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Venezuela's violence. The 'farce' of Cuba. And Marco Rubio's best speech

@MarcACaputo

RubioMarco Rubio couldn’t stand it.

The U.S. Senator from Florida had listened patiently to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa speak favorably about his recent trip to Cuba, all the while omitting any real references to the oppression of the totalitarian government there.

To Rubio, like many Cuban exiles and their descendants, it was too much to bear.

“Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at,” Rubio said Monday when he took to the Senate floor. “What they are really good at is repression…They have exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”

This wasn’t some Cold War-era fulmination about Castro’s regime.

Rubio’s speech was about current events: the protests in Venezuela, the Maduro government and the ties it has with the Castros, who repress their own people and helped inspire the suppression in Caracas. 

Venezuela is becoming the new Cuba. 

For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

Over the next few days, Rubio said, he’d propose sanctions “we should be pursuing against the individuals responsible for these atrocities.”

Rubio said it’s “shameful” that the United States and Congress haven’t done more to denounce or punish the government-sponsored violence in Venezuela.

As an aide flipped through over-sized photos of Venezuelan protests, Rubio ticked off the struggles of living in the country, the horrors of its citizens dying and being jailed at the hands of its government.

“This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez,” Rubio said. “And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government.”

Then came the next photograph, a picture of a young woman being driven off on a motorcycle.

“This is Genesis Carmona,” Rubio said. “They shot her in the head. She died last week.”

Rubio continued: “Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.”

Rubio also took issue with a recent survey, cited by Harkin, that indicated a thaw in American and Floridian perceptions of relations with Cuba.

“He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba,” Rubio said.

“But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up,” Rubio said. “And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?”

Rubio said that, just as the United States has sanctions against North Korea and Syria – allies of Cuba – it should keep pressuring the governments in Havana and Caracas.

And he disagreed with the notion that the embargo hurts the Cuban people. Instead, he said, it’s the totalitarian-socialist government that’s to blame for problems in Cuba – as well as in “oil-rich” Venezuela.

“We don’t have an embargo against Venezuela,” he said. “They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

Rubio repeated that last line elsewhere in his speech:

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day. What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They shut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government.

“Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is.”

Rubio also said members of Congress who visit Cuba should ask the regime tough questions about dissidents and protestors.

“I would suggest to my colleagues, the next time they go to Cuba, ask to meet with the Ladies in White. Ask to meet with the Yoani Sanchez. Ask to meet with the dissidents and the human rights activists that are jailed and repressed and exiled,” Rubio said. “Ask to meet with them. I bet you’re going to hear something very different than what you got from your hosts on your last trip to the wonderful Cuba, this extraordinary socialist paradise. Because it’s a joke. It’s a farce.”

Read the whole speech here

Comments

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John McAuliff

If visiting VIPs met with Yoani Sanchez she would certainly be critical of the Cuban government but she would also say that travel restrictions and the embargo should be ended.

Senator Rubio's ideological antipathy to a country he has never stepped foot in blinds him to the change inducing and permitting impact of normalization and engagement.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

joeblow

why does Little Marco only speak of Cuba and Venezuela????
isn't he supposed to represent Florida in the Senate?
last I heard Florida was part of the US not Cuba or Venezuela.
why doesn't Little Marco do anything to represent Floridians?????
he's been up in DC for four years and hasn't accomplished a thing.
if he wanted to be a Cuban diplomat he should go back to Cuba and see if Fidel would appoint him????
can anyone tell me ONE THING Little Marco has accomplished on behalf of Floridians?????

No Me Gusta Marco

The only people the embargo with Cuba helps are extreme politicos like Marco Rubio. It does not help the citizens of Cuba or the United States. It only serves as a Soap Box for Marco and his comrades to deride a dying political philosophy and regime. They perpetuate what little power the government of Cuba has by supporting the embargo.
Let it go already. Like a bad ex who cannot get over a breakup.

wilson

Would like to see a debate between Charlie Crist (who is for lifting Cuban sanctions) and Marco Rubio.

thinkfirst

"Senator Rubio's ideological antipathy to a country he has never stepped foot in blinds him to the change inducing and permitting impact of normalization and engagement."

The same can be said about your ideological antipathy to severe and unintended consequences of having the US essentially give its OK to the regime there by normalizing relations and engagement. They have never done one thing ever to deserve such generosity from this nation/ Thus, we shouldn't just capitulate so we can pat ourselves on the back and marvel at how open and understanding we are to tyrants of all stripes. Stepping foot in the country matters not at all, especially considering the embargo and his family's history there. My family left the Soviet Union during the Cold War and I didn't need to go back to the USSR to get a real understanding of what things were like. And despite the fact that you may or may not have been there, growing up in a home with people who actually had to live in the country for most of their lives will give one far better insight into what things were actually like than being part of a non-profit.

ryan

Marco Rubio is correct. Apparently the only access to internet that Cubans have is when they send their government sponsored morons to comment on this blog.

GOP Proud

Ryan, you nailed it! I'm very proud of my Senator, someone who stands on his principles and unwavers. He can actually speak without a teleprompter!!

tim_in_mn

Kudos to Marco for telling it like it is. Senator Harkin is just one in a long line of dupes that allow themselves to become accomplices to monstrous regimes. I expect this from morons like Sean Penn and flimflam artists like Michael Moore, but it's truly sad to see a sitting senator join in.

abc abd

Marco Rubio has the ability to translate what others do not see unto reality. AS another blogger stated there is way too many people that ignores how poisonous and destructive the cuban regime is. Too bad that the nay-sayers do not stick their neck out and see what happens outside of our borders. I am very proud of Marco and his unfiltered ability to say things other politicians ignore.

stu

This is one f the best speeches I have ever seen. Bravo. If nobody will stand up fro freedom and democracy, who will? Iran? North Korea?

The Senator who stood up on the senate floor and talked of Cuba being a paradise is an idiot.

Jack Stewart

It's sad that Florida's junior senator doesn't show the same concern for his own constituents in Florida.

Marisel Walsotn

Bravo for Senator Rubio! It is time someone told these Congressmen that are so in love with the Castro regime a few truths. The Cuban regime is a cancer in this hemisphere and it is exporting that same cancer to Venezuela! Wake up Americans! Cuba is not a paradise! It is a miserable place for all except those in the high ranks of government! The embargo is not to blame for the ills in Cuba. The blame for the destruction and misery in Cuba falls squarely on the Castro regime and their idiotic policies! Bravo Senator Rubio for telling it like it is! Dale!!!

jueny febres-cordero

Senator Rubio has said exactly what is going on in Venezuela and how!
I am deeply grateful to him for being so accurate and well-spoken, and for having
taken the time to speak on our behalf!

Chuck Mcallister Sr

Harkin is a perfect fool. He is a perfect fool because he has never done ANYTHING of consequence and get a tingle in his leg when Obama speaks and people still listen to him as if he has something to say

Rubio knows what he is talking about. The people of Cuba and Venezuela are in the same oppressive situation as are all people who live under Communism!!!!

Ed Jenkins

The citizens of florida are grateful for this Rubio who is the state's most popular senator for a reason and that is because he takes pro-American and pro-business positions much more often than my old pal nelson who unfortunately appears to be showing early signs of dementia in recent encounters. This is a far cry from the scumbag crist who Rubio thankfully demolished and who supports communist dictators leaving us democrat primary voters to wonder how the party continues to stick with such a disastrous candidate as this scumbag crist.

jay

Bravo Rubio!

jboy

A couple of posts asked what Rubio has done for Floridians. I can see now why Florida went for Obama. Apparently some Floridians can't do anything for themselves. How can a speech against communism and human rights violations get criticism?

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