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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Following his campaign’s recent suspension for the presidency, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio slammed the scheduled visit to Cuba for the nation’s current commander-in-chief.
Rubio released a statement about the travel plans on Saturday, calling it “one of the most disgraceful trips ever taken by a U.S. president anywhere in the world.”
His concern, like many Cuban-Americans, is that opening the door to diplomacy with the communist island nation lends a legitimacy to an anti-American regime “that actively undermines our national security interests and acts against our values.”
Rubio labeled the talks between the countries’ leaders as “one-sided concessions,” accusing Obama of being “naïve” in his world view and foreign policy.
“President Obama’s entourage will sleep in hotels controlled by the Cuban military that were confiscated by the regime and are among the $7 billion in unpaid legal claims owed to American property owners,” he said.
The president’s plans include a visit to Old Havana, where he’ll tour historic Catholic churches and speak with religious officials. However, Rubio mentioned one church in particular, St. Rita Church, that the president is not expected to stop by because of its controversial group of activist members.
Known as the “Damas de Blanco,” or “Ladies in White,” they are the wives and family of jailed dissidents who attend Mass at the church in white clothing as a sign of peace and protest.
“The Ladies in White have shed much blood and received routine beatings at the hands of the Castro regime for simply demanding their loved ones’ freedom,” Rubio explained.
The Republican Senator continued his assault on what he called the most damaging aspect of Obama’s Cuban policy: “the lawless, one-sided weakening of the Libertad Act that seeks to enrich American businesses and the Castro regime’s police state, without any concessions from Cuba that lead to greater freedoms for the Cuban people.”
Not even baseball was safe from Rubio’s rant.
“President Obama’s decision to end his trip at a baseball game is a fitting symbol of this trip and of his entire Cuba policy: he thinks this is a game,” Rubio remarked. “What’s not a game is the repression, intimidation and exploitation Cuba’s baseball players face and that has led to many of them defecting the first chance they get.”
In the end, Rubio said he sees the diplomatic efforts as “embracing, enriching and empowering our enemies.”
The trip marks the first time in nearly 90 years that a sitting U.S. president will visit the island. President Obama, the first family, members of Congress and his Cabinet are expected to arrive on Sunday and return to the states on Tuesday.