Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, and NBC’s Meet the Press today to discuss President Trump’s announcement on U.S. policy towards Cuba, the Russia investigation and healthcare. A partial transcript of key exchanges is below.
RUBIO: Well, the one thing I would say to you is that they challenge the world to do more to create stability in their own regions. And the Western Hemisphere is the region that we’re in. And I would say it’s in our national security interest to have human rights and democracy in our region because the absence of those two things leads to migratory pressure and instability, whether it’s Haiti or Cuba, or Mexico or Central America, so much of the migratory pressure on the United States is created by instability in the Western Hemisphere. And so there is a national security interest in our region in creating stability and democracy.
And the other thing I would say is, if you look at the Western Hemisphere thirty years ago, the majority of the countries were governed by dictatorships or strongmen. Today every country in the hemisphere has had at least one free and fair election in the last decade and a half or so, except for one—the island of Cuba. So hopefully we’re getting closer to the day where that happens there as well.
RUBIO: This basically says that American travelers to Cuba, they’ll continue to fly on commercial airlines or get there on a cruise, but when they get there they have to spend their money primarily with individual Cubans who own these private businesses, which is everybody who supported the Obama opening was always bragging about. They were saying, there was all these new small businesses, well we want to put them in a privileged position. And so American travelers to Cuba will have to spend their money with them instead of the Cuban military. That was the goal of this, is to empower individual Cubans to be economically independent of the Castro military and of the Castro regime.
RUBIO: Look at the migratory pressure, whether it’s people coming across the border from Central America or Mexico or people on rafts coming from Haiti or Cuba, it’s all driven by one thing. And that is the lack of political freedoms, and the lack of human rights, and economic rights.
And so the United States, as national security interest, needs stability in our region. If you look at the Western Hemisphere, every country in the region has had at least one free and fair election in the last decade and a half or so except for one. Cuba has not had a free election in almost 65 or 70 years—that needs to change.
Now the Obama policy towards Cuba made all sorts of concessions. Those concessions have allowed the Cuban military, which controls upwards of 50, 60 percent of their economy, to enrich itself and to tighten its grip through a monopoly that they control and we’re reversing that—the president is reversing that.
What he is saying is that if Americans travel to Cuba now you will have to spend your money with private individual Cubans, not with the Cuban military. That is a very appropriate thing. And I don’t understand how anyone could argue that we should not have a policy that enriches the Cuban people instead of the Cuban military.