President Donald Trump said Friday that he was signing an executive action that rolls back the Obama administration's "completely one-sided deal with Cuba" and called on the Castro regime to "take concrete steps" that would "forge a much stronger and better path" for both nations.
"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration's terrible and misguided deal with a Castro regime," Trump told supporters at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami. "The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people.
"They only enrich the Cuban regime."
Trump said that President Barack Obama's 2014 policy easing diplomatic restrictions on Havana had only resulted in "more repression and a move to crush the peaceful democratic movement.
"Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America."
Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, Trump declared the U.S. would not lift sanctions on Cuba until it releases all political prisoners and respected the Cuban people's right to freedom of assembly and expression.
He also demanded legalization of all political parties, and free and internationally supervised elections.
President Trump said his new policy also will restrict the flow of American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of the government led by President Raul Castro.
"We do not want U.S. dollars being used to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba," he said. "We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are free.
"Freedoms of assembly and expression are respected. All political parties are legalized and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.
"We will enforce the ban on tourism," the president continued. "We will enforce the embargo.
"We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country's great, great future — a country of great potential."
Overall, however, Trump's action reverses only some of Obama's Cuba policies — and by restricting U.S. travel to the island, the president's move risks cutting off ending a major source of income for Havana's private business sector.
Regarding political dissidents, President Trump called on the Castro regime to "stop jailing innocent people" and "open yourselves up to political and economic freedoms."
He also demanded that Havana return such U.S. fugitives as Joanne Chesimard, who eventually escaped after being convicted of the 1973 killing of a New Jersey state trooper, and three Cuban spies who were found guilty in a plot that led to the fatal shooting down of American pilots in 1996.
"To the Castro regime, the harboring of criminals and fugitives will end," Trump said. "You have no choice. It will end.
"Any changes to the relationship between the United States and Cuba will depend on real progress toward these and the other goals."
President Trump then challenged Havana to "come to the table" to strike a deal that serves both the interests of both nations.
"When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be ready, willing and able to come to the table to negotiate a much better deal for Cubans, for Americans, a much better deal," he said.
"And a deal that's fair.
"And a deal that makes sense, remaining open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path."
Pence introduced Trump by saying that the president's action would "make it clear that the United States of America stands with the courageous men and women of Cuba who seek to reclaim their God-given rights to life and liberty."
In his remarks, Rubio — who opposed Obama's reopening of ties with Havana — said that "whether it's in six months or six years, Cuba will be free.
"When it is, people on the island and history will say that perhaps the key moment in that transition began on this day — and with a president who was willing to do what needed to be done so that freedom and liberty returns to the enslaved island of Cuba."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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