A little farther north, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was mourning “a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century.”
“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante,’ ” Trudeau’s statement said.
“I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.”
The prime minister ended his statement by calling Castro a “remarkable leader.”
Trudeau’s positive statements about Castro met with an instant backlash in Canada and elsewhere.
Political scientist Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, tweeted, “Cubans deserve better.” Maxime Bernier, a Canadian politician, suggested Trudeau didn’t know the difference between “longest serving president” and “dictator.”
Marco Rubio, a Cuban American U.S. senator who ran for president, asked sacastically on Twitter if Trudeau’s statement was real or a parody. If real, Rubio (R) called it “shameful & embarrassing.”
Trudeau’s statement even sparked the hashtag #trudeaueulogies, as people chimed in with positive things about historically evil people.
Despite the United States’ history with Cuba, Canada has maintained its relationship with the largest island in the Caribbean since the 18th century. Mexico and Canada continued diplomatic relations with Cuba in the years after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
About a million Canadians vacation in Cuba every year — which accounts for about 40 percent of the tourist population.
This post inaccurately said Mexico and Canada were the only countries in the Western hemisphere that kept ties with Cuba after 1959. This post has been updated.