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Rubio warns Biden will further 'appease' regimes in Venezuela, Cuba after midterms

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) says Biden should close the Cuban Embassy in D.C.

September 15, 2022 2:58pm

Updated: September 16, 2022 1:02am

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio predicted that the Biden administration is going to try to normalize relations with Marxist dictatorships in Latin America after the November elections. 

"After these midterms, after November, what you're going to see is a full effort to try to recalibrate policy towards Cuba, to get rid of more and more of those sanctions and to appease that regime," Rubio said outside of the White House with Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott and political activists calling for freedom and democracy in Latin America.

"What you're going to see after November is they're going to say that the new Colombian government is asking us to reopen diplomatic recognition of the Maduro regime, so that's what the U.S. is going to do," he added. "And that's what you're going to see after the election."

Rubio was referring to news that Colombia's new president, Gustavo Petro, is attempting to normalize relations with Venezuela, ruled by disputed Socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"Maduro is democratically elected," Petro's newly appointed ambassador to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, said on Sept. 4. "I know that there are some allegations on human-rights issues and distortion of electoral data, but that's an issue that is up to them to resolve."

Rubio said Biden is also likely to appease Nicaragua in some way after November.

"What you're going to see is some way to try to get back into a working relationship with [Rosario] Murillo," the wife of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, "and I say Murillo because Ortega is there, but I'm not sure how much he calls the shots anymore, but his wife is crazy, and she's evil, and she calls the shots," Rubio said.

Scott called on the Biden administration to ensure U.S. companies aren't sending profits to dictatorships. 

"Whether you're an airline, hotel, an oil company, cruise line, or agriculture company, it doesn't matter what industry you're in, you should not be working to benefit Maduro, [former Cuban ruler Raul] Castro or [current Cuban ruler Miguel] Díaz-Canel,"  he said. "And President Biden can help ensure American companies don't send profits to dictators by revoking their visas to operate in these countries."

Scott also renewed his call for Biden to close the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C.

"It was wrong to reopen the embassy in 2015, and given all the communist regimes, corruption and abuses, we should not allow it to operate for one more minute," he said. "Close the Cuban Embassy."

The former Florida governor also said Biden should put the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia back on the list of foreign terrorist organizations. 

"The U.S. must not tolerate terrorist groups that support narco-states and destabilize the Western Hemisphere," he said. "Their terrorist activity has not stopped. And we need the right tools to hold anti-American terrorists in Colombia accountable." 

Scott argued that Biden has "turned a deaf ear and blind eye to the fight for freedom and democracy" in Latin America. 

"He's allowed dictators to destabilize the region and spread socialism as he let Iran, Russia and Communist China to expand their influence in our hemisphere," he said. "We also saw how he lifted restrictions and sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba in May. We've seen this policy of appeasement in action, and it has made the United States less safe."

Rubio said that "nothing comes out of this White House that's proactive on the cause of liberty and freedom" when it comes to countries run by dictatorships in Latin America.

"It's interesting that they have a position, and the position is largely to be agnostic, and just to stay on the status quo with some of the changes that have been made, but they've done nothing active, that's for sure, and the reason is simple," he said. "Sadly, in that building that's behind me, there are people working at the National Security Council in this White House, who are against all the things that happened just two years ago.

"They were against the additional sanctions on the regime in Cuba, they were against supporting the interim government in Venezuela, and against the sanctions against the Venezuelan government, they were against the sanctions that we put in place against Nicaragua, they were against all of these things. And these are the people that are running Western Hemispheric Affairs in the building behind us now." 

Scott said Biden should direct the Department of Treasury to "block access to U.S. assets to anyone involved or complicit in organizations, human rights violations or corruption in Venezuela or Nicaragua."

Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart described the regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as a "cancer." 

"According to those dictators, the enemy is the United States, the enemy is freedom," he said. "And yet, this president, this administration, doesn't stop looking for ways to help, to appease, to do everything possible to help these anti-American narco-terrorist dictatorships.”  

Diaz-Balart said the layoffs happening at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which is part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, are not a coincidence.    

"They can't say it's because they want to save money, because they have been wasting money on everything,” he said. "[O]ne of the few areas where this administration wants to frankly eliminate are the broadcasts into the island."  

The OCB's official mission is to "promote freedom and democracy by providing the people of Cuba with objective news and information programming." 

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