MIAMI – After the U.S. agreed to allowing Cuba to open an embassy in Washington, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that he will be opposing the next step.
Congress must approve of President Barack Obama's official envoy nomination. And the Cuban-American has been in opposition of Obama's effort to restore relations since the Dec. 17 announcement.
Rubio is vying to become the Republican's next presidential candidate. He warns that through the negotiations, the Castro brothers' regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people. And Obama, he said, continues to look the other way.
Rubio, 44, believes that before U.S.-Cuba relations are normalized, the U.S. needs to secure "greater political freedoms for the Cuban people."
Rubio said the Cuban government needs to settle outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for the properties the regime confiscated. U.S. diplomats need to be allowed to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, Rubio said.
Despite his background, as the son of Cubans who moved to the U.S. during the ruling of Fulgencio Batista, Rubio has become the voice of Cubans who despise Fidel Castro.
"It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end," Rubio said Wednesday.
RELATIONS WITH CUBA
Rubio said he will continue to oppose any political reforms related to Cuba unless the following issues are addressed:
- Concrete results on political reforms and human rights.
- The repatriation of U.S. terrorists and fugitives being harbored in Cuba.
- Resolving uncompensated property claims.
- The removal of restrictions on U.S. diplomats in Cuba.
- "This president has proven today that his foreign policy is more than just naive, it is willfully ignorant of the way the world truly works."
- "What these changes are going to do is, they will tighten this regime's grip on power for decades to come."
- "This Congress is not going to lift the embargo."
- "I anticipate I will be the chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of [the] Foreign Relations [Committee], and I anticipate we are going to have a very interesting couple of years discussing how you're going to get an ambassador nominated and how you're going to get an embassy funded."
Rubio's Cuban parents -- Mario and Oriales Rubio -- arrived years before the 1959 revolution. Rubio's parents became residents May 1956, when Castro was reportedly in Mexico. They also visited Cuba in 1961, after the Communist revolution.
Rubio's parents became U.S. citizens about four years after he was born in Miami. Some of the jobs his parents had in South Florida, after leaving Havana's Calle Maloja neighborhood, included working as a maid in a hotel and as a bartender.
His father died September 2010.
Rubio attended Tarko College and Santa Fe Community College before graduating from the University of Florida and the University of Miami Law School. After serving as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, he moved on to become a U.S. Senator.
Rubio is now know as the Tea Party's "crown prince." He announced that he was running for the presidential nomination at Miami's Freedom Tower. The iconic building near the Port of Miami was where the U.S. government processed about 450,000 Cuban arrivals during the 60s and 70s.
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