Monday Senator Marco Rubio delivered a blockbuster speech on political repression in Cuba and Venezuela which touched on recent events including the death of 22-year-old Genesis Carmona. The speech makes him the most outspoken U.S. politician on the subject of the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.
Rubio’s 14 minute speech was apparently prompted by comments Sen. Tom Harkin made after a visit to Cuba last month. One of the points Harkin raised was Cuba’s low infant mortality rate. Rubio questioned the reliability of Cuba’s official infant mortality statistics, noting that “totalitarian communist regimes don’t have the best history of accurately reporting things.”
Rubio also noted with regard to Cuba’s high literacy rate that “They can only read censored stuff.” He added “I wish that someone on that trip would have asked the average Cuban: With your wonderful literacy skills, are you allowed to read the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal or any blog for that matter? Because the answer is no.”
Five minutes into the speech Rubio pivoted by noting that Cuba had “exported” their system of repression to Venezuela. He showed a series of large posters, talking about each one in turn. The first was of Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan opposition leader, who was arrested last week.
The second was the famous photo of Genesis Carmona being rushed to the hospital after being shot in the head. “She’s on that motorcycle because the government in Venezuela and the thugs, these so called civilian groups that they’ve armed–another export from Cuba, a model the Cubans follow–they shot her in the head!” Rubio said, pointing at the photo.
After a couple more photos of student protesters, Rubio summed up saying “It is shameful that only three heads of state in this hemisphere have spoken out forcefully against what’s happening. It is shameful that many members of Congress who traveled to Venezuela and were friendly with Chavez–some even went to his funeral–sit by saying nothing while this is happening.” Rubio closed by saying that in terms of state control of media and public repression of dissent, Venezuela looks more like Cuba every day.
Here is the full video of Sen. Rubio’s speech.
Addendum: Fox News Latino reports “Efforts by Fox News Latino to get a comment from Harkin were unsuccessful.”