The Death of One Man…The Diplomatic Contrast of Two


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Fidel Castro is dead!

That is a rather curt and direct quote from the Twitter feed of President-elect Donald Trump in the hours after Castro’s passing.


This got me to thinking about the diplomatic contrast we may soon see between the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama and the incoming one of soon-to-be President Trump.

If you don’t mind a bit of reading…allow me to demonstrate.

Both men released statements on Castro’s death.   President Obama’s reads:

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. 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. History will record and 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. 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. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.

Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.

Positive and hopeful in tone…expressing support for the Cuban people while not completely hiding the truth that was Castro’s tyrannical rule of the island nation.

The following is the statement from the President-elect

“Today, the world marks 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.

 “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.

“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.  I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

In my opinion..two things are wrong with this statement.  First, the negativity it begins with (while historically true) strikes a callous tone that hasn’t been emblematic of the U.S. Also, the President-elect is — by appealing to the people who “endorsed me” — is going against his election night pledge of being a President for all people.  Most statements from Republicans I’ve seen have adopted the ‘name-calling first, consolation second’ approach.

No one is denying the impact of the ‘boot’ that Castro once ruled the Cuban people with.  However..the tone of progress that the United States can strike with our words and efforts to strengthen ties can leave a lasting impression.  That’s something the new administration should think about.

As of now..Cuba has scheduled nine days of mourning and a cross-nation tour of Castro’s remains from Havana to Santiago.


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