ABC News(NEW YORK) — President-elect Donald Trump threatened Monday to reverse President Obama’s moves to ease relations between the United States and Cuba unless Cuba makes “a better deal.”
During the campaign, Trump said he planned to roll back Obama’s executive actions on Cuba, which include allowing direct flights between the two countries and lifting restrictions on cigars and rum imports, unless the Cuban government grants more political freedom to its people.
“All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them, and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Miami on Sept. 16. “Not my demands, our demands. You know what the demands are. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”
The president-elect’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said Sunday that Trump intends to follow through on his pledge to roll back Obama’s easing of relations with the island nation if there are not changes by its government.
“I think President-elect Trump has been pretty clear,” Priebus said on Fox News Sunday. “There’s nothing wrong with talking to people. He’s been willing to talk to anybody, but we’ve got to have a better deal. We’re not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the United States without some changes in their government.”
“He’s already said that is going to be the case and what the deal is, is to be determined,” Priebus said.
Trump was among the first major U.S. figures to comment on former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s death, tweeting early Saturday morning: “Fidel Castro is dead!”
The president-elect later released an official statement calling Castro a “brutal dictator,” leaving little doubt how he felt about his leadership.
“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Trump’s statement began. “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. Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”
Obama’s statement on Castro’s death struck a different tone, emphasizing the United States’ friendship toward the Cuban people and saying of Castro that, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
The president’s words drew a sharp rebuke by some Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who called it a “pathetic” statement that failed to mention the thousands of people killed and imprisoned by Castro.
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