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Marco Rubio chides U.S. travelers: Cuba ‘is not a zoo’

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio issued some harsh words of criticism against Americans who travel to Cuba — including his Senate colleagues on official trips — and then claim an understanding of the nation's root problems.

Cuba "is not a zoo ... where you get to watch people living in cages," he said, in a Politico report. "Look, God bless [these travelers]. I know they mean well. But I have people come to me all the time and tell me, 'Oh, I went to Cuba. What a beautiful place. I feel so bad for the people.' "

But Cuba is not "a field trip," the senator said to a Cuba-Democracy PAC crowd in Miami, Politico reported.

"Cuba is not a zoo where you pay an admission ticket and you go in and you get to watch people living in cages to see how they are suffering," he said. "I don't take that stuff lightly. You just went to Cuba and to fulfill your curiosity ... you've left thousands of dollars in the hands of a government that uses that money to control these people that you feel sorry for."

Mr. Rubio also said his Senate colleagues don't understand the extent of Cuba's problems, despite personal visits with Cuban leadership.

"The thing I really get a kick out of is every year, without fail, three or four of my colleagues in the Senate will travel to Cuba ... and then they come back with the same story," that the country is obviously a relic of the Cold War, Mr. Rubio said, in the Politico report. "That's what they say. It is a relic of the Cold War, but our policy is not the relic."

Mr. Rubio clarified his view: Cuba's government was the true relic, Politico reported.

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