Cuban-Americans speak out ahead of Trump’s Little Havana visit

MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida’s Cuban-American community sounded off on President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Little Havana, where he is expected to announce changes to the current U.S. policy with Cuba.

The commander in chief is expected to make the announcement at the Manuel Artime Theater, located at 900 SW 1st Ave., Friday afternoon. How big the changes in policy will be, however, remains to be seen.

The event comes nearly two years after the U.S. and Cuba formally restored relations, an occasion marked by the reopening of a U.S. embassy in Havana, on July 20, 2015.

Trump has been a longtime critic of the Obama administration’s dealings with the Castro regime. “They don’t know how to make a good deal. They wouldn’t know how to make a good deal if it was staring them in the face,” said Trump during a campaign appearance in Little Havana, weeks before he was elected.

The theater where Trump will be making his policy speech was named after the political leader of Brigade 2506 in the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. Those veterans said they are looking forward to hearing from the commander in chief.

“For the first time, a president is coming to Miami to talk about the Cuban issue,” said Humberto Diaz Arguelles, president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association.

Frank Calzon, the president of the nonprofit Center for a Free Cuba, insisted the current policy is not working as they continue to strive for freedom and human rights for the people of a communist nation. “We would like the president to cut off any relationship between the American intelligence services and the Cuban intelligence services,” he said.

There are also those who oppose any plan that would close doors and take away tourism dollars. “These people are benefitting greatly, not only from Americans spending money, but sharing their ideas with them,” said Collin Laverty, founder and president of Cuba Educational Travel.

Trump is expected to tighten travel restrictions and make moves to put pressure on the Castro regime.

“You’ll definitely see some changes or provisions. They’re trying to stop the funding of the Cuban military,” said WSVN political analyst Brian Fonseca.

The president’s plan is backed by South Florida Republican leaders. U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are expected to join Trump on Friday. “Tomorrow is going to be a good day for the Cuban people,” said Rubio.

Rubio said the changes will be a step in the right direction. “It’s a better deal for the Cuban people, which is who we’re trying to help here, by empowering them, and doing so in a way that does not empower their oppressors,” he said.

Friday’s event is expected to begin at 1 p.m.

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