The 90-year-old died on Friday at 10:29 p.m. local time, his younger brother and current Cuban president Raul Castro said on state television Friday night. His body will be cremated later on Saturday.
A period of official mourning has been declared on the island nation until Dec. 4, when Castro’s ashes will be laid to rest in the city of Santiago.
President-elect Donald Trump shared the news on his Twitter account early Saturday morning, simply writing “Fidel Castro is dead!”
President Barack Obama released a more substantial message on Saturday.
“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” Obama said in a statement. “We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.
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“Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people,” he continued. “In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”
Jeb Bush’s son George P. Bush reacted with a more critical take on Castro’s controversial rule.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Castro “a wise and strong person” who was “an inspiring example for all countries” and a “sincere and reliable friend of Russia,” according to a statement reported by AFP news agency. He hailed Castro as a “symbol of a whole era of modern world history.”
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, applauded the Communist ruler.
“Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade and on a path of independent development,” Gorbachev said, AFP news agency reported.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose father the former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau was a friend of Castro’s, reacted by offering his condolences but also acknowledging that the Cuban leader was a “controversial” figure.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader,” Trudeau said, according to CBC.
Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico, called Castro “a friend of Mexico” and said his country mourns his passing.
President of India Pranab Mukherjee offered his condolences on Castro’s “sad demise,” while Narendra Modim — the Prime Minister of India — called Castro “one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century.”
“India mourns the loss of a great friend,” Modim added.
Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, said he called Raul to express his solidarity and love.
He also shared photos of Castro with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.
El Salvador’s president Salvador Sánchez Cherén sent his condolences, calling Castro a dear friend. “Fidel always lived in the hearts of the people of solidarity who fight for justice, dignity and fraternity,” he wrote. “Our condolences and solidarity with the brother government and people of Cuba.”
The leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, reminisced about a meeting the two had in May of 1992.
“I extensively talked with Fidel Castro in person,” he tweeted, sharing a photo of their meeting. “It is his personality to believe and rely on people.”
Pope Francis sent a telegram to Raul, USA Today reported, expressing his condolences and prayers for the Cuban people.
“Upon receiving the sad news of the passing of your beloved brother, the honorable Fidel Castro Ruz, former president of the state council and the government of the Republic of Cuba, I express my sadness to your excellency and all family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as the government and the people in that beloved nation,” he wrote.
The Pope continued, “At the same time, I offer my prayers for his eternal rest, and I entrust the Cuban people to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of La Caridad del Cobre, patroness of that country.”
Francois Hollande, the president of France, also issued a statement calling Castro “a major figure of the 20th century.”
“He embodied the Cuban revolution, in the hopes it aroused and the disappointments it provoked,” Hollande wrote. “Actor of the Cold War, he represented a period of history that ended with the fall of the Soviet Union. He represented, for Cubans, pride in rejecting external domination.”