Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday warned that in a "desperate" effort to re-establish ties with Cuba, the Obama administration is overlooking human rights violations by the ruling communist dictatorship there, The Hill reported
"As the next round of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks begins later this week, U.S. officials are so desperate to open a U.S. embassy in Havana that they’re forging ahead despite a new wave of repression that has jailed over 200 Cuban democracy activists in the past two weeks," the Florida Republican said.
Rubio was also critical of three Democratic senators — Mark Warner of Virginia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri — for their actions during a visit to Cuba last week.
McCaskill on Monday called for lifting the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro regime.
"By staying in a regime-controlled hotel that was confiscated twice in its history, these U.S. officials sent a worrying message that the many legal claims the U.S. has against the Castro regime are not a priority for U.S. lawmakers," Rubio stated.
"Even worse about this trip is how the members of Congress capitulated to the regime’s terms for this trip by not meeting with dissidents and human rights activists," he added.
"These are not insignificant actions, because the regime interprets them as signs
that U.S. policy makers are not truly interested in the democratic aspirations and human rights of the Cuban people."
Since the Obama administration announced its plans to normalize relations with Cuba in December, Rubio, together with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, has taken a leadership role in making the case against the Cuba deal.
"This notion that somehow being able to travel to Cuba, to sell more consumer products, the idea that's going to lead to some democratic opening is absurd," Rubio told Fox News
in December "But it's par for the course with this administration constantly giving away unilateral concessions … in exchange for nothing."
Rubio, who is considering a run for the White House next year, termed the deal "a victory for oppressive governments the world over" and warned it would have damaging consequences for the United States.
"Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future," Rubio wrote in a Wall Street Journal
opinion piece."Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking, and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere."
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