Stein Echoes Trudeau's Castro Praise

The death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro at age 90 has set off a wave of conflicting, contentious reactions from across the political spectrum. You can just ask Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who's been under fire all afternoon for his extremely fond, sympathetic statement in memory of the former dictator, who was widely criticized for grievous human rights abuses throughout his nearly 50-year tenure. But he's not alone, as an American former presidential candidate offered some praise, too ― Jill Stein joined Justin Trudeau in saluting Castro on the occasion of his death.

Trudeau's statement on the passing of Castro, which earned him a lot of derision from conservatives, moderates, and some anti-Castro (or at least Castro-ambivalent) liberals too, was widely perceived as being a lot warmer towards someone of his history than a democratic head-of-state ought to be. Specifically, Trudeau called Castro "a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century," praised Cuba's state systems of education and health care, and said he and his family would be "mourning the loss of this remarkable leader" on behalf of all Canadians.

And, in a statement that was a whole lot shorter but very much of the same spirit, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate tweeted that Castro was a "a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire."

Stein's tweet does drive at part of the core appeal of Castro to some leftist activists and thinkers ― in addition to his socialist education and health care policies, the notion that his anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist views served as a force for good, a guide for revolutions and liberation struggles in various parts of the world. This is perhaps most in evidence in the influence of Castro's example in different countries in Africa, notably in apartheid South Africa. Simply put, Castro's reputation internationally looks a lot different to many people than it does to countless Americans, as well as some of the native Cubans and Cuban-American immigrants who suffered under his long rule.

For a sense of comparison, even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ― generally considered a left-wing voice in major party politics ― put out a statement framing Castro first and foremost as a repressive despot. But the Green Party is always much further left than the Democrats, the latter having to face up to concerns of consensus-building, and facing frequent high-stakes elections. All that considered, it shouldn't come as much surprise that Stein was willing to lean all the way into an adoring salute to Castro's memory.