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Friday, February 17, 2017

Trump - Rubio and I have ‘very similar views on Cuba’

Trump: Rubio and I have 'very similar views on Cuba'
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

President Donald Trump said during a press conference Thursday that he
shares Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio's views on Cuba.

"We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who was by the way,
lovely, and we had a very good discussion about Cuba because we have
very similar views on Cuba," Trump told journalists.

"Cuba has been very good to me, in the Florida elections, you know, the
Cuban people, Americans," he added in reference to the support of Cuban
American voters.

Former rival Rubio and his wife had dinner with Trump and First Lady
Melania on Wednesday night, after the president received Lilian Tintori,
the wife of the Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López in the
White House. A smiling Rubio posed for a photo with Trump, Vice
President Mike Pence and Tintori.

The comment suggests a possible change in Cuba policy since Rubio was
one of the staunchest critics of former President Barack Obama's
engagement with Cuba, especially in the area of human rights.

Rubio and New Jersey Democrat Senator Bob Menéndez, also Cuban American,
introduced a bill this week to "reform" the human trafficking report
produced annually by the State Department. Both senators expressed their
displeasure with the improvement of Cuba's ranking in the report, from
the worst level to the "tier 2 watch list" in 2015. Several proposals
included in the bill would likely affect Cuba's position in the report.

Rubio, who was reappointed as chairman of the Western Hemisphere
Subcommittee in the Senate, has also been one of the most active
politicians in Washington on Venezuela. On Monday, he gave a speech on
the Senate's floor in which he called for the release of López and
stated his hope for new sanctions to come against the government of
Nicolás Maduro. Earlier this week, the Trump administration froze the
assets of Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami for alleged links
to drug trafficking.

During his campaign, Trump promised that he would negotiate a "better
deal" with the Cuban government or would reverse Obama's measures. White
House Spokesman Sean Spicer has said that Cuba policy was under review
and that human rights would be a priority.

On Thursday afternoon, Rubio was scheduled to chair a hearing on the
need for U.S. leadership on democracy and human rights in the Americas.
Among the speakers was Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto,
who was recently released from prison in Havana following his arrest for
using street art to celebrate the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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Source: Trump: Rubio and I have 'very similar views on Cuba' | Miami
Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article133193594.html
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