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Rep. Barbara Lee: Trump Should Keep Open Relations with Cuba, Not Reinstitute Failed U.S. Policy

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On Friday, President Trump is expected to announce plans to roll back some of the United States’ new diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba, which were brokered under the Obama administration. Bloomberg News reports the changes may include curbing travel between the U.S. and Cuba. Other changes may include reinstating restrictions on Americans visiting Cuba and bringing back famous Cuban goods, like cigars and rum. Officials also say Trump might demand the extradition of people who have received political asylum in Cuba, like Assata Shakur. For more, we speak with Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Lee, we also want to ask you about U.S.-Cuban relations. President Trump surprised many, I think, when it was announced in the last few days that he’s expected to announce Friday in Miami—if in fact he goes there, given all that has happened in Washington right now—to roll back some of the U.S. new diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba, which were brokered under the Obama administration. Bloomberg News is reporting the changes may include curbing travel between the U.S. and Cuba. Now you can take a direct flight, for example, from New York. Other changes may include reinstating restrictions on Americans visiting Cuba and bringing back famous Cuban goods, like cigars and rum. Officials also say Trump might demand the extradition of people who have received political asylum in Cuba, like Assata Shakur. Now, can you respond to what you understand his plans are? We don’t know if, in fact, he’s going to Miami tomorrow, but what do you understand he wants to do?

REP. BARBARA LEE: It’s hard to know from this White House, this president. Yesterday—I’m on the Appropriations Committee, and we spoke with Secretary Tillerson about that. And, of course, he responded in a way that, you know, indicated to me that what you just said is accurate, that they do want to roll back the opening that President Obama made as it relates to U.S.-Cuba relations. But let me tell you, 65 percent of people, Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County, support moving forward and normalizing relations. This is a failed policy, over 50 years old. Why in the world do Americans not have the right to travel to Cuba freely? They travel—we can go to China. We can go to Vietnam. Why in the world can businesses not trade with Cuba and do business with Cuba? If the president rolls back many of President Obama’s policies, we stand to lose billions of dollars. So far, millions of jobs have been created. We have—I think it’s $6 billion in revenue. It’s quite a bit of revenue that we have as it relates to Cuba. So I think that the economic impact of doing business with Cuba is extremely important.

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