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World Reacts to Castro's Death

  • VOA News

People celebrate after the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in the Little Havana district of Miami, Florida, U.S. November 26, 2016.

People celebrate after the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in the Little Havana district of Miami, Florida, U.S. November 26, 2016.

News of the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro sparked celebrations among the country's exiles in Miami, and expressions of sorrow from others, including some world leaders.

Shortly after the Cuban government's announcement of Castro's Friday death, Cuban exiles in Miami, Florida, took to the streets in celebration. Some were draped in Cuban flags, other danced in the streets, some dazed in disbelief that this day - so long wished for - was finally here.

"Cuba si! Castro no!'' people chanted in the streets, while others screamed "Cuba libre!''

Forty-year-old financial executive Gabriel Morales, whose parents left Cuba decades ago, said the news of Castro's death "seems unreal.''

Carlos Lopez, in Miami, told the Miami Herald, "We are not celebrating one man's death, but the death of an ideology. We are celebrating that little piece of liberty we got back today."

Watch: In Miami a celebration of Castro's death

"The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: a tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere," U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Florida's 27th district, said in a statement.

On the island

Reaction on the island, slow to emerge because many citizens were asleep at the time of the government's announcement, was mixed.

People gather along the Malecon seawall, as is customary on weekend nights, after President Raul Castro announced the death of his brother Fidel on national TV in Havana, Cuba, early Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.

People gather along the Malecon seawall, as is customary on weekend nights, after President Raul Castro announced the death of his brother Fidel on national TV in Havana, Cuba, early Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.

"In Cuba, some are mourning, some are relieved, the majority with a certain amount of indifference, Castro's legacy is one of a nation in ruins, a nation where youth want to escape," Yoani Sanchez said on Twitter.

"I am very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is public figure that the whole world respected and loved," said Havana student Sariel Valdespino.

People stand on the seafront boulevard El Malecon in Havana, Cuba, following the announcement of Fidel Castro's death, November 26, 2016.

People stand on the seafront boulevard El Malecon in Havana, Cuba, following the announcement of Fidel Castro's death, November 26, 2016.

On Twitter, Gloria La Riva said, "His legacy will endure because he leaves a strong country of true revolutionaries, people who have given of themselves countless times as medical workers, as teachers, as construction workers, as combatants, all for humanity..."

Antonio G. Rodiles, a Cuban political activist, told VOA that he thinks Castro is a "shadow" who will disappear "little by little." Rodiles said the Cuban government tried to keep Castro "alive in the minds of the Cuban people" by constantly using his image on television and in the streets. The activist said "...but now everything is going to be dissolved, he's going to disappear."

World Marks Passing of 20th Century Icon

Reaction among world leaders was mixed.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered the support of the UN to the people of Cuba during spoken remarks at a sustainable transportation conference in Turkmenistan.

"Under the former president Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education, literacy and health. I hope that Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity,” Ban said.

Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, said he spoke to Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, to convey solidarity with the Cubans.

Spanish President Mariano Rajoy Brey gave his condolences to Cuba and called Castro "a figure of historical significance."

Similarly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Castro "one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th centruy."

"India mourns the loss of a great friend," Modi said on Twitter.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted to say, "Fidel #Castro's death marks the end of an era for #Cuba & the start of a new one for Cuba's people."

A woman places flowers as a tribute outside the Cuban Embassy in London, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, central London, Britain November 26, 2016.

A woman places flowers as a tribute outside the Cuban Embassy in London, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, central London, Britain November 26, 2016.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said "the world has lost a man who was a hero for many... his legacy will be judged by history."

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Twitter, "I lament the death of Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban revolution and emblematic reference of the 20th century."

A street vendor sells copies of Mexico's leading daily Metro newspaper showing an image of Fidel after the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Mexico City, Mexico, November 26, 2016.

A street vendor sells copies of Mexico's leading daily Metro newspaper showing an image of Fidel after the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Mexico City, Mexico, November 26, 2016.

French President Francois Hollande called Castro a towering figure of the 20th century.

"I want, on the occasion of the death of Fidel Castro to again insist that the embargo that punishes Cuba should be lifted definitively (and that) Cuba should be fully regarded as a partner in the international community," said Hollande during a summit in Madagascar.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also praised Castro as a symbol of an era.

"Free and independent Cuba, which he (Fidel Castro) and his allies built, became an influential member of the international community and became an inspiring example for many countries and nations. Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.''

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Castro for "strengthening" his island nation.

"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 Gorbachev as saying.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he and his wife Rosalynn "fondly remember our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country." In a statement, Carter said he wishes the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead.

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