President-elect Donald Trump recently commented on the death of Fidel Castro, the former communist revolutionary leader of Cuba. Castro passed away Friday night at the age of 90 of apparently natural causes. The communist ruler succeeded power to his brother, Raul Castro, in 2006 after Castro nearly died from an intestinal ailment.
After the announcement of Castro’s death, BBC News reported President-elect Trump said that Castro was a “brutal dictator” and that he hoped Cubans could move forward to a more free future. Although Trump has made is opinion about Castro known, the powerful revolutionary figure once said, “History will absolve me,” according to NBC News.
President Barack Obama re-opened trade agreements with Cuba in 2014 under the leadership of Raul Castro. Reinstated trade between the United States and Cuba came after a 50-year embargo, enacted in 1962 under former President John Kennedy. The end of the embargo raised questions about the end of hostilities toward Cuba, which had been a regular occurrence since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
Reuters reported that Raul Castro, Fidel’s successor, introduced market-style economic reforms to help invigorate the Cuban economy. The Cuban economy had been stifled for decades due to trade embargoes imposed by the United States and other countries. As a communist country, Cuba also stopped receiving 6 million in subsidies from Moscow once the Soviet Union fell in the 1980s.
Although Barack Obama and Raul Castro agreed to a trade deal in 2014, Fidel Castro gave the agreement minimal approval. After President Obama visited in Cuba this year, the first American to set foot on Cuban soil since 1928, Fidel Castro wrote a biting newspaper article about the president’s visit. Castro warned the Cuban people against the American president’s “honey-coated” words and promoted caution against a country that had been trying to overthrow the Cuban communist regime for decades.
Fidel Castro took control of Cuba on New Year’s day 1959 after toppling the regime of Fulgencio Batista, who the United States supported. Batista had been in power for a quarter century and many Cuban people were looking for a way to escape the ruler’s corruption. They found their perceived savior in Fidel Castro.
Castro quickly made himself an iconic figure as a uniform-clad revolutionary who smoked big cigars and told the United States, still one of the most powerful countries in the world, that the Cuban people did not want or need their support. Castro created a communist state out of Cuba, just 100 miles south of Florida, which made six decades of United States presidents nervous including Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, and Clinton.
Fidel Castro had a non-compliant relationship with the United States, even surviving numerous United States-backed assassination attempts during his reign, but Barack Obama and Raul Castro have made an attempt to normalize relations with Cuba since 2014. Fidel’s recent death reminds the population that the future relationship with Cuba is in question under President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump has vowed to reverse many of President Obama’s executive actions during his first 100 days of the presidency, which may or may not include President Obama’s executive actions concerning Cuba. According to CNN, Trump commented on trade relations with Cuba during a September rally in Miami, Florida. The president-elect is open to a normal relationship with Cuba, but called Obama’s deal “weak” and that his executive action could be overturned. However, Trump appeared open to trade at the rally as long as the “Castro regime meets our demands” for trade agreements including “freeing political prisoners” held in Cuba.
Fidel Castro’s death was announced by his brother Raul on Friday night via Cuban television. The revolutionary’s funeral will be held December 4 after nine days of mourning by the Cuban people.
[Featured Image by Marty Lederhandler/AP Images]