World leaders have reacted differently to the death of longtime Cuban president and revolutionary Fidel Castro. For many, the iconic figure represented pride in his country’s independence, for others he was a dictator.
Shortly after the announcement that Castro had died, messages of condolences poured in from heads of governments around the world on Saturday, remembering the leader and the revolution he fostered in Cuba.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama, whose administration opened a new chapter in US-Cuba relations, said while relations between the two countries were marked by discord and profound political disagreements for nearly six decades, Americans were extending a hand of friendship to the Cuban people as they grieve.
“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” Obama said.
Newly elected US President Donald Trump, an opponent of the US-Cuba newly restored US-Cuba relations, simply tweeted “Fidel Castro is dead!,” without elaborating.
He later called Castro a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.
In a statement, French President Francois Hollande said Castro embodied the Cuban revolution in both its hopes and disappointments. “An actor of the Cold War … he represented, for Cubans, pride in rejecting external domination,” Hollande added, referring to Castro’s decision to distance himself and his country from the US in the late 1950s.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said simply that Comrade Castro would live forever.
Russia President Vladimir Putin praised the leader saying: “The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history … Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”
Cuba’s relationship with the former Soviet Union gained new heights in the late 1950s and early 1960s following the island nation’s standoff with the US, which many see as the closest the world has come to a nuclear war.
Photo: Cuban former and current leaders, Fidel and Raul Castro. Credit: DW/dpa