyana, the PPP continues to behave as if it is holier than the Vatican as it nails the Government every morning, noon and night. Yet again, the Government was on the back-foot, fending off bouncers from the PPP on a matter that could have been made public at the time it was initiated.
How can a government with so much going for it make such elementary political mistakes?
I come back to Fidel. We knew his time on earth was drawing to a close; he was 90 years old. When he attended Michael Manley’s funeral in 1997, many Jamaicans referred to him as the last “Don” standing, the last governmental leader to fearlessly stand up to the high and mighty. Now that last Don is dead. When Fidel and his revolutionaries, in 1959, restored Cuba to its Cuban self, he clearly vexed those who believed Cuba and the Caribbean belonged not to themselves, but to those who saw the world as their manifest possession. For almost six decades, Fidel Castro defied that logic and defeated it.
In the coming days, much will be written about him and the Cuban revolution. Much of it would be uncomplimentary, even nasty; but for us in the Caribbean, we would be dishonest if we were not to acknowledge Fidel’s worth as a symbol of resistance and freedom.
It was he who led the social revolution in Cuba, transforming that country into an oasis of knowledge that has outlived him. It was he who exported both revolution and health care workers, even though the latter is seldom acknowledged as virtuous. It was he who stood between apartheid South Africa and its campaign to recolonize Southern Africa. It was he who defended the modicum of sovereignty we in the Caribbean gained at Independence.
Yes, the authoritarian state and the welfare state co-existed in Fidel’s Cuba. It is a Caribbean imperfection that has to be constantly engaged and corrected. But today I want to celebrate Castro the hero who, more that all his peers in government, used the state to sincerely tackle social inequality. You see, Fidel taught the Caribbean and the world that an island does not have to live as an island.
The revolutionary love he inspired Cubans to share with the rest of humanity is priceless.
Fidel is dead, but the revolution he inspired in three generations of political workers still motivates some of us, who have not given up on seeing and doing politics as humanism. After all, our struggle in the Caribbean is about humanity: what is it to be human?
I continue to wrestle with the complexity of Caribbean political praxis and the kind of leadership it throws up, but today I just want to love up Fidel Castro and thank him and the Cuba that birthed him. I am in no way avoiding the not-so-kind side of the Cuban regime. I am trying to reach for the kinder side of our Caribbean, and to locate Fidel Castro there, so that our younger generations can move beyond shallow and limited characterizations of Castro and revolutionary Cuba.
Thank you, Fidel, for inspiring us beyond hope. We can today talk with confidence about a Caribbean civilization because you helped us to imagine it, and turn that imagination into a living praxis. I hope our politicians on both side of the aisle reflect on Fidel’s example, and muster the strength to expand his praxis in Guyana. Surely, Structural Adjustment economics was not the Castro way, and cannot be the Guyana way. Surely workers’ wages cannot be dependent on IMF economic reasoning. There has to be another way. Wages is about humanity. Brother David and Brother Winston and Brother Clive, please be a Fidel as you construct your economic strategy. Start with the sufferers.
More of Dr. Hinds ‘writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org