RIO DE JANEIRO – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday lamented the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, calling him “the greatest of all Latin Americans” and saying his death was like losing an older brother.
“For the peoples of our hemisphere and the workers in the poorest countries, especially for the men and women of my generation, Fidel was always a voice of struggle and hope,” Lula, himself a towering political figure in Latin America, wrote on Twitter.
“His spirit of combat and solidarity sparked dreams of freedom, sovereignty and equality. In the worst moments, when dictatorships dominated the principal nations of our region, the courage of Fidel Castro and the example of the Cuban revolution inspired those who were resisting tyranny,” Lula said.
The Brazilian politician was referring to the right-wing military regimes that held power at different times during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
Lula recalled that ever since meeting Castro for the first time in Nicaragua during an event in 1980 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, the two had a “warm and intense” relationship based on seeking out “paths for the emancipation of our peoples.”
“I feel his death like the loss of an older brother, of an irreplaceable companion, someone I’ll never forget,” said Lula, a former Marxist firebrand who headed a center-left Workers’ Party, or PT, administration from 2003 to 2010.
His political protege and successor – Dilma Rousseff, a one-time leftist guerrilla who was ousted from office via an impeachment process earlier this year – termed Fidel Castro a “visionary who believed in the construction of a fraternal and just society, without hunger or exploitation, in a united and strong Latin America.”
Castro died Friday night in Havana at the age of 90, his younger brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, announced on state television.