In a powerful anti-communism speech in Miami this week, President Donald Trump praised victims of communism before officially reversing former President Barack Obama’s “normalization” policy towards Cuba.
Trump first listed and applauded several Cuban dissidents who courageously opposed communism, even in the face of danger and prison. He then signed his new policy towards Cuba, which enforces a ban on tourism and the decades-old U.S. embargo of the country, and aims to ensure that any aid from the U.S. would go directly to the Cuban people.
“Last year, I promised to be a voice against repression. You went out and you voted, and here I am,” Trump told the audience Friday, according to Breitbart. “Now that I am president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime… Now we hold the cards.”
Trump vowed to use those cards to put pressure on the communist government that has harbored “cop killers, hijackers and terrorists,” and has “shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela.”
His administration’s policy toward Cuba would require the Castro regime to “put an end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic freedoms, return the fugitives from American justice, including the return of the cop killer Joanne Chesimard” before America would be open to a deal.
In crafting the strong new Cuban policy — which completely destroyed former President Barack Obama’s — Trump worked closely with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose parents fled island country.
“I am confident that I will be very pleased with what the president will announce Friday,” Rubio said earlier in the week, according to the Naples Daily News. “I want to support the Cuban people and their aspirations for economic and political freedom, and I always have been.”
In particular, the new policy largely reflected rules the senator proposed in a 2015 bill to ensure that any increase in U.S. resources to Cuba be given directly to the Cuban people by prohibiting financial transactions with the Castro regime’s military and security services. This would help ensure that Cubans can “open private businesses and begin to build their country’s future,” Trump said in his speech.
Rubio was present at Trump’s event, along with U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balar, a Miami Republican who also played a role in shaping the president’s new policy. The senator took to the podium before Trump to outline the stark differences between Trump’s approach to Cuba as compared to Obama’s, according to the Washington Examiner.
He told the audience how significant it was that when Trump’s plane landed in Miami, he was greeted by dissidents, freedom fighters and others who had suffered greatly in the hands of the communist, repressive Cuban regime.
“A year and a half ago, a president, an American president, landed in Havana, to outstretch his hand to a regime,” Rubio said. “Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba.”
Trump followed up with a passionate address to the victims of communism in Cuba and around the world, thanking them for being a “voice for the voiceless” and vowing to hold Castro’s feet to the fire.
“This is the simple truth of the Castro regime: My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it, and we will never, ever be blind to it. We know what is going on and we remember what happened,” Trump promised.
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