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Fidel Castro’s Death Stirs a Wave of International Reactions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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After Meeting Fidel Castro, Pope Francis Preaches About ‘Spirit of Poverty’ (AP Photo)

Paris – Following the death of Cuban Leader Fidel Castro on Saturday, top international figures reacted to the news, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who seemed to have carefully chosen his words, describing Castro as a “singular figure” and extending a “hand of friendship” to the Cuban people.

Obama left it to history to “record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

For his part, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump described Castro as “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that during Fidel Castro’s tenure, “Cuba made advances in the fields of education literacy and health.”

“I hope that Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity,” the secretary-general concluded.

In a telegram sent to the current Cuban President, Raul Castro, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the death of the Cuban leader, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Castro “made immortal historical contributions to the development of socialism around the world.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro described Castro as an “undefeated giant”, adding that revolutionists around the world should maintain his legacy and preserve the values of independence and socialism.

For his part, Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Twitter that Castro was “the leader who taught us to fight for the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the peoples of the world.”

French President Francois Hollande described Castro as “a great figure of the 20th century” and called for the embargo against Cuba to be lifted.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement: “Fidel Castro was larger than a life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted: “Goodbye, commandante. Until the peoples’ eternal victory.”

“Fidel Castro in the 20th century did everything possible to destroy the colonial system, to establish cooperative relations,” former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted as telling the Interfax news agency.

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.