By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in The New York Post:
How Cuba is exporting repression to Venezuela
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 protesting.
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 people want.
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.
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