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Presidents attending, skipping Castro’s funeral rites

A police officer passes by a large portrait of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at the City Hall of the Guanabacoa municipality in Havana, on November 28, 2016/AFP 

HAVANA, Cuba, Nov 29 – African and Latin American heads of state will attend funeral rites for Cuba’s communist icon Fidel Castro on Tuesday, but US President Barack Obama and several European leaders are staying away.

Three days after his death at age 90, the list of attendees and absentees highlights the polarizing effect of the major Cold War player.

Western absences

– Barack Obama: While the US leader and Fidel’s brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, have restored diplomatic ties, Obama will not attend Tuesday’s event at Revolution Square in Havana and the White House did not say who would lead the US delegation.

– Justin Trudeau: The Canadian prime minister, who visited Cuba this month, was criticized for calling Fidel Castro a “remarkable leader.” His country will be represented by Governor General David Johnston instead.

A policeman pays homage in the City Hall of Guanabacoa to late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on November 28, 2016/AFP

– Francois Hollande: The French president met with Fidel Castro during his visit to Havana in May 2015. But he will be represented by his top Latin American envoy, Jean-Pierre Bel, on Tuesday and Environment Minister Segolene Royal on Sunday in Santiago de Cuba, where Castro’s ashes will be laid to rest.

– Angela Merkel: Germany is sending former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder instead of the country’s current leader.

– Mariano Rajoy: Instead of its conservative prime minister, Spain will be represented by former king Juan Carlos.

Latin America

Cuba’s leftist allies in Latin America will join Cubans in mourning the communist icon: Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.

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Others from the region include Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Central American leaders and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, whose government negotiated a peace deal with the Marxist FARC rebels under the auspices of Havana.


Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe, Equatorial Guinea’s veteran ruler Teodoro Obiang Nguema, South African President Jacob Zuma and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta will attend the ceremony.

At least one European

Leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is the only European leader whose attendance was confirmed by the Cuban government.

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