Clinton denounces Cuban embargo as ‘Cold War deadlock’

Clinton denounces Cuban embargo as ‘Cold War deadlock’
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Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden hires Clinton, O'Rourke alum as campaign's digital director Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Wisconsin: poll Clinton tweets impeachment website, encourages voters to 'see the evidence for themselves' MORE made a clear break from top Republican presidential candidates on Friday by calling for the end of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

“America’s approach to Cuba is at a crossroads,” Clinton said in Miami. “And the upcoming presidential election will determine whether we chart a new path forward or turn back to the old ways of the past.

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“We must decide between engagement and embargo,” she added in a speech in Miami. “Between embracing fresh thinking and returning to Cold War deadlock.”

The comments at Florida International University, in the heart of the Cuban-American community, appeared especially pointed at ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), two leading Republican opponents in Clinton’s race for the White House.

Both Bush and Rubio are staunch supporters of the embargo with Cuba and wasted no time criticizing her policy on Friday. 

“It’s insulting to many residents of Miami for Hillary Clinton to come here to endorse a retreat in the struggle for democracy in Cuba,” Bush said in a statement issued before Clinton had wrapped up her remarks. “The Cuban people are not imprisoned by the past, they are imprisoned by the Castro regime.”

Rubio, similarly, quickly lambasted the policy change as a “mistake” similar to the “failed ‘reset’” with Russia.

Clinton was unyielding in her push, however.

“I’m running to build an America for tomorrow — not yesterday,” she claimed.

“We cannot afford to let out-of-touch partisans ideas and candidates rip away all the progress that we have made.”

The announcement is a tricky one in Florida, the all-important presidential swing state where Cuban-American opposition to the Castro government runs strong.

Clinton’s policy announcement comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s historic restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, after five decades of estrangement. Obama has previously called for the embargo to be lifted — thereby eliminating hurdles for Americans to travel to Cuba and do business there — which can only be done by an act of Congress.

Perhaps sensing the political hurdles to make that a reality, however, Clinton pledged to act unilaterally to ease the tensions between the U.S. and its Caribbean neighbor just 90 miles offshore.

“If Congress won’t act to do this, I would use executive authority to make it easier for more Americans to visit the island and support private business and engage with the Cuban people,” she said.

She also called for Latin American leaders to take a tougher tone with Cuba and pledged to be more active in the Western Hemisphere.

“China is eager to extend its influence,” Clinton said. “Strong, principled American leadership is the only answer.”