Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says he would undo much of President Obama’s diplomacy with Cuba if elected president.
“Nothing was asked of Cuba,” he said Thursday of the White House’s diplomatic thaw with the island nation earlier this year, according to The Associated Press.
“We somehow ignore the fact that 90 miles from our shores is an anti-American communist dictatorship that oppresses its people and sows instability,” Rubio added.
“We have a vested interest in ensuring there’s stability on that island, and you won’t have it as long as it’s a dictatorship,” the GOP presidential candidate continued. “People think it’s because we’re being stubborn or holding onto old policies. I’m prepared to change strategies with Cuba, but it has to be one that yields results.”
Rubio said he would downgrade the Embassy of the United States opened in Havana earlier this year if he wins the presidency, instead making the facility a diplomatic interests section, which it was before the Obama administration.
He also pledged to snap back into place restrictions on U.S. government and business dealings with Cuba.
Rubio criticized American corporate interests for blindly rushing toward Cuba’s markets.
“American companies think that they want to invest in Cuba. They have no idea what the terms are,” he said. “The terms are, you don’t own anything. You can’t go to Cuba and open a business and own it.”
He also charged that Cuba’s restrictive society presents an immediate humanitarian concern for Americans.
“As long as they’re an oppressive regime, people are going to get in rafts and leave that island and come to the U.S.,” the presidential candidate said. “It’s our Coast Guard that’s going to have to go and save their lives in those straits.”
Rubio, whose parents fled Cuba’s government before his birth, criticized current U.S. policies on Cubans seeking refuge here.
“What I have criticized — and what I think makes no sense — is that we allow people to come to this country on the Cuban Adjustment Act,” he said.
“One year and a day after they’ve arrived, they’re traveling to Cuba 15 times a year,” Rubio continued. “The laws that exist are hard to justify anymore.
“When you have people who are coming and a year and a day later they are traveling back to Cuba 15 times a year, 12 times, 10 times, 8 times, that doesn’t look like someone who is fleeing oppression.”
The American Embassy in Havana began flying a U.S. flag over its facilities for the first time in 54 years last August.
Obama announced he would begin restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba late last year following decades of tension during the Cold War.