Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to debunk false narratives surrounding the Cuban embargo.
The lawmaker — who is Cuban-American — has been among the most vocal supporters of recent anti-communism protests in the island nation. As The Daily Wire reported, Rubio delivered another speech on July 12 to explain the factors leading to the protests.
As The Daily Wire has also reported, progressives — such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the leadership of Black Lives Matter — point to the American embargo as the cause of economic hardship in Cuba.
Rubio emphatically disagrees. On Tuesday afternoon, he asserted that American embargo policy is targeted at the Cuban regime — not the Cuban people.
“The White House, after having some sort of meeting or conference call, came out and said that they’re going to be looking at remittances — increasing and making it easier to get money to relatives in Cuba,” Rubio explained to his Senate colleagues. “The people in charge of Cuba policy at the White House — at the National Security Council and at the State Department — the people in charge of Cuba policy have long been advocates for dialogue with the regime and an economic opening.”
Rubio noted that “there are no American ships blockading Cuba.” Indeed, “Cuba trades with the whole world.”
He explained that Cuba imports $5.3 billion annually from Spain, Italy, China, Canada, Russia, and other nations. Meanwhile, Cubans import food products — such as chicken and soybean — from the United States.
“This regime trades with virtually every country on the planet… There’s only one blockade in Cuba. And it is the blockade that this regime has imposed on its people.”
With respect to remittances, for instance, Rubio observed that there are no legal barriers for Americans to send money to their relatives — with the exception of a ban on using a Cuban bank in Panama run by the Cuban military, through which the regime requires all foreign remittances to flow.
“Here’s how it works for them. You send your relative $100. They take 10% of it. Then they take the dollars — they don’t let them deposit it — they pocket the dollars and they give them this worthless Cuban currency. [The regime keeps] the dollars so they can buy things for themselves on the global market.”
“The blockade — to the extent that there’s something that’s preventing remittances directly to the Cuban people — it’s not U.S. policy,” Rubio added. “It’s regime policy.”
Likewise, Rubio explained that Americans can presently travel to Cuba — as long as they do not eat at government-run restaurants, stay at government-run hotels, or shop at government-run stores. However, the regime blocks all private tourism.
The same is true for other economic activities. American citizens and businesses can legally donate medicine and establish internet networks — both of which are normally disallowed by the Cuban government.
“You see a pattern here?” asked Rubio. “Blockade on travel. Blockade on private ownership of business. Blockade on bringing in medicine. Blockade on bringing in money. Why? Because the Cuban regime wants to control people.”
“They don’t want individual Cubans to have a paycheck that they earn for themselves,” Rubio continued. “They want what little you have to come from them — because if you don’t do what they tell you, they can take it from you. That’s what they want … They don’t want the people of Cuba to have liberty. This is all about control.”
According to Rubio, the American embargo automatically ends once three conditions are met: “Free the political prisoners, free press, free and fair elections.”
“So the bottom line is this,” Rubio concluded. “Anyone who stands up and says, ‘There’s an embargo, there’s a blockade by the United States, and it’s cruel, and it’s causing all of these problems’ is one of two things: They don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re just parroting some talking point, or they’re liars.”