Washington (CNN) – Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced Friday his support for lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, a policy shift that shows how far the former Republican has moved since switching parties.
“The embargo has done nothing in more than 50 years to change the regime in Cuba,” Crist said in a statement. “If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there.”
He said he wouldn’t support travel between the countries “until they offer more freedoms to their people and demonstrate that they’re serious about it.”
President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions to the island nation in January 2011, but federal action on U.S.-Cuba trade policy is viewed as a nonstarter in Congress.
In a statement Saturday, Crist’s opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, incumbent Rick Scott, called his rival’s comments “insulting.”
“The suggestion that Cuban Americans need to be ‘stood up to’ is insulting,” the statement said.
“Our nation is great because we were built on a foundation of freedom and democracy. That is not true in Cuba and we should not pretend it is. The importance of maintaining the embargo is that it stands for the Cuban people’s right to be free,” he said.