Trump camp hits Biden over comments about restoring Obama policy toward Cuba

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The Trump campaign on Tuesday slammed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's comment that he would restore the Obama administration’s diplomatic détente with Cuba despite the nation’s close ties with Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro.

In a statement, the Trump campaign’s deputy communications director, Ali Pardo, said Biden “would follow Bernie Sanders' lead and side with socialist dictatorships over our country's values.”

"It's bad enough that as vice president, Biden never lifted a finger to stop Maduro as he starved his own people and that his administration praised Raúl Castro, giving the Cuban government a pass despite its horrific human rights record,” Pardo said. “Now, just like Biden sold out Americans while his son Hunter made millions doing business with communist China, he's selling out the Cuban and Venezuelan people to win over the ​chavista wing of the Democrat Party."

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Biden told a local CBS station in Miami during an interview on Monday that “in large part” he would go back to the Obama administration’s more open policy toward Cuba.

“What's happened with this is more than about Cuba, it's about all the Caribbean, and it's about all of our allies and friends, which are in Latin America,” Biden said. “And when we did when we changed the policy, we began to be open up and get so much more support within the region. And that's what we should be doing now there's no reason to continue a policy that wasn't that presidents put in place.”

The Trump administration has rolled back many of the policies his predecessor implemented that led to the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years. Among the rollbacks, the administration has restricted non-family travel to the island and limited the amount of remittances a person in the U.S. can send to family in Cuba to $1,000 per quarter.

Trump has also banned all flights to Cuba except for those to Havana and the Commerce Department took direct aim last year at Cuba’s tourism industry by restricting airlines’ abilities to lease aircraft. It also said the U.S. will expand sanctions to include more foreign goods that are made of American content.

All flights to Cuba have now be temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cuba is closely allied with Maduro’s troubled Venezuela.

Home to the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela was for decades an economic leader in the Western Hemisphere and, despite a massive gap between rich and poor, was a major destination for neighboring Colombians and other Latin Americans fleeing their less prosperous and more troubled homelands.

But in 1999, with the rise to power of Hugo Chávez – whose social and economic reforms initially endeared him to the poor but also set up an unsustainable system of state spending – Venezuela’s economy began to creep toward a crisis. The situation has been exacerbated by Maduro, Chávez’s successor, who took power in 2013, and by a plunge in global oil prices in 2015.

Venezuela has been gripped by widespread malnutrition, disease and violence, and critics accuse Maduro of unfairly winning an election last year for a second six-year term by banning his popular rivals from running and jailing others.

Today, an estimated 4.5 million Venezuelans have emigrated from the country of 30 million, leaving behind crumbling infrastructure, broken hospitals, power failures and gasoline shortages with mile-long lines at filling stations across much of the South American nation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.