World leaders divided on attending Fidel Castro’s burial rites

By Brian Ang | Nov 30, 2016 08:24 AM EST

While a number of world leaders declared that they will not be joining the funeral of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, some of the closest allies of the late dictator confirmed their attendance for his burial rites on Dec. 4.

Considering the impending opinions and criticisms associated with the communist strongman, government officials are carefully assessing whether to attend or to send an official representative during the ceremony.

Moscow will be sending Parliament's Lower House Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin in behalf of President Vladimir Putin. Russia's move may indicate that Cuba is no longer being heralded as its high priority as the nation directs its attention to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

After drawing flak for declaring Castro as a remarkable leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will instead be replaced by Queen of Canada representative Governor-General David Johnston during the ceremonies.

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French President Francois Hollande, who has called for the nixing of US trade embargo against Cuba, will be sending Ecology Minister Segolene Royal to represent him.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will not be going to Cuba, but Deputy Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan will be attending in their behalf. In addition, shadow Foreign Secretary will stand in for Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In the U.S., it is still uncertain as to who will be joining the rites considering that American leaders have been cautious about their approach.

Republicans have warned Democrats including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, State Secretary John Kerry and Hillary Clinton from attending. Both former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Ted Cruz have called Castro a tyrant that doesn't need to be glorified.

Former King Juan Carlos will be leading a Spanish delegation that will be paying their last respects in Havana.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh will head an Indian group that comprises of politicians with different affiliations.

On the other hand, some of Latin America's left-leaning leaders like Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela will be in Cuba to join the ceremonies.

Joining them are Mexico's President Enrique Nieto and South Africa's leader Jacob Zuma.

Argentina's conservative head of state Mauricio Macri will be sending Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra in his stead.

It is still unclear if North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un will be attending although he has earlier declared three days of mourning for the Cuban leader.

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