Earlier today, Raul Castro proclaimed that his 90-year-old revolutionary brother, Fidel Castro, had died. Unlike the mourning periods of many heads of state, the death of the senior Castro brother was met with mixed reactions from world leaders and revealed the Cuban dictator’s controversial legacy.
In the United Kingdom, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn mourned the leader he called a “huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th Century socialism.”
Those efforts to fight colonialism by European powers during the modern age made Castro an ally to many African leaders to this day.
In the United States, home to many Cuban-Americans who fled the Castro regime, the reception to his death was far more pointed in some circles.
The President-elect took to Twitter seemingly to celebrate the death of a man that he later described as “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades” in a press statement.
Although most leaders' statements were truthful, most were made along ideological lines. The contrasting views often revealed a leader reviled by some for his harsh crackdown on dissidents and journalists while admired by others for the revolutionary furor that allowed him to push achievements in healthcare and education. Under Castro, for example, Cuba far outpaced the United States to have one of the highest rates of literacy in the world.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose father knew Castro, offered his “deepest condolences” on behalf of his nation and family.
President Obama offered a diplomatic statement, sending his condolences to Castro’s family. He continued:
"At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."
The condolences align Obama, strangely, with Russian President Vladimir Putin who said that Castro “was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia” in a telegram to his brother. It was this incredibly polarizing force that made the Cuban rebel legacy debatable to this day.