President Donald Trump honored veterans of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion into Cuba and announced new sanctions Wednesday against the country as he continues to court anti-socialist Hispanic voters.
“The courageous veterans here today bear witness to how socialism, radical mobs and violent communists ruin a nation,” Trump said during a speech. “Now the Democrat Party’s unleashing socialism right within our own beautiful country.”
Trump proclaimed that “America will never be a socialist — or communist country” and leaned into his assertion that parts of the political left have now exceeded the mainstream of the United States.
“We did not fight tyranny abroad only to let Marxists destroy our country,” he said.
The president announced that the Treasury Department will prohibit U.S. travelers from staying in hotels owned by the Cuban government, and that the administration is further restricting the ability to bring Cuban rum or tobacco into the country.
As part of the changes, the State Department is creating a list of properties that travelers will be barred from staying at, including those controlled or owned by the Cuban government, certain government officials and members the Cuban Communist Party, as well as their close relatives.
“The Cuban regime has been redirecting revenue from authorized U.S. travel for its own benefit, often at the expense of the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement. “This Administration is committed to denying Cuba’s oppressive regime access to revenues used to fund their malign activities, both at home and abroad.”
The actions come against the backdrop of the presidential election, where Trump is heavily courting Hispanic voters — particularly those with ties to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela — with a strident anti-socialist message. The campaign has made the subject a major focus in key states with sizable Latino populations such as Arizona, Nevada and especially Florida.
Republicans have had a tougher time pinning the socialist label on Joe Biden than other Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders, given the former vice president’s established reputation as a moderate voice within the Democratic Party. Biden has also unequivocally said he is not a socialist on multiple occasions.
Nonetheless, Democratic operatives have raised alarms about Biden’s level of support among Hispanic men as Republicans work to paint the former vice president as a front for the progressive left. Polls released Wednesday show Biden and Trump running neck-and-neck in both Florida and Arizona, with each result situated within the survey’s margin of error.
Trump told attendees at Wednesday’s event that his administration will “honor your courage with my administration’s commitment to defeating communism and socialism.”
“And we’ll do that in our country, too,” the president said. “We’re in the process of doing it right now.”
In particular, Trump has sought to woo Cuban-Americans given their importance to Republicans’ fortunes in the state of Florida, a consideration that has seeped into the brewing Supreme Court battle. Top elected officials in the state have been urging the president to elevate federal Judge Barbara Lagoa, the child of Cuban exiles who fled in the 1960s, to the Supreme Court as a way to curry favor with those voters.
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