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Fidel Castro's Death

Fidel Castro Is Dead!’ Trump Tweets, Attacks Legacy as a ‘Brutal Dictator’

What does Fidel Castro's death mean for US relations with Cuba? 1:54

The death of Cuba's longtime dictator initially prompted only a terse, four-word response from America's president-elect: "Fidel Castro is dead!" Donald Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

Image: Trump tweets about Castro's death
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted about Fidel Castro's death. @realDonaldTrump via Twitter

Hours later, he put out a full statement railing against Castro as a "brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades" — a scathing rebuke in stark contrast to President Barack Obama's more muted response.

"Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights," Trump said.

Related: Obama, World Leaders React to Death of Cuban Dictator

"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," he added.

Obama didn't detail Castro's divisive rule, criticisms of the nation's human rights record or how he was vilified by many of his own people who fled the communist regime. Instead, he offered condolences to the Cuban people and said: "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."

Cuban-Americans celebrate Fidel Castro's death 4:01

And it may be telling of how Trump plans to govern when it comes to the small island nation less than 100 miles south of Florida.

Restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba has been a capstone of the Obama administration's foreign policy initiatives. Trump has said he wants to close the travel and commerce lines between the two nations that Obama reopened in the last year after a half-century of embargoes.

PHOTOS: Cheers in Miami, Tears in Moscow: World Reacts to Castro's Death

And because Obama thawed relations with Cuba through executive action, if Trump wants to follow through on campaign promises that he will return Cuba's stance with the U.S. to where it was before, he technically has the ability to do so.

"All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them and that I will do, unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Miami in September. “Not my demands, our demands. You know what the demands are. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners."

Fidel Castro's death could impact Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state 1:29

The changes under Obama included allowing direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba and lifting some trade restrictions.

Castro's death comes as Trump looks to fill his secretary of state position. Both of the top contenders, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, largely share Trump's view on Cuba.

Whether Trump will actually repeal all of Obama's executive orders isn't clear. A couple weeks prior to the election, he appeared to soften his stance, conceding he wouldn't cut diplomatic ties altogether.

Related: Attention Travelers: The Limit on Cuban Cigars and Rum is History

"The agreement President Obama signed is a very weak agreement. We get nothing. The people of Cuba get nothing and I would do whatever is necessary to get a good agreement. An agreement is fine. It has to be a strong, good agreement that’s good for the Cuban people," he told the local CBS affiliate in Miami.

Castro toppled Cuba's government in 1959, and was a thorn in the side of 11 U.S. presidents. He officially ceded power to his brother, Raul, in 2008. Raul Castro has welcomed the economic changes implemented by Obama.