In response to Tuesday’s news that the United States had reached an agreement with Cuba to reopen embassies in each other’s countries, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) vowed to oppose the confirmation of any American Ambassador to Cuba unless the ongoing abuses of the Castro regime are addressed.
The U.S. and Cuba are expected to officially announce on Wednesday that they will be opening embassies in each other’s capitals, according to a BBC report.
President Barack Obama’s administration has aggressively pushed for normalizing relations with the island nation. In April the State Department removed Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, despite ongoing concerns about its support for terrorism and human rights violations. This decision was heavily criticized by both Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rubio’s fellow Republican in the Senate and competitor for the GOP presidential nomination.
As Breitbart News reported, the Castro regime has supported the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terrorist group, and the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah. Cuba has also shielded from extradition Assata Shakur, who’s on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorists List for her role in the killing of a New Jersey State Trooper, as Breitbart Texas reported.
Last month, Rubio sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, vowing to oppose the confirmation of any potential U.S. Ambassador to Cuba unless progress was made in four key areas: political reforms and human rights for the Cuban people, repatriation of known terrorists and other fugitives from U.S. justice (including Shakur, mentioned above), resolution of the billions of dollars of outstanding American property claims against the Cuban government, and establishment of freedom of travel for U.S. diplomats in Cuba.
None of these matters have been resolved.
In a statement provided to Breitbart News Wednesday morning, Rubio reaffirmed his promise to oppose the nomination of an ambassador to Cuba:
Throughout this entire negotiation, as the Castro regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people, the Obama Administration has continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession. The administration’s reported plan to restore diplomatic relations is one such prized concession to the Castro regime.
It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President’s December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people.
I intend to oppose the confirmation of an Ambassador to Cuba until these issues are addressed. It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end.
Rubio currently serves as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.