(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he is rescinding former President Barack Obama’s executive order opening up trade and travel to Cuba, calling it “terrible,” “one-sided,” and “misguided.
“It’s hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime,” Trump said. “Well you have to say the Iran regime was pretty bad also in all fairness. Let’s not forget that beauty.”
The president said that during his recent overseas trip, he said the U.S. will adopt “a principled realism rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense.” He also said during that trip that “countries should take responsibility for creating stability in their own regions.”
Trump said the Cuban people suffered under almost six decades of “communist domination.”
“To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores. The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela,” he said.
“While imprisoning innocents, it has harbored cop killers, hijackers, and terrorists. It has supported human trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation all around the globe. This is the simple truth of the Castro regime. My administration will not hide from it, excuse it or glamorize it. We will never, ever be blind to it. We know what’s going on, and we remember what happened,” Trump said.
The president said he was making good on a campaign promise to “be a voice against repression” and “a voice for the Cuban people.”
“You went out and you voted, and here I am like I promised,” he said, adding, “Now that I am your president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime and stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom.”
Trump said Obama’s easing of restrictions on Cuba “does not help the Cuban people” - it only enriches the Cuban regime.
“The profits from investment and tourism flow directly to the military. The regime takes the money and owns the industry. The outcome of last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful democratic movement. Therefore, effective immediately, I am cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump said.
“I am announcing today a new policy, just as I promised during the campaign, and I will be signing that contract right at that table in just a moment,” he said. “Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America.
“We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba. Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law. We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime 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,” Trump said.
The president promised to “strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security, and intelligence services that are the core of the Castro regime.”
“We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo. We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country’s great, great future, a country of great potential,” he said.
“My action today bypasses the military and the government to help the Cuban people themselves form businesses and pursue much better lives. We will keep in place the safeguards to prevent Cubans from risking their lives to unlawful travel to the United States. They are in such danger the way they have to come to this country, and we are going to be safeguarding those people,” Trump said.
He challenged Cuba to “come to the table with a new agreement that is in the best interest of both their people and our people and also of Cuban Americans.”
“To the Cuban government, I say 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,” Trump said. Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, was a member of the Black Liberation Army. She was convicted in 1977 of the execution-style murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. Chesimard is listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.
“And finally, hand over the Cuban military criminals who shot down and killed four brave members of Brothers to the Rescue, who were in unarmed, small, slow civilian planes,” Trump said. “Those victims included: Mario de la Pena Jr., and Carlos Costa.” De la Pena’s parents and Costa’s sister were on hand in Miami during Trump’s announcement.
According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, Trump is changing U.S. policy towards Cuba to achieve four objectives: “Enhance compliance with United States law—in particular the provisions that govern the embargo of Cuba and the ban on tourism; Hold the Cuban regime accountable for oppression and human rights abuses ignored under the Obama policy; Further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and those of the Cuban people; and Lay the groundwork for empowering the Cuban people to develop greater economic and political liberty.”
“The policy enhances travel restrictions to better enforce the statutory ban on United States tourism to Cuba,” the fact sheet stated. Travel for non-academic educational reasons will be limited to group travel. It bans “self-directed, individual travel” that the Obama administration’s executive order had allowed.
Meanwhile, Cuban-Americans will be able to continue to visit their loved ones in Cuba and send them remittances.
The policy memo directs the Treasury and Commerce Departments to begin the process of issuing new regulations within 30 days.