Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, spoke Monday on the Senate floor about the reign of oppression in his parents' native Cuba and in Venezuela. Rubio gave the address after Iowa Democratic senator Tom Harkin gave a rosy evaluation of Cuba after a recent trip there. Drawing on the example of Castro's Cuba, Rubio draw comparisons to the Maduro government in Venezuela.
Watch Rubio's full speech below:
Marc Caputo, a political reporter with the Miami Herald, called the speech the "best oration" of Rubio's career. Here's an excerpt:
For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.
Over the next few days, Rubio said, he’d propose sanctions “we should be pursuing against the individuals responsible for these atrocities.”
Rubio said it’s “shameful” that the United States and Congress haven’t done more to denounce or punish the government-sponsored violence in Venezuela.
As an aide flipped through over-sized photos of Venezuelan protests, Rubio ticked off the struggles of living in the country, the horrors of its citizens dying and being jailed at the hands of its government.
Sometimes a handshake is more than just a handshake. When President Obama warmly embraced the late Hugo Chávez at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, he lent respectability to a brutal autocrat who had crippled Venezuelan democracy, terrorized his political opponents, and supported both the Iranian theocracy and the Colombian FARC. When then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hugged Ecuadorean leader Rafael Correa during a visit to Quito in 2010, she made Correa seem like a normal democratic president, rather than a thuggish Chávez acolyte who had persecuted independent journalists and gravely weakened his country’s public institutions.
The Treasury Department "fully licensed" Beyonce and Jay Z's trip to Cuba, according to Reuters.
"American pop star Beyonce and rapper husband Jay Z visited Havana last week on a cultural trip that was fully licensed by the United States Treasury Department, according to a source familiar with the trip," Reuters reports.
The Cuban regime has just announced a prisoner release, at the very end of 2011. This is partly an effort to get some positive publicity before the scheduled visit of the Pope, and partly a cold-blooded move by the regime to release older prisoners who are a burden on their prison system.
"In a strong statement this afternoon, Jon Kyl, the Senate's number-two Republican, says President Obama "should personally stand up and publicly condemn the attacks by the Assad regime on the Syrian people."
In a recent series of conversations with Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, Fidel Castro made several eyebrow-raising comments. The one that received the most attention was Castro’s assertion that the Cuban economic model no longer works. (He later tried, disingenuously, to backtrack on this statement.) Surprisingly, his remarks on Iran and anti-Semitism caused less of a splash. But these remarks were equally (if not more) significant, for they were part of a broader, ongoing charm offensive conducted by the Cuban dictatorship at a time of internal distress.
Jeffrey Goldberg is back from Cuba, where he was summoned by Fidel Castro after the former Cuban president read Goldberg’s recent article on the likelihood of an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear program. Goldberg promises that his Havana adventure will be the subject of a forthcoming story, but in the meantime, he’s blogging about it, the highlight of which appears to be a dolphin show he watched alongside Fidel himself and the daughter of Che Guevara, whom we are told loved animals. And then there’s the dog-and-pony show, which was conducted solely for the benefit of The Atlantic’s national correspondent.