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Three days after the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro – and on a day when JetBlue Airways launched the first flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Havana in more than 50 years – President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to terminate newly restored diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
In a tweet this morning, Trump reiterated what he has said previously about the deal brokered by President Obama in late 2014.
Trump did not elaborate on the tweet but said as recently as Sept. 16 during a campaign stop in Miami – home to the largest Cuban exile and Cuban-American population in the U.S. – that Obama’s restoration of relations didn’t go far enough.
"All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them, and that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands," Trump said at the September rally. "Not my demands, our demands. You know what the demands are. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners."
Never one to mince words, Trump broke from the carefully-crafted statements from other world leaders after the announcement of Castro’s death, calling him a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades” and sounding almost gleeful in a tweet.
Trump’s advisors and members of his transition team made the rounds on the weekend news-talk shows and foreshadowed Monday morning’s tweet. Incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus told ‘Fox News Sunday’ that “we've got to have a better deal. We're not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the United States without some changes in their government. He’s already said that is going to be the case and what the deal is, is to be determined.”
Restructuring the deal could be a blow to eight U.S. airlines who were granted rights to fly commercially to Cuban and began flights earlier this year. JetBlue and American began service to Havana today, United starts on Friday.
"We're allowing commercial aircraft there. We pretend that we're actually doing business with the Cuban people now when, really, we're doing business with the Cuban government and the Cuban military. They still control everything," Trump campaign manager and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway said, according to the New York Daily News.