Venue for Trump Speech Could Send Powerful Message to Castro Regime

Manuel Artime Theater takes name from Cuban exile who led Bay of Pigs invasion

Former President Barack Obama (R) and Cuban President Raul Castro / Getty Images

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The venue for a major Cuba policy speech President Trump is expected to make in Miami this Friday will send a powerful message to the Castro regime, sources said.

The White House has reportedly chosen Miami’s Manuel Artime Theater, a former church that takes its name from a member of the Fidel Castro’s rebel army who later became the political leader of the Brigade 2506 land forces in the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.

If the Artime Theater is chosen as the site for Trump's speech, it will signal that the new president is going to take a "more confrontational stance to the Cuban government," a member of the Cuban exile community told the Washington Free Beacon. "It will make them very upset—without a doubt."

Trump is expected to travel to Miami Friday to announce changes to the administration's Cuba policy. All parties impacted by the Obama administration's diplomatic thaw with the island nation are reading into every aspect of the trip as a potential indication of how Trump may change Obama's partial détente with the Castro regime.

"No matter what they announce, if they announce anything on Friday, the fact that the President has re-oriented U.S. foreign policy to put U.S. interests first, that’s very different than President Obama," the source said. "If his new Cuba policy follows through on that new mantra, that in and of itself will signal a shift."

Late in the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump received the endorsement of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Miami, the only time the organization has endorsed a politician. Some political analysts have credited the endorsement and his support from Cuban exile community in South Florida with Trump’s critical win in Florida that led to his surprise victory in November.

The White House and State Department are saying little about Trump's speech Friday and are not confirming that that it will take place, where it will take place and if he plans to announce a new U.S. Cuba policy.

A National Security Council spokesman said he could not confirm where the speech will take place. A State Department spokeswoman said only: "The administration has undertaken a review of U.S. policy towards Cuba, which is still ongoing. We will provide additional details when they become available."

John S. Creamer, the State Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cuba, Mexico,Central America, and Western Hemisphere Regional Economic Policy and Summit issues, told reporters Monday only that the policy review continues.

"Once we have the policy review completed, the president will announce the policy at the time and place of his choosing," he said. "But right now, the review is still underway and I don't want to talk about the specifics of the review or try and prejudge its outcome."

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree   Email Susan | Full Bio | RSS
Susan Crabtree is a senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. She is a veteran Washington reporter who has covered the White House and Congress over the past two decades. She has written for the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, the Hill newspaper, Roll Call, and Congressional Quarterly.

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