The Obama administration continues to avoid condemning Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s atrocities, as the president pursues his ongoing attempt to normalize relations with Communist Cuba. During the White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest described Castro as a “towering figure.”
“He obviously is a towering figure who had a profound impact on the history of not just his country but the Western hemisphere,” Earnest replied, when asked about Castro’s record on human rights.
Earnest specifically referred to the “kinds of activities” that Castro committed while in power and insisted that the White House was not “whitewashing” his record.
He praised President Barack Obama’s efforts to thaw the United States relationship with Cuba, in an effort to end a period of isolation between the two countries.
“I think the question for the president is in terms of making policy: Are we going to be rooted in that past? Or are we going to look to the future?” Earnest said. “Doesn’t mean that we should ignore the past but it does mean that we can’t let the past interfere with the ability to make progress.”
He argued that critics of the president’s statement offering the Castro family “condolences” after the dictator’s death were merely critics of his attempt to normalize relations with Cuba.
Earnest would not rule out a U.S. delegation from attending Castro’s funeral, but confirmed that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden would not attend.
He did not rule out Secretary of State John Kerry attending.