By IDN- INPS UN Bureau *
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon extended on November 26 condolences to the Cuban people and to the family of former President Fidel Castro Ruz on behalf of the United Nations. Fidel Castro passed away overnight at the age of 90. He served as Cuba's President from 1976 to 2008.
“At this time of national mourning, I offer the support of the United Nations to work alongside the people of the island,” Ban told reporters in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he was attending the Global Sustainable Transport Conference. He offered his particular condolences to Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz, UN News reported.
Recalling vividly his meeting with former President Fidel Castro during a visit to Cuba in January 2014, Ban said he had held a lively discussion that covered developments around the world, sustainable development and climate change.
“Under former President Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education literacy and health. I hope that Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity,” the outgoing Secretary-General whose second five-year term ends on December 31, 2016 said.
A statement issued later in the day by Ban's spokesperson in New York noted that former President Castro was an emblematic figure of the Cuban revolution, prominent in Latin America and influential in world affairs".
“As Prime Minister, President, Commander of the Cuban Armed Forces and First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, his role at the helm of Cuba spanned nearly 50 years, during which he left a major imprint on his country and on global politics,” the statement said, adding: “His revolutionary ideals left few indifferent. He was a strong voice for social justice in global discussions at the UN General Assembly and international and regional forums.”
In a separate statement, the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson also expressed his sincere condolences to former President Castro’s family, including his brother President Raul Castro, as well as the Government and People of Cuba.
“Fidel Castro was one of the iconic leaders of the 20th century,” said Thomson. “With a great love for his homeland and the Cuban people, he dedicated his life to their welfare and development.”
“A tireless advocate for equity in the international arena, Fidel Castro was an inspirational figure for developing countries in particular,” he added, saying that “his dedication to their advancement, especially in the fields of education and health, would be long remembered”.
* IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate