U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) oppose the idea put out by some progressives that the U.S. embargo is causing the suffering of the Cuban people, but say instead it is Cuba’s communist regime.

Both Menendez and Rubio are Cuban-Americans whose families have lived under the oppressive Cuban regime and say those who think the U.S. sanctions are the cause of the widespread protests, don’t understand the way the oppressive communist regime in Cuba operates.

Rubio spoke from the Senate floor on July 20, where he contended that people who called the U.S. embargo against Cuba cruel either “don’t know what they’re talking about … or they’re liars.”

“There is only one blockade in Cuba, and it is the blockade that this regime has imposed on its people,” Rubio said. “In fact, Cuba frankly does not have an embargo—in the way people think—Cuba trades with the whole world,” he said, adding, that the country even trades with the United States.

After the protests in Cuba started in mid-July, the Marxist-influenced Black Lives Matter (BLM) demanded the Biden administration end the embargo. It states in an instagram post that the embargo is “costing the tiny island nation an estimated $130 billion.”

The BLM statement blamed the U.S. government’s “cruel and inhumane policy” for the current unrest in Cuba while praising the communist regime for its “solidarity with oppressed peoples of African descent” by granting asylum to black revolutionaries.

People gather during protests outside the Capitol building, in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Sen. Menendez countered the BLM narrative and agreed with Rubio about the U.S. embargo not being the cause of the suffering or what the people in Cuba are protesting.

“The only embargo that exists on the Cuban people is the one the regime has against the Cuban people,” Menendez told CNN.

Progressives like self-proclaimed Democrat-socialist Congresswoman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) echoed BLM sentiment when she blamed the suffering of everyday people in Cuba on the United States’ 60-year-old embargo.

“Last month, once again, the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to call on the United States to lift its embargo on Cuba. The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point. I outright reject the Biden administration’s defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against everyday people.”

Menendez said he has advised President Joe Biden not to lift the embargo because any extra money going into Cuba will be usurped by the regime.

“Why does the regime shut off the internet? The only time a country shuts off the internet is when they’re afraid of the people and their voices,” said Menendez. “Why does the regime have flush of food and supplies in Dollar Stores, but don’t allow the average human to do it so, you know, my view is we want to help the Cuban people, but we should not empower the regime. We should not make it flush with money to continue to fund the same security apparatus that is presently repressing the Cuban people,” said Menendez.

The Biden administration said Tuesday that they were going to set up a working group that would figure out how U.S. citizens could send money to Cuba, reported Reuters.

“They’re (the working group) not going to have to meet for very long because U.S. law allows that now. It is not illegal to send money to your relatives in Cuba,” said Rubio. “And to the extent money can’t reach the people of Cuba it’s because they refuse to allow anyone other than that bank (Cuban military bank) to do these remittances.”

Rubio said it is also false that there is any travel blockade or medicine blockade by the United States.

“So, there’s no blockade on medicine. We saw the medicine, and you can donate medicine, unlimited amounts under U.S. law. If there’s a blockade on medicine, it’s the regime’s blockade,” Rubio added. He said the regime does not want people to get medicines freely.

Rubio also argues that the Cuban people’s inability to access goods and services freely is the Cuban regime’s fault.

Cubans are not protesting, “because of an embargo or because they wanted remittances. … They told us what they want. … They want liberty, and if there are any people on this earth that should understand that, it should be Americans,” said Rubio.

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