UK, Saturday 26 November 2016
Donald Trump says the “tragedies and pain” caused by Fidel Castro can never be forgotten – but that his new administration will do “all it can” to help Cuba prosper.
The former Cuban president’s passing has divided world leaders – with many paying tribute despite long-established claims of human rights abuses under his leadership.
The US President-elect said Castro’s legacy would be “one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights”.
He added: “It is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”
Mr Trump threatened during the presidential campaign to reverse the thaw in American/Cuban relations – but his statement went on to strike a more conciliatory tone.
“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty,” it said.
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In a statement of his own, Barack Obama said he was “extending the hand of friendship to the Cuban people” following the 90-year-old’s death.
He said: “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
The outgoing president re-established diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba in 2014 after talks with Fidel’s brother, Raul.
The statement added: “For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements.
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“During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbours and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity.
“In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”
Elsewhere, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev paid tribute to Castro for “strengthening” his island nation “during the harshest American blockade” to “a path of independent development”.
French President Francois Hollande, alluding to Castro’s defiance of the United States, said: “He represented, for Cubans, pride in rejecting external domination.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Castro as “the symbol of an era in modern world history” in a telegram to Raul Castro, adding: “Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”
“Comrade Castro will live forever,” said China’s President Xi Jinping, while British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described Castro as an “historic if controversial figure” whose death “marks the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba’s people”.
Vocal figures from the left wing of British politics also paid tribute to the divisive figure, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who praised Castro as “a massive figure in the history of the whole planet”.
A long-standing supporter of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Mr Corbyn’s views have courted controversy due to reports of widespread human rights abuses under Castro’s rule.
“I think history will show that Castro was such a key figure, it seems he has been with us forever,” he said.
Former Labour MP George Galloway tweeted a picture of himself with Castro, writing: “You were the greatest man I ever met Comandante Fidel. You were the man of the century. Hasta la Victoria Siepmre. Orden. RIP.”
He later added: “Who knew so many sickos were out there waiting for Fidel’s death? Dogs can dance on the lion’s grave. But they can never be a lion.”
Other world leaders and prominent figures:
:: Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte said Castro distinguished himself by “standing up against the West and imperialism”.
:: Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro: “It is up to us to continue his legacy and carry his flag of independence.”
:: Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad: “The great leader Fidel Castro led his people’s and his country’s struggle against imperialism and hegemony for decades.”
::Pope Francis sent a message saying he was “praying to the Lord that he may rest in peace”.
:: South African president Jacob Zuma: “President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle.”
:: India’s prime minister Narendra Modi: “Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend.”
:: Argentine football legend Diego Maradona: “I’m terribly sad as he was like a second father.”
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The world reacts to Castro’s death
Donald Trump says the”tragedies and pain” caused by Fidel Castro can never be forgotten
UK, Saturday 26 November 2016