MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says President Donald Trump’s revamped Cuba policy is about empowering the country’s people, rather than its military regime.
“We kind of said, ‘Look there’s a policy in place by the previous administration and let’s look at it, whether we’re for it or against it. If there’s anything positive that came out of it, let’s keep it. If there’s anything negative, let’s get rid of it.’ That was the starting point,” Rubio said.
Sen. Rubio, along with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, played a pivotal role in the changes announced earlier this week at the Manuel Artime Theater in Little Havana. For months, lawmakers appealed to President Trump to take a look at the policies put in place by the Obama administration.
The president listened.
“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” said the president on Friday.
Non-stop flights will continue to the island. So will cruises.
But for Americans going as part of the “people to people” category, they’ll now have to travel with an organized group.
“Our aim here is simple,” Rubio explained. “If Americans are going to travel to Cuba, we want to make sure that as much of their money is going into the hands of individual Cubans, who own these small businesses, and less is going into the hands of the military that’s trying to take control of the entire economy. So that was the design behind it.”
The senator said that means shop, eat and stay at the small businesses owned by Cuban citizens, not by the military.
“They do not want individual Cubans to own too many businesses,” he added. “They don’t want individual Cubans to be able to earn a living independent of the government. That’s how they keep control of them. So now it’s up to the Cuban government to allow the Cuban people to be able to open up more businesses and make a living for themselves.”