The Cuban-American senator told NBC November 27 that he believes Trump will follow through on campaign promises to demand the Cuban government make more changes in exchange for US loosening of travel and banking restrictions, among other policy changes. Trump was critical of a December 2014 decision by the Obama administration to begin normalizing relations with the island state — and which allowed US businesses to begin to invest there.
"All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them," Trump said during a rally in Miami in September. "And that, I will do, unless the Castro regime meets our demands — not my demands, our demands."
As Rubio noted, the death of Fidel Castro does not change Cuba's system of government, which should be a US goal. Castro has not officially held power in the island nation for a decade.
"Our goal is not to punish. Our goal is to figure out what can we do, through US policy, to, number one, look out for the national interest of the United States," he said.
"And number two, to help create an environment where we are creating the potential for a transition to democratic order in Cuba at some point in the near future."
Rubio said loosened travel, remittance and banking restrictions should be contingent on concrete changes to Cuban policies, but also said he was not opposed to all American policy changes toward its neighbor, just "unilateral changes" that do not benefit the United States.