Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “deepest condolences” over the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro Saturday, failing to acknowledge the infamous dictator’s repressive legacy and many victims.
“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President,” said Trudeau in a released statement. “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”
Trudeau failed to mention that Castro won power after he and his fellow revolutionaries overthrew the Cuban government in a violent coup in 1959, installing a totalitarian Marxist-Leninist communist regime. He served initially as prime minister and later as president from 1976 to 2008, solidifying his power through unyielding domestic repression. Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother who succeeded him as president eight years ago, announced Fidel’s death on state television Friday night.
Castro’s so-called “improvements” to Cuban healthcare and education have been largely debunked as inaccurate. A report by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting found that Cuban hospitals “are generally poorly maintained and short of staff and medicines.”
Christopher Sabatini, an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, noted in March that Cuba’s healthcare statistics and famous life expectancy rates are hardly accurate.
“In the famously closed country, reliable statistics and rigorous studies are impossible to come by, but anecdotally, it appears that the health system used by average Cubans is in crisis,” wrote Sabatini in the Washington Post.
Trudeau also fell victim to the myths of Cuban education, which largely centers on the country’s nearly 100 percent literacy rate. Few Cubans have little more than a basic education, while those few who are fortunate to attend college or university, particularly medical professionals, tend to leave the country as quickly as possible.
Trudeau went on to applaud Castro’s “dedication and love” for the Cuban people who supposedly “had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.'” He did not mention the estimated 9,240 civilians killed by Castro’s regime, or the approximately 5,300 killed fighting him, nor did he acknowledge the 78,000 people who died trying to flee Cuba during the Castro reign. Experts still do not have accurate numbers on Castro’s victims due to the closed-off nature of the country.
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