President Obama's decision Tuesday to no longer consider Cuba a terrorist nation prompted sharp rebukes from newly declared Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio and one of his likely rivals, Jeb Bush.
For Rubio, it was an opportunity to receive even more public attention a day after his campaign launch. For Bush, it's a chance to show off his savvy on Cuba and Latin America, honed from years of experience living in Miami and being the governor of Florida.
Of note: A version of Rubio's statement translated into Spanish differed slightly from his video statement in English. He did not say in English that Cuba harbors Medicare fraudsters -- but did point that out in Spanish.
President Obama embraced Cuba’s oppressive dictator, Raul Castro by removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List and consummating the Obama Administration’s rapprochement with the Communist police state. Coupled with this policy of accommodation with Cuba is the Administration’s failure to respond sooner and more forcefully to the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, where the policies of late dictator Hugo Chavez and his chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro continue to hurt their people. Beyond denying their citizens the basic freedoms all humans deserve, the Castro and Maduro regimes continue to engage in activities abroad that undermine stability in this pivotal region.
While I am concerned about the continuing assault on human rights and democracy in Latin America, I am encouraged by the signers of the ‘Declaration of Panama’ – Latin American democracies committed to expanding freedom and opportunity throughout this region. These brave defenders of liberty and democracy are the natural allies of the United States. Rather than breathing new life into corrupt regimes, the United States should stand with these leaders, and on the side of the Venezuelan and Cuban people who have for too long been denied the fundamental freedoms they so deserve.