Trump's Cuba policy changes "very appropriate," says Sen. Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday President Trump’s policy changes on America’s relationship with Cuba were “very appropriate,” and explained why the U.S. needs to take a tougher stance when it comes to dealing with the communist country.

“I don’t understand how anyone could argue that we should not have a policy that enriches the Cuban people instead of the Cuban military,” Rubio, R-Fla., told Maria Bartiromo during an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.”

During a speech in Miami on Friday, President Trump said his administration would be stricter on American tourism to the Caribbean island and that the embargo, in place since 1958, would continue to be enforced. Trump also stressed the importance of making sure investments would flow “directly to the people” in an effort to promote private Cuban businesses.

Rubio, who helped craft the president’s policy, criticized the Obama administration, which restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, saying it allowed too many concessions, in turn hurting Cuban citizens while benefitting the country’s military.

“Those concessions have allowed the Cuban military, which controls upwards of 50-60 percent of their economy, to enrich itself and to tighten its grip through a monopoly that they control. And we’re reversing that, the president is reversing that,” the Florida senator said.

Under the new policy, which is not a total shift from Obama’s, airlines and cruise lines will still be able to travel to Cuba, though it will be more closely monitored. American (NASDAQ:AAL), Delta (NYSE:DAL), JetBlue (NASDQ:JBLU), Southwest (NYSE:LUV), United (NYSE:UAL) and Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK) are the U.S. carriers currently offering flights to Cuba.

“I would much rather have American Airlines flying people into Cuba on regular flights than have them chartering their planes to a company that’s a pro-Castro operating in the United States of America,” Rubio said.

As previously reported by FOX Business, at least one non-profit group said that rolling back travel expansions would hurt U.S. airlines that have flights to the island.

Both Rubio and Trump praised each other on Friday, despite fierce rhetoric directed at each other during the race for the GOP nomination, where Trump called the Florida senator “little Marco.”

“This whole relationship thing is overblown. He was a competitor of mine out of 17 people that ran for President,” Rubio said. “President Trump’s success is America’s success … of course I want the president to be successful.”