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President-elect Trump did not mince words describing deceased Cuban president Fidel Castro. The incoming executive called the Cuban leader “a brutal dictator” and looked forward to a post-Castro future for the island nation.

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” Trump wrote in a Saturday morning statement. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”

Cuban state television announced on Friday night that Castro had died and would be cremated Saturday. The dictator was in power for nearly a century, ruling Cuba 90 miles from Miami and on the doorstep of the United States.

Trump’s predecessor, President Obama, made normalizing relations with Cuba a top priority. But earlier this week, Trump threatened to dial back that diplomatic relationship if Castro didn’t restore the Cuban people’s “political and religious freedoms.”



On Saturday, Trump seemed optimistic that Cuba could move closer to the U.S. after Castro.

“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 wrote.

The Trump statement stands in sharp contrast to the message coming out of the Obama White House. The current president offered a “hand of friendship” to the Cuban people and “condolences to Fidel Castro’s family.”

But Trump reacted with more brevity earlier, tweeting “Fidel Castro is dead!” Sentiments of condolence are noticeably absent from either his official statement or tweet.

“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,” Trump concluded.

Obama faces sharp criticism after offering condolences to Fidel Castro's family

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