MIAMI – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed at a campaign event in Miami that he would end the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations unless President Raul Castro’s government allows “religious and political freedom” on the island.
During a speech Friday at the James L. Knight Center auditorium in downtown Miami, the real-estate mogul promised he would “stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression.”
“All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done with executive order, which means the next president can reverse them. And that is what I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” Trump said.
“Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners,” the candidate told the crowd in Miami, which is home to a large community of exiles from the communist-ruled island.
Earlier in his campaign, Trump had expressed support for the diplomatic thaw between the former Cold War enemies, which in December 2014 announced the start of the process of normalizing relations.
He has maintained, however, that the Obama administration should have made a better deal.
On July 20, 2015, the United States and Cuba culminated the initial stage of their bilateral thaw by reopening embassies in each other’s capitals.
The thaw also has included steps by the White House to make it easier for American citizens to travel to and do business with Cuba and the removal of the island from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list.
But a ban on tourist visits to Cuba by American citizens and on most forms of trade is still in place under the 54-year-old U.S. economic embargo of the Caribbean island, which only Congress can lift.