Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) torched President Barack Obama’s new policy aimed at normalizing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba on Wednesday, and addressed Pope Francis’ support for the president’s move.
“My understanding is that the influence that His Holiness had was on the release of Mr. [Alan] Gross, which I’ve not criticized. As I said, I’m happy that he’s with the Cuban people [sic]. I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people — for a people to truly be free,” Rubio, a Catholic whose parents immigrated from Cuba to flee an oppressive regime, told reporters.
“I think the people of Cuba deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from; as the people of Italy have, where he now lives. Obviously the Vatican’s its own state, but very nearby,” the senator and rumored 2016 presidential hopeful continued. “My point is I hope that people with that sort of prestige on the world stage will take up the cause of freedom and democracy. The Cuban people are the only people in this hemisphere that have not been able to elect a leader in more than 55 or 60 years. That’s outrageous.”
In a statement circulated by the White House, the Vatican said, “The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relation, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their history.