Vice President Pence Comments On New Policy Towards Cuba

Office of the Vice President
22 June 2017

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.

Our partnerships and alliances throughout the region are critical to our national interests.  The President has said -- in his words -- it’s best for America to have freedom in the Western Hemisphere.  And last Friday, on that count, as Jane just mentioned, the President took decisive action to end the last administration’s failed policy toward Cuba and support the courageous Cuban people in their six-decade struggle for liberty.
Under this administration, the United States now will restrict financial transactions with repressive military, security and intelligence services of the Castro regime and instead redirect lawful commerce to entrepreneurs, to private enterprises in Cuba, and to all those brave Cuban citizens who yearn for freedom and for a brighter future.
No longer will America enrich the Cuban regime at the expense of the Cuban people.  Because America stands for opportunity, not oppression; for liberty, not tyranny.  The Cuban regime must make real progress on human rights and individual freedom.  And as the President has said, our policy will not change until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections occur.  That’s what American leadership looks like.  (Applause.) 
But, as we all know, Cuba is not the only nation in the region where democracy and freedom are in steep decline and at risk of being completely eradicated.  It’s increasingly true of the troubled nation of Venezuela.  Venezuela’s collapse into authoritarianism and anarchy has been heartbreaking to see.  The people of that once-rich nation now suffer rampant crime and grinding poverty on a daily basis.
Just as we stand with the people of Cuba, under President Trump, the United States stands with the people of Venezuela.  The United States of America condemns the Maduro regime’s abuse of power and the abuse of its people, and we call upon the Maduro regime to restore a robust democracy and the rule of law, and do it now.  (Applause.) 
And we also -- I was with the President in Miami at the close of our conference when he announced that we were abandoning the last administration’s policy on Cuba and implementing -- new approach demanding that if -- Cuba live up to the empty promises it made to the last administration about advancing reforms.  And we’ll hold them to that.