Several Republicans insist: U.S. government officials must avoid Castro’s funeral

Printed from: – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Republicans urging the Obama administration to steer clear of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s funeral.

“It’s going to be an interesting test just in the next few days,” Cruz told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I very much hope that we don’t see any U.S. government officials going to Fidel Castro’s funeral. I hope we don’t see Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Democrats lining up to lionize a murderous tyrant and thug.

“If you wouldn’t go to Pol Pot’s funeral or Stalin’s funeral or Mao’s funeral because they were murdering Communist dictators, then you shouldn’t be doing what Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau are doing, which is celebrating Fidel Castro, a murderous communist dictator,” Cruz — the son of a Cuban immigrant — said.

In a statement issued Saturday, President Obama said Castro’s death fills Cubans “with powerful emotions.” The president also mentioned “the countless ways” in which Castro “altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.” While “history” will judge Castro’s “enormous impact,” Obama offered “condolences to Fidel Castro’s family” and “thoughts and prayers” for the Cuban people.

“[T]he Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America,” Obama said.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, the former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a Cuban refugee, called Castro a tyrant, a dictator, a thug — a murderous, sadistic killer.”

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, the congresswoman noted that she represents a district containing many victims of Castro’s oppression.

“And all of them are shocked with the world leaders’ reactions — (Canadian Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau talking about what a great orator Fidel Castro was. Good God, this was a man who murdered people and who to his very last breath  was still an enemy of the United States. And his brother is just the same. You know the saying, ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.'”

Fidel Castro, citing his failing health, named his brother Raul to succeed him as dictator in 2008. In December 2014, President Obama announced that the U.S. would end its “outdated approach” to Cuba, and would “begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”

Ros-Lehtinen said Obama has “a lot of personal legacy invested” in his Cuba policy, and that may be why his statement on Fidel Castro’s death neglected to mention Castro’s terrible human rights record.

“It makes us sick to see the world leaders’ reactions,” she said. “I hope that President Obama does not send himself or a delegation to this tyrant’s funeral.”

Gingrich tweeted on Saturday, “Under no circumstance should President Obama or VP Biden or Secstate Kerry go to Cuba for Castro’s funeral. He was a tyrant.”

President Obama visited Cuba with his family in March 2016, standing side by side with Raul Castro at a news conference.

Obama told reporters he “made it clear” to Castro “that the United States will continue to speak up on behalf of democracy…and universal human rights, including freedom of speech, and assembly, and religion.”

Obama noted that Raul Castro “has also addressed what he views as shortcomings in the United States around basic needs for people, and poverty and inequality and race relations. “