Fidel Castro commemoration: Which world leaders are going?

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(BBC) Fidel Castro was a fixture of international politics for more than 50 years.

But his leadership of Cuba divided opinion, and leaders across the world have had to decide whether or not to attend the revolutionary’s funeral.

In the end, the list of those wanting to pay respect to Castro in person appears to be very short, with some notable allies choosing to send representatives instead.

So who is making the trip to Havana?


STAYING AWAY

Perhaps most surprisingly, considering the two countries’ long friendship, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will not be attending. His spokesman said he was too busy to travel to Cuba but that Russia would be sending a representative.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left), North Korean leader Kim Jung-un (centre) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will all be absent from the commemoration (AP and AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left), North Korean leader Kim Jung-un (centre) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will all be absent from the commemoration (AP and AFP)

Less surprising is US President Barack Obama’s decision to stay away. Despite the steps Mr Obama made towards fixing US-Cuban relations, Castro remains a divisive figure – not least for Cuban-Americans who fled his rule. The White House will not send an official delegation, but Mr Obama’s pick for ambassador to Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, will attend the commemorative event.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, France’s President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are all staying away. However, they will be sending government representatives. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry will attend to represent the UK’s Labour Party.

A photograph of Fidel Castro carrying a rucksack was on display in Revolution Square (AFP)
A photograph of Fidel Castro carrying a rucksack was on display in Revolution Square (AFP)

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – whose late father Pierre was friends with Mr Castro – was one of the few Western leaders to release a message of condolences following the leader’s death, but will not be attending. Governor-General David Johnston was attending Tuesday’s commemoration.

China’s President Xi Jinping paid his respects at the Cuban embassy in Beijing, saying the country had lost a “close comrade and real friend”. Vice President Li Yuanchao is representing China at the commemorations in Cuba.

Despite their close friendship, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang will also not be attending, sending National Assembly chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Nga in his place. The country will be holding a national day of mourning for Castro, however.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who paid tribute to an “iconic” world leader last week – will be sending his home minister but will not be flying to Cuba himself.

North Korea’s Kim Jung-un will not be travelling to Cuba either, sending a delegation on his behalf.


GOING

The list of world leaders actually attending is relatively short.

A number of South American leaders will be making the trip: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, whose late mentor Hugo Chavez had a special bond with Castro, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have all indicated they will attend.

Robert Mugabe, pictured with Mr Castro, is attending (AFP)
Robert Mugabe, pictured with Mr Castro, is attending (AFP)

Also expected are Salvadorean President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto.

At least two southern African presidents will also fly to Cuba, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, who has just survived a vote of confidence, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, whose country has just brought in a new currency.

And it seems the European Union may be represented by just one leader, in the form of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Other notable Europeans attending include Ireland’s Gerry Adams and Spain’s ex-King Juan Carlos.

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