“Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.” These were the opening lines of Barack Obama’s announcement of his plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba back in December of 2014. Those words could have also opened President Trump’s speech on Friday where he announced plans to roll back some of the changes set forth by the Obama administration.
“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime,” President Trump proclaimed, "until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”
These plans come just weeks after the bipartisan coalition consisting of US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced legislation that would lift the Cuban trade embargo.
Jim McGovern (D-MA), who has also led bipartisan efforts in support of President Obama’s endeavors to open the door for closer relations with the nation of Cuba, released this statement on the US-Cuba policy changes prior to Donald Trump’s announcement.
"President Trump's refusal to listen to the calls of business leaders and the American people to continue to strengthen US-Cuba relations is simply stunning,” McGovern claimed, “President Trump is caving to the demands of a handful of hardliners in Congress and this will only bolster the position of hardliners in Cuba.”
Three of these so-called “hardliners” are likely Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who have been very critical of Obama’s US-Cuba efforts. The team has introduced bipartisan legislation to rename the street in front of the Cuban Embassy to "Oswaldo Payá Way." Soon after the announcement, Rubio took to the major TV networks to show support for the President’s decision and penned an Op-Ed alongside Robert Menendez and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) for the Miami Herald.
Senator Cruz also released a statement soon after Trump’s speech. "Today's Cuba actions by the Trump administration are an important step in the right direction," he added, “I commend President Trump for a positive step toward cutting off U.S. funds from going to the Cuban military.”
Flake, Klobuchar, Leahy, and other critics of these changes have since voiced their concerns. Click here to read the latest statements about US-Cuba relations from those mentioned above and others.
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