The Bitter Medicine at Last!

1-point-5 plus tax plus tax- after being given the assurance in the heights of campaigning that the JLP’s income tax break would be funded without additional taxes, who would have thought that the tax “giveback” would wind up being the three card trick that many of us knew that it would be from day one.

This current administration has so far presented two budgets with two massive tax packages that impact not only those who have gotten $18,000 richer but every single citizen of this country. Fuel costs have gone up, electricity costs have gone up, food costs have gone up, and by next year this time, the dead too will be rising up. To soften its burden on the poorest among us, the government has announced its $33 per day increase to PATH beneficiaries, as though that is something to write home about when some of the most vulnerable in our society still cannot access PATH and those who do have access were slapped with the myriad increases that this government believes is necessary to fund its tax package to a minute and wealthier subsection of the population.

TAX ON HEALTH

At a time when a government should be seeking to guarantee healthcare for all, it has slapped on a tax to group health insurance premiums in what is an unprecedented move. With our public health system already overburdened, grappling for life and forcing its workers to make blood out of stone, the government should not be seeking to drive away Jamaicans from private health care to land them right back into the overburdened public system which needs fixing and will take some time to be fixed. To make matters worse, this government has consistently used technicalities to prove itself intelligent, and the populace-fools. It believes that we are stupid enough to run with this notion that the individual organizations responsible for undertaking group health insurance will absorb the additional cost that the GCT will subtract from their profits. With preliminary calculations showing that premiums will cost some companies tens of millions of dollars, somebody is bound to pay for that loss and sadly, it will be the already overtaxed consumers.

The government has been raiding institutions all over and slapping taxes onto everything that comes to mind to ensure that it funds its poorly thought out plan which should have cost some 12 billion dollars (I believe we are closer to 30 billion now). The NHT has suddenly become a financial institution which again, on technicalities could be considered to be true but this is the same administration that took the previous government to task over the use of NHT funds in previous years.

PROPERTY TAX

When we thought the lies and trickery were over, Audley and team presented us with a justification for the callous increases in property taxes. Having been quoted in a newspaper article stating the possibilities of increases to fund the 1-point-5 million dollar tax plan, Shaw came out recently, not to backtrack on those tax increases, but to justify why Jamaicans had to face this one off increase which he and his admin now denies to be a part of the measures to fund the pie in the sky 1-point-5 plan. While Shaw’s technicalities are important to note, and the rates of taxation have declined in real terms, to tell the man who paid $12,000 last year, faced with over $30,000 this year that he has had no increase is simply taking Jamaicans for fools. PM Holness and his merry band should remember that the Jamaican people will not be taken for fools… for too long; the PR, the spinning, the deflection and the trickery will all backfire.

While property values must be brought up to their actual value overtime, it is most callous to slap on the massive increases that are being experienced all at once. The owners and renters of property who weren’t convinced of how terrible an idea this tax “giveback” was have now been schooled by this administration- they must have been forced by now to spend two times the eighteen thousand that they were given back as a result of the increases in costs to execute their activities of daily living.

With homeowners certainly set to increase their rental costs, I have a particular concern for the hundreds of university students residing in the corporate area. Certainly, the property tax increases will be passed on to those who are being rented homes to live in for the duration of their course of study. Many of these students are from poor families who get little or no benefit from this so called giveback but will now face additional increases having been meted out a previous dose of bitter medicine last year.

The impact of the new property tax regime cannot be good for the small businesses either who will be faced with increased business maintenance costs, neither can it be a good thing for pensioners or many of our public sector workers who have been called on by governments to sacrifice on behalf of their country. Where is the government’s sacrifice for them? Does the government have massive salary increases planned for them to cushion the effects of this package?

And Ms Marva who is not going to benefit from the $33/day increase in PATH allowance but is faced with increases in the cost of items for her basic food basket, what do you have planned for her? And John, the taxi driver, who is going to bat for him? He has faced increase after increase in gas prices, multiple increases in electricity and food costs but is being told that an increase in taxi fares is unwarranted… What of his unemployed wife and the children in primary and high school?

The Minister of Finance and his team can continue telling us how great this tax package is for the country and quote all the figures that they like but the reality on the ground is far different from that in the office at Heroes Circle but after 4 years of waiting, you finally get to deliver the bitter medicine to the Jamaican people. It must be an accomplished moment for you!

AK DIXON

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Dear Prosperity Clan

How much of your “tax break” money is left now after all a these tax? Like how you just buy the piece a land, how you feel about the property tax sham? 

And if you don’t own you house and land already, I hope funds looking turnt to acquire that dream in the short term and leave something for tours after tours after tours! 

Tell me how much more gas a go get tax??? Because surely I’ve realized that getting a car this year might be too ambitious so I going link my cousin to lend me that donkey of his! Beep beep affi go get substituted for bray bray! 

And you really think company going absorb the increase in insurance premium? How you feel about that tax that going take some more of your “tax break” money? 

And like how we know you from the higher income bracket and surely use more electricity in your home, how di light bill looking with the new GCT dropping in? 

After all of this, you think anything going left to pay the 5 per cent contribution to your pension? 

And Mr Minister man, after so many taxes on gas, you really tell taxi driver say dem no need no increase? I mean, we understand that most of them are poor, and that’s not really your priority. But dem family need prosperity too and you keep draining the likkle profit with gas tax after tax after tax. 

Oii Mr Man weh get trick fi 18 grand, you never know you nah go get it if you don’t work? I know you want take back your vote but… It’s too late for that now… Ohhh, you Granny did too ambitious bout she a buy prime property land because to how it looking, a just three year you have lef pon dat piece a land. 

And Miss lady, weh sell your vote for 5 grand, I hope you still have 4 because this is just the end of year one.

Wait deh prosperity clan, why you stop tweet prosperity all day every day? A run it run out already? Or it get prosperity tax too? 

What a scam, what a sham… All a dis madness fi 18 grand!

By now you realize that of this government, I’m not a big fan.

Sincerely, 

Not a Part of Prosperity Clan,

Did not vote for this rahtid scam!

OSHANE GRANT ELECTED UWI GUILD PRESIDENT


Former Head Boy at the St Elizabeth Technical High School, Oshane Grant, is set to become the next President of the University of the West Indies Mona Guild of Students following a triumph over a field of four other competitors. Grant, 25, describes himself as being passionate about student rights and states that he is determined to ensure that students get the best possible representation.  

Grant is the Games Committee Chairman on the current Guild Council. Grant who already made his solemn pledge to students at the annual Guild debates highlights that this Presidency is one that will be about inclusiveness; giving more students a seat at the table.
 The President-Elect, a final year Humanities student campaigned heavily on the promise of advocating for Hall Accommodation Pricing reform, the establishment of a Student Business Centre to promote entrepreneurship amongst students as well as Project 5k which purports to engage five hundred (500) alumni to donate five thousand ($ 5000) towards a dedicated fund for student scholarships and bursaries.

Oshane will assume office as President on June 1, 2017.

                         -Team Grant –

Fiddling while Cornwall goes up in Fumes- a tale of priorities misplaced 

Noxious Fumes Force Evacuation Of Sections Of Cornwall Regional Hospital- The Gleaner, September 27, 2016

De-Bushing Probe – Contractor General Launches Investigation Into $600m State Project Days Before Local Government PollsThe Gleaner, November 25, 2016

Big Jump In Cost Of Debushing Programme – NWA To Face Heat Over New $800m Budget- The Gleaner, January 17, 2017

Tackling noxious fumes at Cornwall Regional Hospital to cost ‘hundreds of millions’, says health ministerThe Observer, February 17, 2017


Two months before the $800 million pre-election programme to bush the concrete sidewalks all over Kingston, the country was made aware of a dire situation concerning the air quality that workers and patients were forced to deal with at Cornwall Regional Hospital. Long before this scam which the GOJ claims did not seek to influence the outcome of the Local Government Elections, health workers were making the Health Ministry officials aware of a worsening problem.

Fast forward to February 2017, over 5 months since the September report on the air quality issue at CRH and 3 months after victory at the polls; the situation at CRH– worsening. Reports from healthcare workers on site suggest that every floor is now affected by these noxious fumes.

 The Minister, a few days ago, made us aware that the overhaul of the current ventilation system at CRH will run the country hundreds of million as if to suggest that the country does not currently have hundreds of millions at its disposal. I would have bought this attempt to “pill us” had I not seen for myself the many men and women decked out in green bushing the concretes of Kingston in the pouring rain as I made my way to Kingston Public Hospital daily- confirming that this $600 million turned $800 million project wasn’t a myth; had it not been confirmed that the government will be seeking to purchase a $700 million property from the Universal Service Fund, an initiative which is said to be unnecessary at this time; had it not been confirmed that some $200 million will be spent for independence celebrations in another few months; had it not been hinted at that a few more billions will be taken from the National Housing Trust by government to be used once more for an unintended purpose. So no Minister Tufton, we are not one bit concerned that the government is unable to find the hundreds of millions to deal with the situation.

While the Minister continues to build up his celebrity status on the various media available to him, I hope to remind him that there are real people suffering at Cornwall Regional– patients and staff, real people who have absolutely no idea what the long term effects of these noxious fumes will be. After 5 months, we are still unaware of the contents of these noxious fumes. Was there a comprehensive air quality study or was it too expensive? Was it going to cut into the election bushing budget? 

As the government continues to fiddle while Cornwall goes up in fumes, remember that there are real patients who either have significant delays in getting laboratory services or are unable to get these services at all. Be reminded Minister that your nurses and doctors have been collapsing and becoming injured as they contend with this untenable situation or coming down with rashes, headaches, respiratory illnesses– things which you will never face in your posh multimillion dollar government office with a modern ventilation system, budgeted for by the state regardless of any other financial constraint.

Health workers have now become even more fearful in a parish plagued crime and violence. One intern writes in a piece to The Western Mirror,                                                              “Integral departments… are no longer on the hospital but at the Mt Salem Health Centre… when you are all alone, in the dark and silence, at 3am, sent to see a patient in the Mt Salem Health Centre… not only does it seem far but it is unsafe. How ethical is it to expose staff and patients to these situations?”

It is indeed a case of priorities misplaced when a government will allow this problem to get this far out of hand even as it continues to spend unnecessarily. I would be much more comfortable (I’m sure the country would be much more comfortable) with NHT funds being diverted to solve the health care issue at CRH (one unintended purpose) instead of going to fund the prosperity train’s tax con (another unintended purpose) which robs from one section of society to pay for the other; with the independence celebrations being scaled down in the interest of proper health care; with the Governor General getting a cheaper car and that elevator being put on hold  or even with some of the Universal Service Fund’s hundreds of millions being diverted to remedy this emergent situation

The health of our nation cannot continue to be put on hold while we continue to fiddle with the scarce resources which we supposedly have. Cornwall Regional Hospital is the major hospital serving the western side of the island and should not have been allowed to reach a state where the entire building is on lock down due to negligence. 

The truth is, legislators will hardly, if ever, use these public facilities and as such, will never really understand or appreciate the daily woes that workers and patients face due to a failing system. So, while the Minister profiles and beats his chest after making big announcements, his staff on the ground will continue to feel the pinch and the health system will continue to go up in fumes–figuratively and literally. 

AK DIXON

Ill-timed visit Mr Prime Minister

While some celebrate PM Holness’ trip to Israel, I was taken aback by it to my months of studies on apartheid South Africa and the atrocities that blacks once suffered in that country. I was reminded of the atrocities which my hero Mandela fought fervently against. Anyone who has done even the least bit of South African history would understand the pain that blacks went through up to the end of apartheid; the segregation into black vs white South Africa, the unfair distribution of resources, the ceasing of lands under black ownership… Oh I feel the pain of the many who were massacred, who were locked away in prison camps to rot away- just because they dared to seek rights for blacks!

But even as I was taken aback to South Africa’s plight, I had to quickly bring myself to the reality that that’s the plight of Palestinians today who have lost most of their arable land to Israel, whose expertise PM Holness now seek in agriculture; whose plight to economic freedom has been stunted by the Israelis whose cooperation PM Holness now seeks on issues relating to the economy; whose blood is all over the hands of Netanyahu and his soldiers as they constantly live in fear of blazing guns and rattling bombs but PM seeks partnership on dealing with crime and security. 

Mr PM, we wish to be unequivocally informed of Jamaica’s position on Palestine and by extension the atrocities that are being committed against their people on a daily basis. PM Netanyahu was quick to note Jamaica’s abstention from a UNESCo vote which denies Jewish ties to Temple Mount and the Western Wall which have been contentious aspects of the ongoing conflict. 

With the current geopolitical issues surrounding Israel and the emerging corruption allegations against Netanyahu, PM Holness’ visit could not have been more ill-timed. His Foreign Affairs Minister and advisors on international affairs should have been much more cautious about this visit at this particular time.

While I am for partnerships leading to prosperity for all Jamaicans, I am opposed to Jamaica and its leaders bending over to leaders who have actively and still support gross violations of the rights of an entire group of people on unjustifiable grounds. Israel’s actions toward Palestine effectively place them in the same category as the government of apartheid South Africa and as we did in the case of South Africa where we avoided deepening ties with a discriminatory government, we should do the same where Israel is concerned. Having knowledge of the fact that Jamaica was one of the first nations to take a stance against apartheid South Africa then to resort to this causes immense disgust at the actions of PM Holness and his team. 

Create partnerships for prosperity Mr Prime Minister. Travel as much as you wish but know that visit to apartheid states are not visits in the name of all Jamaicans. Certainly, it is not a visit in my name. 

Despite the justifications that your operatives attempt to give, this ill-timed and ill-advised trip was a wrong call and wrong move Mr Prime Minister! 

Politics, Lovely Politics: A glance at 2016’s major happenings

It is the end of the first week of 2017. Today, I take a retrospective look at some of the major happenings in politics in 2016 across the world:

Brexit: On June 23, after massive leave and stay campaigns, the leave campaigners were victorious at the polls. The referendum meant that a secession from the European Union was preferred by the majority of Brits, albeit by a slim majority. With Brexit came a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, following the resignation of David Cameron. With Scotland having voted to remain, debates of Scottish independence are once again on the table. The initial independence referendum failed but are Scots now ready to vote for their independence with Brexit in the picture? Time will tell.

 The details of Brexit are still blurry and the timeline to the exit is still unclear but we await the exit plan of the Thera May led government.

Parliamentary Coup in Brazil: In a well-orchestrated plot, Michel Temer and his merry band of senators (many of whom are being investigated for corruption) had their way and successfully ousted Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff was accused of issuing decrees to doctor the budget in order to hide a fiscal deficit. As she continues to plea her innocence, Rousseff and many of Latin America’s leaders viewed the coup d’état as a means to impose neo-liberalism on a people that voted for a socialist party.   

Trump ascends to the Presidency: In what came as a surprise to many, Donald Trump, riding on a populist wave rose to become President-elect of the United States, having beaten Hillary Clinton. In what many termed the battle to select the lesser of two evils and a fight against establishment politics, it hardly came as a surprise to me that Donald Trump came out victorious. With the discontent with the establishment (which Clinton represents), many overlooked Donald Trump’s many absurdities. With his transition team of billionaires in place, questions are now being raised about whether he really intends to drain the swamp. With January 20 fast approaching, we brace for the years of the Trump Presidency. We will be sure to keep a close eye on developments surrounding his tenure (as well as stay tuned in to his Twitter)!

Fidel Castro passes: Leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, made his transition from among mortal beings. Castro’s was met with immense sadness the world over. Castro’s revolution, despite a US embargo which stole trillions from its economy, has managed to excel especially in the areas of health and education. Fidel Castro’s legacy is indeed eternal, not just in Cuba, but in all the countries which he impacted over his lifetime. Long live Fidel Castro and long live the revolution. 

View tribute to Castro: https://elmaestrodixon.wordpress.com/2016/11/26/querido-companero-dear-comrade-a-tribute-to-fidel-castro/

Colombian Peace Deal fails: In what came as a surprise to many, Colombians voted against the peace process between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian Government which would have brought to an end over 50 years of civil war. With that no vote, both parties are back at the table to renegotiate after years of negotiation on a possible peace deal. 

Syrian rebels lose control of Aleppo: In the dying moments of 2016, Assad’s government manages to regain control of the sections of Aleppo that were under terrorist control. Assad’s regime has been under pressure for some years now and has seen the terrorist/rebel groups being supported by international forces to take down the legitimate government. Syria is now under a nationwide ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey. If Donald Trump stands by his statements on Syria, we expect a less confrontational approach from the US going forward. 

Coup attempted in Turkey: Largely blamed on one of Turkey’s most wanted, Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish government in July faced an attempted coup d’état. The coup was led at home by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces who labelled themselves ‘Peace at Home Council’. With disharmony in the ranks, the coup was quickly averted with mass incarceration of plotters in the aftermath. 

Jammeh clings to power: After initially acknowledging electoral defeat, Yahya Jammeh backtracked on his initial stance, notifying those at home and abroad that he would not be standing down as President of The Gambia. Jammeh now faces off with the African trade bloc (ECOWAS) and many of the nation’s international partners. 

The list was ranked in no particular order. Feel free to comment with political events that you believe should have been added or removed from the list. 

To all my readers, thanks for supporting my blog 2016 and all the best for this new year! 

AK Dixon 

Jamaica Constabulary Force in need of reform

We were met last week with news that yet again, we would be going in search of a new Commissioner of Police.  We have changed so many Commissioners of Police over the last few years that I have literally lost track of the number… and names. 

 I agree, that sometimes changing personalities can be the best thing for an institution but the changes clearly have not been working for the Jamaica Constabulary Force. It is true, that the next Commissioner of Police could be the one to bring about significant changes to an institution that has been losing credibility but unless the real problems in the JCF are addressed from their root, the next Commissioner will be just another statistic. 

 The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) needs, to keep it grounded, a no-nonsense National Security Minister (still awaiting Bobby’s show of strength), a no-nonsense Police Commissioner, no-nonsense divisional commanders. It needs to weed out those who aren’t really there to serve and protect anything but their personal interests.

 The entire structure and function of the Jamaica Constabulary Force needs a overhaul and reforming. The Most Honourable Prime Minister alluded to such a reform and I do hope that the wheels will be set in motion to bring about the changes that are necessary to bring back credibility to the police force. Being the man to have promised a crime free Jamaica, it is imperative that he comes through on the pledge to reform.The predicament that the Jamaica Constabulary Force faces is one where many of its members cannot be trusted by the general population. Many see the police as being corrupt and unworthy of their trust. The trust deficit is one of the biggest hurdles facing the JCF which must be addressed in the medium to long term to ensure that it can effectively serve and protect all Jamaicans. I acknowledge the cops who go above and beyond to execute their mandate but the bad cops have been overshadowing the good cops and keeping away citizens from them and indirectly fomenting crime. The perception that member of the JCF are criminals themselves do no justice to the institution that’s designed to serve and protect all.

While attempting any reform, the authorities must seek to consult its citizens face to face to get their input. It is a common feature for significant reforms not to include the main stakeholders- the citizens of the country. If any reform of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is to be successful, it will need the full support and confidence of the citizens of this country who are absolutely necessary in ensuring that the JCF achieve its mandates and who place little trust in the JCF as it is now. 

The JCF and/or an established arm of the JCF must be intelligence driven. Being intelligence driven will be necessary if the JCF is to get to the root of many of the crimes that are brought to its attention and to earn the trust of those who aren’t comfortable speaking up to its members about criminal activities that they may have witnessed or have intelligence on. This will take the JCF a far way where narrowing the trust deficit between the organization and citizens is concerned.

The reform cannot take place without an examination, adjustment and creation of new and effective programs to target those youth at risk and rescuing them from a spiral towards crime. And for those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law and have their rights abridged, the prison system must offer them reform; not just years of lock up and torture, so that when they return to enjoying their civil liberties, there are options for them other than crime.

Without instituting and completing this reform, we risk finding ourselves at this crossroad again in another few years where we change Commissioner of Police again because somehow, we believe that that is the most significant step to fighting the monster called crime. Somewhere along the line, we’d hope that the powers that be recognize that much more needs to be done and one would hope that we are at that “somewhere along the line” as we search for a new Police Commissioner.

To the acting Commissioner, I wish her all the best. To the Minister of National Security, we hope to hear you speak and act on the language of reform. Being present at vehicle handovers just isn’t cutting it while our citizens are bleeding out in the streets. We need a crime plan, we need reform and the time is now. 

Aujaé K. Dixon

Dr Peter Phillips: Tested and Proven Performer

Since he indicated his intent to contest for the presidency of the People’s National Party, discussions have shifted from his achievements in helping to move this country forward over the past few years to his age and how old he will be at the next election. While I admire a young and vibrant leader, age cannot be the only criterion by which a leader should be judged or defined. For me, performance is also an important factor and if we are to assess the last administration, Dr Peter Phillips could be deemed the top performer by a mile and a half. What then should disqualify a top performer from leading a political organization or the country? Just age? I disagree.Some of my best educational experiences have been with older medical consultants, others have been with the younger consultants; both having an important role to play. Many can certainly appreciate that experience is an invaluable asset for anyone to have. When I encounter some of the arguments about age in politics, I completely repudiate them. Like any institution, a blend of age and experience are required. Is Jamaica where it should be with the correct blend? No. More still needs to be done to include younger voices in decision making in both the political and non-political spheres. Does this mean that those who have political experience but fall into the category of “old” should all be shoved to the curb? Most certainly not.

In the recently concluded US election season, it was proven by the eldest candidate in the primaries that politics is more than just about age. Bernie Sanders, at 74 years old, mobilized the young voters like no other candidate in the Democratic or Republican primaries; every single one being younger than he was. Bernie Sanders was old but he brought something new to the table. He brought forward proposals that people could identify with and that they believed could better their lives. For Bernie, it was the message that resonated; that mobilized voters like no other candidate could, and for Dr Peter Phillips, his message to the people must resonate with all groups- young, old, man, woman, rich, poor, healthy, infirmed.

When it comes on to solid achievements, Dr Peter Phillips has a bunch of those behind him, across all the ministries that he has served. No one is trying to say he was perfect at what he did, no one is but what we can all appreciate is that he is a performer and a man who is serious about leaving his mark wherever he goes. It is his solid performance that led Professor Basil Wilson of Monroe College in New York and John Jay College of Criminal Justice to rank Dr Peter Phillips as the best Minister of Finance that Jamaica has seen.

The growth agenda that Dr Phillips and his team instituted is behind the successes that we are seeing in the economy now. It is his hard work that led the Jamaica Labour Party away from 2011’s promise of bitter medicine to 2016’s promise of prosperity. It is the solid foundation laid out by Dr Phillips that has led the current government and its Economic Growth Council to confidently promise us 5 per cent growth in four years (5 in 4)- if you have any doubts about that, ask the revered Michael Lee Chin who chairs the Economic Growth Council. Many who were sceptical of Dr Phillips’ appointment by the former Prime Minister have lived to see the impact of his work in the Ministry of Finance in setting us on a path for significant economic growth.

When Dr Phillips assumes the role of Opposition Leader, he has much work to do in order to build a formidable opposition which is very important to keep the government in check. He has much work to do to unite the party around a common vision which he must set out clearly from the onset and direct his party to that common vision. He has a task to outline/reaffirm the ideology and core principles of the People’s National Party. Dr Phillips has an important task to bring more youth to the table; to take seriously the counsel coming from that demographic. He will need to bring to the table those younger politicians who feel shunned in anyway and he must dialogue with them so that somehow, common ground can be found since they are very important to the party and the entire political process.

For the sake of our country, Jamaica needs a formidable opposition that will put forward formidable policies/policy alternatives to move this country forward. The country does not need an opposition that will only oppose for opposing sake but one that will partner where necessary and at all times seeking to defend the rights of all Jamaicans. We do not need an opposition that will have to backtrack on all that it said in opposition, should it become government, because the stances taken are simply stupid and politically expedient. Dr Phillips will be charged with ensuring a formidable People’s National Party and a formidable Opposition.

At this time, the tested and proven performer Dr Peter Phillips is the right man for the job as Opposition Leader. There will be much work for him to do to stamp his own legacy as Leader of the Opposition and President of the People’s National Party but there was also much work for him to do in the Finance Ministry in 2012 and he did perform. There is therefore no doubt that Dr Phillips can live up to his pledge to move his party “Forward Together”.

AK Dixon

Querido Compañero (Dear Comrade): A Tribute to Fidel Castro 

Querido Compañero,

We celebrate you, knowing that you have fulfilled the role you were sent to execute among us mortals. Today and forever I honour you, for the work that you have done supercedes the work of three lifetimes of the average man. 

 You liberated not just your own country but sought to liberate those oppressed by imperialists, preying on their wealth of resources. We will not forget how you went into Africa to help Africa and not exploit Africa like the many capitalists did before. 

We will not forget how you stood up to the mighty USA. We will not forget the many plots that you overcame, the many assassination attempts that were foiled.  We will not forget how you never compromised what you stood for. We will never forget how you crafted a health system that surpassed, in every regard, that of a country that placed a total economic blockade against your people. 

We will never forget your role in dismantling the colonial forces and guaranteeing the independence of Angola. We will not forget your tricontinental conference in the 1960s which encouraged and supported the armed struggle against colonialists in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We will not forget your role in seeking freedom for Mandela and ending apartheid even while powerful states supported the oppressive government. 

We will not forget the words of Comrade Mandela on your service to his continent,

 “The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character… We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defence of one of us.”

We will not forget how you reminded us that to be truly able to fight for ourselves, we will need to fight for others. We will not forget how you lived by and stood by your own words. 

We will not forget your contribution to Jamaica. We will not forget how you worked with Comrade Michael to improve health care and education and we will certainly not forget the thousands who were uplifted from poverty because of your partnership. We will not forget the infrastructure which you willingly contributed to this nation to ensure the education of the masses. We will not forget how the Cuba you created continues to bolster our health sector. We will also not forget the many conspiracies against you and how many who now praise you once demonized you. 

How can we forget your selflessness? How even with your own tragedies you sent assistance to those who were also in need? How your healthcare missions worldwide rivaled and surpassed those of international organizations set up to focus solely on health? How can we forget the thousands of medical professionals from low income households that your Cuba trained free of cost? How can we forget the role that the compassionate Cuba you created in containing the most recent Ebola crisis? 

Esteemed icon, we pray for more selfless leaders like you because none as great as you has walked this earth in this generation. Your legacy and impact live on in our lives and hearts forever. For nine days we’ll mourn your transition from the realm of mortals and for a lifetime we’ll honour you. My dearest comrade, you may take leave of the company of mortals but rest assured that you will never die. 

 Hasta el último aliento compañero, te voy a honrar. Hasta la victoria siempre, La Patria o muerte. Viva la revolución! Viva El Comandante-en-Jefe!

Saludos Mi Héroe Inmortal,

La historia se ha absuelto (History has absolved you)

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