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Rajoy: “Spain is especially united in grief with Cuba over the loss of a great historical figure”
SPAIN'S president Mariano Rajoy says the late Fidel Castro (pictured) was 'a figure of great historical significance' and that the Mediterranean country is 'especially united in grief' with the Cuban government over the leader's death because of his 'close links to Spain'.
“As a the child of Spaniards, [Fidel] was very close to and proud of his blood ties and cultural links to Spain,” Rajoy said in message to the Caribbean island government from his ministry of foreign affairs.
Rajoy also expressed his condolences to the Cuban government and authorities via Twitter.
Castro, who survived 600 attempts on his life between the start of his career as prime minister in 1959 and the end of his presidential reign in 2008, was last seen alive by anyone outside his closest family and friends on November 15, when he welcomed Vietnamese president Tran Dai Quang at his home in Cuba.
Fidel Castro's last public appearance was on August 13 for his 90th birthday celebrations at the Karl Marx Theatre in La Habana.
Tributes have been pouring in from all over the globe, many of which have been criticised by those who disagreed with or fell foul of Castro's régime.
One which has attracted the most dissent was that of Irish president Michael D. Higgins, who wrote on his website: “Fidel Castro will be remembered as a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people but for all of the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet.”
Opponents of the communist régime say freedom was the last thing they would associate Cuban society with, recounting tales of poverty, political prisoners and the near-impossibility of leaving the country, as well as a ban on ordinary workers forming social ties with foreign visitors.
“The economic and social reforms introduced were at the price of a restriction on civil society, which brought its critics,” Higgins conceded.
Castro's supporters largely base their views on what Higgins declared in his website message: “Cuba achieved 100% literacy many years ago and built up a health system that is one of the most admired in the world.
“With economic growth rates similar to many other Latin American countries, inequality and poverty are much less pronounced in Cuba than in surrounding nations.”
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