MIAMI – President Barack Obama offered his condolences to Fidel Castro's family on Saturday.
In a statement, Obama said he extended a "hand of friendship" and reaffirmed that Cubans have "a friend and a partner" in the U.S.
Obama said he knows "that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation."
Obama did not pass judgment on how Castro's rule affected Miami's Cuban exile community for generations. Instead, he said, "history will record and judge" Castro's impact.
Obama also said his new policy pushes to "put the past behind us" and by easing financial, travel and trade restrictions promote freedom on the island.
"This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who are deeply about their loved ones in Cuba," Obama said.
President-elect Donald Trump said he plans on reversing those changes. But Obama wants to make these changes "irreversible" before Trump takes office in January.