The Canadian prime minister’s oddly warm remembrance of Fidel Castro set social media aflame Saturday as Castro’s many critics pilloried Justin Trudeau’s statement calling the dead dictator a controversial and “larger than life leader” but stopping far short of condemning his actions.
Trudeau has met Castro, and said his father considered the dictator a friend. Canada and Cuba maintained diplomatic relations during the U.S. embargo, and Canadians have long vacationed on the island.
“A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and health care of his island nation,” Trudeau said in a statement released by the Canadian government. “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.' "
Trudeau’s comments stood in stark contrast to American elected officials, including Sen. Marcio Rubio, R-Fla., whose parents left Cuba before Castro came to power. “Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful & embarrassing,” Rubio said in a statement on Twitter.
President-elect Donald Trump condemned Castro as a “brutal dictator ... (with a legacy of) firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights."
President Obama in his own statement extended a hand of friendship to the Cuban people and said "history will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose father fled Cuba during the Castro years, called Trudeau’s statement “disgraceful. Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot — all evil, torturing murderers.”
Other Twitter users, as you’d expect, took it a lot further, using the #trudeaueulogies tag to mock the prime minister and satirize his comments.
"While controversial, Darth Vader achieved great heights in space construction & played a formative role in his son's life,” quipped Jason Markusoff, a correspondent for Canada’s Maclean's magazine.
Added Canadian sports commentator Mike Hogan: “Today we mourn the loss of Norman Bates, a family man who was truly defined by his devotion to his mother.”
And offered Australian news columnist Rita Panahi, “Although flawed, Hitler was a vegetarian who loved animals, was a contributor to the arts & proud advocate for Germany.”
"While controversial, Darth Vader achieved great heights in space construction & played a formative role in his son's life" #trudeaueulogies— Jason Markusoff (@markusoff) November 26, 2016
As we mourn Emperor Caligula, let us always remember his steadfast devotion to Senate reform. #trudeaueulogies— J.J. McCullough (@JJ_McCullough) November 26, 2016
While 99% of the Titanic's voyage was a complete success, the haters concentrate on the last 1%. #trudeaueulogies— Chris (@e36ls1) November 26, 2016
Although flawed Hitler was a vegetarian who loved animals, was a contributor to the arts & proud advocate for Germany. #TrudeauEulogies— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 27, 2016
Saddened about the passing of Sauron who, while heavy-handed, did advocate for open borders and usher in industrial era. #trudeaueulogies— Elana Fric Shamji (@ElanaFricShamji) November 26, 2016