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ICYMI: Rubio Joins Newsmax TV
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Newsmax TV to discuss the historic protests in Cuba and the ongoing infrastructure negotiations. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the Biden Administration’s policy toward Cuba:
“They’re meaningless sanctions. It’s like saying the entire New York Knicks team is sanctioned, and then you say this individual player is now sanctioned as well. It is like one of those three life sentences that people get — one is enough, it’s already covered by it. It is symbolic. The problem is the Biden Administration is getting its policy advice on Cuba apparently from a bunch of people in Miami, the same who were in Havana in 2015, drinking mojitos at the bar at the government owned hotels and celebrating the opening of our embassy with John Kerry. These people have long favored an engagement with the regime over there.
“So I think the answer here is threefold: one is for the president (and I asked him to do this the day after the protests) to convene the brightest minds in government, academia and business [to] help expand access to the internet on the island of Cuba. Because that is what has changed everything here — the ability of the Cuban people to talk to each other, talk to the world, and show images of what’s happening. That is the first thing.
“Where is the diplomacy surge that they promised us America was going to be engaged with in these multilateral organizations? Where is the meeting of the OAS, which is supposedly an organization of the democratic countries in this hemisphere? It hasn’t even convened a meeting to denounce what Cuba did. Where is the Inter-American Human Rights Commission ordering them to go into Cuba and issue a report about what’s happened there?
“A consistent message about whose side we’re on is important here. So all of these things need to have happened; right now they haven’t, and I think that’s why you’re seeing some of this response from people. They know whom Biden is listening to, and it’s not good.”
On providing internet access to the Cuban people:
“[The Biden Administration has] talked about looking into it — ‘We’re going to have VPNs,’ which is important, ‘What can we do?’ — but [those are] generalities. What I haven’t seen them do is put an emphasis on it the way they have some other issues, which is to say, ‘I’m setting up this task force, here’s who’s on it, it’s some of the brightest people involved in all this, and I’ve asked them to come back to me in 15 days with options about what we can do.’
“For example, if we made the Wi-Fi at the U.S. embassy in Havana open and allowed people in Havana to use it, could it then be relayed throughout the island? Cubans are pretty innovative and creative.
“That is just one aspect. The other is using these radios — they would have to be stronger than the ones that were used in Puerto Rico because they can’t be over Cuban airspace — but could that be used at least to expand internet access in times of crisis?
“And the third is the VPN subscription service for about a million dollars. You can do three months of VPN coverage for Cubans who sign up for it and use it so they can evade some of these filters that are being put up and keeping them from accessing Instagram, social media, and Facebook — the outlets through which they are sharing these videos with the world and talking to each other about political change in Cuba.
“[The Biden Administration has] not done any of that. They had a conference call last week with a bunch of people, many of whom, like I said, were in Havana in 2015 drinking daiquiris and celebrating the re-engagement with a regime. I don’t think they’re going to get good advice from that group.”
On the likelihood that the July 11th protests in Cuba will lead to long-term change on the island:
“You’re dealing with a regime that’s willing to kill their own people by the thousands. There are 17-year-old girls that are going to jail for a year in Cuba now, they’ve been summarily sentenced to a year in jail for walking out on the street and videotaping what was going on. So you’re talking about a pretty brutal regime here.
“That said, I don’t think after what happened on the 11th of July that it will ever go back to being the same. The government has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the Cuban people. They have seen their own government go out and brutalize people for simply saying, ‘We want to be able to give our opinion without going to jail. We want to be able to own a small business. We want to be able to have the same opportunities that Cubans have all over the world.’
“Regarding Cuban-Americans, I think there are two things happening here at once. The first is the desire for freedom and liberty in Cuba, which is 90 miles from our shores [and] also a place that China and Russia used to hurt America from. The other is to ask the fundamental question: why in God’s name would we ever want to bring anything associated with what they believe over there to our politics here?
“A lot of the Marxism that you see over there is reflected here in some of our domestic political debates. Instead of class warfare, it is about identity politics and Critical Race Theory. All of these things are designed to say the country is divided between an oppressor class and a victim class — ‘Give us power in government so we can defend you victims against these evil oppressors.’ Under traditional Marxism, it was capitalists and their money — under the new iteration, it is race, ethnicity, and gender.”
On the infrastructure package currently under debate in the Senate:
“I haven’t had a chance to review it. I want us to do infrastructure; I’m in favor of doing real infrastructure. What I’m not in favor of is two things: number one, a free-for-all on the tax side where we start raising a bunch of taxes. Think about it, we’ve just been through a pandemic, we have a bunch of small businesses just recovering, the nation is in desperate need of new investment — private sector investment and creating new jobs, new industries, new capabilities — and we’re going to hit them with the tax increases on top of everything else? I’m not in favor of that.
“I have to see how they’re paying for all this. And that’s the other point: I’m not voting for a bill that has all kinds of extraneous things in it… Ultimately, the bigger issue here is not whether Republicans in the Senate are going to support this bipartisan deal, it is whether the House — which has a lot of members that want to see a multi-trillion dollar plan including infrastructure and all kinds of social safety net spending, —would ever accept anything that’s reasonable. So until we know the answer to that question, I’m not sure we should be investing a lot of political time on an issue that in the end they’re going to say ‘It’s not big enough, it doesn’t spend enough.’
“I need to read it more carefully to give you an opinion as to how to vote on it, but I can tell you where my red lines are. I want infrastructure. I want to vote for an infrastructure bill, but I have to see how it’s being paid for and I have to see it being paid for in a way that is not counterproductive to economic growth. But I want us to do something. It is important for the country and I hope we can.”