Trump Cuba policy announcement in Miami on changing "one-sided" Obama deal -- live updates

Last Updated Jun 16, 2017 2:24 PM EDT

President Trump took a hard line against the Castro regime, criticized his predecessor's approach to Cuba, and praised the courage of Cuban dissidents in a Friday speech in Miami's Little Havana that marked the beginning of sweeping changes to U.S.-Cuba relations. 

Mr. Trump -- fulfilling a campaign promise to roll back Obama-era policies that had eased restrictions on Cuban trade and travel -- announced he is reversing the "one-sided" Obama-era approach in a way that won't tolerate the Cuban regime's infringement on freedoms. Mr. Trump was flanked by officials like Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and Vice President Mike Pence. 

"The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people, they only enrich the Cuban regime," Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump didn't delve into many details of his policy changes, but senior administration officials on Thursday said the new policy will prohibit transactions with businesses controlled by the Cuban regime and will mean some Americans will now have to travel to Cuba as part of an organized group. All categories of travel will be subject to audit. The new policy will also emphasize the importance of extraditing fugitives. The change will not end diplomatic relations with Cuba, re-establish the controversial "wet foot, dry foot" policy, or change the policy on how much rum, cigars and other products Americans can take from Cuba.

The changes won't go into effect immediately. New regulations won't be issued for roughly 30 days, and the process will take longer than that, the senior administration officials said. 

Mr. Trump, taking time to honor Cuban dissidents by name and praising them for their courage, said he will not stand for communist oppression in Cuba.

"My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it, and we will never, ever be blind to it," Mr. Trump said.

Now that he is president, Mr. Trump said America will, "expose the crimes of the Castro regime."

Mr. Trump said the U.S. will not negotiate with Cuba until the Castro regime schedules free and fair elections, legalizes other political parties, and releases political prisoners.

"Our embassy remains open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path," Mr. Trump said.

"So we will respect Cuban sovereignty, but we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people," Mr. Trump added.

Mr. Trump also commented on this week's shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition. Scalise, Mr. Trump said, "took a bullet for all of us."

Mr. Trump thanked the Louisiana Republican for -- in the worst way possible -- bringing about unity to the nation.

"So we all owe Steve a big, big thank you," Mr. Trump said.

Updates from earlier:


Trump signs off on Cuba changes before taking autographs, shaking hands

President Trump signed the policy cracking down on the Cuban regime, and rolling back some Obama-era approaches to U.S.-Cuba relations. 

The president was surrounded by officials like Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and Vice President Mike Pence. The president then signed a handful of autographs from nearby members of the crowd. 

Crowd sings Trump a line of "Happy Birthday" song

President Trump commented that his birthday was earlier this week, then mentioned how two years ago, he and Melania Trump announced his candidacy for the president in Florida.

The crowd broke out in a line of "Happy Birthday."

U.S. will not negotiate with Cuba until it allows freedom, Trump says

President Trump said the U.S. won't negotiate with Cuba until it meets conditions like scheduling free elections and releasing political prisoners. 

"Our embassy remains open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path," Mr. Trump said. 

"So we will respect Cuban sovereignty, but we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people," Mr. Trump added. 

Trump: I am canceling the last administration's "one-sided" deal with Cuba

"It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense" than the last administration's approach to policy with Cuba, Mr. Trump said. 

"The previous administration's easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people, they only enrich the Cuban regime," Mr. Trump added. 

Mr. Trump said he will be signing a contract on a new policy that seeks a better deal for the Cuban people and for America. 

The policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law, Mr. Trump said. No sanctions on Cuba will be lifted until Cuba releases all political prisoners, and Cuba legalizes all party and schedules free elections. 

Trump praises "courageous" Cuban dissidents

President Trump praised Cuban dissidents -- both those present at the event and in Cuba -- for resisting the Cuban regime. He pulled dissidents by name out of the crowd to thank them on stage. 

"Very brave people," Mr. Trump said. "The exiles and dissidents here today have witnessed communism destroy a nation, just as communism has destroyed every single nation where it has ever been tried. But we will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer."

Mr. Trump said America, now that he is president, will "expose the crimes of the Castro regime."

Trump says he wants Florida Gov. Rick Scott to run for U.S. Senate

In a somewhat awkward, but entertaining, moment, President Trump said he hopes Florida Gov. Rick Scott will run for U.S. Senate. He even asked Scott if he would, of course, to no response. 

"I hope he runs for the Senate. Rick? Are you running?" Mr. Trump said. 

Trump: Scalise "took a bullet for all of us"

President Trump took a moment to recognize the victims in the congressional baseball practice shooting earlier this week, saying House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, "took a bullet for all of us."

Mr. Trump said Scalise is in tough shape, "far worse than anybody thought." But because of him, perhaps the U.S. can achieve unity, which is very important, the president said. 

"So we all owe Steve a big, big thank you," Mr. Trump said. 

Pence: Trump is unapologetic about leading the world in freedom

Vice President Mike Pence spoke briefly, mostly lauding the president for his commitment to freedom and advancing freedom around the world. Pence said the president is unapologetic in being the leader of the free world, before introducing Trump.

Florida governor says America "must stand for freedom"

"We can all go on and on about the abuses of the Castro regime," Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said -- but there are many who have been "imprisoned, tortured, and publicly shamed" for standing for freedom, Scott said. Scott named a few people in the crowd who have been punished for standing up to the regime, and who haven't given up their cause. 

"President Trump will stand for freedom," he said. 

"America must always stand for freedom, whether it's popular or not, America must stand for freedom," Scott continued. "Whether it's easy or not, America must stand for freedom. Whether it's profitable or not, America must stand for freedom."

Rubio: Trump "has not faltered" in his commitment to freedom of Cuban people

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida took the stage to give some opening remarks, and was followed by fellow Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. 

Six weeks ago, the president gathered his cabinet to do whatever it takes to make sure Cubans have the freedoms they deserve, "and he has not faltered in the commitment," Rubio said. 

Rubio said this administration's commitment to the freedom of the Cuban people has no precedent. 

President Trump landed and was greeted by dissidents, Rubio said, while a year and a half ago, another president -- former President Barack Obama -- greeted the regime, he said, to boos. This change empowers the "people" of Cuba, Rubio said, not Cuba's regime.

"We will not empower their oppressors," Rubio said, adding that, whether it's in six months or six years, the "enslaved" island of Cuba "will be free."