Celebration, sorrow and slights greet news of Castro’s death
While the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro prompted cheers from the country’s exiles in Miami, the 90-year-old revolutionary leader’s passing produced expressions of respect in other parts of the world and measured responses from governments that saw the devoted socialist as a threat.
While spending the Thanksgiving weekend in Florida, where the announcement of Castro’s death early yesterday brought Cuban exiles into the streets to celebrate, US President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to share a thought that proved pithy even for the medium: “Fidel Castro is dead!”
Elsewhere in world, Castro was honored and mourned by many present and former national leaders. In a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel’s 85-year-old brother, Pope Francis offered “my sense of grief to your excellency and family.” Francis broke from the Vatican’s usual practice of having the secretary of state send official condolences. In a mark of the esteem the pope held for Castro, whom he met during a visit to Cuba last year, Francis signed the telegram himself.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country was Cuba’s main ally and supporter during the Soviet era, called Castro “a sincere and reliable friend of Russia” who had built “an inspiring example for many countries and nations.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Castro “made immortal historical contributions to the development of socialism around the world.”
“With his death, the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend,” Xi said in a telegram to Raul Castro, state broadcaster CCTV reported. “His glorious image and great achievements will be recorded in history forever.”
Castro’s death was felt especially keenly in Latin America, where his success in overthrowing a military regime inspired leftist activists in other countries.
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the president of El Salvador, said he felt “deep sorrow ... of my friend and eternal companion, Commander Fidel Castro Ruz.”
Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted that “Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoting bilateral relations based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recalled Castro’s departure from Mexico on the yacht Granma with his brother Raul and several dozen supporters to start their revolution.
“Sixty years after the Granma sailed from Mexico, Fidel sails toward the immortality of all those who fight their whole lives,” Maduro tweeted. “Onward to victory, always!”
Rub n Berr os Mart nez, longtime leader of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, called Castro the “largest and most influential Latin American of the 20th century, whose verticality, vision and passion has always served as an inspiration for those who aspired to a more just, free and dignified Latin America.”
Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on his Facebook page that Castro was his “friend and companion” and the “greatest of all Latin Americans.” Silva said Castro was like an “older brother-an irreplaceable companion. He encouraged dreams of freedom. sovereignty and equality.”
A statement from the Spanish government hailed Castro as “a figure of enormous historical importance.” “As a son of Spaniards, former president Castro always maintained close relations with Spain and showed great affection for his family and cultural ties,” the government statement said.
Turkey’s foreign ministry commended the “legendary leader of the Cuban Revolution” for “instituting many deep reforms in his country from health care to education, art to science.”
“The struggle to which he dedicated his life echoed not just in Cuba but across the world, and has awakened respect even in other political camps,” the ministry said. “His words ‘another world is possible’ reflect the shared longing of billions of people from Latin America to Asia, from the Middle East to Africa.”
“India mourns the loss of a great friend,” Indian Prime Minister Nerendra Modi said on Twitter.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted: “Goodbye, commandante. Until the peoples’ eternal victory.”
“Fidel Castro in the 20th century did everything possible to destroy the colonial system, to establish cooperative relations,” former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted as telling the Interfax news agency.