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President Trump on Saturday marked Cuban Independence Day in a statement that did not clarify his administration’s policy toward the communist country.
“The Cuban people deserve a government that peacefully upholds democratic values, economic liberties, religious freedoms, and human rights, and my administration is committed to achieving that vision,” Trump said in the statement from the White House.
During his campaign, Trump vowed to undo President Obama’s relaxed diplomatic policies toward Cuba. Obama used executive orders to loosen restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba during his presidency. He also opened a U.S. embassy in Havana.
Trump tweeted in November that he wanted a “better deal” with Cuba.
If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2016
While reports indicated Trump might unveil his plan in time to coincide with the 115th anniversary of Cuba’s independence, that timing did not manifest. Trump is currently overseas in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president.
Trump is conducting a "comprehensive policy review" on Cuba, a State Department official told reporters last week, according to reports.
“One of the areas that will be a high priority is to ensure that Cuba makes further substantive progress toward greater respect for human rights in the country,” said Francisco Palmieri, acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, according to The Miami Herald.
Trump’s statement on Saturday also recognized Cuban nationalist José Martí, who supported Cuban independence as an activist and writer.
“He reminds us that cruel despotism cannot extinguish the flame of freedom in the hearts of Cubans, and that unjust persecution cannot tamper Cubans’ dreams for their children to live free from oppression,” Trump said.