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.
Mike Pence added this, via Twitter:
The tyrant #Castro is dead. New hope dawns. We will stand with the oppressed Cuban people for a free and democratic Cuba. Viva Cuba Libre!
Will Trump reverse President Obama’s policy of rapprochement with Raul Castro’s Cuba? During the campaign, Trump’s position was that some sort of deal with Cuba would be “fine,” but the one negotiated by Team Obama was a “very weak agreement.” Trump told Miami journalist Jim DeFede that he would do “whatever you have to do to get a strong agreement,” even if that meant breaking off the recently resumed diplomatic contacts.
So that’s one possibility — Trump may repudiate the current deal and try to negotiate one that extracts more concessions from the regime, including concessions that grant Cubans more freedom.
However, it’s also possible that Trump and his team will conclude that trying to renegotiate is not worth the effort given other pressing foreign policy matters. Since Raul Castro isn’t likely to agree to any loosening of his grip on power, Team Trump may conclude that doing nothing is the more attractive option.
My hope is that Trump will not take the easy way out. Either way, however, the statements by Trump and Pence in response to Fidel Castro’s death are a blast, not merely a breath, of fresh air.