HAVANA (CBSMiami) – President-elect Donald Trump reacted to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s death in a very short, straight-forward tweet.
His presidential transition team issued a longer statement two hours later, marking “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,” Trump said in the statement. “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.”
He promised that his administration “will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”
Trump has been extremely critical of the deal President Barack Obama struck with Cuba to normalize relations.
In an interview with CBS4’s Jim DeFede, Trump said “the agreement President Obama signed is a very weak agreement. We get nothing. The people of Cuba get nothing and I would do whatever is necessary to get a good agreement.”
Trump shares that disdain for the deal with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who said he called the president-elect “to let him know that the State of Florida will help his administration in any way to support a pro-democracy movement in Cuba.”
But there have been reports that Trump broke the Cuban embargo nearly 20 years ago.
Investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek article quotes former Trump company execs who say that Trump was absolutely interested in doing business in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, sending a team of consultants to the island in 1998 to scope it out.
DeFede asked Trump about the alleged business trip taken by consultants at Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. on behalf of a casino company Trump used to own.
“I don’t know exactly where they were. I can tell you that Cuba wants to, you know, really negotiate with us,” he said.