Iran to Send Delegation to Castro Funeral; Palestinian Leaders Laud Cuban Revolutionary’s Fight Against ‘Imperialism, Zionism, Racism, Capitalism’
Iran announced over the weekend that it would be sending a delegation to the funeral of Cuban revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro, who died at the age of 90 on Saturday and was cremated at his request, Tehran’s semi-official news agency Fars reported on Sunday.
In a condolence message sent to Cuban President Raul Castro — Fidel’s brother and successor — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to the late dictator as “prominent figure in fighting against colonialism and exploitation” and a “symbol of independence-seeking struggles of the oppressed.”
Palestinian leaders also expressed sadness over Fidel’s passing, according to the independent Palestinian Ma’an News Agency (MNA), emphasizing — as did the Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) — his staunch stance on behalf of “the oppressed peoples of the world in their confrontation with imperialism, Zionism, racism and capitalism.”
The PFLP also hailed the Cuban revolution, which ousted the US-backed Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in 1959, saying that it united workers and peasants and turned the country into “an example of the nationalization of production, the division of wealth, and the construction of exceptional free education and health care systems.”
“From Angola to South Africa, Palestine to Mozambique, Bolivia to El Salvador, Castro’s legacy of international revolutionary solidarity and struggle continues to serve as an example in practice that transcends borders toward revolution, democracy and socialism,” the PFLP said in a statement.
The head of the Palestinian National Council, Salim al-Zanuan, released a statement in which he highlighted the close relationship between the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Castro, who was among the first leaders to recognize the PLO after its founding in 1964 and severed diplomatic ties with Israel in 1973.
Palestinian Democratic Union Secretary-General Zahira Kamal, too, expressed sadness at the news of Castro’s death, as did Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Nayif Hawatmeh, saying, “The departure of the comrade, the leader, the friend, the great revolutionary, the patriot, and the nationalist Fidel Castro is a great loss for all revolutionaries and nationalist forces around the world.”
According to the MNA report, diplomatic ties between Cuba and the Palestinians began in the same year that Castro became prime minister in 1959 following the Cuban revolution, when Raul Castro and Che Guevara visited the Gaza Strip.
Referring to a report in Al Jazeera, MNA said that Arafat and Castro developed close diplomatic and personal ties, with Castro inviting Arafat to Cuba at least eight times.
In addition, the report said, Cuba publicly condemned Israel at the United Nations for the first time during the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967.
After Israel’s victory, according to Al Jazeera, based on a US State Department report from 1999 on “Cuba and the Middle East,” Castro also began to provide military support to the Fatah movement, and eventually to other Palestinian “resistance” fronts that became central to the First Intifada against Israel, which lasted from 1987 to 1991, the same year that the “Zionism is racism” UN resolution of 1975 — which Cuba supported — was repealed.
MNA concluded by adding that despite criticism of the late Cuban leader from certain circles — such as ex-pat Cubans living in Miami, who have been openly cheering the death of the man whose cruel dictatorship they had fled — “Castro has remained an icon for left-wing movements and underdeveloped countries, which saw the leader as a voice of the oppressed who could stand up against destructive American policies, while instilling hope into independence movements around the world throughout the anti-colonial rebellions of the 1960s and 70s.”
Fidel Castro governed Cuba for 47 years, first as prime minister (1959-1976), and then as president (1976 to 2006, though nominally in 2008, when his brother formally took over). From 1961 to 2011, he served as the head of the country’s Communist Party.