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UPDATED Jeb Bush calls lifting Cuba terror designation a 'mistake,' Marco Rubio says it's a 'giveaway'


Jeb Bush, who last week basked in the hometown embrace of Miami Cuban-American hard-liners, stayed loyal to their cause Friday when he again denounced the Obama administration for removing Cuba from a list of terrorism sponsors.

"Neither continued repression at home nor Cuba's destabilizing activities abroad appear sufficient to stop President Obama from making further concessions to the Communist regime in Havana," Bush said in a statement. "Today's news is further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them. Iran's leaders are surely taking note."

He went further, referring to the action as a "mistake":

"The removal of Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List and the unilateral concessions to Havana, before it changes its authoritarian ways and stops denying the Cuban people their basic human rights, is a mistake," Bush said. "I call on Congress to keep pressure on Cuba and hold the Administration accountable."

Bush had taken a similar stance when lifting the designation was first announced. Congress had 45 days to try to block it but didn't try to do so. The change is effective as of Friday.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the other 2016 Republican presidential hopeful from Miami, has called the decision "terrible."

UPDATE: Here's video of Rubio from Friday criticizing the decision as a "giveaway":


Miami's three Cuban-American Republicans in Congress -- Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- also slammed the change in statements Friday. Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen have endorsed Bush, and Curbelo also seems likely to do so once Bush formalizes his candidacy.

Here's Ros-Lehtinen:

President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list demonstrates that this Administration has once again put politics over policy.Cuba should not have been removed from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list since one of the many reasons for its inclusion are its links to repressive regimes around the world such as Iran, Syria, and Russia. Additionally, Castro continues to provide a safe haven to terror groups like the Colombian FARC and Spanish ETA and harbors fugitives from American justice. The Castro regime’s responsibility in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, the unresolved claims stemming from its illegal confiscation of property from American citizens and businesses, and its continual use of repressive tactics to silence any opposition to the tyrannical regime are further evidence that Cuba should not have been removed from the SSOT. However, it is clear that this review from the Obama Administration was not based on facts, but rather based on a desperate attempt to offer more concessions to the Castro brothers in exchange for opening an embassy in Havana.


Forty five days ago the Obama Administration announced their plan to delist Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, and today they finalized their actions.  The President’s decision to remove Cuba from the list is a step in the wrong direction,  further illustrating the President's lack of leadership, weak foreign policy, and his concern for legacy over legitimate facts. This removal will perpetuate the Castro Regime’s oppression. Cuba does not merit the concessions afforded under this change, which is clear through their continued interactions with the Colombian FARC and Spanish ETA terror groups. The Castro regime has harbored U.S. criminals from the FBI’s Terrorist list, illegally shipped weapons to North Korea, and been complicit in the deaths of Americans over international waters.

President Obama’s blatant refusal to focus on the realities of the Castro regime is a clear indication that he is fixated on his legacy. However, in his rush, he is placing United States security interests at risk and delaying the democracy that so many in Cuba desire.


Regrettably, President Obama chose to remove Cuba from the U.S.-designated state sponsors of terror list.  He made this ill-advised decision despite the Castro regime's continuation of its terrorist activities, including illegal weapons smuggling, extensive espionage activities, assistance to terrorist organizations and rogue regimes, harboring fugitives from U.S. justice, including terrorists Joanne Chesimard and William Morales, and even protecting three high-ranking members of its military who have outstanding federal indictments for murdering Americans. The President's decision was wrong on the facts and wrong on policy. Just two days before the anniversary of the Taliban Five swap, President Obama is at it again. This does not come as a surprise, as President Obama has an unfortunate history of appeasing those who are a threat to our country's national security interests. Instead of supporting the pro-democracy movement and its leaders on the island, President Obama continues to earn his Appeaser-in-Chief title by continuing his endless concessions to the Castro regime. Congress will continue its efforts to counter his destructive policies.