Miami Cubans Cheer, Cry Tears of Joy as Trump Stands Up to Castros

President challenges communist regime to release political prisoners, cancels 'one-sided' deal

by Margaret Menge | Updated 17 Jun 2017 at 11:15 AM

Miami Cubans waving enormous American flags and Trump banners erupted in shouts of joy outside the theater in Little Havana as President Donald Trump announced that he was canceling the Obama administration’s “one-sided deal” with the Cuban communist regime and demanded the release of political prisoners.

“I’m very happy,” said Ingrid Carvajal, founder of Miami-Dade Citizens 4 Trump, after the speech. “I cried when I heard what Donald Trump said, because I said to people, ‘This is what he’s gonna say,’ and people said, ‘He will never say that.’ And I said, ‘This is what he’s gonna say, this is a man of his word.'”

Carvajal told LifeZette she thinks Trump’s reversing the easing of trade and travel restrictions with the Castro regime will “pave the way for true liberty in Cuba.”

"I'm very happy. I know that closing the travel and enforcing the embargo is gonna force Raul Castro to come to the table, and that he's gonna be forced out."

In 2014, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would "chart a new course" with Cuba, and in 2016 he announced several steps the U.S. would take toward "normalization" of relations and a "shift" away from the Cuban embargo, which cannot be lifted without an act of Congress. The changes under Obama included allowing some limited commerce between U.S. companies and Cuban government-owned companies, and also increased tourism.

Trump, in his speech at the Manuel Artime Theater near downtown Miami, announced that he was reversing those policies.

"For nearly six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination," the president said. "To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere, and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores. The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela.

"While imprisoning innocents, it has harbored cop killers, hijackers and terrorists. It has supported human trafficking, forced labor and exploitation all around the globe. This is the simple truth of the Castro regime. My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it. And we will never, ever be blind to it. We know what's going on, and we remember what happened."

"We now hold the cards," he continued. "The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime. The profits from investment and tourism flow directly to the military. The regime takes the money and owns the industry. The outcome of the last administration's executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful, democratic movement. Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba."

Ramiro Callazo-More, one block north of the Manuel Artime Theater where President Trump spoke on June 16, 2017. (Credit: Margaret Menge, LifeZette)

Ramiro Callazo-More, an artist who came to the United States from Cuba just five years ago, told LifeZette outside the theater Friday that the so-called rapprochement that Obama attempted with Cuba did not work.

"It was a fraud," he said. "Because the people, they stay the same. Everything is the same. They have no food, no clothes."

"He never talked with us," he said. "This is why Trump make this day important for us, because he come here."

"I don't have nothing against Obama," he said. "I just want to say to him, 'Why you didn't talk to Cuban people first?'"

Next to him stood a man with a gray beard holding a large photograph of himself with a man's hand over his mouth. It is a picture of him being arrested in Cuba. His name is Augustin Valentin Lopez. He is a dissident and an activist who lives in Cuba — and who traveled to Miami just to be here for Trump's speech, he says in Spanish.

Cuban-Americans on Flagler Street near downtown Miami on June 16, 2017. (Credit: Margaret Menge, LifeZette)

He says he's been arrested 50 times in Cuba for protesting the regime, and that he was arrested on the very day that Obama paid the historic visit to Havana in March of last year. He was grabbed by men in civilian clothes and was taken to a police station and held there for 16 hours.

Augustin Valentin Lopez (Credit: Margaret Menge, LifeZette)

The crowd, listening to the president's speech on giant speakers that had been set up in a vacant corner lot a block away from the theater, erupted many times in chants of "Trump, Trump, Trump" and "USA, USA, USA."

The biggest cheers came when the president called on the communist regime to return convicted cop killer JoAnne Chesimard, who fled to Cuba to escape U.S. justice, and to hand over the members of the Cuban military who shot down two Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996, killing all four pilots: Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre Jr., Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales.

"Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people, and for the United States of America," Trump said. "We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba. Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law. We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled." (click on page 2 for the rest of the story)

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