The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trudeau called Castro a ‘remarkable leader.’ Twitter imagined what he would say about Stalin.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

In America, President-elect Donald Trump and Cuban American senators all but cheered Fidel Castro's death.

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.”

The life of Fidel Castro (1926-2016)

SLUG: FO/CASTRO-obit DATE: Downloaded 01/15/2007 (EEL) CREDIT: Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images CAPTION: Screen capture of Cuban guerilla leader and future dictator Fidel Castro and associates as they cheer and raise their weapons and fists in the air on the CBS News Special Event 'Rebels of the Sierra Maestra,' Cuba, 1957. (THIS IMAGE WAS FLIPPED HORIZONTALLY WHEN WE ORIGINALLY DOWNLOADED IT. GETTY HAS CONFIRMED THIS IS THE PROPER ORIENTATION OF THE PHOTO--JCK--)

Trudeau’s positive statements about Castro met with an instant backlash in Canada and elsewhere.

How Donald Trump responded to Fidel Castro’s death

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.

Fidel Castro dies at 90 (Video: Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

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