Republicans on Friday lauded President Donald Trump's reversal of certain parts of the Obama administration's policy with Cuba, with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley saying that the president "did the right thing."
"The Cuban dictatorship is one of the most oppressive in the world. It denies its people the most basic freedoms," Haley said. "That did not change under the previous administration's policy.
"American dollars must not be used to support the Cuban military and regime.
"The people of Cuba will have freedom one day," Haley said. "This announcement is about helping that day arrive sooner."
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of many Hispanic Republicans on Capitol Hill who opposed Obama's policies, called Trump's move "common-sense measures that I have supported in the past."
"America should not be subsidizing the machinery of this Communist government, which has been exporting terror throughout Latin America for decades.
"Instead, we should be using American policy to encourage genuine democratic reforms and leadership in Cuba."
But Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that "any policy change that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people."
He called on the Senate to pass legislation co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont that would "fully lift these archaic restrictions which do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world."
In Miami, President Trump signed an executive action that reversed several portions of Obama's 2014 diplomatic outreach to Havana.
Trump said that the U.S. would not lift sanctions against Cuba until it released 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.
The policy also would restrict the flow of American dollars to the military, security and intelligence services that are central to 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," Trump said. "We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are free."
The president's move reverses only some of Obama's Cuba policies. In addition, by restricting U.S. travel to the island, Trump's action risks cutting off a critical source of income for Havana's private business sector.
Cruz, the son of Cuban immigrants, said that the U.S. policy toward Havana was "not an abstract issue to me. It is a personal one.
"My father and my aunt both were imprisoned and tortured in Cuba," he said, by former dictators Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro.
"They've seen firsthand the oppression that the Cuban government produces — and they both fled to Texas seeking freedom."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham complimented Trump for his action, saying, "Well done, Mr. President."
"Now, the Cuban regime must change their oppressive and thuggish behavior to earn changes in American policy," he said.
In the House, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce of California said that the Trump administration was "right to sideline the Cuban military and make human rights and internet access top priorities moving forward.
"We must continue to stand with the Cuban people in their fight for basic freedoms."
South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan said that Trump "kept his promise to uphold U.S. law regarding Cuba.
"His actions affirm that the U.S. will not tolerate closer relations with the Cuban government absent significant advances in the Castro regime's respect for the human rights of its people.
"This new Cuba policy finally stands with the Cuban people and heroic dissidents in their fight for freedom in the face of Communism rather than supporting the oppressive Castro regime."
Other Republicans took to Twitter:
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