Where Sen. Rubio & Cuba’s Raul Castro Agree

Dawn Gable* 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Photo: wikipedia.org

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 13 — US Senator Marco Rubio revealed several points on which he agrees with Cuban President Raul Castro in his speech before the ultra-Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference held in Washington DC last weekend.

Amidst jokes insulting President Carter and the non-Republican population (2/3), Rubio let slip his commonalities with Castro on energy exploration, micro-economics, and internationalism. Where they still disagree is on women’s rights.

Rubio, who appears to be vying for a vice-presidential nomination, was introduced to the CPAC audience as, first and foremost, an upholder of family values who is committed to putting his family first.

This emphasis on family values can only be seen as an attempt by his PR team to erase the memory of Rubio’s false claim that his parents fled the Castro dictatorship (a painful insult to all those who did) when in fact they had left Cuba well before the revolution.

The US Senator agrees with the Cuban President that a nation should exploit the energy resources endowed upon it. He notes: “The United States doesn’t have an energy policy; it has energy politics…we are an energy rich nation…why would we tie our own hands behind our backs?…conservatism which is grounded in common sense…says, if you are an energy rich nation you need to use the energy that God has blessed your nation with.”

One can only assume that he was attempting a swipe at Obama’s nixing of the Keystone pipeline,  but then one has to wonder if he thinks Alberta Canada is part of the United States?

Either way, he is clearly in favor of Cuba’s deep water oil exploration. He also concurs with Obama’s opening of the entire Gulf of Mexico to deep water oil exploration…well, except for the oil-rich Florida coast where state laws prohibit drilling.

Perhaps the Florida Senator is suggesting that the moratorium on offshore drilling along his state’s coast, in effect until 2022, should be thrown out?

According to Rubio, the entire conservative movement “believe[s] that prosperity is created when people have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and what that means in real terms is that you can open up a business in the spare bedroom of your home, that you can ask your mom ‘hey can I take a piece of this garage and use it to start up this business where I am going to take my life savings and invest it in this idea that I have?’”

While he then admitted that doing so in the US would probably be in violation of zoning codes, nonetheless, the model is in perfect accord with Raul Castro’s economic reform which is encouraging hundreds of thousands of Cubans to turn spare bedrooms and garages into cafes, barbershops, guest rentals, clothing outlets, etc.

Cuban President Raul Castro

Revolutionary Cuba is well lauded for its principal of internationalism, which over the decades has taken many forms including: fighting back apartheid forces in Africa, literacy efforts in 15+ countries, disaster relief in Pakistan, Haiti, and Central America, and providing medical training for the world’s poor.

Cubans agree with Rubio that to be an American (ie. born on this continent) “is a blessing…but also a responsibility.”

Unfortunately Sen. Rubio’s statement, “Whether you agree with it or not, when America sends its sons and increasingly its daughters to die overseas, they do it for other people’s liberty, for other people’s freedoms. What other nation in the world has ever done that?” reveals that he has not kept up with the history of Cuba, his country of descent, or of many countries for that matter.

In his speech he praised the “single greatest nation in all of human history” with “the most powerful military that has ever existed,” for single-handedly defeating Imperial Japan and the Nazis (never mind the US late arrival to WWII, the tenacity of the Allied forces, and the decisive efforts of the USSR).

But for Rubio, US exceptionalism is not confined to the earthly realm. He believes that God has singled out the US. “America’s greatness is also derived from our blessings, we are a blessed nation. Think of what God has given us: a nation rich with everything… Think of the people God has allowed to come here over the past 200 something years. The best and brightest the world has to offer… He’s blessed us with prosperity…freedom, peace.”

It follows then that he believes God was in favor of the slave trade that “allowed” Africans to come to the US and that God is not all that fond of some nations, evidenced by their damnation to starvation and war. Contrary to Matthew 19:23-24 (it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God) he thinks that a nation’s wealth is a measure of God’s approval and affection. Well, perhaps he hasn’t read the Bible.

But for someone unfamiliar with Christian scriptures, he sure knows how to stroke the religious right…and this is where he and Raul decisively part company. Women in Raul Castro’s Cuba have the freedom to determine how to best care for their reproductive health, based on their own conscience and beliefs.

Rubio thinks women do not have this right. He thinks the Catholic Church should hold control over a woman’s body. In his speech, Rubio interpreted the constitutional freedom of religion to mean the freedom of the Church to dictate the health care options of all women, believers or not.

*Dawn Gable contributes to HT from Washington D.C.