Even if they do not mirror Castro's policies, many of the region's leaders feel free to look elsewhere to ensure their countries' interests, and embrace the same defiant rhetoric that attacked an "oligarchy" servile to foreign interests.
Castro has been embraced--even by center-left leaders such as former President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina--as a grandfatherly symbol of Latin American independence.
"Fidel is the only living myth in the history of humanity," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said this week. "The myth lives on."
[Excerpt of an article by Héctor Tobar, Los Angeles Times]