With Cuban dictator Raúl Castro set to retire next month, Republicans from the Florida delegation are already taking aim at whoever replaces him.
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and several Republicans representing Florida in the U.S. House--Carlos Curbelo, gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ted Yoho--wrote President Donald Trump, calling on him to “denounce Castro’s successor as illegitimate in the absence of free, fair, and multiparty elections, and call upon the international community to support the right of the Cuban people to decide their future.” DeSantis joined Rubio in taking the lead in the letter.
Rubio sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Ros-Lehtinen was the first woman to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently chairs the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee while Yoho leads the House Asia and Pacific Subcommittee.
“We write today to thank you for holding the Castro regime accountable for its oppression and ongoing human rights abuses against the Cuban people, and for furthering U.S. national security and foreign policy interests of promoting democracy,” the Florida Republicans wrote. “We also request, within all applicable rules and regulations, that you continue to work toward empowering the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty
Rubio and the House Republicans noted that Trump weighed in on Cuba in a speech he made in Miami back in June.
“For nearly six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination," Trump said in that speech. “To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere, and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores. . . This is the simple truth of the Castro regime. My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it. And we will never, ever be blind to it. We know what’s going on and we remember what happened.”
Pointing to that speech, Rubio and the House Republicans from Florida called on Trump to “denounce Castro’s successor as illegitimate in the absence of free, fair, and multiparty elections, and call upon the international community to support the right of the Cuban people to decide their future.”
“As you know, dictator Raúl Castro has said that he will step down from the presidency on April 19, 2018. However, we know that a predetermined, charade election orchestrated by regime officials will continue the dictatorship,” they wrote. “This sham election is yet another example of the regime’s dictatorial repression of fundamental freedoms which must not be recognized by those who value freedom and democracy. This, along with your ongoing efforts to restrict financial transactions with the Cuban military that aid the Castro regime, will assist the Cuban people in their goal of self-government. Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to continuing to work with your administration on this matter.”