Radical leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was among the few leaders representing Europe at an hours-long event commemorating the life of dictator Fidel Castro in Cuba, praising the brutal tyrant as an “international symbol of struggle and resistance” who “inspired political and social changes in Latin America.”
Fidel Castro, 90, died Friday, according to his brother and successor Raúl. On Tuesday, the Communist Party announced an “act of the masses” in which Castro’s ashes were paraded on the streets of Havana, and VIP leftist guests harangued a crowd forced to participate in the mandatory mourning ceremony for hours.
In addition to Tsipras, a bevy of leftist Latin American leaders – Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, Bolivian president Evo Morales, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, among others – spoke at the ceremony. Tsipras’ perspective was unique in that he represented a European Union member nation, though his statements more strongly resembled those issued by the aforementioned illiberal heads of state.
“[Castro was] an international symbol of struggle and resistance whose example inspired popular struggle across the world for independence, freedom, justice, and dignity,” Tsipras told the crowd in Greek (the Cuban government provided a translator who spoke in Spanish after Tsipras had completed each sentence). Praising Castro as a “great twentieth century revolutionary,” Tsipras called him “the Fidel of the poor, the humble, the oppressed, and those who never surrender.”
“Your Fidel, our Fidel, the Fidel that belongs to all the corners of the planet, who belongs to history,” he told the crowd.
Tsipras added that he was proud to represent “the Greek people, a people who lives in a corner of the world very far from you, but very close to the values for which you have struggled and continue to struggle.” “Perhaps we in Europe cannot imagine the difficulties that you have to endure, but we have our own oppressive forces, the inhuman logic of the rules of the market in neo-liberalism,” he added.
“[We Greeks] are fighting our own struggle for justice and dignity… and in this struggle we will always have Fidel’s example before us, in our victories and in our defeats, in our conquests and our compromises,” he continued. “Just like the Cuban people, in the critical moments of its history, the Greek people have not wavered in standing up and struggling against powerful adversaries to demand its independence, its dignity and rights.”
“Freedom or death, was the slogan of the 1821 Greek revolution,” Tsipras said in Greek, “Patria o muerte [motherland or death] was the slogan of the Cuban revolution of 1959,” he said in Spanish.
In his lifetime, the communist government published statements allegedly written by Fidel Castro praising Tsipras as an “esteemed colleague” when his party, the Radical Coalition of the Left (Syriza), took over Greece. Tsipras, who named one of his sons after the communist mass murderer Ernesto “Che” Guevara, has always expressed sympathy for the communist regime. Since being elected, however, Tsipras has exacerbated the Greek debt crisis by refusing to pay back Greece’s debt the European Union, before ultimately imposing austerity measures on the country to prevent a bankruptcy, a move that branded him a traitor before the eyes of many leftists.
Watch Tsipras’ remarks via the leftist Telesur outlet (in Greek with simultaneous Spanish translation) below: