‘Meaningless’: Marco Rubio Blasts Biden Cuba Sanctions
UNITED STATES - JUNE 24: Acting Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., conducts the Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for Peter Michael Thomson, nominee to be inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Russell Building on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) blasted President Joe Biden’s announced sanctions against Cuba, calling the measures “meaningless,” and accused the president of “pandering to the Marxist left” of his party that idolizes Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.

Biden’s sanctions, levied under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, target the regime’s “Black Berets” — Cuba’s version of special forces — and the island’s defense minister Álvaro López Miera, are specific to those individuals and relate only to their assets held inside the United States. The Treasury Department instituted the sanctions Thursday.

Neither the Black Berets nor Miera have American assets. The island is under a strict embargo that prevents trade or transactions, and the Trump Administration, the Daily Mail reported, “sanctioned the entire Interior Ministry, including the Black Berets, in January” before then-President Donald Trump left office.

Biden has said the economic sanctions — or re-sanctions — are just the first of several actions on Cuba. Further efforts could include a “working group” on remittances — money sent from the mainland United States by Cubans in exile to their relatives on the island — and “reconsideration” of a State Department proposal to return some diplomats to the U.S. embassy in Havana. That embassy has been nearly vacant since 2017 when staff was evacuated following a series of “sonic attacks” that left aids ill.

“Biden sanctioning an already sanctioned regime official in Cuba is the kind of symbolic but meaningless measure we will continue to see as long as @POTUS is being advised by people who were drinking mojitos in Havana in 2015 to celebrate the Obama policy,” Rubio tweeted Friday.

Indeed, an expert consulted by the Daily Mail suggested the sanctions are meaningless, noting that Cuba is already under a heavy embargo.

“I actually don’t think they have any significance,” Jose Gabilondo, a law professor at Florida International University, told the outlet. “I think their goal is to appease part of Joe Biden’s would-be electorate because he did poorly in Florida.”

“There were already a quite complex set of sanctions in place,” Gabilondo added. “It’s kabuki politics.”

Biden is walking a fine line. Although Cubans in the United States are a mix of Democrats and Republicans — and Cuba’s pro-democracy movement likely has little in common with either party in the U.S. — Biden’s greatest pressure on the issue comes from progressive Democrats who largely blame the United States — not the repressive Cuban regime — for Cuba’s problems.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), widely considered a voice for the progressive left in Congress, blamed the U.S. embargo, at least in large part, for Cuba’s economic woes.

“We also must name the U.S. contribution to Cuban suffering: our sixty-year-old embargo,” she continued. “Last month, once again, the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to call on the United States to lift its embargo on Cuba. The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point. I outright reject the Biden administration’s defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people.”

Rubio had a response to that, too.

“The U.S. is the largest provider of food to #Cuba & each year sends $275 million in medicine & $3 billion in remittances to relatives,” he said. “The suffering in Cuba isn’t because of an embargo, it’s because socialism always leads to suffering.”

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