World reacts to death of Cuba's Fidel Castro

AFP , Saturday 26 Nov 2016

Fidel Castro
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 16, 1999 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro trying on a pair of sunglasses as he talks to the media in Havana during the IX Iberoamerican Summit. (AFP PHOTO)

The legacy of Cuba's Fidel Castro elicited praise Saturday from some world leaders who remembered him as a friend and ally, but exiles in Miami celebrated his death.

Here are some early reactions to the passing of the 90-year-old Cold War icon, whose life was defined by his resistance to the capitalist United States.

"The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history," the Russian president said in a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, cited by the Kremlin.

"Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia."

"Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development," Interfax news agency quoted former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as saying.

"In the past years, even when Fidel Castro was not formally in power, his role in strengthening the country was huge."

China's president hailed Castro in a message read out on state television: "The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade.

"Comrade Castro will live forever. "

The South African president gave one of the warmest tributes to the late Cuban leader.

"President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle. As a way of paying homage to the memory of President Castro, the strong bonds of solidarity, cooperation and friendship that exist between South Africa and Cuba must be maintained and nurtured," Zuma said.

The cordial relationship between Canada and Cuba was reflected in remarks made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"It is with great sadness that I have just heard of the death of Fidel Castro. A longtime friend of Canada and my family," Trudeau.

Fidel Castro embodied Cuba's revolution in both its "hopes" and its later "disappointments", the French President said in a statement.

"An actor of the Cold War... he represented, for Cubans, pride in rejecting external domination," Hollande added, alluding to Castro's opposition to the United States.

The Venezuelan president, Cuba's main ally in the region, said of Castro on Twitter: "It is up to us to continue his legacy and carry his flag of independence."

The Spanish prime minister sent his condolences to Cuba's government and people, via Twitter, where he described Castro as "a figure of historic significance".

India's prime minister sent his "deepest condolences" to Cuba. "May his soul rest in peace," he tweeted.

"Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend."

Castro's death was treated less sympathetically in Miami, the American city just 90 miles (150 kilometres) from the Cuban coast, where many opponents of the communist regime escaped. Many others died trying to reach it by boat.

Amid cries of "Cuba Libre!" and "Freedom! Freedom!" Cuban-Americans poured on to the streets.

"It's sad that one finds joy in the death of a person -- but that person should never have been born," said Pablo Arencibia, 67, a teacher who fled Cuba 20 years ago.

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