Saturday, October 22, 2011

Marco Rubio and Batista

Marco Rubio (R-FL) has long blamed Fidel Castro for the fact that his parents left Cuba.  Now it appears they were fleeing Fulgencio Batista!  And he's mad that anyone would distinguish between the two, or suggest that he's clueless.

In a campaign ad last year, he said: "As the son of exiles, I understand what it means to lose the gift of freedom." Rubio's biography on his Senate website previously said he was "born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who come to America following Fidel Castro's takeover." It has been changed to say Rubio "was born in Miami in 1971 to Cuban exiles who first arrived in the United States in 1956."

It is very hard to imagine a Cuban or Cuban American getting confused about the difference between 1956 and 1959, or the difference between Castro and Batista.  But when it comes to Florida and Cuba, rationality goes straight out the window.


NPV 9:35 PM  

His parents went BACK to Cuba in 1961? That means, they went back AFTER the firing squads of early 1959. Or, after the invasion from the Dominican Republic, organized by the Trujillo regime, where Ninoska's husband was captured and given 30 years in prison. That is, after Eisenhower cut the sugar quota in June 1960 and Fidel seized US properties in August 1960. And after the US broke relations with Cuba (Jan. 1961). I guess they did not read the Florida newspapers then, nor listened to the rightwing talk shows out of Miami, then....

Anonymous,  12:23 PM  

Honestly this strikes me as a game of snarky gotcha. Sure the record should be set straight with regard to his family's story. Family history is often a confused set of memories, motives and facts. The senator should show greater care and humility when speaking on this issue for political purposes. You, however, must be jokingly attributing the parent's motives to a political exile from Batista in order to suggest that post-Castro exiles were not so motivated by politics. Why? The parents could have been motivated by any combination of factors in wanting to try life in the US. That Cuban immigrants would want to return to their homeland before or after Castro doesn't sound unusual to me. Family ties, culture and property may have remained behind. One spouse may have found life in the US very hard to adjust to. It is inarguable though that Castro's government made it impossible for tens of thousands to live in Cuba or return to their homeland in a state of political and economic freedom. The 1959 revolution represents the single great divide in modern Cuban history. Those who had a choice invariably opted to leave and, in doing so, never return. The larger truth belongs more to the narrative as told by Rubio and his fellow Cuban Americans than it does to those who think a single date, anecdote or event would undermine the legitimacy of their exile. Cubans voted with their feet. If allowed to act upon their basic human right to emigrate today, they would do so again.

Randy Paul 6:43 PM  

I've had no doubt that my father came from the Ukraine in 1921. I've seen the documents and it doesn't seem like something I would screw up notwithstanding the fact that it took place 35 years before I was born. I doubt seriously if it was something I would get wrong if it was only 15 years before I was born.

Anonymous,  7:29 PM  

Well your personal anecdote doesn't convince me. The larger truth remains in the numbers. I am trying to recall when my father left Franco's Spain for the U.S. Was it 1950? 1951? I have the letter he wrote to his parents in Madrid about his trip but I don't recall the exact year. His immigration was not tied to a single political event. Although emigration from Spain in those years had both political and economic dimensions. It was largely a decision to seek a better professional opportunity at a U.S. university. Rubio has misstated a situation that should seem precisely memorable, likely in order to enhance his political credibility among Cuban American voters. He should be corrected. To mock him and suggest that Castro's Revolution was not a defining event for his family and tens of thousands of other Cuban American families is patronizing. I think there are better ways to argue against his political positions. Likewise, the fact that immigration to Cuba increased throughout the 1950s tells us something about the experience under communism.

Randy Paul 11:28 PM  

I'm sure your father left after the Spanish Civil War as mine left after the Russian Revolution. The fact that Rubio can't remember that his parents left before the Cuban Revolution is really the only unconvincing thing here.

Anonymous,  7:32 AM  

When Barack Obama said during a presidential campaign that his mother was denied health care insurance in seeking treatment for her cancer due to preexisting conditions. Should he know this detail of her life? It turns out he was misstating her insurance situation to enhance his credibility on a major criticism of US healthcare. He was wrong. She was limited in obtaining disability insurance. Her health insurance continued under her employer's program. Yet, I am both glad the press researched the issue and forced a correction. Obama made a point that was part of a larger truth. Too many people are subject to insurance company decisions when they get sick and need health care. Don't get me started on Biden or Romney. The reality is politicians in a free and competitive system stretch for credibility. Rubio now stands corrected.

Greg Weeks 8:33 AM  

The key point here is not whether people remember every detail of the past, but rather whether they can remember the most important moments in a nation's history. It would be like a British loyalist saying they weren't sure if they left the U.S. in 1774 or 1777.

Randy Paul 12:26 PM  

What Greg said. This was a pivotal date in the Cuban diaspora. It's not something he should get wrong.

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