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Marco Rubio Event April 13, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Events, History, Politics.
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So I head to the Marvin Center today to see a lecture and Q & A session with Marco Rubio. He was a Representative in the Florida legislature, and then became Speaker of the Florida House. He is a Cuban – American and a Conservative.

I knew basically none of this before attending the event, which I also learned upon arrival was being hosted by College Republicans and Students for a Free Cuba. At first I thought this was an interesting combo of sponsors.

My Mom LOVES Cuba, and she is liberal as hell. She wants to “Free Cuba” she deeply cares about the Cuban people. So I was at first confused by the two sponsors.

Today was a fitting day for the event in light of Obama’s announcement to ease restrictions on family travel, remittances, and gifts, as well as opening up telecommunications with the island. Read more here or here. I was pleased with Obama’s announcement, however it quickly became apparent that I was alone in my satisfaction over our President’s latest announcement. I was clearly the only liberal in the room.

Rubio is young and articulate. He spoke quickly, and detailed his views on policy towards Cuba:
– Absolutely do not lift our embargo, it is our last, best leverage point for creating a free Cuba (i.e. a politically free, non-repressive regime) During the Q & A, one of my fellow classmates posited the opinion that instead of maintaining the embargo and waiting for Raul Castro to die, we should get more proactive in our efforts to “free Cuba.” How exactly? “Why not blockade the Island?” (Exactly what JFK did in ’61, only because we were on the verge of a nuclear war) I expected laughter, but I observed nodding approvals in response to a quality question. Obviously, being a level-headed and pragmatic politician, Rubio was against the idea.
– He wants to export our founding fathers principles on government: democracy, freedom, inalienable rights, etc. (His speech began by quoting the declaration of independence) Despite his language sounding exactly like the rhetoric of Cold War presidents, he made absolutely clear that “this has nothing to do with the Cold War” a phrase he repeated frequently.

The most interesting aspect for me was to come to the realization that people on both sides of the political spectrum want to “free Cuba.” Liberals usually want to end an outdated embargo that is the main repressive agent of Cuban development. (Rubio did not address this viewpoint because “Only a minuscule minority of people actually believe this,” he said. I was one of them.) Conservatives want to wait out the Castro regime and maintain our leverage. He felt lifting the blockade would create a huge, and powerful, US business lobby in Congress that would lobby for maintaining the status quo regime in Cuba – a repressive, Marxist one. Lifting the embargo is a bad idea, according to Rubio, because all trade and money entering the country must first go through the Castro regime, and he believed it would be stolen by the corrupt regime.

Anywhooo, it was interesting, and I thought I would share some thoughts. Holla