Miami, FL – Speaking ahead of President Trump’s announcement regarding changes to Cuba policy, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) praised the new terms, saying they will empower the Cuban people instead of their oppressors in the Castro regime.
“A year and a half ago, a president, an American president, landed in Havana, to outstretch his hand to a regime,” said Rubio. “Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba.”
REMARKS OF SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:
The Sunday after the presidential election, I was at Dadeland Mall, I was in the parking lot of Dadeland Mall, and I called President-elect Trump on his cell phone to congratulate him on his victory.
And one of the first things he said to me is, “what are we going to do to help the Cuban people?”
A few weeks later, I had the honor of flying with him to Central Florida on Air Force One, and he again, in the midst of that conversation, asked, “what are we going to do to help the Cuban people?”
My wife and I had the opportunity to dine with him and the First Lady in the White House, and in the middle of that conversation he asked, “what are we going to do to help the Cuban people, and the people of Venezuela who are also living under a dictatorship?”
Six weeks ago in the Oval Office, the president of the United States, gathered with the members of his cabinet, made a very clear decision: we are going to do whatever it takes to empower the Cuban people, so that they can be free and live in a democracy and have economic and political liberties that they deserve, like everyone else in this hemisphere deserves. And he has not faltered in that commitment.
The cooperation, the hard work, the commitment that this White House and that President Trump has shown to this cause, I believe has no precedent, certainly in the modern history of this great cause.
We have been helped by many who have aligned with us, some who could not be here today. I do want to recognize Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González of Puerto Rico, nuestra hermana de la isla de Puerto Rico que está junto con nosotros, that’s who’s with us on this issue.
But what I want you to know, is that in every single one of those instances in which the president spoke about Cuba, he also spoke about Brigade 2506.
Because a few weeks before the election, first the first time in decades, he went to visit their museum, where they endorsed him – meaning the first time in decades that they had endorsed a presidential candidate.
And there isn’t a single time that I have spoken to the president about Cuba that he has not mentioned the brigade.
And that strikes me because it reminds us that, almost 60 years ago, when they were young men willing to fight and to die for the freedom of their homeland, they made an extraordinary sacrifice. And perhaps some of them felt that the time to make a difference for them had passed. But I want them to know that almost 60 years later, they have made a difference. That meeting, and their efforts, I believe as much as anything else, has brought us to this day.
And we just landed at the airport, I had the honor of flying on Air Force One. They have the best M&Ms on the planet. And you can take red lights when you’re part of the motorcade that comes in, legally. Without those crazy cameras. Nevermind, I don’t want to talk about that. [Laughter] Get rid of the cameras, yeah.
And it struck me as the plane landed and we were getting into the cars that brought us here, and we look at the president coming down the steps, he was greeted by dissidents, by freedom fighters, by people, some of whom and on the island of Cuba have suffered greatly in the hands of this repressive regime. And less than a year and a half ago, an American president landed in Havana, greeted by a regime.
A year and a half ago, a president, an American president, landed in Havana, to outstretch his hand to a regime. Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba.
And I close with this. I close with this. Many will characterize this as an effort to punish the Cuban regime. And it will punish the Cuban military that oppresses its people and helps Maduro oppress their people in Venezuela. But more than anything else, this change empowers the people of Cuba. Not the government, not the regime, but the people. So that they can enjoy the freedom and the liberty, with a very clear message: America is prepared to outstretch its hand and work with the people of Cuba, but we will not, we will not empower their oppressors.
And you mark my words. And you mark my words. Whether it’s in six months, or six years, Cuba will be free. And when it is, and when it is, and when it is, I believe that the people on the island and history will say, that perhaps the key moment in that transition began on this day, here in this theater, with each of you, and with a president that was willing to do what needed to be done so that freedom and liberty returns to the enslaved island of Cuba.
Voy a ser bien breve, voy a ser bien breve que es muy difícil para un Cubano y para un senador ser breve pero lo voy hacer porque quiero mandarle un mensaje al pueblo de Cuba. Y este es el mensaje: que antes teníamos un presidente que le daba la mano al régimen que lo oprime. Pero ahora tenemos un presidente Americano que le da la mano a ustedes, el pueblo Cubano. Que los días en cual la politica exterior de este pais ayuda al régimen se están terminando y los días en que la política norteamericana ayuda al pueblo Cubano para que ellos puedan tener la libertad, la democracia y los derechos que se merecen que Dios le ha dado. Y cuando ese día llegue, que Cuba será libre por fin yo les aseguro que este día que estamos aquí hoy, la historia va decir hoy que es el principio del fin de este régimen. Gracias a un presidente llamado Donald Trump que hizo lo que tenía que hacer para que la democracia y la libertad regresa a la isla de Cuba.
Muchísimas gracias. God bless you. Thank you.