The global image of late Fidel Castro is now emerging in tributes to him by world leaders, spanning political, regional and sports chieftains. The tributes are pouring from all corners of the world, although it was quiet for a long time before the United States of America was forthcoming. Instead of President Obama, it was present-in-waiting, Donald Trump who was broadcasting the death on his Twitter. That was before President Obama came up with his statement about “History will judge the enormous impact” of Cuba’s late leader, Fidel Castro on the world”. The United States maintained hostile relations with Cuba since the revolution in 1959. Pope Francis has expressed sadness over the death of the former Cuban leader whom the Pope met personally in the course of papal intercessions on Cuba.
From within Latin America, President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela described Castro’s death as his sailing “towards the immortality of all those who fight their whole lives”. Sanchez Ceren, the president of El Salvador calls Castro “my dear friend and eternal companion” in a tweet which acknowledged the news of the death of the former Cuban leader. President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico calls Castro an emblematic reference of the 20th Century and a friend of Mexico, an obvious reference to Mexico being where Castro constituted the forces that subsequently carried out the Cuban revolution. For Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, it is a case of “Fidel dead. Long live Cuba! Long Live Latin America!” Bolivian president, Eva Morales expressed hurt at the death of Castro, attributing to him the legacy of fighting for the integration of the world’s peoples. Honduran president Juan Hernandez has sent his condolences to the Cubans.
Russia which inherited the defunct USSR describes Castro in a telegram by Vladimir Putin as a “symbol of a whole era of modern world history”, “a wise and strong person” who was ” a “sincere and reliable friend of Russia”. Besides Putin, Dimtry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister, also referenced Castro as the end of a whole era. Mikhail Gorbachev under whom Soviet Communism gave way spoke of Castro as standing up and strengthening his country out of what he called the harshest American blockade.
Chinese president, Xi Jinping noted in a statement what he calls Castro’s contribution to the development of communism in Cuba and around the world.
From Africa where Cuban troops smashed Apartheid more than any other assaults, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has put his country’s gratitude on record. President Hage Geingob of Namibia refers to Castro’s death as the end of an era.
President Francois Hollande of France describes Castro as the symbol of rejection of external domination for Cubans as well as an embodiment of the hopes and the disappointments of the Cuban revolution.
In the UK, Lord Peter Hain has paid glowing tribute crediting Castro with creating a “society of unparalleled access to free health, education and equal opportunity despite an economically throttling USA siege”. Hain who was among notable anti-apartheid activists also noted how Cuban troops achieved a turning point by inflicting the first defeat on South Africa’s troops in the struggle against apartheid although he never forgot to indict Castro for what he calls indefensible human rights and free speech abuses. Ken Livingstone, a former Mayor of London was equally forthcoming in calling Castro an “absolute giant of the 20th century”. Similarly, Brian Wilson, a noted critic of American hostility to Cuba attributed to the departed the achievement of educating his people and giving them health care they did not have. He speaks of Castro as a “beacon of hope” for his region and for oppressed people throughout the world. British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson was not as forthcoming but calls the death of Castro the end of an era and the beginning of another for the people of Cuba.
In Ireland, President Michael Higgins is sure that Castro will be called a giant among global leaders
In Asia, India and Pakistan have poured out their minds. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister privileges Castro as one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century and his death as a loss to his country. Imran Khan, former Pakistan presidential contestant applied the epithet “iconic revolutionary” to Castro, attributing to him the liberation of Cuba from vestiges of imperialism: “Castro reasserted the Cuban nation’s dignity and self worth that withstood US aggression and became a global leader for anti-colonial struggles”. Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khomeini’s tribute reckoned with the belief and reliance on people to be the hub of Castro.