Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) – Fidel Castro as a revolutionary aroused people’s big hopes, but he gradually turned into a dictator, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Saturday in connection with the death of the former Cuban leader of almost half a century who died on Friday aged 90.
Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told CTK that he believes in the promotion of civic freedom in Cuba. Changes have already started there, the country is opening itself to the world, it experiences liberalisation and people are allowed to do some business, Sobotka said.
During the Cold War, Cuba became a part of the former Soviet bloc under Castro, whose life was very complex and stormy, Sobotka said.
“On the other hand, he was quite independent from the point of view of his behaviour and his decision-making,” he added.
Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) mentioned Castro’s stance on the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
“Castro may have fought for freedom sometimes. But I could never forget that Fidel Castro supported the Soviet Union and the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops of Czechoslovakia when we were also fighting for some freedom in 1968,” Zaoralek told CTK.
The invasion broke the communist-led reform movement in Czechoslovakia, known as Prague Spring.
Zaoralek said Castro’s promises that he will carry out democratic reforms ended up in the persecution of the opposition, press censorship and a ban on emigration.
“We knew this all at home very well. That is why we will not probably consider him any romantic legend,” Zaoralek said.
Former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) said Castro’s death may limitedly ease the situation in Cuba because his brother Raul, who replaced him at the head of the country in 2006, will not have think of how Fidel will react to the steps he will take.
However, there will be no big changes, they will be taking place slowly, Schwarzenberg said.
He said Raul Castro will act more pragmatically and will make concessions because of the economic situation.
Vojtech Filip, chairman of the Czech Communists (KSCM), wrote in a press release that Castro was “a fighter for the freedom of the Cuban people.”
He expressed his condolences to Castro’s family and “the Cuban people and all those who will never forget about Fidel Castro’s legacy.”