Today we see a preview of a very different approach to foreign policy under President Trump. The president-elect marked the passing of Fidel Castro on Saturday by calling him a “brutal dictator” and referring to his legacy of “unimaginable suffering.” It was a startling contrast to President Obama’s message of condolences for Castro’s family.
In a statement Trump said, “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.”
It came as a possible preview of a more aggressive new administration’s view of totalitarian regimes throughout the Western Hemisphere. In his statement concerning Castro’s death Trump added “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.”
Trump’s stern words mark a distinct shift in the new and open policies Obama has instilled in US v Cuba relations in the last year. Whereas Obama has made it possible for more free trade and transportation between the two longtime foes, Trump promised that his administration “will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”
Fidel Castro is dead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2016
What that means was left unsaid.
“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,” he concluded.
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!
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) November 26, 2016
President Obama took a very different and more personal approach expressing his condolences in a statement earlier Saturday. He reiterated earlier proclamations of a renewed relationship between the two countries. Unlike Trump, he steered clear of Castro’s controversial legacy.