Republicans in Congress and on Donald Trump’s transition team urged President Obama Saturday to skip the funeral of longtime Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Trump adviser Newt Gingrich said “under no circumstance” should Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden or Secretary of State John F. Kerry go to Cuba for Castro’s funeral.
“He was a tyrant,” Mr. Gingrich said on Twitter.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said on Twitter, “I would hope that [the administration] would send no one to the funeral.”
Mr. Obama, who re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba last year, gave no immediate indication Saturday whether he or any other senior U.S. officials would attend Castro’s funeral, set for Dec. 4. In March, Mr. Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928.
In a statement, Mr. Obama offered condolences to the Castro family.
“The Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said. “We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.”
The president said history will judge “the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
”For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements,” Mr. Obama said. “During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends - bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity.”