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Black Lives Matter mourns, defends Cuban dictator Fidel Castro: 'Overwhelming sense of loss

Fidel Castro speaks to a crowd during his triumphant march to Havana after the fall of the Batista regime, Feb. 6, 1959. (AP Photo)

Black Lives Matter wasted little time sharing with the world its reaction after learning of the death of longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, noting its "overwhelming sense of loss, complicated by fear and anxiety."

"Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante," the organization continued in a message posted online Sunday. "And there are lessons that we must revisit and heed as we pick up the mantle in changing our world, as we aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice. It is the lessons that we take from Fidel."

Despite Castro's well-known legacy of communist oppression and human-rights abuses that compelled millions to flee Cuba — along with untold numbers killed and imprisoned over his six-decade reign of terror — Black Lives Matter thanked Castro.

"As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us," the BLM message read. (Shakur is a convicted cop killer and fugitive who escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba in 1984, where she received political asylum.)

Black Lives Matter also thanked Castro for "attempting to support Black people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when our government left us to die on rooftops and in floodwaters."

The BLM message concluded with the following paragraph:

With Fidel’s passing there is one more lesson that stands paramount: when we are rooted in collective vision when we bind ourselves together around quests for infinite freedom of the body and the soul, we will be victorious. As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength, and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel Vive!

Responses to the Black Lives Matter message were almost all negative. Here's a sampling:

"Invoking Fidel Castro for a quest for 'infinite freedom of body and soul' is about the most perverse thing I can imagine," one commenter wrote. "Cuba’s Communist government was the most repressive and totalitarian in the Western Hemisphere."

"I consider this sympathetic piece about Fidel Castro to be a slap in the face for many Cuban people who endured harsh punishment, exile, torture and displacement from their loved ones and their home, Cuba, by his hands," another wrote.

"Wow you’re not smart," another reader concluded. "Fidel and Che [Guevara] thought black people were inferior. He killed and tortured anyone who opposed him."

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