Former President Donald Trump told Telemundo in an interview Wednesday he believes President Joe Biden does not “understand the plight of the Cuban people” and that his policy of “total appeasement” would help the Castro regime remain in power.
Trump conducted the interview with journalist Marilys Llanos in response to the ongoing protests on the island that began July 11 demanding an end to the regime. The protests followed years of grassroots organization by anti-communist civil society groups, which had previously organized isolated protests in major cities but not successfully organized nationwide marches of this scale since the 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown.
The day the Trump interview aired, the mothers of the suspected thousands of people arrested or disappeared from their homes in the aftermath of July 11 organized another nationwide march demanding to know the whereabouts of their children. Cuban State Security officials responded by implementing heavy security on the streets of the nation’s largest cities and arresting known activists and dissidents believed to be on their way to the protest. As the Cuban Communist Party shut down most internet access shortly after the July 11 protests began, Cubans have struggled to share images and videos of their protests since then with the rest of the world.
President Joe Biden responded to the protests by organizing a Zoom call with Gloria Estefan and other Cuban celebrities, easing sanctions on Cuba’s closest ally Venezuela, and teasing making it easier for people to send remittances to Cuba, which directly fund the regime. The response has triggered widespread outrage in the Cuban-American community, which has demanded U.S. intervention to stop violence against their kin on the island — not further funding for the Castro regime.
Speaking to Telemundo, Trump described Biden’s policies as “very weak” and “from a different planet.” As president, Trump limited remittances, placed Cuba back on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list for its ties to Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ended tourist cruises to the island, and allowed Americans to sue the communist regime for property stolen following Fidel Castro’s 1959 seizure of power.
“I think he’s from a different planet; he doesn’t understand the plight of the people of Cuba,” Trump said of Biden. “What this administration is doing is just going to prolong it [the Castro regime].”
“The Obama policy is similar to what they have right now, which is total appeasement, it was helping the administration which is a communist administration… letting them sustain and letting them rule Cuba the way it’s been ruled,” Trump continued, “and its been ruled viciously and horribly… the people of Cuba know that and the people who were of Cuba and now are of this country, they’ll never forget, they love Cuba … they’re very disappointed by Biden.”
Trump also made the claim that the regime “may have been over by now” had he not lost the 2020 election, a loss that followed decisions like elevating unpopular celebrity doctor Anthony Fauci to nationwide fame and a campaign de-emphasizing core issues in the 2016 campaign like immigration policy.
“Had the election been won by me, the Cuban crisis may have been over by now because they were getting ready to give it up, meaning the so-called leadership in Cuba,” Trump claimed. “I think they just couldn’t have gone on for much longer … A lot of the work that we did with respect to Cuba and freedom for the people is going to be swept under the table by the Biden administration.”
Trump also emphasized that he had not considered military intervention in Cuba because he “wouldn’t have needed it” if the Castro regime had collapsed economically, which his policies were designed to facilitate.
“I wouldn’t have needed it [intervention] because they were ready to fold. We stopped a lot of the oil coming in from Venezuela … I don’t think we would’ve needed a military intervention,” Trump said. “don’t see this administration doing much frankly, such a weak policy towards Cuba and towards Venezuela and, of course, towards Nicaragua.”
Trump concluded by comparing the suffering of the Cuban people under 62 years of communist repression — repression that has included the killing of thousands by firing squads, the implementation of a labor camp system, and extensive documentation of torture of political prisoners and killings of children — to Americans enduring what he called a “fake election” in 2020.
Trump’s commentary on the situation in Cuba currently follows decades of support for the anti-communist cause on the island, including multiple public statements condemning those who profit from business on the island and promises that he would not take a similar path. In a 1999 column in the Miami Herald, Trump wrote that European investors had approached him with an idea to build hotels in Cuba.
“I had a choice to make: huge profits or human rights. For me, it was a no-brainer,” Trump wrote. “I’d rather lose those millions than lose my self-respect. I would rather take a financial hit than become a financial backer of one of the world’s most-brutal dictators, a man who was once willing to aid in the destruction of my country.”
A year later, in his 2000 book The America We Deserve, Trump called for the immediate detention of Fidel Castro should he ever travel abroad.
“The first time Castro leaves Cuba for any nation we have extradition treaties with, he should be detained, arrested and extradited to the U.S. for indictment and trial on charges of murder and terrorism,” Trump wrote. “Fidel is a criminal. Let’s treat him like one.”
Trump received the only endorsements for president ever offered by the Bay of Pigs Veterans’ Association for his lifetime support of the Cuban human rights cause. As president, in addition to his policies to defund the Castro regime, Trump held multiple events with some of the Cuban-American community’s most prominent human rights activists and the families of victims of the Castro regime.