MIAMI — President Donald Trump has announced a series of changes to the Obama-era Cuba policy and is challenging the Cuban government to negotiate a better deal.
Trump said in a speech in Miami that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respects the Cuban people’s right to freedom of assembly and expression.
Trump is also calling for the legalization of all political parties, and free and internationally supervised elections.
The president says his new policy will also restrict the flow of American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of the government led by Raul Castro.
He has challenged Cuba to “come to the table” to strike a deal that serves both country’s interests
The changes provoked a sharp response from Sen. Jeff Flake.
The Arizona Republican says any policy change “that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people.”
Flake, a frequent critic of Trump during the presidential campaign, has been among the most outspoken lawmakers opposed to rolling back the Obama-era detente with Havana. Flake has warned that returning to a “get tough” policy that isolates the island would hurt everyday Cubans whose livelihoods are increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.
He’s calling on the Senate’s GOP leadership to allow a vote on his legislation that would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents. The bill has 54 co-sponsors.