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Barbara Walters Reflects on Her Multiple Interviews With Fidel Castro (Video)

”The word ‘charismatic’ was made for him,“ Walters says

Barbara Walters looked back on the time she spent with Fidel Castro in a new video following the former Cuban leader’s death.

“For a man who likes to talk, he does very few interviews,” Walters said in an interview with ABC News. “When he finally sat down it was, for me, memorable and to a large degree because we crossed the Bay of Pigs together.” This was the first time an American had crossed the infamous bay since the failed US-backed invasion of Cuba in 1961.

“The feeling is that he’s much bigger than he actually is,” Walters continued. “The word ‘charismatic’ was made for him. You would have liked him, I would have liked him. Then you had to stop and say, ‘Just a minute. This is a man who does not believe in freedom of the press…does not believe in democracy as we know democracy, had political prisoners.'”

Walters comments on Castro were echoed in a statement she released to TheWrap earlier on Saturday, which reads:

“I first interviewed Fidel Castro 39 years ago. He was charming and fiercely guarded about his private life. He called our interviews ‘fiery debates.’ During our times together, he made clear to me that he was an absolute dictator and that he was a staunch opponent of democracy. I told him that what we most profoundly disagreed on was the meaning of freedom.”

Castro died on Friday night at age 90. He was president of Cuba from 1976 to 2008, when he stepped down to allow his brother to take power. He was previously prime minister from the Communist revolution in 1959 to 1976.

President Obama ended five decades of frozen U.S.-Cuba relations two years ago, reestablishing diplomatic relations with the Communist island. A 56-year economic embargo that has crippled Cuba financially remains in place.

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