Trump Castigates Fidel Castro for being a “brutal dictator who oppressed his people”

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AFP logoPresident-elect Donald Trump on Saturday called Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died on Friday night aged 90, a “brutal dictator who oppressed his people for six decades.”

Castro defied the United States during a half-century of iron-fisted rule.

“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks 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,” Trump said in a statement.

He made no mention of his earlier threats to reverse a historic rapprochement carried out by the two countries under President Barack Obama, saying only “our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”

Meanwhile the legacy of Castro elicited reactions Saturday from leaders and figures from around the world many of whom remembered him as a friend and ally, while exiles in Miami celebrated his death.

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

– Donald Trump –

The US president-elect simply tweeted “Fidel Castro is dead!”

Back in September he commented on the historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba threatening to reverse the executive orders “unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” which include “religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”

– Vladimir Putin –

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

“Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”

– Mikhail Gorbachev –

“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 the former Soviet leader as saying.

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

– Xi Jinping –

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. “

– Diego Maradona –

The Argentine football legend lamented Castro’s death saying “I’m terribly sad as he was like a second father.”

– Jacob Zuma –

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.

– Francois Hollande –

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.

– Nicolas Maduro –

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.”

– Ban Ki-moon –

The UN Secretary General said “At this time of national mourning, I offer the support of the United Nations to work alongside the people of the island.”

– Mariano Rajoy –

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”.

– Narendra Modi –

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.”

– Mohammad Javad Zarif –

Castro was “a unique figure who fought against colonialism and exploitation” and was “a model of the fight for independence by oppressed nations,” said Iran’s foreign minister, the Fars news agency reported.

– Rodrigo Duterte –

For the Philippines’ president, Castro distinguished himself by “standing up against the West and imperialism”.

– Communist Vietnam –

Vietnam’s official Communist news agency hailed Castro as “a great leader” who was “the shining reflection of the independence and revolutionary movements of countries in Latin America and around the world.”

– Celebrations in Miami –

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.