President of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thompson, on Tuesday called late Cuban leader Fidel Castro “one of the 20th century’s most iconic and influential leaders”, AP reported. Thompson was addressing a memorial tribute in honour of the Cuban revolutionary.

Thompson said Castro “embodied the struggle of the global south for independence, justice and development” for many people. He said the controversial leader was a “symbol of resistance in Latin America, Africa and beyond.” While almost 30 representative of groups and countries praised Castro, representatives of Western nations refrained from making any statements on the leader.

Outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Castro, “one of the most important Latin American leaders of the 20th century”. Ban’s statement, read by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca, said “Until his last days he [Castro] was deeply concerned about the future of humanity and the challenges of our times.”

Cuba’s UN Deputy Ambassador Ana Silvia Rodríguez Abascal thanked those who honoured the leader and said he “forever will be the commander and leader of the Cuban revolution.”

Castro, who ruled Cuba from 1959 until 2006, died at the age of 90 on November 25. He was often critcised for his autocratic rule and his death was celebrated by thousands of Cuban exiles in Miami, The Guardian reported.