President Obama’s announcement that the United States and Cuba have agreed to establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, is not being well taken by many members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Senator Rubio went so far as to say that Obama is “the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president since at least Jimmy Carter and maybe in the modern history of this country.”
Via USA Today, Sen. Robert Menendez, (D-N.J.) the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”
Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida and a possible Republican presidential candidate said, “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship until Cuba changes.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, another potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and a long-time critic of Cuba’s government, said “the Obama administration should demand democratic reform in Cuba before making any concessions.”
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, appeared on Fox News Wednesday morning, denouncing Obama’s Cuba gambit, and calling the White House “absurd” for not asking for any concessions from the Communist dictatorship.
Rubio argued that the release of American aid worker Alan Gross Wednesday for three Cubans who’d been imprisoned in the United States set a “very dangerous precedent” and “put a price on every American abroad.” He added, “governments now know that if they can take an American hostage, they can get very significant concessions from the United States.”
“They’re creating no economic openings,” Rubio later said. “There are no concessions on freedom of speech, no concessions on elections, no concessions on the freedom to have alternative political parties….what democratic concessions?”
As to what he Obama’s ultimate goal is here, Rubio said, “I don’t know what his intentions are, but I can tell you that his foreign policy is at a minimum naive and perhaps truly truly counterproductive to the future of Democracy in the region.”
He pointed out that “just last week we imposed sanctions on human rights violators in Venezuela, but the people who are supporting the Venezuelans in conducting those human rights violations — literally the Cubans have taken over the Venezuelan government. We’re actually lifting sanctions on them. How absurd is that?