Fidel Castro’s death – World reactions

Vladimir Putin praises Castro as “a reliable friend of Russia” while US President Barack Obama keeps his silence.

Castro welcomed Russian President Putin in Havana in 2000 [Reuters]
Castro welcomed Russian President Putin in Havana in 2000 [Reuters]

The death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro prompted celebrations among the country’s exiles in Miami , but expressions of sorrow from several current af former world leaders.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday hailed Castro, who died aged 90 on Friday, for “strengthening” his island nation. 

“Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him, and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development,” Interfax news agency quoted Gorbachev as saying.

“In the past years, even when Fidel Castro was not formally in power, his role in strengthening the country was huge.” 

Castro speaking to Mandela at the 50th anniversary of the GATT Agreement [Patrick Aviolat/ EPA]

Gorbachev added that Castro would be remembered as a “prominent politician” who managed to leave a “deep mark in the history of mankind.”

Ties between Moscow and Havana suffered after the collapse of the USSR, as the massive flow of financial aid from the Soviet Union dried up, delivering a major economic blow to the country.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin also praised Fidel Castro, as the “symbol of an era”, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.

“The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history,” Putin said in a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro, cited by the Kremlin. “Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob described Castro’s death as an “end of an era” in a statement on Twitter.

The Nelson Mandela foundation has also sent its condolences to the people of Cuba and shared a photograph showing Castro with the South African leader on social media. 

South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, also had warm words for the Cuban leader, thanking him for his help and support in the struggle to overthrow apartheid.

“President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid,” Zuma said in a statement.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a statement that “the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend”.

Xi hailed Castro for his contribution to the development of communism both in Cuba and around the world.

In Venezuela, a long-time ally of Cuba and staunch opponent of the political stance of the United States, President Nicolas Maduro said Castro had inspired, and would continue to inspire, his country.

“We will keep on winning and keep fighting. Fidel Castro is an example of the fight for all the people of the world. We will go forward with his legacy,” Maduro told television station Telesur by telephone.

In Bolivia, where Ernesto “Che” Guevara died in 1967 in a failed bid to export Cuba’s revolution, President Evo Morales said in a statement: “Fidel Castro left us a legacy of having fought for the integration of the world’s peoples … The departure of Comandante Fidel Castro really hurts.”

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said: “A great has left us. Fidel has died. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!”

The government of El Salvador issued a statement expressing “eternal gratitude” to Castro and the Cuban people for their help during bad times their country went through. 

Then Cuban President Fidel Castro and then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev exchanged documents during ceremony in Havana in 1989 [ Gary Hershorn/Reuters]

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, said his nation is mourning the loss of a “great friend”.

Imran Khan, former Pakistani cricketer turned leader of Tehreek-e-Insaf party, defined the Cuban leader as an “icon” in a statement on Twitter.

Castro embodied Cuba’s revolution in both its “hopes” and its later “disappointments”, French President Francois Hollande said in a statement after the veteran revolutionary’s death was announced. 

“An actor of the Cold War … he represented, for Cubans, pride in rejecting external domination,” Hollande added, alluding to Castro’s defiance of the US.

Cuba announced nine days of national mourning after the death of the longtime leader.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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