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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2792

RW, JRJ and Castro and gifts

By A Patabendige

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has ‘hit out’ again in the media. This time it’s a diversion about Fidel Castro that is supposed to be a sympathy message on the latter’s death at the age of 90 last month. He says Castro ‘was one of the 20th century’s greatest personalities’ but was ‘not in line with the political beliefs of the UNP’. He added almost condescendingly that ‘He (Castro) had achieved much in education, housing and health’(only?).

Reminds me of the time when a bottom of the league county tail ender who was clean bowled middle stump by England’s terrifying fast bowler Fred Truman telling him ‘that was a good ball’. Truman responded ‘I don’t bowl them to tail enders’. (The story was that the Indian test players in 1960 played Truman from the square leg umpire’s position).

Actually Castro’s greatest achievement was Cuba’s nearly 56 years old ‘resistance to the US imposed ‘bloqueo’ (blockade)-… an economy of resistance …an example to many countries that are unwilling to bend to the neo liberal dictates of the Occident ‘(Peter Koenig).It would have been anathema to RW’s extended loyalties to admit this. After all SL invited the Occident (International community-white eyes only) to conduct a war crimes inquiry into SL’s internal conflict that ended in 2009.

We must hope the USA saw RW’s remarks as another unsolicited affirmation of SL’s fervent and feverish alignment. Donald Trump may have tried to locate anxious, Clinton supportive, persistent if not groveling SL in some US State. When he realizes SL is actually a country and not a US State, he will avoid it like the Ebola. That would sever the dead ropes SL extends to the USA and others of the much worshipped West to gain recognition.

But what an unmitigated tragedy escaped Cuba. Few if any in Cuba had ever heard of, or cared to know, that the ’UNP’ had different beliefs and not only in politics. However if Cuba had the same beliefs as the ‘UNP’ maybe it would not have produced one of the 20th century’s ‘greatest personalities’ even if one dodges using the more fitting word ‘icon’.

Cuba in its ignorance of ‘UNP’ beliefs did not challenge a minority to wage war (1977), organize a pogrom (1983) that left hundreds dead in the Capital alone, thousands homeless and produced more thousands of insurrectionists who became terrorists later . Cuba never organized criminals to stone Supreme Court judges’ bungalows. It did not give weapons and ammunition to its terrorist enemy as UNP leader Premadasa did in 1990. It would never have ‘invited’ the occupation of its land by a neighbouring bully that was helping spawn terrorism. Castro, leading on the beaches instead of hiding in Havana, would not have confronted and defeated the USA led Bay of Pigs invasion.

Cuba would never have countenanced appeasement of terrorists as the UNP did in SL. Neither would Castro, as the UNP leaders did in parliament in 2008 , ever have mocked, ridiculed, insulted, falsified, demoralized its own troops that were fighting and dying in thousands especially when they were in sight of victory.

Did Cuba ever try to sign a Cease Fire Agreement with its enemy?

Did it burn minority libraries?

Did it unleash criminal mobs on trade unions?

Did it have death squads as in SL’s insurgent war that caused 100, 000 deaths in less than 2 years and the near extermination of desperately poor Sinhala youth (1989-90)?

Was it responsible for a war against terrorists that led to another 100,000 deaths in 30 years (1979-2009)?

Castro despite having imprisoned hundreds had said there were no death squads in Cuba and no murder of opponents. Neither would he have countenanced releasing rapists from prison as J.R.Jayawardene did and subsequently appointing them JPs. Cuba would never, ever, have the same beliefs as the UNP. Who in SL other than the UNP would?

RW, who cannot resist casting pearls of irrelevant history to a national audience he believes is largely ignorant or stupid (like on massive scams in Government bonds), reminisced that JRJ sent Castro tea and received a box of cigars from Castro every month. This was after they met at the Non Aligned Conference in Cuba (1979) that followed the best attended one in Colombo in 1976. JRJ did not smoke cigars.He dished them out to a journalist and his foreign minister. He may not have known, in common with ignorant Sinhalese politicians, that Jaffna produced a USA award winning brand of cigars in 1904. Possibly a Tamil law maker may have better appreciated receiving the Cuban cigars but JRJ had precipitated the removal of all of them from parliament by a constitutional ploy when they refused to pledge allegiance to the new constitution.

As for tea, Cuba’s per capita consumption is 0.00 as against world leader Turkey with 7.54 kg. Interestingly India is 44th with 0.52 and SL 55th with 0.52 kg. To paraphrase the description of fox hunting in England, was this exchange of gifts about incompatibles in pursuit of the disposable?

JRJ was not unknown to be Yankee Dickie for nothing and could have been an unsuspecting CIA plant or worse. His later (1985) visit to Havana after the 8th Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in the Bahamas could have been an opening for the CIA. Or had JRJ found Castro so impressive that he could not resist being in the neighbourhood without dropping in on ‘one of the 20th century’s greatest personalities’. JRJ was not also called ‘fox’ for nothing. Did Castro wonder? Castro survived over 600 assassination attempts by the USA/CIA.

What RW craftily avoided recalling was that Fidel Castro had never heard of JRJ before the NAM Conference in Cuba. JRJ, who like many if not all in the UNP, sniggered at non alignment, having unexpectedly become its current head, handed over the leadership of NAM to Castro. At the ceremonial opening Castro could not recall JRJ’s name to thank him. He had to be prompted.

To Castro, as to almost all world leaders and most of their people especially in Arab countries, Mrs. SWRD Bandaranayke (Mrs. B) was the only SL leader they had ever heard of. JRJ, after taking over power in 1977 in revengeful recognition, stripped Mrs. B of her civic rights. Tea and cunning. Castro must have known.

Even if it was not the ‘belief of the UNP’ for 30 years, Hasta la victoria siemper (until victory, always) Cuba and SL.

- Asian Tribune -

Fidel Castro
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