Florida leaders on Wednesday are responding to the Biden administration’s Tuesday announcement that the President will reverse restrictions on Cuba that were put into place by former President Donald Trump. Some, including Sen. Marco Rubio are circling back to the administration’s move to terminate certain regulations on Venezuela and the Maduro regime, questioning the efficacy of the policies.
The series of changes to Cuban sanctioning include approving flights to Cuban airports other thanJosé Martí international airport, the Caribbean nation’s largest airport in Havana, resuming a family reunification program, removing a cap on the total amount of dollars being sent to Cuba in the form of remittances, and expanding the scope of permitted travel to the island.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, argues that the increased cash flow into Cuba will only end up in the pockets of its authoritarian leaders.
“I think people, particularly down in South Florida, understand, the minute you’re sending more of this to the island, that’s going right into the pocket of the Cuban dictatorship, that is not going to help the people of Cuba realize freedom,” DeSantis said during a press conference.
A group of Florida-based federal lawmakers including Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Sen. Rubio, and Sen. Rick Scott issued a joint statement following the announcement, decrying the decision and claiming that Washington is conceding soft power.
“The White House is resurrecting President Obama’s failed policy of unilateral concessions to the Castro/Díaz-Canel criminal dictatorship,” the statement reads.
I'm outraged that the Biden Admin has decided to weaken sanctions and prop up the oppressive #Cuban regime. While hundreds of political prisoners, including children, languish in Cuban prisons, the Biden Administration is looking for ways to keep their oppressors in power.
— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) May 17, 2022
The White House additionally announced plans to ease sanctions on Venezuelan oil in an attempt to provide the west with more oil to mitigate a shortage.
Lawmakers among both parties have been critical and question why the U.S. government is easing sanctions in exchange for oil production in wake of Biden’s decision to ban the purchase of Russian oil. A letter sent to Biden by a group of Florida politicians in March emphasized a list of atrocities committed by the Maduro regime, including various systematic killings and torture that have been deemed crimes against humanity.
“[The Biden Administration is] trying to say that it’s about oil. It really isn’t. Venezuela has no oil to give us,” said Rubio on America’s Newsroom on Wednesday. “Ninety percent of their oil goes to China to pay the interest on [Venezuela’s] debt. Ten percent automatically goes to Cuba, [which] provides all of their security, internal security, how they spy on their own people, their government, and how they repress the population.”
Upon initial talks with the Maduro government, DeSantis called for an energy-independent America, warning of rising gas prices that could reach 5 to 6 dollars in the near future. Rubio on Wednesday corroborated these claims, going so far as to say that Venezuela can not adequately provide the oil America seeks.
“The oil that we need, we have. It’s in America. [The Biden Administration needs] to allow us to explore it, and they’re not. They’re telling banks not to fund these projects. They’re canceling leases. They’re waging war on fossil fuels. They’re waging war on oil and natural gas. And it’s one of the reasons why supply is not as high as it needs to be.”