Neither President Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden will attend the funeral of Fidel Castro, which will be held Dec. 4, the White House confirmed on Monday.
Over the weekend Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and other GOP lawmakers called on the president and other high level officials to skip the funeral.
“I would hope they would send no one to the funeral,” Rubio said on Fox News Saturday.
While Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in a tweet that “under no circumstance” should Obama, Biden, or Secretary of State John Kerry attend, noting that “he was a tyrant.”
Obama faced criticism for issuing a relatively anodyne statement on Castro’s death, saying the former leader “altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.”
“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” he wrote.
Earnest pushed back on that criticism, saying that the president’s policy of openness toward Cuba is the best way to force the country to make reforms and expand freedoms for its people.
“There certainly is no whitewashing the kinds of activities that he ordered and that his government presided over that go against the very values that our country has long defended,” the spokesman told reporters.
The question for the U.S. president, he said, is “are we going to be rooted in that past or are we going to look to the future?”
Earnest told reporters to “stay tuned” for details about who the U.S. would be sending—if anyone went at all.