Monday

27th May 2019

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

  • EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica, in La Havana in March 2016. Castro was "one of the historic figures of the past century," the commission says. (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission maintained on Monday (28 November), that the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro was a "hero for many," suggesting that labelling him a dictator did not reflect the institution's view.

Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that the EU executive chief Jean-Claude Juncker "opted for [a] balanced appreciation of the historical journey of Fidel Castro," after his death last Friday (25 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In a statement on Saturday, roundly criticised on social media, Juncker said that Castro was "one of the historic figures of the past century" and that "the world has lost a man who was a hero for many."

"He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond. Fidel Castro remains one of the revolutionary figures of the 20th century. His legacy will be judged by history," he added.

Asked at the commission daily press briefing why Juncker had used the word "hero", Schinas insisted that "it was not 'a hero' but 'a hero for many'."

He added that the statement was "quite similar to the one by US president Barack Obama," because it also said that history would judge the former leader.

Replying to a Czech correspondent who pointed out the number of people killed and imprisoned under Castro, or that he supported the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, the spokesman said that this was "a very long list of value judgements".

When you go into this territory, "you do it from a historic perspective, from a global perspective, not a very narrow view of reality as you just expressed it," Schinas told Czech public TV journalist Bohumil Vostal.

In a separate statement on Saturday, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, sent her "most heartfelt condolences" to current Cuban leader Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, saying Fidel was "a man of determination and a historical figure."

Both Juncker and Mogherini's statements appeared rather positive towards Castro, compared to a tweet posted by trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.

"Fidel Castro was a dictator who oppressed his people for 50 years. Strange to hear all the tributes in the news today," she wrote, in contrast to her boss and colleague.

When asked whether the commission considered Castro as a dictator, spokesman Schinas on Monday said that "the commission's position was expressed" by Juncker and Mogherini's statements.

"Maybe there was no freedom of expression in Cuba but there is in the commission," he said, suggesting that Malmstroem's views and use of the word "dictator" were not the institution's position.

He defended the position expressed in the two official statements, saying their wording had been "very carefully chosen".

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

EU urges US not to start war with Iran

Europe's top diplomats have said US actions risked triggering a conflict with Iran, as America makes plans to pour troops into Middle East in echoes of Iraq war.

News in Brief

  1. Russia-critical banker elected president of Lithuania
  2. Timmermans calls for 'progressive alliance'
  3. Catalonia's Puigdemont wins MEP seat
  4. Weber opens door to alliance with greens and liberals
  5. Tsipras calls snap Greek election after EP defeat
  6. Polish ruling party PiS takes lion's share of EU vote
  7. Romanian voters punish ruling PSD party
  8. First official EP projection: EPP remain top, Greens fourth

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us