Mixed reactions trail Fidel Castro’s death
Buhari, World Leaders Pay Tributes
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the death of former Prime Minister and President of Cuba, Fidel Castro. For some, it is a time to mourn, but for others it is a time to mock the person they have come to know as a tyrant.
For many who had followed his footprints across the globe, it was expected that there would be divergent views about the person of Fidel Castro, especially the manner in which he dominated the political and economic space of Cuba, personalising Cuba, presiding over the affairs of the country as Prime Minister and President for about five decades. This is beside that he was a very controversial international figure.
While Fidel Castro’s ally see him as a man who made positive history, as he was a liberator; those who were not on the same page with him in his processes and politics, see his departure as a positive development that would free Cuba from his chain of oppression.
President, Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, expressed profound sadness over the news of the death of Cuba’s longest serving president and revolutionary icon.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari offered the Federal Government’s condolences to Cuban President, Raul Castro, and the people of Cuba on the passing of the legendary leader, who, he said passionately served his people for almost half a century.
The President assured of the sympathy and solidarity of all Nigerians, as Cubans mourn the exit of their leader, who against all odds stirred uncommon development in sports, education and healthcare sectors of his nation, even to the benefit of other nations.
Buhari who expressed delight over Fidel Castro’s effort while alive to ensure improved ties with the United States, said “as a great friend to Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement, Castro’s place in history is assured, given his sustained successful commitment and towering role in the liberation and anti-colonialism struggles in Africa.”
The Nigerian leader said his prayers and thoughts are with Castro’s family, friends and many admirers, as they go through this period of national mourning and exit of a truly admired selfless global leader.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called him an “inspiring example for many countries,” describing him as a frank and true friend of Russia. On his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend,” hailing his contribution to the development of communism both in Cuba and around the world.
South African President, Jacob Zuma had warm words, thanking the Cuban leader for his help and support in the struggle to overthrow apartheid, noting that he identified with the struggle against apartheid.
French President Francois Hollande mourned the loss of a major figure on the world stage and welcomed the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, while noting concerns over human rights under the Castro regime.
“Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the 20th century. He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionment. France, which condemned human rights abuses in Cuba, had equally challenged the U.S. embargo on Cuba. France was glad to see the two countries re-establish dialogue and open ties between themselves.”
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said: “A great leader has left us. Fidel has died. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!”
Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, which had long acted as an economic and political prop for Cuba, said Castro left a lasting mark on his country and on world history.
“Fidel held his ground and strengthened his country at the time of the harshest American blockade, at the time of massive pressure on him,” Gorbachev said.
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 media by telephone.
U.S. Congress representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, said: “A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn.”
Speaking on the personality of Fidel Castro and reign in Cuba, an International Relations Expert, Professor Bola Akinteriwa said that Fidel Castro would be remembered for being a nationalist to the core, nationalist in the sense that he was able to defile the Americans.
“America CIA made a number of efforts to neutralize him, but he survived. What he would be remembered for is his capacity to resist America’s pressure and if you look at his history, he ousted Batista in 1959 and he took over, two years after, he was appointed prime minister.
“The essential thing is that he led guerrilla warfare against the government and introduced Marxist leftist revolution. So the most important factor is that the fact that though a very small island, Cuba remained a major obstacle to what the Americans stood for, which means that with determination, a leader can change the future and define the future of his people.