News Releases

Forever Fidel

For Release Upon Receipt - November 26, 2016


The following statement is issued by the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles on the passing of Fidel Castro.

“Another of the bright lights of the 20th Century Caribbean Enlightenment has returned to source. Returning of souls to ancestral origins for renewal in order to rise and return is a central part of the ontology of our Caribbean world. We have an indomitable spirit born in opposition to oppression and bred in the trenches of the search for the just society. Our Caribbean, home to the cosmology of sustainable social justice and the passion for living free, gave birth to this man with a mission. Fidel Castro did not fall short. He excelled. A warm and wise brother, a kind and courageous comrade was he.

The demand for self-reliance and self-respect was core to his Caribbeanness, and like Toussaint L'Ouverture before, he did not flinch in the face of ill winds that blew in to our world—slavery, selfishness, and savagery. His heart was emboldened by Sam Sharp, Bussa, the two Nannys of Barbados and Jamaica, and found fulfilment in the missions of Simon Bolivar and Marcus Garvey.

The Caribbean sent him forth to free the oppressed of Latin America and Southern Africa.  He sent men and women to battle to end apartheid and to abolish bigotry. As far as Vietnam, this Caribbean man sent his spirit of freedom to reign supreme.  

From the mountain tops of the Caribbean we say to the world, let freedom and justice prevail. Let all men and women of good nature celebrate this soul of our soil. Let our Caribbean world be forever a source of enlightenment for the world in its darkest times. 

Forever Fidel.”


Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies



About Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is an Economic Historian, was installed as the 8th Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) on 30, May, 2015. Before assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Sir Hilary was Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados for thirteen years (2002-2015). Sir Hilary is a distinguished university administrator, and transformational leader in higher education. For his complete biography, visit: 


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a fully-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. The UWI’s faculty and students come from more than 40 countries and The University has collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation.

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)