Incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus has asserted that President-elect Donald Trump is deadly serious about his proposal to end the current U.S. policy of opening relations with Cuba.
On Nov. 28, Priebus stated that Trump was "absolutely" willing to end the thawing of diplomatic relations with the communist nation unless Cuban President Raul Castro gives dramatic concessions.
"President-elect Trump has been pretty clear," Priebus told Fox News. "We've got to have a better deal."
The incoming chief of staff explained that the Cuban government would have to take concrete steps toward a more open society if they hope to continue having a blossoming relationship with the U.S.
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"Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners — these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships," Priebus continued. "There's going to have be some movement from Cuba in order to have a relationship with the United States.
In 2014, President Barack Obama ended a longstanding freeze of U.S.-Cuban relations, lifting sanctions on the communist nation and establishing new business and diplomatic relationships with the isle.
Priebus' comments arrived two days after the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose passing has renewed scrutiny over the future of the U.S.-Cuba relationship in an upcoming Trump administration.
On Nov. 26, Obama signaled that Castro's death should be regarded as the end of the Cold War era and the beginning of renewed cooperation between the two countries.
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"For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements," Obama said in a statement, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
"During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends … the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America," Obama added.
On Nov. 28, Trump issued an ultimatum to the Cuban government, indicating that his administration will be unafraid to reverse the thawing of relations initiated by Obama, Politico reports.
"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal," Trump tweeted out.
Trump transition communications director Jason Miller later clarified what the president-elect was demanding during a press conference.
"Our priorities are the release of political prisoners, the return of fugitives from American law and political and religious freedoms for all Cubans living in oppression," Miller said.
If Trump decided to end the renewed diplomacy between the U.S. and Cuba, he could achieve a reversal speedily by rescinding Obama's executive orders, according to professor of government William LeoGrande of American University.
"Obama's regulatory changes could be reversed fairly quickly," LeoGrande told ABC News. "Trump could order it on day one but it would take the Treasury Department a few weeks to rewrite the regulations."
The professor warned against reversing the course of U.S.-Cuban relations set by Obama, citing that the move would hurt the Cuban people most of all.
"Ordinary Cubans have benefited the most from the surge in U.S. visitors, which puts money in the pockets of workers, taxi drivers, hotel workers, B&B owners, artists, musicians — anyone involved directly or indirectly by tourism," LeoGrande explained. "These people would all be hurt badly if Trump re-imposed the limits on travel that existed before Obama."