Former Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, himself a Cuban exile, has come to Sen. Marco Rubio's defense in his dispute with a Washington Post article that says Rubio embellished facts about his parents' move from Cuba to the U.S.
Martinez came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1962 at age 15 as part of operation Pedro Pan, which helped about 14,000 Cuban children flee Castro's regime. Martinez served in the U.S. Senate from 2005 to 2009:
"The recent Washington Post story regarding Senator Rubio’s parents and their immigration from Cuba shows a gross lack of understanding about the Cuban exile experience," he said. "The fact is that they would not have left Cuba permanently if not for extreme fear of persecution and in search of freedom, like so many of us did."
"I lived this experience myself in Cuba – through the revolution and the communist takeover. To diminish the courage of Senator Rubio’s parents and to assert their reason for fleeing Cuba was unrelated to the oppression of a tyrannical and cruel communist dictatorship is wrong."
Meanwhile, the Washingotn Post's ombudsman gave readers a forum to ask questions of the piece's author, Manuel Roig-Franzia, and its editor, Kevin Merida.