OLALEKAN ADETAYO and BAYO AKINLOYE
President Muhammadu Buhari and other world leaders have condoled with the government and people of Cuba over the death of Fidel Castro, the country’s longest serving president, who died aged 90.
In a condolence message signed by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, Buhari offered his condolences to the Cuban President, Raul Castro, and the people of Cuba over the death announced on Friday night.
Raul is the younger brother and successor of the deceased. A state funeral had been fixed for Sunday, December 4 in Santiago de Cuba, according to state media report.
Buhari noted that Castro, against all odds, stirred uncommon development in sports, education and health care in Cuba, even to the benefit of other nations.
Speaking about Castro, United States’ President, Barack Obama, said, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, also said, “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today (Saturday) of the death of Cuba’s longest serving president.
Other world leaders like Enrique Pena Nieto (Mexican President), Pranab Mukerjee (Indian President), and Narendra Modi (Indian Prime Minister) took to Twitter to express their condolences, describing the deceased as “a great leader and friend.”
Castro took over power in Cuba in 1959 in a revolution and ruled the country for 49 years.
He outlasted 10 US presidents, brought free medical care to a small island nation, suppressed dissidents and infuriated his opponents at home and abroad after overthrowing a dictatorship in 1959.
Having passed on the leadership of Cuba’s single-party state to Raul in 2008, Fidel played a ceremonial role during his twilight years, showing up to meet foreign leaders in a track suit, rather than his trademark military fatigues, and writing treatises on global warming and economic inequality.
The son of a wealthy landowner, Castro was born in 1926 and studied law before pulling together a band of fellow revolutionaries with the aim of overthrowing Fulgencio Batista, Cuba’s dictator who had extensive links to the American mafia and other business interests.
His early political convictions, formed while studying at the University of Havana, seemed steeped in progressive nationalism, rather than traditional Marxism, according to his biographers.
Captured in 1953 for assaulting a military base, Castro was sentenced to 15 years in jail. He defended himself during his trial, announcing that “history will absolve me”. He was later released as part of a political amnesty.
Fidel and his brother Raul imprisoned poets, stifled journalists with archaic party-line news mantras, repressed independent civil society organisations and jailed dissidents. Senior communist party officials also profited from corruption, according to critics.
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