World Reacts to End of an Era as Cuba Mourns Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro speaking at the iconic National Press Club, Washington DC in 1959

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Washington, DC – Cuba declared a nine-day mourning period as the former president Fidel Castro, one of the world’s longest-serving and most iconic leaders, died aged 90.

His younger brother and successor president Raul Castro announced the news on state television, telling the nation in an unexpected late night broadcast that Fidel Castro had died and would be cremated later on Saturday. “The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” he said. “Towards victory, always!” he added, using a revolutionary slogan.

US President Barack Obama, who has dedicated his second term improving relations with Cuba said in a statement, “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,” noting, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

On the other hand, US President-elect Donald Trump condemned the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, saying, “The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” adding, ”Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”

Trump, who has pledged to roll back the Obama administration’s diplomatic opening to Cuba, said the nation remains “a totalitarian island,” but he hopes that Castro’s passing will mark “a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

Earlier in the morning, Trump marked the news with brief tweet: “Fidel Castro is dead!”

The Soviet Union’s legacy bearer and last leader there, Mikhail Gorbachev, said in a statement, “Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin called him as a “reliable and sincere friend” of Russia, while Chinese President Xi Jinping noted, “Comrade Castro will live forever.”

French President Francois Hollande said that Castro embodied Cuba’s revolution in both its “hopes” and its later “disappointments.”

Pope Francis, who met Castro, an atheist, during his visit to Cuba in 2015, called his death “sad news” and sent “sentiments of grief.”

Castro toppled the government in 1959, introducing a Communist revolution. He defied the US for decades, surviving many assassination plots. Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century.

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