Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, criticised for fondly remembering Fidel Castro without mention of his human rights record, has defended his comments and said the late Cuban leader had been a dictator.
Trudeau sparked fury and online mockery after he referred to Castro as a "remarkable leader" and expressed his sorrow at the Friday death of "Cuba's longest serving president".
Many were quick to point out that Castro suppressed dissent and there was no option for other leadership on the island nation under his regime.
On Sunday, Trudeau said the statement was simply meant "to recognise the passing of a former head of state" of a country that Canada had longstanding ties with, and not to gloss over unflattering history.
"The fact is Fidel Castro had a deep and lasting impact on the Cuban people," Trudeau told reporters in a televised news conference at a Madagascar Francophonie summit.
"He certainly was a polarising figure and there certainly were significant concerns around human rights, that's something I'm open about and that I've highlighted."
Asked whether he thought Castro was a dictator, Trudeau said: "Yes."
Trudeau, whose father - a former prime minister - was the first NATO leader to visit Cuba back in 1976, said he had raised the issue of human rights during an official visit to Cuba earlier this month.
Trudeau's initial statement, which was markedly more positive than most Western leaders, sparked a backlash on Saturday, especially among some US Republicans and Cuban exiles in the United States.
Canada has long been one of Cuba's closest western allies, maintaining ties after its 1959 revolution. During his November visit, Trudeau said that Canada would maintain its relationship with Cuba even if that put it at odds with US President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to reverse the US-Cuban détente.