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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Following the death of communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro, President Barack Obama offered condolences to the Castro family and extended “a hand of friendship” to the Cuban people.
Acknowledging that Castro’s death would be greeted by “powerful emotions” by Cubans in the country and in the U.S., the president left it to history to “record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
He walked a fine line in noting that there were “countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.”
That fine line irked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who tweeted a scathing message about the president’s statement.
President Obama mentioned his own efforts during his White House tenure “to put the past behind us,” despite the nearly 60 years of political discord between the U.S. and its island neighbor.
He concluded with a reminder to Cubans that they would always “have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”
Earlier this year, the president made an historic visit to Cuba, following his efforts to normalize diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the island nation.
President Obama was the first sitting president to step foot on Cuban soil since Castro’s guerrilla force overthrew the U.S.-backed government in 1959.