Rubio: Obama’s Intent Is ‘to Empower the Cuban Government,’ Not the Cuban People

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, expressed outrage over the Obama administration’s decision to further relax sanctions on Cuba.

“The Obama administration’s one-sided concessions to Cuba further empower the regime and enable it with an economic windfall,” Rubio, a Florida senator, said in a statement Tuesday. “These regulations are more proof that the Obama administration’s intent has never been to empower the Cuban people but rather to empower the Cuban government’s monopolies and state-run enterprises.”

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a town hall meeting at Central College on January 26, 2016 in Pella, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a town hall meeting at Central College on January 26, 2016 in Pella, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

The Obama administration announced more changes in relations with Cuba Tuesday, including the lifting of additional export, financial and travel sanctions, which is set to happen Wednesday.

“Our U.S. policy toward Cuba should be driven by our national security interests, securing greater political freedoms and defending the human rights of the Cuban people, none of which are advanced through Obama’s latest concessions,” Rubio added.

“By expanding people-to-people ties, business opportunities, and greater access to information, we are promoting the transformation of our relationship in ways that advance U.S. interests and improve the lives of the Cuban people,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “The President has repeatedly underscored that our Cuba policy has changed, and supports increasing connections between the people of the United States and Cuba.”

Price insisted it would expand human rights.

“Engagement and purposeful steps like those announced today will continue to empower the Cuban people and advance our enduring objectives of supporting human rights, improving the lives of the Cuban people, and promoting closer ties between our peoples,” Price added.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the changes build on the administration’s policies since President Barack Obama normalized relations with the Castro regime in December 2014.

“Today’s amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations build on successive actions over the last year and send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to empowering and enabling economic advancements for the Cuban people,” Lew said in a statement. “We have been working to enable the free flow of information between Cubans and Americans and will continue to take the steps necessary to help the Cuban people achieve the political and economic freedom that they deserve.”

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