- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, who has emerged as one of the leading critics of President Obama’s move this week to normalize relations with Cuba, said GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, among others, has “no idea what he’s talking about” in response to remarks Mr. Paul made on the embargo against the country.

Mr. Paul had broken with many Republicans, including fellow potential 2016 presidential contenders like Mr. Rubio, by saying this week he thinks the longstanding embargo against the communist island hasn’t worked.

“The 50-year-old embargo with Cuba just hasn’t worked,” Mr. Paul said in a radio interview on 800 WVHU in West Virginia. “I mean if the goal was regime change, it sure does’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime [because] the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.”

“Well, like many people that have been opining, he has no idea what he’s talking about,” Mr. Rubio told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly when presented with those remarks.

Mr. Rubio said the embargo has “holes” in it, saying the United States is still one of Cuba’s largest trading partners even with the embargo in place.

“What’s hurting the Cuban people is not the embargo — what’s hurting the Cuban people is the Cuban government,” he said.

He said Venezuela’s economy resembles Cuba’s right now, and there is no embargo there, but both countries have adopted “radical socialist governmental policies.”

“And I would expect that people would understand that if they just took a moment to analyze that, they would realize that the embargo is not what’s hurting the Cuban people — it’s the lack of freedom and the lack of competent leaders,” Mr. Rubio said.

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