Jul 13 2021
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Hugh Hewitt Show for a detailed discussion of the historic protests in Cuba. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.
“I think they were slow to it, primarily because, A, they don’t understand it, and B, because it runs counter to their narrative. I think most of the people who are making those decisions at the news desks lean far left, and for them, this is a government that is a far-left government -- it’s actually more than that, it’s a Marxist, socialist, communist government. And so I think it makes them uncomfortable, because the narrative they always pursued is Cuba does a lot of things right [and] to the extent there are things wrong in Cuba it’s because of the US embargo. So they didn’t want to jump on it, initially.
“Then when they did jump on it they initially said, ‘Yeah, there are protests, there are protests because of COVID.’ And then they said, ‘Yeah, there are protests, but they are protests because of COVID and because the U.S. sanctions are making things far worse.’ And so I think it’s been very uncomfortable for them, and I think it’s been very uncomfortable for a lot of people in American politics to acknowledge that there are thousands upon thousands of people in 42 cities on an island 90 miles from our shores that are taking to the streets in open rejection of Marxism and communism.”
On Cuba’s Marxist government and the Biden Administration’s attempt to satisfy its radical far-left base:
“It's repetitive because, in essence, all Marxism is ultimately totalitarian. Because what happens is Marxism says, ‘Alright, here’s the deal: we will give you economic security, we will give you social justice, in exchange for your freedom. You have to give up some of your freedom, but these are the things we will guarantee you.’ And then it delivers none of the things it guaranteed, but you don’t get your freedom back. And when you protest, then they say, ‘Oh, you’re a counterrevolutionary,’ or, ‘You sold out,’ or, ‘You’re part of the problem.’
“[The Biden Administration is] faster to condemn Republican legislatures in Texas then they are to condemn the regime in Cuba. That said, they finally said something. But even when they said something, you could see how it had to be carefully crafted to avoid the words ‘socialist,’ ‘Marxist,’ or ‘communist,’ because they know that within their base, especially among their activist base, there are people who openly identify as Marxists. They just do. And these are people that raise money and give money to them. These are people that knock on doors for them, and they don’t want to upset them. And I know for a fact several legislative Democrats in state legislatures, for example, who have spoken out supporting these protests [and] have gotten a lot of grief from their far-left base, which happens to be the most active part of the Democratic base.”
On the theory of democratic socialism and the threat of a rebranded socialism in the United States:
“There is this school of thought out there that you can have socialist policies and yet have a democracy. And people point to Europe, the Europeans -- Europeans will be the first ones to tell you they are not socialists; they have private enterprise. Now, they have big government, they have taxes, they have a big social safety net, etc. -- but they’ll tell you, ‘We don’t control the means of production.’ But in essence, that’s where [socialism] always winds up.
“Socialism never ends, it’s never satisfied, and we’re seeing that play out. I’ve argued that a lot of this wokeness in American politics is just sort of a rebranded, relabeled socialism. That’s what it is -- divide people into a victim class and an oppressor class, tell them that government needs more power to make things fair. It’s never satisfied. There's no part of our lives that they will not intrude upon, and people ultimately rebel against that – that’s what's happening in Cuba.”
On the use of Chinese technology to restrict Internet access in Cuba and the origin of the protests:
“First of all, the internet has been restricted and shut down, as well as access to several sites. It’s been well documented by a number of companies and entities that track that. It’s not surprising -- the Chinese government has built, and in Cuba installed, and trained the Cubans on how to use this system that allows them to shut down the internet. It’s something you see in Iran, it’s something you see in Venezuela, it’s something you see obviously in China, and even in Russia, and it’s Chinese technology.
“But that said...there were protests again [on Monday]. This is not going to end, because this is an organic movement; it has no leader. This is a leaderless movement, it’s not led by any organization. In fact, here’s something very interesting -- this entire movement that has taken root in the last year was all led by artists.These are artists, these are actors, these are playwrights, these are songwriters, and singers, and musicians, and poets who have led this movement because of the restrictions on what they are allowed to express. Ultimately, this just became an organic movement in the streets, so it’s impossible to predict when it will break out again. But it’s not going to go away.”
On Rubio’s plans to hold individuals accountable for repressive actions taken against civilians amid the protests:
“What we’re trying to do here is to set up a mechanism… to take these pictures and these images that we’re capturing from Cuba and have people identify who these people are. We know who the high-ranking officials are, but who is the guy in the street with the machine gun, who’s the guy in the street with the baton, beating, cracking people’s heads open?
“Cuba is a small country, everybody knows everybody there...and they can help us identify people by name and last name, and that’s going to be useful for us. It’s not uncommon to find someone that is a member of the repressive forces that four years later winds up in the U.S. asking for asylum, claiming that they’re persecuted. We have people living in the United States that were part of repression and are now living here without anyone knowing about it. We need to identify these people so they can never enter the United States, either as visitors or to stay here permanently, but also, ultimately, because there is going to be a free Cuba, and these individuals need to face justice for the actions they’re taking right now.”
On how the United States must respond to the Cuban protests:
“The first problem we have is… I think there is going to be this tendency to say [these protests were] a one-time thing. The Cubans know this -- if they can restrict those videos from coming out for a couple days, they know our attention will move on. So we need to keep on talking about it, because these people really do look to us to understand that we are their echo to the world.
“In that vein, there are four things I would like to see concretely. The first is that I’d like President Biden to repeatedly state, very clearly, as well as here in the Senate and in the House, whose side we are on. We are on the side of the people against a Marxist, socialist, communist regime. We need to say that clearly.
“Number two, we need to make clear to the Cuban regime that there isn’t going to be any changes to the Trump policies. The policy review is over, the policies stay in place, because [the Cuban government is] hoping that things will change, and, in fact, they’re going to try to use this crisis that they're facing to leverage that, to say, ‘Look, unless there are some changes to your policies, things aren’t going to get better in Cuba.’ And in fact, they’re going to threaten us with a mass migration from Cuba and they're going to say, ‘It’s inevitable -- 50,000 people are going to get on rafts and head to America.’
“And that’s the third point -- I think Biden needs to make it abundantly clear to the Cuban regime that any encouragement of mass migration to the United States is going to be treated as a hostile act, and we will react accordingly. It’s virtually an act of war to send a human wave, and it’s inhumane.
“The fourth [is] something I’ve really been focused on for a long time -- we were making progress on it under the Trump Administration, and I hope we can restart it under the new administration -- and that is provide the people of Cuba unfettered, unfiltered internet access using satellite technology to make internet available on the majority of the island of Cuba so that people can go onto that system, communicate with each other, communicate with the world, and not be filtered out by this Chinese system that’s been installed.”
On the Cuban government’s human trafficking of medical doctors:
“These doctors are sent to these countries, and then they are basically paid a dollar or two per day. In fact, a couple of them were kidnapped, I believe, in Kenya a couple years ago -- never to be heard from again -- by one of these Islamist forces.
“And we used to have this program -- and it was given away by the Obama Administration as part of their opening -- and the program was this: Cuban doctors who were overseas could ask for asylum, and they were granted visas by the United States to come into this country. And the reason why the Cuban regime hated it is because they were afraid to send doctors overseas because they would defect…
“Now we’re not talking about tens of thousands of people coming into the United States here, but we are talking about one more pressure point, because the Cuban government gets paid -- they generate revenue. In essence, they send these doctors overseas, the host country pays the Cuban regime, and the Cuban regime pays them two dollars a day -- they can’t even subsist on it. Some of them are living in deplorable conditions, and they would defect in a heartbeat if they could.”
On the Cuban government’s use of talented athletes to spread pro-government propaganda:
“I never try to blame some 19-year-old kid who happens to be a good boxer or a good gymnast for what’s happening. They just want to play sports, and I understand that, and I understand they live in a very tough system. That said, you see a lot of them try to defect, and they have. Major League Baseball is an example of it.
“...Don’t tell me that [Cuba has] this great athletic system of competition when their best athletes, if they could leave, would leave, and have left. These people don’t live under any freedom and, frankly, you never hear from these guys again after the Olympics. They go back and [the Cuban government feeds] them better than everybody else, but that’s about it. They have no opportunities to do anything else for their family. When they can no longer box, when they can no longer compete in the Olympics, they’re no longer useful to the regime, and they’re discarded. You never hear about them again.”
On the extreme level of desperation in Cuba that persists as a result of its socialist policies:
“The embargo allows us to do business with any independent Cuban business that exists. If you open a small grocery store tomorrow, we can do business with you all day long. It’s just [that] the Cuban regime won’t allow it.
“It’s the Cuban regime that, if you send your relatives money in dollars in Cuba, the regime takes ten percent of it off the top, and then they force you to convert the dollars your relatives sent you into worthless Cuban currency -- the regime keeps the dollars, and then all the good stuff is sold at government stores, everything’s sold in dollars. This is exactly what the problem is here.
“The Cuban government is the one that doesn’t let the fishermen catch fish and sell it to the people. The Cuban government is the one that doesn’t let the Cuban farmer grow things and sell it to the people. It’s the Cuban government who builds these luxury hotels for tourists while people’s homes are crumbling. They’re the ones that are responsible for this.”