How Cuba is exporting repression to Venezuela
By Marco RubioFebruary 28, 2014 | 11:29pm
Excerpted from the Florida senator’s Feb. 24 remarks on the Senate
floor, following a speech by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
The senator from Iowa bragged about a number of things that he learned
on his trip to Cuba that I’d like to address.
He bragged about their health-care system — medical school is free,
doctors are free, clinics are free, their infant-mortality rate may be
even lower than ours.
I wonder if the senator was informed, No. 1, that the infant-mortality
rate of Cuba is completely calculated on figures provided by the Cuban
government — and totalitarian regimes don’t have the best history of
accurate reporting. I wonder if he was informed that, before Castro,
Cuba was 13th in the whole world in infant mortality.
I wonder if his hosts informed him that in Cuba there are instances
reported, that if a child only lives a few hours after birth, it’s not
counted as a person who ever lived and therefore doesn’t count against
the mortality rate. I wonder if he was informed that in Cuba, any time
there’s any problem with the child in utero, the mothers are strongly
encouraged to undergo abortions.
I wonder if they spoke to him about the outbreak of cholera that they’ve
been unable to control, or about the three-tiered system where
foreigners and government officials get health care much better than
what’s available to the general population.
I heard about their wonderful literacy rate. Here’s the problem: They
can only read censored stuff. They’re not allowed access to the
Internet. The only newspapers they’re allowed to read are Granma or the
ones produced by the government.
We heard about Alan Gross, who is not a prisoner. He is a hostage. I
heard allusions to the idea that maybe there should be a spy swap.
Here’s the problem: Gross was not a spy. You know what his “crime” was?
He went to Cuba to hand out satellite radios to the Jewish community.
Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at: shutting off
information to the Internet and to radio and TV and social media. And
they’re not just good at it domestically, they’re good exporters of
these things. They’re exporting repression in our hemisphere right now.
Leopoldo Lopez is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. The
National Guard of Venezuela pulled him into an armored truck last week.
You know why? For protesting against the government of Venezuela, which
is a puppet of Havana, completely infiltrated by Cubans and
military-affairs agents from Havana.
You know why? Because the Venezuela government is giving them cheap oil
and free oil, in exchange for help in these sorts of repressions.
The featured photo shows Genesis Carmona, a beauty queen and a student
in a city called Valencia. She’s on that motorcycle because the
government in Venezuela and the so-called civilian groups that it has
armed — another export from Cuba — they shot her in the head. This is
her being taken on a motorcycle to the hospital where they were unable
to save her life. She died last week.
This is the government that the Cubans support. Not just verbally, but
with training and tactics. This is who they export — this is what they do.
Lopez’s supporters are being hit with by water cannons in the street
because they’re protesting against the government. This has been going
on now for two weeks.
This is the ally of Cuba, the puppet of Cuba. And this is what they do
to their own people. Water cannons knocking people to the ground for
It is shameful that only three heads of state in this hemisphere have
spoken out forcefully against what’s happening in Venezuela. It is
shameful that many members of Congress who traveled to Venezuela and
were friendly with [late strongman Hugo] Chavez sit by saying nothing
while this is happening in our own hemisphere.
And this wonderful Cuban paradise government? This is what they support.
The dictator Raul Castro just announced he’ll help with whatever the
Venezuelan government needs.
What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when the protests
broke out? It cut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet.
It ran CNN out of there. Years before, it had closed down all the
independent media that criticized the government.
Where did they learn that from? From Cuba.
And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is.
Well, I wonder how come I never read about boatloads of American
refugees going to Cuba. Why have close to 1½ million people left Cuba to
come here, but the only people that leave here to move there are
fugitives from the law, people who go there to hide?
The senator from Iowa cited a poll: “More Americans want normal
relations with Cuba.” So do I — a democratic and free Cuba. But you want
us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial
violator of human rights, which supports what’s going on in Venezuela
and every other atrocity on the planet? And this is who we should be
opening up to?
We have sanctions on North Korea because they’re a terrorist government
and an illegitimate one. Against Iran we have sanctions,because they
support terrorism and they’re an illegitimate government. And against
the Cubans we have sanctions. Why? Well, you just saw why.
Sanctions are a tool in our foreign-policy toolbox, and we, as the
freest nation on Earth, are looked to by people in this country, and all
around the world, to stand by them in their moment of need when they
clamor for freedom and liberty and human rights. They look for America
to be on their side, not for America to be cutting geopolitical deals or
making it easier to sell tractors to the government there.
I would suggest to my colleagues, the next time they go to Cuba, ask to
meet with the Ladies in White. Ask to meet with the dissidents and the
human-rights activists that are jailed and repressed and exiled. Ask to
meet with them.
I bet you’re going to hear something very different than what you got
from your hosts on your last trip to the wonderful Cuba, this
extraordinary socialist paradise. Because it’s a joke. It’s a farce.
Over the last week, I have tweeted about these issues. I get thousands
of retweets from students and young people, until they shut them out, in
Venezuela who are encouraged by the fact that we are on their side. What
they want is what we have, the freedom and the liberty. That’s what all
And if America and its policy-makers aren’t going to be firmly on the
side of freedom and liberty, who in the world is? Who on this planet
will? If this nation is not firmly on the side of human rights and
freedom and the dignity of all people, what nation on the Earth will?
And if we’re prepared to walk away from that, then I submit to you that
this century is going to be a dangerous and dark one. I don’t believe
that’s what the American people want from us. 89,202,249
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