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US politics and passing of Fidel

Trinidad Express / I WAS receiving medical attention in North Carolina in the United States on November 8 while Americans were voting for a new president amid predictions of a close choice between the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton and the Republicans’ Donald Trump—both first-time contestants. As later confirmed, and much to the surprise of many Americans, at home and abroad, the conservative, controversial multi-billionaire businessman Trump emerged with a surprising narrow victory, in terms of seats, as the politician to be ceremonially inaugurated in January as successor to the outgoing first black US president, Barack Obama. As now known, the liberal Clinton, who was broadly expected to become America’s first woman president, ended up with more than an estimated two million more valid popular votes than Trump. But in accordance with the arithmetic of the country’s historical—some say “outdated” system, in the selection process of presidential candidates on election day, Trump was the declared winner. Now, amid mounting political anger and cynicism over US-style “electoral democracy’’ as emerged from the November 8 presidential poll, the world’s sole superpower—which has been traditionally lecturing non-white and poor nations about multi-party electoral democracy and good governance, must now cope with unexpected challenges that Trinis and fellow Caricom citizens may be inclined to jeeringly deem as political bacchanal.’ Ironically, it was current president-in-waiting Trump—who during the long campaign season had flavoured his rhetoric with claims about “rigged elections” by Clinton’s democrats. Now, Trump seems to have been driven on the back-foot over claims of “rigged” allegations as Hillary Clinton seized the opportunity for a court action to file a petition challenging the declared results of the November 8 poll. World in mourning As nations of the world were following those political developments, and I was on my way home from Puerto Rico last Saturday, there came the sad but not surprising news on the passing of former president Fidel Castro. He was 90 and has been battling illness over the past five years after handing over party and state power to his brother, Raul, who was part of a once famous leadership troika that had included the assassinated Che Guevara. Peoples and nations of the world had long come to appreciate the tremendous contributions of Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro in the long, battle against successive US administrations, since 1962, to frustrate and destroy Cuba’s unique revolution. The Caribbean/Latin American region, and more specifically our small segment known as Caricom, was destined to play a most significant role in the systematic crumbling of initiatives by successive administrations in Washington to isolate Cuba. That oppressive punishment was to prevent governments of the world from establishing diplomatic relations with the government. This oppressive, bullying political scheme by the American “Goliath’’ in Washington was to be opposed by a brilliant, courageous unique initiative—without either arms or money—by a quartet of heads of government in T&T, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica, then under the leadership by the late Eric Williams, Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham and Michael Manley. Together they pursued the course of joint diplomatic relations to undermine Uncle Sam’s plan to isolate Cuba. It worked. Shortly thereafter nations of the world were to similarly establish diplomatic ties with the government of Cuba; and over subsequent years it was the US that found itself being increasingly isolated in the General Assembly of the UN. Noted Caribbean intellectuals and cultural personalities, like George Lamming and the late Rex Nettleford, were to later make valuable contributions to strengthen Caricom-Cuba relations. Currently there exists a prominent mechanism to foster closest possible Cuba/Caricom cooperation via a ministerial structure involving leaders of our Community and Cuba to strengthen relations in all areas relevant to the needs and aspirations of our region. • Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist

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