Republican senator Marco Rubio said a top State Department official was “dishonest” about the Obama administration’s plans to change its policy on Cuba. Tony Blinken, the newly confirmed deputy secretary of State, told the Florida senator at his confirmation hearing in November that the administration would not unilaterally change its Cuba policy without “full consultation” with Congress. That consultation, Rubio says, never happened to his knowledge.
“He was dishonest,” Rubio told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Wednesday. “He was clearly evasive.”
President Obama announced Wednesday a shift in U.S. policy on Cuba, the Caribbean island country under control of the communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro and his brother Raul for more than half a century. The policy change includes allowing some American travel to Cuba, opening up some trade channels, and reestablishing diplomatic relationships with Havana.
At a press conference in the Capitol, Rubio said he only became aware of the changes late Tuesday night, though he said he had “long suspected” a change in policy.
“I was not consulted by anyone in the administration until 10 am this morning,” Rubio said. He said Secretary of State John Kerry called him Wednesday, just hours before President Obama’s announcement. Rubio says he expressed his disagreements with the new policy.
A Miami native, Rubio’s parents were among the thousands of Cubans who left their home country but were unable to return after Castro’s revolution in 1958. “I know firsthand how this regime manipulates family,” Rubio said. The potential 2016 presidential candidate said he supports normalization of relations. “When Cuba is normal,” he said.
Asked if Rubio would push to block funding for an American embassy in Havana in the next Congress, the Republican said, “I am committed to doing anything I can to unravel these changes.”
In November, Rubio had a back-and-forth with Blinken over the question of a change in Cuba policy. Olivier Knox of Yahoo News covered the line of questions:
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SOURCE: The Weekly Standard – Michael Warren