Celebration, sorrow and slights greet news of Fidel Castro's death
Miami, Nov 27 While the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro prompted cheers from the country's exiles in Miami, the 90-year-old revolutionary leader's passing produced expressions of respect in other parts of the world and measured responses from governments that saw the devoted socialist as a threat.
US President Barack Obama noted that while "discord and profound political disagreements" marked the relationship between the US and Cuba for nearly six decades, Americans were extending "a hand of friendship to the Cuban people" during their time of grief.
"History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," Obama said.
While spending the Thanksgiving weekend in Florida, where the announcement of Castro's death early yesterday brought Cuban exiles into the streets to celebrate, US President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to share a thought that proved pithy even for the medium: "Fidel Castro is dead!"
Elsewhere in world, Castro was honored and mourned by many present and former national leaders. In a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel's 85-year-old brother, Pope Francis offered "my sense of grief to your excellency and family." Francis broke from the Vatican's usual practice of having the secretary of state send official condolences.
In a mark of the esteem the pope held for Castro, whom he met during a visit to Cuba last year, Francis signed the telegram himself.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country was Cuba's main ally and supporter during the Soviet era, called Castro "a sincere and reliable friend of Russia" who had built "an inspiring example for many countries and nations." Chinese President Xi Jinping said Castro "made immortal historical contributions to the development of socialism around the world."
"With his death, the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend," Xi said in a telegram to Raul Castro, state broadcaster CCTV reported. "His glorious image and great achievements will be recorded in history forever."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had vivid memories of meeting Castro in January 2014 and having "a lively discussion that covered developments around the world as well as sustainable development and climate change."
"Under former President Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education, literacy and health," Ban said. "I hope Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity.
Castro's death was felt especially keenly in Latin America, where his success in overthrowing a military regime inspired leftist activists in other countries.