President Donald Trump said during a press conference Thursday that he shared Senator Marco Rubio’s views on Cuba.
“We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who is adorable and we had a very good discussion about Cuba, because we have very similar ideas about Cuba,” Trump told reporters. “Cuba was very good to me, you know in the Florida general election, the Cuban people, Americans,” Trump added in reference to the support obtained by Cuban-American Republican voters.
The comment points to a change of policy towards Cuba as the senator was one of the most staunch critics of policy promoted by former President Barack Obama, especially in the area of human rights.
Rubio and also Cuban-American Senator Bob Menendez introduced a bill this week to reform the human trafficking report that the State Department drafts every year. Both senators expressed their displeasure with “Cuba’s change in ranking”, from the worst level to the “level 2 watch list” in 2015. Several proposals included in the bill would likely affect Cuba’s position in the report.
Rubio, who held the chair of the Western subcommittee on foreign affairs in the Senate has also been one of the most active politicians in Washington on the Venezuelan issue.
On Monday he gave a speech before the Senate in which he asked for Lopez’s release and said “he expected further sanctions against Nicolás Maduro’s government” following the freezing of “assets to Venezuela’s vice president Tareck El Aissami for ties to drug trafficking”.
From the campaign, Trump promised that he would negotiate a “better agreement” with Cuba or would overturn everything they had achieved with Obama. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said “Cuba’s policy is under review” and that for the current administration, the issue of “human rights would be a priority”.
Rubio is chairing a hearing on the need for US leadership on democracy and human rights issues in the Americas. One of the speakers is Danilo Maldonado, a Cuban artist known as the Sixth, who was recently released from jail in Cuba.