By Roberta Rampton
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Nov 26 – U.S. Republican President-elect Donald Trump gave his first reaction to the death of Fidel Castro on Saturday, saying on Twitter, “Fidel Castro is dead!”, without elaborating.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, threatened during his campaign that concerns about religious freedom in Cuba could prompt him to reverse President Barack Obama’s moves to open relations with Cold War adversary Cuba after more than a half-century’s estrangement.
Republicans closely await what Trump – a billionaire businessman known for his unconventional approach to politics and policy – will do on Cuba once he takes office.
A bloc of mostly Republican Cuban-American lawmakers has worked to keep tight restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba for years. Some U.S. Republican lawmakers broke with party orthodoxy to back Obama’s reforms, drawn by the economic benefits of restoring ties.
But many have chafed against the changes, saying Cuba’s government was still too repressive to ease restrictions.
Republican Ed Royce, the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Saturday that Castro left a legacy of “repression at home, and support for terrorism abroad.”
“Sadly, Raul Castro is no better for Cubans who yearn for freedom,” Royce said in a statement, referring to Fidel’s younger brother, who has led the country since 2008.