PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Friday that President Donald Trump’s decision to enforce travel bans between the United States and Cuba benefits no one.
“Any policy change that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people,” Flake said in an emailed statement.
He also called on the Senate to “vote on my bipartisan bill to fully lift these archaic restrictions which do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world. The bill has 55 total cosponsors and I am convinced it would pass the Senate with upwards of 70 votes.”
Trump said penalties on Cuba would remain in place until its government released political prisoners, stopped abusing dissidents and respected freedom of expression.
“America has rejected the Cuban people’s oppressors,” Trump said in a crowded, sweltering Miami auditorium. “They are rejected officially today — rejected.”
Trump’s primary goal was to halt the flow of U.S. cash to the country’s military and security services in a bid to increase pressure on Cuba’s government.
Flake had previously warned that returning to a “get tough” policy that isolated the island would hurt everyday Cubans whose livelihoods were increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.
Flake, who accompanied then-President Barack Obama during a visit to Cuba in March, said “allowing more frequent and consequential ties between Cubans and Americans is more likely to accelerate the desired change in Cuba.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.