On Tuesday, the White House clarified how President Obama will handle the funeral on Sunday for tyrannical communist dictator Fidel Castro: he will not be sending an "official delegation"; instead, he will unofficially send two diplomats.
The "clarification" was provided by White House press secretary Josh Earnest during a press conference Tuesday. To handle the "complicated" situation, said Earnest, Obama has decided to send Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Ambassador Jeff DeLaurentis, the administration’s leading diplomats in Cuba, instead of a formal delegation.
Sending the two diplomats, said Earnest, is "an appropriate way to show respect" to the fallen dictator and the oppressive regime he helped install. Having some presence there—though not officially—was important to demonstrate America's "ongoing, future-oriented relationship with the Cuban people."
"Obviously, so much of the diplomatic relationship with Cuba is quite complicated," admitted Earnest. "We continue to have some significant concerns about the way the Cuban government operates, including protecting the basic human rights of the Cuban people."
On Monday, Earnest followed the lead of the president by offering a politically sanitized statement on Castro's legacy of human rights violations, describing the dictator as a "towering figure" whose "activities" did not always match up with the values of America. While Earnest said Castro's despotic actions should not be "whitewashed," he argued that the president's actions cannot be "rooted in that past."
"It doesn’t mean that we should ignore the past, but it does mean that we can’t let the past interfere with our ability to make progress," he said.
One politician who has been particularly unimpressed with the Obama administration's handling of the death of Castro is Florida Republican Marco Rubio, who made no bones about his opinion of Obama's "pathetic" response:
Partial transcript via AP, USA Today. Top image (Getty Images): US President Barack Obama (C) attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Jose Marti monument in the Revolution Palace of Havana next to the Vice-President of the Cuban Council Salvador Valdes Mesa (C-R) on March 21, 2016.