“Ding dong the witch is dead,” said the Miami Herald. The man who bedeviled 11 American presidents – a quarter of all US leaders – has finally succumbed to old age.
He was “the most influential figure of the 20th century in Latin America”, but his power “came at a terrible cost to the Cuban people”. Thousands executed without trial, an Orwellian network of neighborhood committees to spy on citizens, no free elections in 60 years, no free press – Castro “should be remembered as the cynical dictator who nearly destroyed Cuba for the gratification of his own ego”.
Castro “ceased to have much practical influence on Cuban affairs some years ago”, said The Independent, but his death is still a “significant moment”. It could herald a further opening up of relations between Cuba and America. Unless, that is, Trump slams the door on this rapprochement. That would be a grave error, said the FT. Both countries stand to benefit from engagement. “Cuba, which takes a hard line on drug trafficking, and played a key role in getting Colombia’s Marxist rebels to lay down their guns, is a natural ally against terrorism.” Were US-Cuban relations to revert to mutual hostility, it would present Castro with a “last victory from the grave”.
Funeral preparations were under way in Cuba this week following the death of Fidel Castro, one of 20th century politics’ most iconic figures. The demise of the 90-year-old revolutionary was announced last Friday by his younger brother Raúl, who succeeded him as president in 2008. The state declared nine days of National mourning. The ashes of the man known as El Comandante were being carried in procession across the island to Santiago de Cuba, the nation’s second city, where they will be laid to rest in a ceremony on Sunday.
Although Castro had been frail for years, many in Cuba were shocked and deeply saddened by his death. By contrast, Cuban émigrés in Miami danced in the street. The international response also varied widely. Warm tributes poured in from leaders in Latin America, Russia, China and Canada. Barack Obama offered a neutral statement that neither praised nor condemned Castro, but offered “a hand of friendship” to the Cuban people. Donald Trump, however, said the world was marking the passing of “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades”