In an effort to deprive the murderous dictatorship of the American money it needs to oppress its victims, President Donald Trump reversed some of the Obama administration's unilateral concessions to the “brutal” Communist Castro regime in Cuba. “With God’s help,” Trump said in his announcement Friday, a “free Cuba” will soon be achieved. The president's speech and his new policies following through on his campaign pledges were well received by the crowd in Miami, by Cuban dissidents worldwide, and by advocates of a free Cuba in Congress. However, despite the changes, some of Obama's pro-Castro policies remain in place, leading some Trump supporters to hope that this will not be the end of the new administration's efforts to reverse Obama's lifeline to the communist regime enslaving Cuba.
Blasting the “prior administration's terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime,” Trump vowed to expose the crimes of the dictatorship and stand by the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom. Among other problems, Trump pointed out that Obama's Cuba policies helped enrich the Cuban regime, allowing its murderous military to profit directly from U.S. investment and tourism. “The outcome of the last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful, democratic movement,” Trump noted, echoing concerns of Cuban dissidents on both sides of the straits of Florida. “Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”
The new administration's Cuba policy begins with enforcing existing federal law, Trump declared. “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,” he continued, referring to laws passed by Congress that mandate those measures. Among the policy changes, Trump announced a ban on doing business with the regime, which controls the overwhelming majority of “businesses” in Communist Cuba through the Cuban military-controlled Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A., or GAESA. Through that organization, the regime operates everything from hotel chains and car rental companies to supermarkets, airlines, and gas stations.
Trump also spoke directly to the regime. “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. “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.” He also listed some of Castro's victims, reading out their names and honoring their family members in attendance at the ceremony. However, Trump promised that, if the Castro regime would quit harboring fugitives while brutally oppressing the people of Cuba, he would be “ready, willing, and able” to negotiate a better deal for Americans and Cubans.
Some policies put in place by Obama, though, will remain in place, Trump said. For one, Cuban refugees will no longer be able to gain instant asylum by landing on U.S. soil. Trump painted the move as a humanitarian gesture aimed at stopping desperate Cubans from risking their lives and their children to reach U.S. soil. Secondly, Trump announced that the U.S. embassy in Havana, which critics said legitimizes the mass-murdering oppressor of the Cuban people, would remain open “in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path.” American flights and cruise ships will still be allowed to go to Cuba, too. While the U.S. government will respect the national sovereignty of Cuba, “we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people,” Trump added, saying the oppressors of the Cuban people “are rejected.”
“America will always pray and cheer for the freedom of the Cuban people,” he added.
In a June 16 presidential memorandum to his cabinet secretaries and other key officials, Trump also outlined the changes. “The new policy centers on the belief that the oppressed Cuban people — rather than the oppressive Castro regime’s military and its subsidiaries — should benefit from American engagement with the island,” Trump wrote in the memo. “My administration’s policy will be guided by key U.S. national security interests and solidarity with the Cuban people. I will seek to promote a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people. To that end, we must ensure that U.S. funds are not channeled to a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society.” There are also several mentions of encouraging Internet access to the people of Castro's prison island, who are denied any rights to free press or free speech or access to outside information.
Trump also had harsh words for communism generally. “We will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer,” he said. “Many of you witnessed terrible crimes committed in service of a depraved ideology. You saw the dreams of generations held by captive, and just, literally, you look at what happened and what communism has done. You knew faces that disappeared, innocents locked in prisons, and believers persecuted for preaching the word of God. You watched the Women in White bruised, bloodied, and captured on their way from Mass. You have heard the chilling cries of loved ones, or the cracks of firing squads piercing through the ocean breeze.... The exiles and dissidents here today have witnessed communism destroy a nation, just as communism has destroyed every single nation where it has ever been tried.”
In one of the most moving moments of the announcement, Trump told the story of Cuban dissident Luis Haza. His story was tragic, yet inspiring: At the tender age of five, Castro's thugs murdered his father, then a police official, by firing squad, without even a semblance of due process. Haza went on to become a prodigy with the violin. At age 12, the regime ordered him to play a violin solo for a communist meeting led by Raul Castro on national television. He refused the orders from the regime's storm troopers. Finally, the dictatorship sent agents to invade his orchestra practice and order him to play. And so, he did play. But instead of communist songs, he played the Star Spangled Banner. Trump invited Haza on stage to play the American National Anthem again, drawing tears from the audience.
Vice President Mike Pence also offered a stinging rebuke to Castro's brutal tyranny, along with a nod to the God-given rights of every human being enshrined in America's founding documents. “Since the hour of our nation’s birth, the United States has stood for the proposition that all are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Pence said as the audience applauded. “As Americans we believe these rights belong to the entire human family.... Today, President Donald Trump will make it clear that America is with you, that America stands with the persecuted, the oppressed, and the exploited in Cuba — that this nation stands not with tyrants, but today, President Donald Trump will make it clear that the United States of America stands with the courageous men and women of Cuba who seek to reclaim their God-given rights to life and liberty.”
Compared with Obama, who advocated the communist notion of pseudo-“rights” during his shameful trip to bring a lifeline to regime enslaving Communist Cuba, the speeches by Trump and Pence were a breath of fresh air. In fact, Obama literally began his career in the Chicago home of Castro-backed communist terrorist Bill Ayers, so the affinity he seemed to have for the mass-murdering communist regime was hardly surprising. Hopefully, Trump's enforcement of existing federal law will prevent the regime from further enriching itself at taxpayer expense, and from using that American wealth to export communist revolution and terrorism around the globe. But until the subversive elements of the U.S. government and the Western establishment that put Castro into power are exposed and brought to justice, liberty will not be safe anywhere, even in America. It is time for truth and justice in Cuba policy, and that must begin at home.
Photo of President Trump in Miami, June 16, 2017: Sipa via AP Images