Putin attends State Council's Presidium In Veliky Novgorod (Getty Images)


Birds of a feather? Putin praises Che Guevara and Fidel Castro


Russian President Vladimir Putin has honoured controversial Latin American Socialist political figures from the past at an International Parliamentary Conference entitled “Russia-Latin America”.

In efforts to build closer ties with Latin America, the Russian State Duma organised the event in Moscow between September 29 and October 2.

When addressing the audience at the opening meeting, Putin spoke in praise of several former Left-wing dictators and mass murderers.

He claimed that “Russia’s and Latin America’s views on international issues traditionally have a lot in common.”

Putin spoke about the period of struggle against colonialism during the time of “the famous Simon Bolivar, who became a symbol of freedom”.

He added: “The continent gave the world such selfless fighters for justice and social equality as Salvador Allende, Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro,” for which he received generous applause.

“I remember my meetings with Fidel Castro, there were several of them. He was a rock, you know? That was a man who thought about people every second and not only about the Cubans: he thought about all of Latin America, he thought about all the people on planet Earth.

“And indeed, his entire being was imbued with concern for achieving the common good and justice. He had a unique personality. These are the kind of people Latin America gives birth to,” Putin said.

Castro is remembered by many as the autocratic ruler of Cuba who hounded critics, scorned elections and ran a police state. His was a dictatorship that imprisoned and executed opponents. Surveillance and censorship were rife.

Similarly, Che Guevara was known for his bloodlust and was responsible for putting thousands of people in front of firing squads. Many Cubans died fleeing Communist Cuba.

Allende was a Socialist leader of Chile who led the country during a period of poverty and misery, with an inflation rate of more than 600 per cent and widespread severe shortages, leading to “empty pot marches” by Chilean women who could not feed their children. He was overthrown by the Chilean army with the support of the US secret services.

Bolivar called for the killing of all Spaniards in his country. Perhaps ironically, he was despised by Karl Marx, who called him “a veritable Soulouque”. Soulouque was a former slave who proclaimed himself emperor of Haiti in 1849 and became a dictator.

Putin also used Latin America to project his own philosophy on international relations. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that even today Latin American countries are showing a pattern in the success of the progressive process of forming a multipolar system of international relations based on equality, justice, respect for international law and each other’s legitimate interests,” he said.

Despite Russia and Putin often being described as “far-right” in certain media – even some fringe figures on the extreme-right embrace this notion – Russia’s closest relationship is perhaps with the far-left.

Across the European Union, far-left parties are the most pro-Russian and still show nostalgia and sympathy towards the Communist “worker’s paradise” ethos.

At the beginning of the war with Ukraine, many on the far-left identified NATO as the main reason for the aggression, rather than the Russian invasion.