Incoming US president Donald Trump hopes the death of "brutal dictator" Fidel Castro would mark a freer future for Cuba. His vice-president nominee Mike Pence was equally scathing, calling Castro a "tyrant".

Trump condemned the Cuban revolutionary shortly after his initial four-word tweet which bluntly read: "Fidel Castro is dead". In what could potentially be a signal for future US-Cuba ties, Trump – who has strongly criticised the Obama administration's rapprochement with Havana – weighed in on Castro's death.

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

"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."

Trump continued: "Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty."

The death of Castro, who survived numerous US assassination plots, was announced by the sitting Cuban president and the younger brother of Castro, Raul. While Castro's supporters hail him as a revolutionary leader returning Cuba to its own people since coming to power in 1959, critics call him an authoritarian. US-Cuba diplomatic relations remained frozen since 1961 but President Barack Obama embarked on reviving the ties in 2015.

During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to roll back the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts with Cuba. Shortly after Trump released a detailed statement on Castro's death, Pence wrote in a tweet: "The tyrant Castro is dead. New hope dawns. We will stand with the oppressed Cuban people for a free and democratic Cuba. Viva Cuba Libre!"

Obama's statement on Castro's death was markedly different from Trump's when he said history would "record and judge the enormous impact" of Castro on Cubans.