Dominica has declared a period of national mourning as a mark of “respect, admiration and appreciation” for Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba.
Castro, 90, died on Friday 25 November 2016, his brother President Raul Castro announced on state television last night.
Castro became leader at age thirty-two, after he toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, and introduced a communist revolution.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit expressed sadness at this passing in an interview with Dominica Vibes on Saturday 26 November 2016.
“Fidel Castro was somebody who had a very long and positive impact on the entire world, having served for several decades. But it is not only about his longstanding leadership of Cuba that is of note, but his generosity to the world and the impact which Cuba made on freedoms of many countries,” Mr Skerrit said.
He highlighted Cuba’s “instrumental” role in South Africa in fighting for equal rights for people of color, as well as its contribution to the world in terms of health and education.
Mr Skerrit, who described Fidel as “a well-respected world leader”, indicated that every sphere of the Dominican society has been impacted by Fidel’s generosity.
“So we’ll certainly miss him a lot and miss his presence in the world. We wish to extend our sincere condolences from the government and people of Dominica, and on my own behalf and that of my family, to the government, his brother, Raul and to the Cuban people and the Cuban Ambassador resident here in Dominica, our sincere and deepest condolences on the passing of Fidel,” PM Skerrit stated.
Mr Skerrit said he considered Fidel Castro to be a mentor and friend whom he “learnt quite a bit from in terms of his leadership and how he viewed world issues”.
“In recognition of his life and his contribution to Dominica and the Caribbean region, our flags in Dominica will be flown at half-staff until the day after his burial as a sign of our respect, admiration and appreciation for his contribution to Dominica,” he said.
“Fortunately for us, we had the opportunity to bestow upon him, a few years ago, the highest national award in our country in recognition of, not only his contribution to Dominica, but his contribution to the region,” the Prime Minister added.
The Dominica Award of Honor was conferred on Fidel Castro in 2007, for his assistance to Dominica in the fields of education and medicine.
“The struggle continues and we want to reassure the Cuban government and the Cuban people that Dominica will continue to stand steadfast, relentlessly in support for the removal of the blockade,” Mr Skerrit said.
Castro, who served as President for forty-nine years, handed over the reins to his brother Raul in 2006. He defied the United States for decades and survived six hundred and thirty-eight assassination plots.
A period of official mourning has been declared in Cuba until 4 December, when his ashes will be laid to rest in the south-eastern city of Santiago. He is to be cremated later today.