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President Trump On Revised Cuba Policy: We Now Hold The Cards

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — President Donald Trump addressed a crowd in Miami to announce a rollback of some of the policies that eased relations between the United States and Cuba.

“Now that I’m your president, I’ll expose the crimes of the Castro regime and stand with the Cuban people in their struggle,” Trump said to a cheering crowd in Little Havana. “We will enforce the ban of tourism. We will enforce the embargo.”

“We now hold the cards. The previous administration’s easing of restrictions of travel and trade do not help the Cuban people. The only enrich the Cuban regime,” Trump added.

The move is seen as a way to put more pressure on the Castro regime.

Trump’s new policy channels economic activity away from the Cuban military, restores the individual travel ban, and calls on Cuba to foster political and economic freedoms, among other demands, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported. Cuban-Americans, however, can still visit family.

“We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba,” Trump said. “I say to the Castro regime, ‘The harboring of criminals will end. You have no choice.'”

“Many of you witnessed crimes committed in service to a depraved ideology,” Trump added. “You saw the dreams of generations held captive, and 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 women in white bloody, bruised 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. Not a good sound.”

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, the flags of Cuba and the United States were flying in Jose Marti park in Union City; just one of many places where discussion centered on the decision to restore the travel ban.

“I like the president, but I want him to leave Cuba alone,” Emilio Perez said.

In bakeries and restaurants in Union City, Cuban Americans had a lot to say about the re-imposition of the ban.

“I don’t want to travel over there, until no more communist system there,” Fidel Gonzalez said.

They also had something to say about the president’s insistence on holding Cuba accountable for decades of repression.

“My personal feeling is that any dealings with the communist regime under Castro is unacceptable,” Lucy Portela said, “I am not against the new regulations under Trump.”

Leo Calvo disagreed.

“We want the best for Cuba. This isn’t helping the Cuban people. We need to show them democracy, show them all the great things that America has to offer,” he said.

“We just got the tickets to go to Cuba next month. I hope nothing changes,” Digna Barro said.

Trump also demanded that Cuba return of Joanne Chesimard, a woman convicted in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Chesimard was convicted in 1977 in the death of Trooper Werner Foerster. He was killed during a gunfight after a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.

Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison but escaped in November 1979 and eventually traveled to Cuba. Fidel Castro granted her asylum and she has been living under the name Assata Shakur.

“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction to reverse an ill-advised and misguided Cuba policy that has failed to deliver on its promises, left the Cuban people worse off, and allowed American fugitives, like wanted terrorist and cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, to escape justice,” said Sen. Bob Menendez. “I have continued to press both the Obama and Trump Administrations for the return of Joanne Chesimard, and am pleased that the president today made her return—in clear and absolute terms, as I have insisted—contingent upon any further U.S. engagement in Cuba.”

Gov. Chris Christie has urged the Trump administration to make Chesimard’s return to the United States part of any change in Cuba policy.

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