Monday, December 5, 2016

Prime Minister Trudeau does not attend Castro's funeral

(November 28)  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not be attending the funeral next Sunday of former Cuban president Fidel Castro the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has confirmed. The PMO said only that his schedule did not permit it.

Castro seized power in 1959 and ruled until 2006 when he turned the leadership over to his brother Raul. He died just last week at the age of 90 but had been in poor health for some time. The Governor General David Johnson will attend a commemoration on Tuesday in Havana but there is no word on who, if anyone, will represent Canada at the funeral.
Trudeau had issued a statement that included positive aspects of Castro's rule. The entire statement can be found on the Prime Minister's website. Trudeau had several positive things to say about Castro for example that he improved education and health care in Cuba. He noted as well his father's friendship with Castro. Castro attended Pierre Trudeau's funeral in Montreal as shown in the appended video with the Jimmy Carter. Castro was an honorary pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau's funeral in 2000.
Maxime Bernier, a Conservative party leadership candidate, called on Trudeau not to attend the funeral saying: "Fidel Castro was a brutal dictator who killed and imprisoned countless Cubans while keeping the rest of the country impoverished due to his reckless communist ideology." Of course this is a proper right wing reaction but many of the left in the west are also strongly anti-communist, so while not joining in the strong denunciation of many conservatives, leftists must not say anything that might be interpreted as pro-communist. NDP leader Tom Mulcair tweeted: "Upon the passing of Fidel Castro let us think of the lives impacted by his actions and be hopeful for the future of the Cuban people." Trudeau's dad was not so careful about political sensibilities and never attempted to hide or downplay his friendship with Castro or his support for the country against the wishes of the United States.
In a response to the criticism of his statement Justin Trudeau said that he believed that Castro was a dictator. This is a must term when mentioning Castro. Note the contrast when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died: "Mr Obama paid tribute to Abdullah as a leader who "was always candid and had the courage of his convictions". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Abdullah's work 'to promote dialogue among the world's faiths'." Of course the king was also a dictator and had a dismal record on human rights and the rights of women. But then he had oil and was friendly with western imperialist countries.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale defended Mr. Trudeau and said the Prime Minister reflected on “the unique relationship that Castro had with Canada," and claimed that the relationship actually reduced geopolitical tensions. Goodale said: “Mr. Trudeau has stood up and spoken vigorously about human rights wherever he has gone in the world, whether that’s China or Africa or indeed, in Cuba a couple of weeks ago. Mr. Trudeau’s record on human rights and civil liberties is very strong and very clear. And he’s regarded around the world as an eloquent spokesman in that regard.” Of course he also ships armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
The Mexican president Pena Nieto will attend the funeral. Although Putin will not attend, his close ally, the speaker of the State Duma will lead the Russian delegation. Neither Obama nor the U.K. PM Theresa May will attend. Maxime Bernier claimed that attending the funeral could jeopardize relations with the United States. To that his father would have replied "fuddle duddle!" Surely if Nieto can attend, Trudeau can too.

No comments: