On Friday, Cuban state media announced that one of the most famous communist revolutionaries, Fidel Castro, had died at the age of 90. His brother, Raul, who took over Fidel's former role as Cuba's president. made the announcement that "our commander and leader of the Cuban revolution" had died. In the hours following Castro's death, world leaders have weighed in on the controversial communist leader's legacy. Unsurprisingly, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted his Castro death response, and it was exceptionally brief.
"Fidel Castro is dead!," Trump tweeted at 8:08 am Saturday morning. In parsing through the four-word reaction from the president-elect, one can likely assume the exclamation mark is meant to denote happiness rather than deep sadness or distress. During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to reverse the executive actions that President Obama had taken to open up relations with Cuba. At a rally in Miami in September, Trump told the crowd:
All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them -- and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands. Not my demands. Our demands.
Trump said those demands included "religious and political freedom for the Cuban people. And the freeing of political prisoners."
Hours after Trump's initial tweet, the president-elect's transition team released a longer and more formal statement:
Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.
While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.
Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.
Other American leaders have used the announcement of Castro's death to weigh in with criticism of his regime. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio issued a statement Saturday, denouncing Castro's regime: "Sadly, Fidel Castro's death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted. The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not. And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people."