Celebration, Sorrow and Slights Greet News of Castro's Death

From Cuban-American MLB star Jose Canseco to global politicians, the world reacts to the passing of Cuba's Fidel Castro

World leaders, U.S. politicians and notable Cuban figures are reacting to the news that Fidel Castro, Cuba's longtime president and leader of its Communist revolution, passed away on Friday at the age of 90.

Current president Raul Castro announced his brother's death in a televised statement Friday night prompting Cuban-Americans in Miami to take to the streets in celebration. Online, responses to the iconic leader's death—a mix of praise and condemnation—reflected the divisiveness he stirred throughout his life. 


Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro, a strong ally of the Castro family, tweeted that he called Cuban president Raul Castro to send his solidarity and love to the Cuban people. He also shared iconic photos of Fidel Castro from the early days of the Cuban revolution, along with the revolutionary slogan, "toward victory, always."

El Salvador's president Salvador Sanchez lamented the passing of "our dear friend and eternal companion," while Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his regret for the passing of an "emblematic" figure of the 20th Century.

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.

However, there were shouts and insults in Madrid as a small crowd composed of both pro- and anti-Castro supporters met in front of the Cuban embassy.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called Castro "one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th Century" and said India stands in support of the Cuban government and people.

Pakistani politician and former cricket star Imran Khan tweeted that the world lost an “iconic revolutionary leader” who “liberated his nation from all vestiges of imperialism,” reasserting Cuba’s dignity and self worth.

Guyanese Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said Castro shared his island's resources with any nation that dared ask for help.

The Castro government sent thousands of doctors and nurses to work in remote Caribbean areas where local and other foreign medical personnel had refused to go, Nagamootoo said.

"His and Cuba's contribution to humanity and the Caribbean is unmatched by any other nation in terms of brotherly and sisterly relations. He was an international gift to humanity," he said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, established to carry on the work of the late anti-apartheid leader who would go on to become South Africa's president, recounted the close relationship Mandela forged with the Cuban leader.

When Mandela became president in 1994 he was criticized by some in the West for his ties to Castro. Mandela replied that anyone who objected could "jump in the pool."

"The first country we approached (for assistance in battling apartheid) was the United States of America. We could not even succeed to come close to the government, and they refused to assist us," Mandela said in a 1990 documentary to explain his loyalty to Castro. "But Cuba, the moment we appealed for assistance they were ready to do so and they did so."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the chorus of admirers, calling Castro "a legendary revolutionary and orator" and a "remarkable leader."

"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,'''said Trudeau, whose late father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, had a warm friendship with Castro.

Trudeau's reaction prompted strong criticism on Twitter from two Republican U.S. senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, both Cuban-Americans.

"Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful (and) embarrassing," Rubio tweeted. Cruz wrote: "Disgraceful. Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot -- all evil, torturing murderers."

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Former Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Castro as an "outstanding man," noting his efforts to dismantle the colonial system and strengthen his country in the face of U.S. blockades."His role in strengthening his country was immense even in the last years, when he gave up formal power,” Gorbachev told the Inferfax news agency.

North Korean's Kim Jong Un expressed his confidence that the Cuban people will make great socialist achievements "under the wise leadership of Raul Castro," in a condolence letter reported by state TV.


President Obama called for continued partnership between Cuba and the United States in a statement. 

"Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people," Obama said in the statement. "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."

Obama's statement also referenced the impact Castro had on the lives of the Cuban people and the entire world. "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," the statement read. 

President-elect Donald Trump posted his first reaction to the news on Twitter Saturday morning, writing simply: "Fidel Castro is Dead!" 

Trump then issued a scathing criticism of Castro later Saturday morning, writing in a statement: "Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights." 

U.S. Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio also condemned Castro in a statement, writing in part: "One thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people."

Florida Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman Emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called Castro “a tyrant" in a statement heralding "a new beginning" for Cuba, "the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere.”

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, the son of Cuban exiles, tweeted in both English and Spanish, "The passing of the dictator marks the end of a long, horrifying chapter in #Cuba's history. The #Cuban people need our solidarity."

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Singer Gloria Estefan, who's father worked as a bodyguard for Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, wrote on Instagram that Castro's death has "renewed hope" for Cubans who fled his dictatorship. 

"Although the death of a human being is rarely cause for celebration, it is the symbolic death of the destructive ideologies that he espoused that, I believe, is filling the Cuban exile community with renewed hope and a relief that has been long in coming," Estefan wrote. 

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Although the death of a human being is rarely cause for celebration, it is the symbolic death of the destructive ideologies that he espoused that, I believe, is filling the Cuban exile community with renewed hope and a relief that has been long in coming. And although the grip of Castro's regime will not loosen overnight, the demise of a leader that oversaw the annihilation of those with an opposing view, the indiscriminate jailing of innocents, the separation of families, the censure of his people's freedom to speak, state sanctioned terrorism and the economic destruction of a once thriving & successful country, can only lead to positive change for the Cuban people and our world. May freedom continue to ring in the United States, my beautiful adopted country, and may the hope for freedom be inspired and renewed in the heart of every Cuban in my homeland and throughout the world. 🇨🇺🇺🇸 Aunque la muerte de un ser humano es raramente causa para celebrar, es la muerte simbólica de las ideologías destructivas que el patrocinó que, en mi opinión, están llenando al exilio Cubano de esperanza renovada y un alivio que ha tardado mucho en llegar. Y aunque el agarre del régimen Castrista no se aflojara de un día para otro, el deceso de un líder que supervisó el aniquilamiento de aquellos con puntos de vistas opuestos al suyo, el encarcelamiento de inocentes, la separación de familias, la censura de la libertad de expresión, el esparcimiento de terrorismo sancionado por su gobierno y la destrucción económica de un país exitoso que prosperaba, solo puede llevar a cambios positivos para el pueblo Cubano y el mundo. Que la libertad siga viva en los Estados Unidos, mi bello país adoptivo, y que la esperanza para la libertad crezca y se renueve en los corazones de cada Cubano en mi tierra natal y a través del mundo.🇨🇺🇺🇸

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Cuban-American major league baseball star Jose Canseco tweeted that he can't say he feels anything in response to Castro's death. "There is a reason many defected to USA," he said.

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