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World Leaders React To Fidel Castro’s Death

Cuba's former head of state died aged 90 on Friday.

26/11/2016 10:01 PM AEDT | Updated 27/11/2016 8:38 AM AEDT
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Heads of state from around the world are reacting to Fidel Castro’s death.

Allies praised the global impact and legacy of Cuba’s former president, who died aged 90 on FridayHis opponents remembered him for heading a communist regime with a poor human rights record.

President Barack Obama said that “at this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” while President-elect Donald Trump simply confirmed the news.

Pope Francis described Castro’s death as “sad news.” He said he was grieving and praying for Castro’s “repose.”

Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose communist bloc bolstered Cuba politically and economically until its own dissolution in 1991, said that Castro had left a lasting mark on world history, Interfax news agency reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Cuban strongman an “inspiring example for many countries” and a “symbol of an era” in a telegram he sent to the former leader’s brother and successor, Raul Castro. 

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shared a lengthy Facebook post in which he recalled last speaking with the late Cuban leader on the telephone in August.

“Without exaggeration, a whole era of history is gone with Fidel Castro,” he wrote. “I will treasure memories of my meetings with this remarkable man.”

In a statement, China’s President Xi Jinping praised Castro’s contribution to developing communism around the world. The Chinese people had lost “a close comrade and a sincere friend,” he added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies to Castro’s “many, many” supporters in a statement Saturday afternoon.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante,’” he wrote.

French President Francois Hollande, however, noted his concerns over the Castro regime’s human rights record, as he welcomed the warming of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the 20th century. He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionments,” Hollande said. “France, which condemned human rights abuses in Cuba, had equally challenged the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and France was glad to see the two countries re-establish dialogue and open ties between themselves.”

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa remarked how “a great has left us,” while Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro called Castro “an example of the fight for all the people in the world.”

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said Castro “left us a legacy of having fought for the integration of the world’s peoples,” while El Salvador’s leader Salvador Sanchez called him the country’s “eternal friend.”

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma thanked Castro for his help as black South Africans struggled against apartheid. “President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid,” Zuma said via a statement. “He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid.”

Zuma’s party, the ruling African National Congress, also expressed sadness over the news.

As did the foundation of the late, former South African President Nelson Mandela: 

Spain’s President Mariano Rajoy sent his condolences to the Cuban authorities: 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his condolences to the people of Cuba via Twitter, calling Castro “one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century.”

And India’s President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee echoed those thoughts:

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called Castro “a friend of Mexico” who promoted a relationship based on “respect, dialogue and solidarity.”

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena similarly called Castro an “iconic leader of an era of revolution.”

Pakistan presidential election candidate Imran Khan, a former cricket player, described Castro as an “iconic revolutionary” who “liberated his nation from all vestiges of imperialism”. 

Ireland’s President Michael Higgins issued this statement:

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, did not praise Castro in his tweeted statement. Instead, he noted that the former president’s death marked both the end and start of a new era for Cuba.

This article has been updated to include additional leaders’ reactions to the news of Castro’s death.

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