‘We need to show a strong and clear regional commitment to see a strong return to democracy…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., said on Thursday he hopes the Trump administration will continue to strengthen its resolve against authoritative regimes in the Western Hemisphere.
In a lecture at the Heritage Foundation, Rubio said he believes recently nominated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be a helpful ally in fighting repressive regimes in Latin America, specifically in Venezuela and Cuba.
The Senate must approve Pompeo’s nomination.
In his speech, Rubio said the Obama administration’s “open-door” policies toward Cuba harmed America more than they helped.
In 2013, when Obama first introduced his Cuba policy, Rubio called it a “one-way deal.”
It might have resumed diplomatic relations and eased tourism-related restrictions, but Rubio said it gave Cuba the “green light” to increase its repression.
After Trump was elected, Rubio teamed with Rep. Mario Diaz-Ballart, R-Fl., to re-write the Cuba policy and reinstate many of the restrictions Obama had eased.
“I cannot tell you how pleased I was to have the opportunity to work very closely with President Trump to reverse many of [Obama’s] failed policies, and shape new policy that instead economically and politically empowers private Cuban citizens,” Rubio said on Thursday. “We are hopeful that with the change in the Department of State and the ascension of future Secretary Pompeo, we will have a strong partner in that endeavor.”
Rubio said the American government should be “forward-leaning” in helping our democratic allies.
“We need to show a strong and clear regional commitment to see a strong return to democracy,” Rubio said.
Rubio, whose Cuban heritage has given him a personal connection to human rights abuses in the region, spent the past two years speaking against totalitarian regimes.
He’s a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and is the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Western Hemisphere as well as global human rights.
He also sits on the Intelligence Committee, which allows him to have a voice in democratic efforts overseas.
“There’s not a greater champion,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, said. “He raises to everyone who comes before the panel the critical questions on support for basic human rights.”
Providing immediate humanitarian aid to private organizations and relief to the democratic countries absorbing migrants from tyrannical regimes are two ways America can lead the international effort to combat communism, Rubio said.
Rubio also advocated a “modern day Marshall plan” in broken countries, like Venezuela.
“President Trump will announce that the U.S. is prepared to make a regional and international effort to rebuild Venezuela after a democratic government is established,” he said.
The U.S. cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the repression occurring in countries like Venezuela and Cuba, Rubio said.
The elections posed by dictators like Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro are a “charade,” he said.
“I can assure you: Fraudulent elections like Maduro’s are not fooling President Trump,” Rubio said. “If anything, they will strengthen, not weaken, the administration’s stance.”
Watch Rubio’s speech below (remarks begin at 18:20):