Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, criticized for fondly remembering Fidel Castro and offering his ''deepest condolences'' without mention of his human rights record, defends his comments. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, criticized for fondly remembering Fidel Castro without mention of his human rights record, defended his comments on Sunday and said the late Cuban leader had been a dictator. Trudeau sparked fury and online mockery after he referred to Castro as a "remarkable leader" and expressed his sorrow at the Friday death of "Cuba's longest serving president". Many were quick to point out that Castro suppressed dissent and there was no option for other leadership on the island nation under his regime. "The fact is Fidel Castro had a deep and lasting impact on the Cuban people," Trudeau told reporters in a televised news conference at a Madagascar Francophonie summit. Trudeau said he had raised the issue of human rights during an official visit to Cuba earlier this month. Asked whether he thought Castro was a dictator, Trudeau said: "Yes." Castro was an honorary pallbearer at the 2000 funeral of Trudeau's father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who was the first NATO leader to visit Cuba back in 1976. Trudeau's initial statement, which was markedly more positive than most Western leaders, sparked a backlash on Saturday, especially among some U.S. Republicans and Cuban exiles in the United States.