Cuba read more


The prime minister defends his glowing tribute to Fidel Castro, but acknowledges he was a dictator

Trudeau defends Castro tribute, calls him a dictator

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood by the comments he made eulogizing Fidel Castro, but in the face of backlash acknowledged the former Cuban leader was a dictator.

Trudeau’s initial statement praised Castro, whose death at the age of 90 was announced on Friday, as a “legendary revolutionary” and a “remarkable leader.”

“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,'” his statement on Saturday read.

Those comments drew the ire of several conservative politicians in Canada and the US, with American senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio slamming him for glossing over a repressive regime.


In Canada, Conservative leadership hopefuls Maxime Bernier and Kellie Leitch also denounced the prime minister’s remarks.

Then the internet got involved, mocking Trudeau’s tribute under the hashtag #trudeaueulogies.

Asked by CBC’s Catherine Cullen if he thought Castro was a dictator, Trudeau replied yes.

“There are people who have many memories and who experienced a great deal of difficulty because of what happened in Cuba, and I am not minimizing any of that,” Trudeau said on Sunday, speaking to reporters in Madagascar, where he is attending la Francophonie summit.

“The fact is Fidel Castro had a deep and lasting impact on the Cuban people. He certainly was a polarizing figure and there certainly were concerns around human rights. That’s something that I’m open about and that I’ve highlighted,” he said.

“But on the passing of his death I expressed a statement that highlighted the deep connection between the people of Canada and the people of Cuba.”

Trudeau’s father, the late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was friends with Castro, who was an honourary pall bearer at his funeral.


Cover: Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

M-F 7:30PM HBO