President Trump has been busy overseas, but his agenda remains focused on the domestic issues that are more important now than ever before to an American Commander-in-Chief. With the blessing of former Primary opponent Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) the president has moved forward on enacting new legislation that will effectively roll back the former president’s policies on Cuba.
Two sources told TheDC that the development is due to the behind-the-scenes efforts of Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
This information coming from an anti-embargo group, which spoke on the condition of anonymity, was confirmed Sunday by John Kavulich of the nonpartisan U.S. – Cuba Trade and Economic Council. “The Trump Administration has been ‘ready’ since February 2017 to announce changes, but issues unrelated to Cuba have intervened,” Kavulich said.
Former President Obama worked to enact several changes to Cuban policy during his tenure in office. He ended the policy known as “wet foot, dry foot” that gave Cuban illegal immigrants a path to legal status, opened travel to the island nation, re-established diplomatic relations and loosened restrictions on doing business in the country.
These moves were applauded along bipartisan lines, but Cuban hardliners weren’t pleased. Trump himself has been on both sides of the issue. He told TheDC in 2015 that the “concept of opening with Cuba is fine,” but on the campaign trail he threatened to “terminate” deals that the Obama administration made with Cuba.
The campaign trail rhetoric carried over into the administration, as Trump said in a February press conference that he has “very similar views” on Cuba as Sen. Rubio.
Over the past few months, the Trump administration has opened a full examination of the Cuban policies and how they have impacted the American economy, as well as the security and safety of our citizenry. Just a little over a year ago, a Cuban refugee, Miguel Moran Diaz, was arrested in Miami after expressing sympathy with ISIS on Facebook and posting photos of himself posing with an assault rifle and commenting how a sniper loose in the city could sow chaos before being caught.
In his judgment, US Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley wrote that “…Díaz could not go free because he was a danger to the community.”
Furthermore, the judge exhaustively considered the alternative of letting Diaz free on bail:
McAliley cited 12 reasons why Díaz should stay in detention pending trial including his interest in ISIS, his possession of a sophisticated rifle with a collapsible stock that could be smuggled into a stadium, his interest in buying more weapons, and the fact he had actually conducted surveillance on a Homeland Security building in Miramar as a possible target for a “possible terrorist attack.”
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) begs to differ, however, on altering any Cuban policy. His argument, though possibly sincere and not driven by his Never Trumper attitude, misses the point completely as to why this open borders policy with Cuba is dangerous.
“Recognizing the inherent right of Americans to travel to Cuba isn’t a concession to dictators, it is an expression of freedom,” Sen. Flake said in a statement. “It is Americans who are penalized by our travel ban, not the Cuban government.”
This is not about the freedom to travel as much as it remains to be about safety and what is right. The Cuban government removes the rights of its own people and has been operating under that heavy-handed approach since the 1950s. Flake labors under the perception that Americans deserve tourism to a country where human rights violations are as common as Cuba Libre and cigars. A tough stance eventually wore down the Soviet Union. A gelid reminder of the way things used to be pre-Obama may just bring the new Castro regime to the table.