Trump team: Cuba must change more

2 aides, Ru­bio tie thaw with U.S. to re­forms by Ha­vana

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Anne Fla­herty

WASH­ING­TON — The Cuban govern­ment must move to­ward en­act­ing greater free­doms for its peo­ple and giv­ing Amer­i­cans some­thing in re­turn if it wants to keep warmer U.S. re­la­tions ini­ti­ated by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, top aides to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said Sun­day.

The com­ments by Trump ad­vis­ers Kellyanne Con­way and Reince Priebus came af­ter the death of for­mer Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Castro’s younger brother, 85-year-old Raul Castro, took con­trol in 2006, and later ne­go­ti­ated with Obama to re­store diplo­matic re­la­tions.

Priebus, Trump’s in­com­ing chief of staff, said Trump would “ab­so­lutely” re­verse Obama’s open­ing to Cuba un­less there is “some move­ment” from the Cuban govern­ment.

“Re­pres­sion, open mar­kets, free­dom of re­li­gion, po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers — th­ese things need to change in Priebus Con­way or­der to have open and free re­la­tion­ships, and that’s what Pres­i­dent- elect Trump be­lieves, and that’s where he’s go­ing to head, “Priebus told “Fox News Sun­day.”

Con­way made sim­i­lar re­marks and noted that any diplo­matic deal will have to ben­e­fit Amer­i­can work­ers.

“To the ex­tent that Pres­i­dent Trump can open up new con­ver­sa­tions with Cuba, it would have to be a very dif­fer­ent Cuba,” she told ABC’s “This Week.”

She added: “He wants to make sure that when the United States of Amer­ica, when he’s pres­i­dent, en­gages in any type of diplo­matic re­la­tions or trade agree­ments that we as Ru­bio Amer­ica are be­ing pro­tected and we as Amer­ica are get­ting some­thing in re­turn.”

Con­way said noth­ing on Cuba has been de­cided. But she noted that the U.S. is al­low­ing com­mer­cial air­craft to do busi­ness with a re­pres­sive Cuban govern­ment and Cuban mil­i­tary. And she said the “first or­der of busi­ness” is to rally the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity around try­ing to free po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

While Obama opened some U.S. in­vest­ment and travel to Cuba through ex­ec­u­tive or­der, vast re­stric­tions tied up in the trade em­bargo re­main at the in­sis­tence of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers. Cuban Pres­i­dent Raul Castro and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ac­knowl­edge fans in March at a base­ball game be­tween Cuba’s na­tional team and the Tampa Bay Rays in Ha­vana.

Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida, whose par­ents were born in Cuba, says he is heart­ened by Trump’s past hard-line rhetoric on Cuba.

Ru­bio told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. fo­cus must be on its own se­cu­rity and other in­ter­ests and on en­cour­ag­ing a Cuban democ­racy.

“We should ex­am­ine our pol­icy t oward Cuba through those lenses,” he said. “And if there’s a pol­icy that helps that, it re­mains in place. And if it’s a pol­icy that doesn’t, it’s re­moved.”

In Mi­ami, cel­e­bra­tion turned to somber re­flec­tion and church ser­vices Sun­day as Cuban-Amer­i­cans largely stayed off the streets af­ter a rau­cous day­long party in which thou­sands marked the death of Fidel Castro.

In Ha­vana, work­ers spruced up the cap­i­tal’s sprawl­ing Rev­o­lu­tion Plaza and set up fenc­ing Sun­day in prepa­ra­tion for two days of trib­utes to the for­mer leader. Throngs of is­landers are ex­pected to pay their re­spects to Castro’s re­mains there start­ing Mon­day in the shadow of Ha­vana’s tow­er­ing mon­u­ment to in­de­pen­dence hero Jose Marti and a huge sculp­ture of rev­o­lu­tion leader Ernesto “Che” Gue­vara.

Al­though some world lead­ers and celebri­ties are ex­pected to at­tend the me­mo­rial ser­vices, as of Sun­day the White House had not said whether any­one from the U.S. govern­ment would at­tend.

RE­BECCA BLACK­WELL/AP

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