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Rubio: Interest in Cuban must trump any business gains
BY CHRIS ADAMSMCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU
01/21/2015 1:33 PM 01/21/2015 1:33 PM

WASHINGTON
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, gave an impassioned
defense of his position on the White House’s new Cuba policy, saying he
had strong support in Congress for his views – and that even of the
views of fellow South Florida Cuban-American leaders didn’t persuade him
otherwise.

His comments came in a Wednesday breakfast with reporters sponsored by
The Christian Science Monitor. Touching on his presidential ambitions,
the sagging American Dream and other national topics, he spent some time
articulating his position on the White House’s plans to ease tensions
with Cuba and open trade with the island national vital to the family
histories of Rubio and much of South Florida.

It came a few days after several dozen national, Florida and
Cuban-American leaders wrote the White House encouraging its efforts and
saying they “will advance our national interests and our values by
empowering the Cuban people’s capacity to work toward a more democratic
and prosperous country.”

Among the letter signers: George P. Shultz, who was Ronald Reagan’s
secretary of state, and key South Florida leaders such as businessmen
Mike Fernandez, Carlos Saladrigas, Alfonso and Andres Fanjul, Paul Cejas
and Ricky Arriola.

“I certainly respect a lot of those folks, and they have a right to
their opinion,” Rubio said when asked to contrast his views with those
who signed the letter. “And I have no doubt that they sincerely desire
freedom for Cuba. My problem is I can’t think of a single contemporary
example where a reluctant tyranny has become a democracy as a result of
an economic opening.”

Citing examples in , and Burma where economic openings did
not lead to the desired results, Rubio continued that nations didn’t
become democratic just “because they were flooded with tourists and
interaction.”

The desires of business interests are partly propelling the Cuban thaw.
But Rubio said that’s the wrong way to look at it. And, he said, it’s
what he thinks will help win over his congressional colleagues.

“I understand that people are interested in Cuba as a market,” he said.
“But my interest in Cuba – I’m interested in democracy. I think a free
Cuban people can decide any economic model they want. There’s one I
would recommend to them… My interest in Cuba is singular: I want them to
have freedom and democracy.”

That, he said, was “more important than the desires of some business
interests to go to Cuba and make some bucks.”

As far as votes in the Senate for any action to thwart the
administration’s plans, Rubio said he doesn’t know if he can convince
every member. But, he added, “I certainly think the majority of our
conference supports my position on this issue.”

Email: cadams@mcclatchydc.com. Twitter: @CAdamsMcClatchy

Source: Rubio: Interest in Cuban freedom must trump any business gains |
The Miami Herald The Miami Herald –
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article7865766.html

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