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Marco Rubio bashes U.S. foreign policy toward Nicaragua, Cuba and Alan Gross

Speaking to reporters Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the Obama administration's foreign policy toward Nicaragua and Cuba.

Rubio, who sits on the Senate foreign relations committee, took questions at Kristi House, an agency for children victims of sexual abuse, where he went to highlight the problem of human trafficking.

"In Nicaragua they just stole the election," Rubio said, calling it "an illegal election, an election that went against that country's constitution." "They ignored the laws that said Mr. Ortega could not run again. And this country has done absolutely nothing. This administration has done absolutely nothing."

Then he moved on to Cuba.

"There is a man named Alan Gross who is imprisoned in Cuba without committing any crime. An American citizen. There has not been a single consequence" on behalf of the U.S. government, Rubio said. "On the other hand, this administration, during the years Alan Gross has been imprisoned, has simply opened more toward Cuba, giving more benefits and more concessions to the Cuban government."

Lastly, Rubio spoke in favor of funding pro-democracy organizations, presumably such as radio and TV Martí. (Update: A Rubio spokesman has emailed us to say the senator was referring to USAID pro-democracy programs, not radio and TV Martí.)

"They have taken funds from programs that have been proven to confront and oppose the Castro tyranny. They are giving funds through a mysterious process," Rubio said.

"I simply ask that they respond to these things, and if they are not going to respond, I am not going to cooperate with them on these things that they're asking from me."

Earlier this week, Rubio announced his opposition to three State Department nominees, including the official who would be responsible for the U.S.'s relationship with Cuba.

Update #2: Gross came up in the White House's daily press briefing Friday, pegged to the two-year anniversary of Gross's detention Saturday.

Here's a transcript of what spokesman Jay Carney told McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Steve Thomma:

"As you know, Steve, tomorrow will mark the two-year anniversary of the unjustified detention of Alan Gross by Cuban authorities. Our deepest sympathies are with Mr. Gross and his family and friends, who have suffered tremendously during this ordeal. It is past time for Mr. Gross to return home to his family where he belongs. 

Cuban authorities have failed in their effort to use Mr. Gross as a pawn for their own ends. They must heed the call of Mr. Gross’s family and friends, the international community and the United States to immediately release Mr. Gross.

Mr. Gross is a dedicated international development worker who has devoted his life to helping people in more than 50 countries. His work in Cuba was to support the free flow of information to, from and among the Cuban people, in support of Cuban civil society. And we remain steadfast in our support for Cuban society and the desire of the Cuban people to determine their own future.

Then there was a follow-up question: Will President Barack Obama make a personal appeal on Gross's behalf?

"I don’t want to announce -- make any announcements about what he may or may not be saying, or statements he might issue."

--MARC CAPUTO AND PATRICIA MAZZEI

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