Top-ranking U.S. officials and lawmakers on Saturday reacted to the passing of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, many of them decrying his dictatorship but expressing hope for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations.
House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) expressed hope that the cruelty of the Castro regime would "die with him," but added that fully securing the freedom of Cubans will require a lot of work.
“Now that Fidel Castro is dead, the cruelty and oppression of his regime should die with him. Sadly, much work remains to secure the freedom of the Cuban people, and the United States must be fully committed to that work. Today let us reflect on the memory and sacrifices of all those who have suffered under the Castros,” Ryan said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks Biden needs to be both Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Billionaire tax gains momentum MORE (R-Ky.) said "freedom and democracy are long overdue" in Cuba.
“While Fidel Castro is gone, sadly the oppression that was the hallmark of his era is not," McConnell said in a statement, as reported by ABC News.
"It is my hope that the Cuban regime will use this opportunity to turn the page for the good of the Cuban people and for all those living in the Americas. Freedom and democracy are long overdue in Cuba," he added.
Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryThe real reason Biden is going to the COP26 climate summit The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting US can lead on climate action by supporting developing countries MORE marked the passing of Cuba's leader by offering his condolences to the Cuban people and encouraging a "normalization" of bilateral relations with the U.S.
"We extend our condolences to the Cuban people today as they mourn the passing of Fidel Castro. Over more than a half a century, he played an outsized role in their lives, and he influenced the direction of regional, even global affairs," Kerry said in a statement, as reported by ABC News.
"As our two countries continue to move forward on the process of normalization — restoring the economic, diplomatic and cultural ties severed by a troubled past — we do so in a spirit of friendship and with an earnest desire not to ignore history but to write a new and better future for our two peoples," he added.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Castro's death creates a potential for a "new path for Cuba."
"The death of Fidel Castro marks the end of an era for Cuba and the Cuban people. After decades under Fidel’s doctrine of oppression and antagonism, there is hope that a new path for Cuba is opening," Pelosi said in her statement.
Pelosi also lauded the progress made by the Obama administration in repairing the relations between U.S. and Cuba, and expressed a hope that progress will continue under President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE.
"With the bold leadership of President Obama, the U.S. and Cuba have already taken historic steps toward a new, forward-looking relationship between our peoples. We are hopeful this progress will continue under the new Administration," she said.
Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it MORE (R-Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Rubio calls for federal investigation into Amazon employee benefits Senate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September MORE (R-Fla.), both of whom are of Cuban descent, were sharply critical of Castro as well.
Cruz encouraged Americans to remember and honor those who fought the Cuban regime throughout the last five decades, while Rubio said the "dictatorship has not [died]" with Castro.
"Sadly, Fidel Castro's death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted," Rubio said.
Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonIt's time for Fauci to go — but don't expect it to happen Is the Navy totally at sea? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite MORE (R-Ark.) issued a terse two-line rebuke of Castro.
"Fidel Castro created hell on earth for the Cuban people. He will now become intimately familiar with what he wrought," Cotton said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, marked Castro's death by calling for a new chapter in Cuban history.
“The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere,” she said.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) tweeted that Castro's death "marks the end of a long, horrifying chapter in [Cuba's] history," while adding that the Cuban people "need our solidarity."
Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) described Castro's regime as "most corrupt, barbaric dictatorship in the hemisphere." He added that the Castro dictatorship "will be a nightmare of the past."
- Updated at 12:41 p.m.