Cuban-American leaders, dissidents urge Trump to get tough with Castro
By Elizabeth Llorente Published November 16, 2016
Cuban-American leaders and human rights activists within the island
nation are hoping that the incoming Trump administration will scale back
President Obama's efforts to restore relations between the two
countries, measures they say emboldened the communist regime and brought
the U.S. little in return.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who sits on the Foreign Relations
Committee, said that a top priority for him next year will be to roll
back sweeping changes President Obama implemented that significantly
eased trade and travel restrictions. Rubio, like many Cuban-Americans
who have opposed the normalization of relations, said Obama's overtures
to the Cuban government have not yielded the hoped-for reforms.
"By any objective measure, President Obama's unilateral policy changes
have failed, and they are not in the best interest of the American
people or the people of Cuba," Rubio said in a statement. "Rolling back
President Obama's one-sided concessions to the Castro regime, a key
campaign promise shared with President-elect Trump, will be a top
priority for me next year."
Rubio met on Tuesday with Guillermo Farinas, one of Cuba's most
prominent human rights activists, during the dissident's visit to
Washington D.C. Farinas, who has been jailed numerous times by Cuban
authorities, has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration's
surprise decision two years ago to normalize relations with the Cuban
government after more than a half-century of hostilities between the two
Farinas and other dissidents, as well as some international human rights
organizations, say the Cuban government continues to oppress its
critics. Farinas went on a month-long hunger strike earlier this year
after he was detained and beaten by Cuban authorities when he asked
about a fellow dissident who had been arrested. Farinas, who was in New
York Wednesday to meet with Samantha Power, the United States ambassador
to the United Nations, told FoxNews.com Obama's U.S.-Cuba policy
betrayed the cause of human rights.
"I have faith that President Trump will be better for the people of Cuba
and press the cause of freedom and democracy," Farinas said. "Let's just
say no one can possibly be worse than Barack Obama has been for our cause."
During the GOP primary, Trump signaled support for thawed relations,
provided the Cuban government reformed its approach to human rights.
After he won the nomination, Trump addressed the issue again in Miami,
assailing Obama's approach to Cuba.
"All of the concessions Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were
done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse
them," he said, adding that he intended to "unless the Castro regime
meets our demands."
Top officials of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), one of
the oldest and most influential anti-Castro organizations, say they are
lobbying members of Trump's transition team for a meeting with the
"We want Donald Trump to understand the reality of the situation faced
by Cubans in Cuba," CANF co-founder Jose "Pepe" Hernandez, a Bay of Pigs
veteran, told FoxNews.com. "We want a U.S.-Cuba policy that will bring
Other Cuban-American groups pressed Trump before he sealed the
nomination. Brigade 2506, Miami-based veterans of the Bay of Pigs
invasion, endorsed Trump for president, the first endorsement in the
organization's 55-year history.
"For Donald Trump, it was a great honor to be recognized by the
brigade," said Helen Aguirre Ferré, a spokeswoman for the Republican
National Committee. "He was deeply moved by it. This is an important
issue to him, he has said you can't negotiate with human rights."
Rubio is not the only lawmaker waiting to see what Trump will do
regarding Cuba. Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who
supported Hillary Clinton and also sits on the Foreign Relations
Committee, told FoxNews.com that he does not know quite what to expect
from a Trump administration.
"It depends on which Donald Trump shows up," Menendez said. "The Donald
Trump who said earlier in his campaign that he thinks it was good to
engage Cuba, or the Donald Trump toward the end of the campaign who said
he'd consider rolling back much of what Obama did unless there's
advantage for the Cuban people."
Elizabeth Llorente is the Politics Editor/Senior Reporter for Fox News
Latino, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnewslatino.com.
Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente
Source: Cuban-American leaders, dissidents urge Trump to get tough with
Castro regime | Fox News -