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    Cuban-American leaders, dissidents urge Trump to get tough with Castro regime

    Cuban-American leaders, dissidents urge Trump to get tough with Castro
    By Elizabeth Llorente Published November 16, 2016

    Cuban-American leaders and human rights activists within the island
    nation are hoping that the incoming Trump administration will scale back
    President Obama’s efforts to restore relations between the two
    countries, measures they say emboldened the communist regime and brought
    the U.S. little in return.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who sits on the Foreign Relations
    Committee, said that a top priority for him next year will be to roll
    back sweeping changes President Obama implemented that significantly
    eased trade and travel restrictions. Rubio, like many Cuban-Americans
    who have opposed the normalization of relations, said Obama’s overtures
    to the Cuban government have not yielded the hoped-for reforms.

    “By any objective measure, President Obama’s unilateral policy changes
    have failed, and they are not in the best interest of the American
    people or the people of Cuba,” Rubio said in a statement. “Rolling back
    President Obama’s one-sided concessions to the Castro regime, a key
    campaign promise shared with President-elect Trump, will be a top
    priority for me next year.”

    Rubio met on Tuesday with Guillermo Farinas, one of Cuba’s most
    prominent human rights activists, during the dissident’s visit to
    Washington D.C. Farinas, who has been jailed numerous times by Cuban
    authorities, has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s
    surprise decision two years ago to normalize relations with the Cuban
    government after more than a half-century of hostilities between the two

    Farinas and other dissidents, as well as some international human rights
    organizations, say the Cuban government continues to oppress its
    critics. Farinas went on a month-long hunger strike earlier this year
    after he was detained and beaten by Cuban authorities when he asked
    about a fellow dissident who had been arrested. Farinas, who was in New
    York Wednesday to meet with Samantha Power, the United States ambassador
    to the United Nations, told Obama’s U.S.-Cuba policy
    betrayed the cause of human rights.

    “I have faith that President Trump will be better for the people of Cuba
    and press the cause of freedom and democracy,” Farinas said. “Let’s just
    say no one can possibly be worse than Barack Obama has been for our cause.”

    During the GOP primary, Trump signaled support for thawed relations,
    provided the Cuban government reformed its approach to human rights.
    After he won the nomination, Trump addressed the issue again in Miami,
    assailing Obama’s approach to Cuba.

    “All of the concessions Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were
    done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse
    them,” he said, adding that he intended to “unless the Castro regime
    meets our demands.”

    Top officials of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), one of
    the oldest and most influential anti-Castro organizations, say they are
    lobbying members of Trump’s transition team for a meeting with the

    “We want Donald Trump to understand the reality of the situation faced
    by Cubans in Cuba,” CANF co-founder Jose “Pepe” Hernandez, a Bay of Pigs
    veteran, told “We want a U.S.-Cuba policy that will bring
    democratic results.”

    Other Cuban-American groups pressed Trump before he sealed the
    nomination. Brigade 2506, Miami-based veterans of the Bay of Pigs
    invasion, endorsed Trump for president, the first endorsement in the
    organization’s 55-year history.

    “For Donald Trump, it was a great honor to be recognized by the
    brigade,” said Helen Aguirre Ferré, a spokeswoman for the Republican
    National Committee. “He was deeply moved by it. This is an important
    issue to him, he has said you can’t negotiate with human rights.”

    Rubio is not the only lawmaker waiting to see what Trump will do
    regarding Cuba. Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who
    supported Hillary Clinton and also sits on the Foreign Relations
    Committee, told that he does not know quite what to expect
    from a Trump administration.

    “It depends on which Donald Trump shows up,” Menendez said. “The Donald
    Trump who said earlier in his campaign that he thinks it was good to
    engage Cuba, or the Donald Trump toward the end of the campaign who said
    he’d consider rolling back much of what Obama did unless there’s
    advantage for the Cuban people.”

    Elizabeth Llorente is the Politics Editor/Senior Reporter for Fox News
    Latino, and can be reached at
    Follow her on

    Source: Cuban-American leaders, dissidents urge Trump to get tough with
    Castro regime | Fox News –

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