Tags: marco rubio | cuba | upgrade | politically | driven
Image: Rubio Calls Upgrade of Cuba in Trafficking Report 'Politically Driven'

Rubio Calls Upgrade of Cuba in Trafficking Report 'Politically Driven'

Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 06:54 PM

 Republican senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on Wednesday denounced what he described as the "politically driven" upgrade of Cuba in the State Department's annual human trafficking report, calling the document "an embarrassment."

Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida who opposes President Barack Obama's restoration of diplomatic relations with Havana, wrote a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry to reconsider Cuba's ranking.

Reuters reported last week that State Department human rights experts were repeatedly overruled by senior diplomats as the Trafficking in Persons report was drafted and that countries including Malaysia, Cuba and China were given better grades than the experts wanted to give them.

Rubio asked the department if he could see pre-publication drafts of the report's section on Cuba. He said Cuba had done "almost nothing" to combat human trafficking over the past year.

He noted reports that Cuba is the most popular destination in the Western Hemisphere for child sex tourism.

"The administration's unfounded elevation of Cuba on human trafficking sends a chilling message that the U.S., at least under this president, is more interested in headlines about its historic Cuba policy than it is in challenging the Castro regime to protect Cuba's youth from human trafficking exploitation," Rubio wrote to Kerry, who is due in Cuba on Friday to reopen the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961 and imposed an economic embargo on the communist-ruled country. After more than a year of secret negotiations, Washington and Havana last December announced they planned to restore ties, while the United States eased some restrictions.

The two countries formally restored relations on July 20.

A week later, the trafficking report was released with Cuba's ranking upgraded from the lowest "Tier 3" to "Tier 2 Watch List," reserved for countries that deserve special scrutiny. The final report remained highly critical of Cuba, however.

In congressional testimony last week, Under Secretary of State Sarah Sewall defended the report and the process of compiling it, calling it a "gold standard in anti-trafficking efforts."

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Republican senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on Wednesday denounced what he described as the politically driven upgrade of Cuba in the State Department's annual human trafficking report, calling the document an embarrassment. Rubio, a Cuban-American from...
marco rubio, cuba, upgrade, politically, driven
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2015-54-12
Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015 06:54 PM
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