Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020. 11:25 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Guerrilla leader turned president and statesman Fidel Castro Ruz would have turned 94 today.
He died in November of 2016 at the age of 90.
Tributes on social media include Maclean’s Magazine posting a 1998 photo of the inauguration of Jose Martí International Airport in Havana, attended by then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
Closer to home, Cuba’s ambassador to Belize Lissette Perez Perez recalled a personal encounter with the great man in October 2002, while attending the first Cuba-CARICOM summit as escorts to regional heads of state and government.
The diplomat states she was personally approached by Fidel on the last day, leaving the airport in Havana.
She writes, “We realized first hand his passion and friendly spirit towards the Caribbean’s small developing countries. We also felt his concerns regarding the surviving of the small island nations, their right to develop their own economies with no external impositions and also to preserve their cultural diversities and national identities.
Fidel insisted that we in Cuba need to assume the vital linkages between Cuba and CARICOM nations and he inspired us to promote cooperation, friendship and solidarity.
From that time to this date it has been my duty, for 10 years of my career, to attend Caribbean issues, and you can see I was blessed by his hand. #Fidel #Cuba #FidelPorSiempre”
Belize has long enjoyed support from Cuba, particularly in the areas of education and medicine. Students have gone in the hundreds and thousands to study in the island nation and this year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it provided a group of doctors to assist with Belize’s fight.
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