Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, has been mocked and criticised over his praise of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Following the death of Castro, Trudeau, whose father had a close relationship with the revolutionary, released a statement mourning the loss of a “remarkable leader”.
Castro, who died on Friday aged 90, won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor but also created legions of enemies for his ruthless suppression of dissent.
Trudeau’s comments were markedly more positive than most western leaders, who either condemned Castro’s human rights record or tip-toed around the subject.
Instead, Trudeau warmly recalled his late father’s friendship with Castro and his own meeting with Castro’s three sons and brother – Raul, Cuba’s current president – during a visit to the island nation earlier this month.
“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 said in the statement.
He called Castro “larger than life” and “a legendary revolutionary and orator”.
Fidel Castro was an honorary pall bearer at the 2000 funeral of Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. In 1976, the senior Trudeau became the first Nato leader to visit Cuba under Castro’s rule, at one point exhorting “Viva Castro!”.
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