Donald Trump was the first of the two men to react, though the response was a four-word gut-reaction tweet a few minutes after 8am: “Fidel Castro is dead!”
A fuller response came nearly three hours later, and took the form of a full-throated condemnation of human rights abuses by the Castro regime.
“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” an official Trump statement said. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
Barack Obama’s statement, issued through the White House press office, came a little after 10am and was cautious and lawyerly, devoid of criticism or praise.
“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” the president 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.
“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
IT’S NOT CONFIRMED YET BUT WE TOTALLY EXPECT OBAMA TO VISIT CUBA AGAIN FOR CASTRO’S FUNERAL!
Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban American and onetime Republican presidential candidate from Florida, where the news was greeted by many as a cause for celebration, said: “Fidel Castro seized power promising to bring freedom and prosperity to Cuba, but his communist regime turned it into an impoverished island prison.