(CNS): Among the controversial reactions around the world regarding the death of Fidel Castro this week, Cayman’s own leader walked the diplomatic tightrope with his comments. Premier Alden McLaughlin said Castro would be remembered “as the man who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and irked many American presidents for many years”, but he also pointed to the strong connections the Cayman Islands has with the people of Cuba.
In the brief statement McLaughlin said: “It is with sadness that we have heard of the passing of the former President of Cuba Fidel Castro. We know that Mr Castro’s health had been declining in recent years and he had passed the torch of leadership to his brother, Raul. We will all remember Fidel Castro as the man who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and irked many American presidents for many years. We in the Cayman Islands have a strong – and some of us familial – relationship with the people of Cuba. We keep in our thoughts and prayers his family and others who are grieving his passing. May his soul rest in peace.”
Offering his condolences, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush told Cayman 27, “It made complete sense for Cayman to have official friendly relations with such an important player in the regional tourism and general commerce industry.”
Meanwhile, how leaders reacted to the death of Castro on Friday at the age of 90 has made headlines around the world. In the US, the contrast in comments from President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump was startling.
Obama, who has worked hard to repair relations between the two countries and visited Cuba earlier this year, said, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” Trump, who will take office in January, called him a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades”.
Prince Harry was said to have been caught in an “awkward moment” in the UK press during his trip to St Vincent, where he joined local dignitaries at a reception hosted by the governor general, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, in a minute’s silence for the revolutionary leader.
While leaders in China, Russia, South Africa and several in Latin American countries pointed to their friendship with the iconic leader, the Canadian prime minister came under fire for describing him as a “legendary revolutionary and orator” who made significant improvements to the education and health-care systems of Cuba, because he did not mention the leader’s poor human rights record.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Fidel Castro had been a “historic, if controversial figure” and offered condolences to the government and people of Cuba, describing his death as “the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba’s people”.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the former Cuban president’s revolutionary “heroism” and his presence on the world stage, as well as the health and education systems.