What World Leaders’ Reactions to Castro’s Death Reveal
Not known for mincing words, US President-elect Donald Trump responded to the news of Fidel Castro’s death on Saturday by calling Cuba’s former leader “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” whose legacy is one of “firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
He then extended a hand to the monster’s victims.
“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty,” he said.
It was a perfect statement, both in content and in tone, sharply contrasting the public expressions of mourning — even adulation — voiced by prominent left-wing and Islamist figures around the world, including in North America.
Take Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “deeply sorrowful” reaction, for instance. Calling Castro “a larger-than-life leader” and a “legendary revolutionary and orator,” Trudeau lauded him for making “significant improvements to the education and health care of his island nation,” and said Castro’s supporters and detractors alike “recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people.”
Though the Cuban people are being forced by governmental decree to mourn their oppressor for nine days, it is doubtful that they remember “El Comandante” fondly. After all, their high literacy rates cannot make up for their abject poverty or lack of freedom to read what they choose. If anything, they envy those of their countrymen who escaped to the US, where they are flourishing financially and allowed to live their lives as they please.
Rather than stressing this fact, US President Barack Obama said, “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. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
Instead of boasting about the advantages his country has to offer and calling on the regime in Havana, led by Castro’s brother, Raul, to aspire to democracy and a free market, Obama went on to pat himself on the back for having “worked hard” to put the “discord and political disagreements … behind us, pursuing a future … defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends — bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity.”
No, he was not kidding.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and Palestinian Authority leaders dispensed with the saccharine and got right to the point of why each is sorry about the passing of the Communist tyrant, despite his ban on religion and demolition of its churches. Or perhaps subjugating and terrorizing Christians — a practice in which radical Muslims themselves engage — is fine, as long as it is accompanied by virulent anti-Western and antisemitic sentiment.
Tehran referred to Castro as a “prominent figure in fighting against colonialism and exploitation” and a “symbol of independence-seeking struggles of the oppressed.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine praised his efforts on behalf of “oppressed peoples of the world in their confrontation with imperialism, Zionism, racism and capitalism.”
The Palestinian National Council released a statement highlighting the close relationship between PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Castro, who was among the first leaders to recognize the terrorist organization after its founding in 1964 and who severed diplomatic ties with Israel in 1973.
Israeli leaders have been silent thus far. This could have to do with the fact that the Jewish state has spent the last several days extinguishing massive fires, initially sparked by a combination of campers’ negligence and dry winds, but enhanced by acts of arson committed by Palestinian terrorists as part of the lone-wolf intifada.
But it might also be a function of two incidents that have caused both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog to opt not to call attention to themselves on this matter.
After The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Castro in 2010 and claimed that the Cuban leader had praised Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, as “the world’s foremost historian of the Spanish Inquisition,” and even said that he understood Netanyahu’s “hard-line” positions because of the Holocaust, Netanyahu responded by saying that “the remarks attributed to Castro demonstrate his deep understanding of the history of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.”
Netanyahu was then called to task by certain Republican members of Congress, who basically told him not to be so naive. Netanyahu’s office subsequently released a statement assuring that the prime minister was fully aware that Castro had compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the genocide committed by the Nazis.
Herzog has an even better reason to keep a low profile, for recently invoking the Cuban dictator in an attack on Netanyahu. In August, following hints by the prime minister that he would appoint the opposition leader as foreign minister if he were to agree to join the government, Herzog not only refused, but had the gall to compare Netanyahu to Castro, accusing him of wanting a “press that is subordinate, humiliated and tied up.”
This claim was not only ludicrous, particularly as nearly every media outlet in the country — including the state-run TV channel over which a debate is currently raging — is openly hostile to Netanyahu and his government. It also minimized the goings-on in Cuba and everywhere else in the world where journalists are imprisoned and even killed.
As Americans continue to place Trump’s electoral victory under the microscope, they should use Castro and the reactions to his death to shine further light on the antipathy that the Left cannot help but arouse.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.