Although Cuba has a new leader, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio still is not impressed by the internal politics of Florida’s tiny island neighbor. Last week, after Cubans went through the motions to pick a new president, Florida’s Republican junior senator denounced the process.
“The sham ‘elections’ in Cuba were nothing more than a predetermined charade by the Castro regime,” Rubio said in a statement. As former President Raul Castro prepared to yield to “his appointed crony,” as Rubio labeled new President Miguel DÍaz-Canel, “Cuba will continue to be an island imprisoned under the rule of an oppressive single-party political system.”
“We all know that DÍaz-Canel and the regime will remain an enemy of democracy, human rights and the impartial rule of law,” Rubio continued. “If Castro truly wanted democratic change for Cuba, he would allow the Cuban people to determine their fate through free, fair and multi-party elections.”
It’s evident that’s not how DÍaz-Canel got the job.
First of all, there was no election, as we understand them. Cuba’s legislature placed DÍaz-Canel, who had served as Castro’s vice president, on the ballot, where he was the only presidential candidate. The Cuban people had no direct say in the presidential choice.
Additionally, Castro will remain as head of the Communist Party, the only recognized political party in the nation.
Still, the best thing about DÍaz-Canel is that he is not a Castro.
The Miami Herald said it well in a recent editorial. While it is a “small consolation” that the Castro name will be relegated to the political background by DÍaz-Canel’s elevation to the presidency, “(t)he original Castros now are more a part of Cuba’s past than its future.”
Like the Cuban people, we had no influence in the selection of the country’s new president, and Rubio is right to condemn it as a farce.
Yet by changing our own policies, as the Obama administration attempted to do, we can exert influence in other ways to show everyday Cubans that life can and will be better without the Castros.