Presidential candidate and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a speech at Florida International University, Miami, Florida, July 31, 2015, called on Congress to lift the Cuban embargo because of failed policies of the past, Candidate Clinton went on to say that we must look to the future in order to advance a core set of values and interests with Cuba. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI, July 31 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for an end to the Cuban trade embargo during a speech Friday in Miami.
"The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all," the former secretary of state said during a campaign stop at Florida International University.
"We have arrived at a decisive moment," Clinton said. "The Cuban people have waited long enough for progress to come. Even many Republicans on Capitol Hill are starting to recognize the urgency of moving forward. It's time for their leaders to either get on board or get out of the way."
She called on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to "answer the pleas of the Cuban people." They want to buy American goods and learn from American people.
"They want to bring their country into the 21st century. That is the road toward democracy and dignity, and we should walk it together," she said.
The United States and Cuba in December took the first steps toward normalizing the relationship between the two countries for the first time in 50 decades. The countries restored full diplomatic relations last week by opening embassies in Havana and Washington.
Normalization of relations has been welcomed by Democrats and some Republicans, but some have said it's a mistake to restore diplomatic ties with a country that doesn't embrace democracy, CBS News reported.
"It's insulting to many residents of Miami for Hillary Clinton to come here to endorse a retreat in the struggle for democracy in Cuba," said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate, in a statement responding to Clinton's speech.
"This city has become a home and a refuge to thousands and thousands of Castro's victims. Secretary Clinton's call to abandon the embargo -- and the principles of democracy and freedom for the Cuban people -- in exchange for nothing in return from the regime in Havana adds insult to the pain they and their families feel."