In the wake of former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s death overnight, leaders from around the world have made statements in memory of the noted Marxist revolutionary who toppled the previous Cuban government in 1959. Among the most prominent world leaders to have issued statements thus far are Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
According to a report compiled by Aljazeera, leaders in nations from Latin America to the eastern regions of Asia have offered statements condoling the loss of Castro and honoring his long career as a global political figure. Vladimir Putin, in an official message sent to Cuba, described the former Cuban president as “a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.” In an official statement for the public, Mr. Putin also hailed Fidel Castro as a “symbol of an era” for his longtime influence on the world stage.
The thoughts of Russia’s leadership were also conveyed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who lauded Castro for having put Cuba on “a path of independent development.” Putin and Gorbachev represent two different eras of Russia’s history in terms of the nation’s ties with Cuba. Russia, as a former leading nation of the Soviet Union, maintained extremely close relations with communist Cuba in the years following Castro’s 1959 revolution, often giving it large sums of money and supporting its efforts to encourage Marxist revolutions throughout Central and South America. Russia under Putin has remained on good terms with Cuba but has reduced the amount of funding given to it. Putin’s government, having emerged from the fall of the communist Soviet Union, has also been far less connected to the Marxist ideologies of Cuba’s governing party.
Also notable among the statements that have been issued regarding the death of Fidel Castro was that of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, himself a member of the world’s largest remaining communist party. Unlike other leaders, Xi focused on Castro’s career as a Marxist revolutionary and framed it in a favorable light, referring to the late Cuban leader as “a close comrade and a sincere friend.” “Comrade,” in this case, is used as an honorific term common among Marxist governments since its popularization in the writings of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.
Joining Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi in the voices of those whose countries have historically had amicable ties with Cuba was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to a report from Asian Correspondent, Mr. Modi took to Twitter to offer his sympathies to the Cuban people and to honor Fidel Castro, whom he described as “one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century.” The Indian Prime Minister’s thoughts were also echoed by other leading members of his government.
Despite the praise and fond memories of Castro conveyed in the statements of Putin, Xi and Modi, other world leaders have been more reserved in their comments. According to a CNN report, both British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French President Francois Hollande have made statements recognizing Castro for his historical and political influence without actively praising him for his actions and legacy. Mr. Johnson tweeted his thought that Castro’s passing “marks the end of an era for Cuba & the start of a new one for Cuba’s people.” Mr. Hollande was somewhat starker, referring to Castro as “an actor of the Cold War” and noting the failures of the Cuban revolution.
Notably absent among those who have made formal or informal statements about Fidel Castro’s death has been American President Barack Obama, who as of the time of this writing has maintained silence on the matter. British Prime Minister Teresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others, have also yet to publicly express their views.
The former leader’s death was announced by his brother and current Cuban president, Raoul Castro, last evening. He was 90-years-old. Cremation of Fidel Castro’s remains is set to take place today while the country enters into a formal period of mourning that is scheduled to last until December 4, when a funeral service will be held in Santiago de Cuba.
[Featured Image by Jorge Rey/Getty Images]