Premier walks diplomatic tightrope over Castro’s death

| 28/11/2016 | 19 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro, taken in 2015

(CNS): Among the controversial reactions around the world regarding the death of Fidel Castro this week, Cayman’s own leader walked the diplomatic tightrope with his comments. Premier Alden McLaughlin said Castro would be remembered “as the man who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and irked many American presidents for many years”, but he also pointed to the strong connections the Cayman Islands has with the people of Cuba.

In the brief statement McLaughlin said: “It is with sadness that we have heard of the passing of the former President of Cuba Fidel Castro. We know that Mr Castro’s health had been declining in recent years and he had passed the torch of leadership to his brother, Raul. We will all remember Fidel Castro as the man who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and irked many American presidents for many years. We in the Cayman Islands have a strong – and some of us familial – relationship with the people of Cuba. We keep in our thoughts and prayers his family and others who are grieving his passing. May his soul rest in peace.”

Offering his condolences, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush told Cayman 27, “It made complete sense for Cayman to have official friendly relations with such an important player in the regional tourism and general commerce industry.”

Meanwhile, how leaders reacted to the death of Castro on Friday at the age of 90 has made headlines around the world. In the US, the contrast in comments from President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump was startling.

Obama, who has worked hard to repair relations between the two countries and visited Cuba earlier this year, said, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” Trump, who will take office in January, called him a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades”.

Prince Harry was said to have been caught in an “awkward moment” in the UK press during his trip to St Vincent, where he joined local dignitaries at a reception hosted by the governor general, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, in a minute’s silence for the revolutionary leader.

While leaders in China, Russia, South Africa and several in Latin American countries pointed to their friendship with the iconic leader, the Canadian prime minister came under fire for describing him as a “legendary revolutionary and orator” who made significant improvements to the education and health-care systems of Cuba, because he did not mention the leader’s poor human rights record.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Fidel Castro had been a “historic, if controversial figure” and offered condolences to the government and people of Cuba, describing his death as “the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba’s people”.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the former Cuban president’s revolutionary “heroism” and his presence on the world stage, as well as the health and education systems.

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Category: Caribbean, World News

Comments (19)

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  1. Donnie says:

    I was quite pleased with the statements by both the Premier and the LoO and the fact that both showed a much broader appreciation of totality of Mr Castro’s role and the relationship between Cayman and Cuba. Both gentlemen are obviously well read, something that the editors at CNS and the Compass (naturally) seem not to be.
    Growing up, I always enjoyed listening to the American commentator Paul Harvey and his daily “The Rest of the Story” commentaries. He helped to instil in me the importance of not just paying attention to ‘what had happened’ but to be curious as to ‘what caused it to happen’ – his “the rest of the story”.
    No one can ever question Castro’s commitment to, and perseverance in, what he believed in. But someone had to create the opportunity for him to pursue his to visions. Naturally, as history has played out, there was far less disseminated by the US media about who created the opportunity.
    Cuba was poised for elections in 1952 when Bautista took power. Having served previously as President and raided the Cuban treasury at the end of his term in 1944, he had moved to Florida to live lavishly on his garnishings. He was back in 1952 to ‘top up’ and staged a coup when he realised that he was running third in the presidential race. And he was the “brutal dictator” that Castro overthrew in 1959 – 7 years after he seized power.
    John F. Kennedy summed it up well on 6 October 1960 when he said:
    “Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in seven years … and he turned Democratic Cuba into a complete police state—destroying every individual liberty. Yet our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror. Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista—hailed him as a staunch ally and a good friend—at a time when Batista was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections.”
    But America was great from 1952-1960 under Republican Dwight Eisenhower, and Bautista was a good boy.
    For those who care to know, there is much more to “the rest of the story” that can be learned. And for those who don’t, they can keep watching FoxNews and listening to Republican Donald Trump. Something tells me that he will not find another good boy in Cuba though. Castro had his faults, but he had the love and support of much of his people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have never been to Cuba but I have seen a number of boats used by Cuban boat people to escape Cuba for a better life. Anyone who has seen those boats must have their heart broken by the conditions people risk in open water living in squalor.
    That Cayman Islands has a policy to not help people on the sea is a shameful thing for a seafaring nation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Like you rightfully mentioned ‘you have not been to Cuba’ so you should reserve you comments about ‘living in squalor’ until you visit. Cuban lived within their means and work with what they have. if some of our leaders would think about the future and main needs (free health and free education) of the people of our country rather than their pockets then we would have a workable society. Greed is the root of all evil.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nobody cares what Alden says so we’ll say if for him.
    Castro was a murdering SOB who can rot in hell.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just like the Americans, tricky Dicky, George Junior, George Senior and a load of in betweens

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t forget Hillary in Benghazi.

        Or every rampaging lunatic or drug dealing gangsta who kills his own for ‘respect’ or just the cash.
        Again, Hillary and Obamas failure to get to grips with gun and drug crime.

        OR, Obamas cowardice by failing to stand up for his ‘line in the sand’ with Assad, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and resulting in the largest movement of refugees in history, allowing the use of chemical weapons, the rise of ISIL and the emboldening of Russia in the Middle East.
        Yep, millions dead and injured.

        Well done Liberals, you’re a class act.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Premier knows that Castro was a brutal dictator who caused many of his people to free from his rule , many coming to Cayman and costing our Govt. millions of dollars.
    He will be relegated to the dump heap of history but the cost to many will not be relieved by his death.

  5. Anonymous says:

    America has infringed on more human rights on ‘Cuban’ soil than Fidel ever did, it is the entire purpose behind Guantanamo Bay. The man was a revolutionary and the country has a higher literacy rate than that of the Cayman Islands, so for his wrongs he did somethings right.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey Alden. It is Dr. Castro. There was no Cold War involvement until he was shunned by the US and forced to turn to the Soviets after the revolution.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder If Cayman will continue to send the boat people to the concentration camps?

    • Anonymous says:

      If Castro was such a great person, than why did his people risk their lives on the seas to escape his tyranny. Alden is a complete moron “it saddens us”….?? Really???

  8. International Observer says:

    In castigating Castro for his ‘human rights record’ those taking this stance either ignore or are ignorant of the much worse record of his predecessor, the dictator Batista, who was supported by the U.S. government and big business.
    When Castro began agitating for democracy he first sought support from the Americans and was rebuffed because they already had their pet dog in place; so he went to the Russians.
    The U.S. seems never to be able to take an objective view of foreign relations; they made a similar mistake over the Aswan High Dam in Egypt: had the U.S. funded the project Nasser would have been firmly in the U.S. ‘camp’ and the present chaotic Middle East would look very different. Nasser was, like Castro a couple of years later, rebuffed and went to the Russians instead.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Mr McLaughlin, what part of brutal reign of suppression do you not understand?
    This has nothing to do with the long-suffering Cuban people, rather the violent, debauched thug that failed to give his people a voice, or perhaps you think that is OK?
    I believe you should publicly apologize and clarify your statement or you will be sending an ignorant message to our democratic allies.

  10. Anonymous says:

    For the ppl rejoicing in this man’s death, kindly note the following:

    1) He turned over the reigns to his brother a decade ago
    2) His brother has not made any significant changes (if any at all) to Fidel’s dictator style leadership
    3) Fidel lives on through his brother

    Lastly, the oppression continues.

    I’m not sure if the Cubans in Cuba are actually grieving over his death or the fact that Fidel’s reign will continue even in death.

    • Anonymous says:

      ‘a nuh de same day leaf guh wata bottom it ratt’n’ Policy changes don’t happen overnight. I have visited Cuba 4times since 2009. Last visit was earlier this year and I have seen significant changes. Remember everything has to go through a process.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Fidel Castro was one of the greatest political leaders the western hemisphere has ever produced but for all the good he accomplished in fifty years, (Education & Health Care etc..) he was amongst one of the worst economic leaders.

    This resulted in poverty and great hardships for his people. He argued that the US Embargo stalled and ruined his economy which is partially true but had he not nationalized all private companies, Cuba could be somewhat similar to China today.

  12. Anonymous says:

    At this point Castro’s human rights infringements and abuses cannot be denied. Personally I would have not liked to have lived under his regime nor according to all of his revolution’s ideals. Likewise, however, what cannot be denied is his commitment to his revolution, to his dying day. What cannot be denied is his resilience as a powerful leader in one of the last bastions of Marxist communism in the world. These attributes, however polarizing, bestow on him the legacy of a world statesman.

    Cuba’s revolution has survived that of it’s great mentor, the former USSR. That is an astounding testimony to Fidel’s dedication to his cause.

    • Anonymous says:

      He was simply a murdering puppet of the USSR and any other stupid ‘revolutionary’ tin pot who wanted to be an irritant to the US and West as a whole. He was just a goon with a gun, like so many before him and sadly many after.
      Real leaders don’t bring their nation to the verge of nuclear war and total destruction when he had apparently just fought a war of freedom on their behalf.

      Only an idiot would believe Castro was for his people, he was in it for himself and his cronies, like all communists and dictators around the world.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Corbyn…dinosaur that the asteroids missed…

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