Fox News, By Serafín Gómez
President Trump will head to Miami on Friday, home to a large and influential Cuban-American community, to unveil his administration’s new Cuba policy — which will roll back central parts of his predecessor’s efforts to normalize ties with the Communist island nation, according to a senior administration official and other sources.
While details on the changes to the policy have yet to be fully revealed, a U.S. official suggested that Trump would call for Cuban President Raul Castro to push for more political freedom and to release democratic activists in Cuban prisons, among other initiatives.
Trump is at the same time expected to announce a reversal in some areas of former President Barack Obama’s previous steps toward normalizing relations including the opening of embassies between the two countries and the easing of flight restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba.
The final actions have not been set as the review over the specifics of the plan continues. However, there will likely be steps in restricting travel from the U.S. to Cuba; there are now daily flights from Florida to Cuba. Another directive being weighed is taking steps to limit American companies from dealing with businesses owned by the Cuban military, U.S. sources confirm to Fox News.
While campaigning in Miami during a stop in September of 2016, then-Republican presidential nominee Trump hinted at such a move, tying it to demands on the Cuban government.
“All of the concessions Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order which means our next president can reverse them,“ Trump said. “And that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands.”
“Those demands include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people, and the freeing of political prisoners,” Trump added.
Key Republican lawmakers Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, both Cuban-Americans from Florida, have been directly involved in working with the White House on the new Cuba policy, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
Rubio, who opposed Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, has worked “diligently behind the scenes” with the administration to develop the approach, said a source directly involved in the policy discussions.
“I am confident the president will keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and which advance the Cuban people’s aspirations for economic and political liberty,” Rubio said in a statement.
A senior Rubio adviser previewed what may be represented during Friday’s Trump Cuba policy rollout, including that the new approach would have to be in compliance with the “statutory provisions passed by Congress which govern US-Cuba policy.”
The aide also stressed that the new Cuba policy would be in the best interest of U.S. foreign policy and national security.
Part of the focus is to also encourage the emerging generation of Cuban leaders to take the reigns after Raul Castro steps down in 2018, as he publicly stated he would.
“Raul Castro and his closest advisors are mostly in their 80’s,” the senior aide told Fox News, stressing they are focusing on the “long term.”
“Cuba will soon have a new generation of leaders, one way or another. These policy measures are designed to lay the groundwork for them to empower the Cuban people to develop greater economic and ultimately political liberty.”