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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his “deepest condolences” to the Cuban people Saturday after the death of Fidel Castro, who’s brutal communist regime is accused of killing tens of thousands.

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President,” Trudeau wrote in a statement Saturday shortly after Cuban state television announced the death of the dictator.

The most prominent Marxist-Leninist in the Western Hemisphere, Castro died at 90 after ruling over Cuba for nearly five decades. He’s succeeded by his younger brother, Raúl Castro, who has and is expected to continue the communist regime.

Dismissing decades of protests from Cuban dissidents and exiles, Trudeau admitted that Castro was “a controversial figure” but insisted he was “a remarkable leader.”



“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century,” Trudeau wrote in a statement. “A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”

After a violent revolution in 1959, Castro quickly consolidated power in the island nation just 90 miles from the United States. When relations cooled with the capitalist U.S. in the early 1960s, Castro’s Cuba warmed up to the Soviet Union.

Since the Castro regime began, the Cuban economy has stagnated and more than a million Cubans have fled the country in search of asylum. Human rights organizations accuse Castro of systemic political violence and the murder of thousands.

Canada’s prime minister counts the dictator as a family friend. His father and former prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, became the first NATO leader to visit Cuba in 1976. Trudeau followed up and made his own visit earlier this month.

“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,” Trudeau wrote. “It was also a real honour [sic] to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.”

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