Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro passed away on Thursday. His death was celebrated by many American Cubans, many of whom had been separated from their families and faced tragedy as a result of his rule.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a descendant from Cuban immigrants himself, was disappointed with President Obama’s condolences to Castro’s family. He supported president-elect Donald Trump’s promise to overturn some progress Obama made with the island nation. Rubio elaborated on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Host John Dickerson asked Rubio what he wanted to see change in US-Cuba relations:
“Well, I’d like to see more of a democratic opening on the island,” he responded. Rubio elaborated that he wanted to see Cuba do “the kinds of things you find in virtually ever country in country in the western hemisphere, except Cuba and now, increasingly, Venezuela.”
Rubio said that he also wanted to see American foreign policy pursue those goals.
Rubio said that he believed in America’s national interest to “see democracy take hold in Cuba.” Rubio said that he was “not against changes in US policy towards Cuba.”
President Obama headed recent efforts to restore diplomatic relations between America and Cuba to open up the country for trade and diplomacy, symbolized by the reopening of the Cuban embassy. Rubio said that he trusted president-elect Donald Trump to “roll back” that progress.
President Obama visited Cuba in March, making him the first United States president to have made such a trip in 88 years. In August, the first U.S. flight to Cuba in 55 years took off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Obama has called on Congress to lift the Cuban embargo. Though critics of the president’s attempts to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba are largely partisan, there were five notable Republican members of Congress in 2014 who shared a similar desire to lift U.S. sanctions on the country: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
The congressmen verbalized their support for the opening up of the country on the basis of sovereignty, the free movement of people and free markets.