After a brief celebratory tweet — "Fidel Castro is dead!" — President-elect Donald Trump made a statement Saturday condemning the former Cuban president's history of human rights abuses.
"The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades," he said. "Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights." Trump went on to describe Cuba as "a totalitarian island" but expressed hope that Castro's demise will foster "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 has vehemently criticized the Castro regime since the 1990s, after he came under fire for allegedly exploring opening a casino on the island. Castro has "turned his nation into a maximum-security prison," Trump wrote in a 1999 op-ed for the Miami Herald. "The secret police are unrestrained. The disappearance and beatings of citizens are still tools of civilian control, as is the suppression of free speech. Castro's ruthless domination of the Cuban people has not lessened even as his regime crumbles."
Once president, Trump says he will undo President Obama's steps toward normal diplomatic relations with Cuba if the communist country will not meet his demands.