Tags: Marco Rubio | Cuba

Rubio: Cuba Policy Change Will Not Lead to Freedom

By    |   Sunday, 21 December 2014 12:38 PM

Sen. Marco Rubio says he has no problem with changing policy with Cuba, but says he wants to do something that will bring freedom to the Cuban people.

The agreement announced this week by President Barack Obama doesn't do that, the Florida Republican said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"I know that this policy change … will not lead to freedom," Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, said.

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Obama and supporters of the change argue that the 50-year policy of isolation didn't work and it is time for a new approach, such has been used with Russia, China and Vietnam.

Rubio countered that U.S. policy with those countries has done nothing to improve freedom for their citizens.

"They're not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened," Rubio said. "They may have a bigger economy, but … certainly, I would not hold up China or Saudi Arabia or Vietnam as examples of political freedom."

In the case of Cuba, Rubio said, "The whole economy is owned and operated by a holding company controlled by Cuban military officials," and they intend to follow the model of China and Vietnam.

America already has an interest section in Havana, and it isn't allowed to fully operate," he said.

Rubio also noted that Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, will travel to Cuba the second week in January, but has said human rights will not be on the agenda.

He also reiterated his position on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS' "Face the Nation."

On NBC, the Florida lawmaker said the embargo's original purpose was to protect American companies whose assets had been seized, not to overthrow the Castros. Today, he said, it is leverage for democracy.

"What the president has done here is given away much of that leverage in exchange for zero" political opening, he said.

Had he been president, Rubio said he would have engaged with democracy activists in Cuba. Many of them want changes in policy, but Obama ignored them, he said.

Rubio is thought to be eyeing a 2016 bid for the GOP presidential nomination as is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. The two engaged in a Twitter war in the past few days with Paul saying of Rubio, "I reject this isolationism."

"If he wants to become the chief cheerleader of Obama's foreign policy he certainly has a right to do that," Rubio told ABC. "I'm going to oppose the Obama-Paul foreign policy on Cuba."

To NBC, he added, "I want people in Cuba to have what people in the Bahamas have, what people in Jamaica have, what people in the Dominican Republic have, which is freedom and elections."

Meanwhile, on CBS, Rubio said he is not opposed to changing Cuba's policy, but is "opposed to changes like this that have no chance of leading to the result that we want, more freedom and more liberty for the Cuban people."

But the changes Obama is seeking are "predicated upon with false notion that engagement alone automatically leads to freedom."

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But the opposite is true, he said, pointing out that relations with Vietnam and China have led for no new political freedoms for those countries.

Rubio, though, does not believe relations should be broken with China, which is much different from the "small, impoverished island of one million" with Cuba.

"Cuba offers that China does not is opportunity to engage with real and vibrant civil society on the island," said Rubio. "They were not consulted. They were left out of the equation and rightfully feel betrayed."

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Sen. Marco Rubio says he has no problem with changing policy with Cuba, but says he wants to do something that will bring freedom to the Cuban people.
Marco Rubio, Cuba
Sunday, 21 December 2014 12:38 PM
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