Both Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu will travel to Cuba this weekend to attend the funeral of Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution who died November 25 at the age of 90.
Their presence underscores the renewed impetus given to the Mexico-Cuba relationship under the mandate of Peña Nieto.
“A friend of Mexico, promoter of a bilateral relationship based on respect dialogue and solidarity,” was how the president described the Cuban icon following his death.
In contrast to the scenes in Miami where exiled Cubans celebrated Castro’s death by dancing in the streets, the atmosphere outside the Cuban embassy in Mexico City was somber and respectful. Wreaths were laid, flowers were left, and some grievers sang “The Internationale.”
Notwithstanding his totalitarian regime’s well-catalogued human rights abuses, admiration for Castro runs deep in Mexico, fueled by generations of students weaned on the story of Cuba’s glorious revolution. The fact that Castro was one of the only Latin American figures to openly defy the United States enhanced his celebrity and esteem in this country. Apart from some Catholic bishops and former President Vicente Fox (a nemesis of Castro), few in Mexico this week bandied around the term “despot.”