Trump to reveal Cuba policy in Miami next Friday
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI
President Donald Trump will travel to Miami next Friday to announce his
administration's changes to U.S.-Cuba policy, a source with knowledge of
the president's plans told the Miami Herald.
The location for the event is still in the works. But scheduling the
trip indicates the Cuba policy, which has been undergoing drafts for
several weeks, will be imminently finalized. And deciding to unveil the
policy in Miami suggests it will please the hardline Cuban exiles whose
support Trump considered significant to winning Florida, and the presidency.
Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to attend. He will already be
in town for a Central America conference to be held next Thursday and
Friday at Florida International University and U.S. Southern Command.
Three Cabinet secretaries — Rex Tillerson of State, John Kelly of
Homeland Security and Steven Mnuchin of Treasury — will take part in the
conference, but Tillerson plans to depart Thursday, and it's not clear
if Kelly and Mnuchin will take part in the Cuba policy event.
Several local venues have symbolism for Cuban Americans, including the
Bay of Pigs Museum in Little Havana and the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami.
A mid-June Trump visit has been rumored since Memorial Day, when word of
the Cuba policy rewrite began trickling from alarmed backers of former
President Barack Obama's reengagement approach toward the communist
island. Trump is preparing to tighten at least some of Obama's changes,
including restricting business with the Cuban military and U.S. travel
that resembles tourism.
Those type of revisions have been endorsed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
and Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, the only two local GOP members of
Congress who backed Trump and as a result have pressured his
administration on the issue. Rubio in particular has been working
closely with the White House and National Security Council on the
"I am absolutely confident that the president is going to deliver on his
word, on his commitments," Diaz-Balart told the Miami Herald and el
Nuevo Herald in a recent interview. "He was very clear that he thought
that President Obama in essence got nothing in exchange for the
concessions he gave to the Castro regime."
Members of Congress who favor closer U.S.-Cuba ties have urged Trump to
maintain Obama's approach. On Thursday, seven Republican lawmakers from
outside Florida whose districts see agricultural, industrial or
commercial opportunities in Cuba wrote Trump to argue that keeping a
foothold Cuba is important for U.S. national security. Three GOP
senators with similar views made a similar plea to Tillerson and
National Security Adviser Henry McMaster.
Two weeks before Election Day, Trump received an endorsement from the
Brigade 2506 veterans at the Bay of Pigs Museum, a show of support that
came after Trump had pledged at a local rally to "reverse" Obama's Cuba
policy. As president, Trump has privately brought up the Bay of Pigs
Museum event to Florida Republicans as a key moment for his campaign,
though his critics have disputed that the Cuban-American vote won Trump
Trump lost blue Miami-Dade County by 29 percentage points, and an FIU
poll from September showed 56 percent of local Cuban-Americans favored
more engagement with the island. Despite a gradual shift away from the
hardline position, older Cuban-American voters remain a reliable
Fidel Castro's death, less than three weeks after Trump's victory, was
met with harsh rhetoric from the president-elect and his transition
team, giving hardliners hope that a Cuba policy shift was forthcoming.
"Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable
suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights," Trump
said in a statement after Castro's death. "I join the many Cuban
Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign,
including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with
the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba."
With no major legislative victories to date, the White House has tried
to deliver to its political base on executive promises. Trump's
executive orders and policy directives have given him a chance to leave
the confines of Washington to bask among supporters.
His Miami trip would be Trump's first as president; despite repeated
visits to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach before the summer, he
never made it south to his Trump National Doral golf resort.
EL NUEVO HERALD STAFF WRITER NORA GÁMEZ TORRES CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
Source: Trump to reveal Cuba policy in Miami next Friday | Miami Herald