After waffling initially, the president-elect says he will “terminate” President Obama’s deal if Cuban policy does not open up as he sees fit.
In what cannot be a surprise to anyone, President-elect Donald Trump said (or in fact Tweeted) that he will reverse the executive action President Obama has taken as it relates to opening up relations with Cuba if the nation does not make reforms to his liking.
“If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump tweeted.
Trump is pledging to follow through on a campaign promise to undo Obama’s decision to open diplomatic and commercial ties with Cuba if the communist government doesn’t adopt changes. Trump can erase nearly all of Obama’s Cuba policies himself, since they were made by executive action and not an act of Congress.
The statement comes less than three days after the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in which Trump crassly tweeted “Fidel Castro is dead!”
Initially, Trump released a statement on Saturday marking the longtime U.S. adversary’s passing, in which his rhetoric on policy was not as clear.
“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve,” the president-elect said.
Trump’s top aides gave conflicting messages in the days after Castro’s death on Saturday. Incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday he was willing to cancel Obama’s Cuba opening, while top aide Kellyanne Conway indicated a decision has not been made, reports The Hill.
President Obama released a statement on Castro’s death on Saturday which was criticized by Republican politicians, especially those from Florida where there is a sizable Cuban-American populace driven out by Castro’s revolution in January 1959:
At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans—in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.
For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends—bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.
Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.