Leaders’ farewells to Castro vary in tone

Cuba | Trump recalls the dictator’s brutality but doesn’t rule out continuing relations with Cuba
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 11/26/16, 04:41 pm

The reactions of President-elect Donald Trump and his supporters to Fidel Castro’s death show new U.S. leadership will not soon forget the evils committed by the communist dictator in Cuba, despite President Barack Obama’s work to reestablish ties with the island nation.

“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty, and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Trump said in a statement. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also remembered Castro’s victims, releasing a statement, saying, “Today let us reflect on the memory and sacrifices of all those who have suffered under the Castros.”

In a statement today, Obama emphasized the future of Cuban-American relations and said history would judge the dictator’s actions: “During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends.”

Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called Obama’s statement “pathetic” and countered, “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.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fawning remembrances of Castro, whom he hailed as a “remarkable leader,” met even harsher condemnation and sparked the Twitter hashtag #trudeaueulogies, which imagined how the prime minister might gush over dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Trump did not indicate in his statement what his policy on Cuba would be moving forward, though he did express optimism that things could change for the better in Cuba, especially with Castro gone and his brother, President Raúl Castro, in power: “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.”

A similar hope swelled among thousands of Cuban expats in Miami who broke into spontaneous celebration on news of Castro’s death.

“We have to have hope that this is a step toward the future, that it’s a step forward,” said Ivone Menendez, 38, who left Cuba over a decade ago, according to the Miami Herald.  

It’s a future predicted by former political prisoner Armando Valladares, who told WORLD’s Marvin Olasky last year that no one inspired terror in Cuba the way Fidel Castro did: “Raúl Castro is alive because his backbone, Fidel, is alive. The day Fidel Castro dies will probably end the entire process.”

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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