While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was attending the Summit of the Americas conference in Lima, Peru on Friday and Saturday, he was challenged by a reporter from Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban communist party. Rubio’s response was a mic-dropping lesson on the freedoms of speech and the press enshrined in our First Amendment, and how that empowers the American people to hold our politicians accountable — in strong contrast to the oppression perpetrated by governments like Cuba’s Castro regime, or Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Granma, named after the boat on which Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and 79 others traveled from Mexico to Cuba in order to launch the Cuban Revolution, serves as the propaganda ministry for the Castro regime and is the only permitted printed source of news for the people of Cuba. Due to the Castros’ longstanding alliance with Maduro, they frequently carry news supporting his regime as well.
Granma frequently complains about “oppression” and “offenses” by the American government and politicians. Rubio is a favored target, like last November when they accused Rubio of “blackmailing” Latin American countries into supporting sanctions against Venezuela. Those sanctions were because Maduro is a communist dictator whose government has combined oppression and corruption to ignite a horrific crisis that has caused the widespread starvation of his own people, despite having one of the world’s largest known oil reserves.
Bottom line, Rubio has been one of the most visible, most eloquent critics on the world stage of the communist dictators in Cuba and Venezuela. So when a Granma reporter thought he had a chance to take a swipe at Rubio during a press Q&A session at the summit in Lima, he took it. He should have known better that Rubio would deftly punch right back.
The reporter, Sergio Gomez, asked Rubio about the “$3 million” he had received from the NRA, repeating a favored attack line from gun control advocates. Just like the American liberals have, Gomez conveniently ignored the fact that figure is wildly misleading, with the NRA’s PAC actually only giving Rubio $9,900 directly during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the rest consisting of independent expenditures on advertisements during past election cycles that Rubio had no ability to control or even influence under federal law.
After asking Gomez to identify himself and his affiliation with Granma, Rubio replied, similar to how he’s answered similar questions from American reporters, that he supports the Second Amendment, and people who agree with his position support him — and those who do not support him can vote against him. Rubio also noted that America has transparency on who donates to candidates.
Rubio described as his “greatest desire” and “wish” for Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries like them is for their people to be able to “decide in the polls” — “not through violence, not through illegitimate political movements.” This was undoubtedly a nod to the sham elections held in Cuba and Venezuela so the dictators can continue their charade of being elected by the people.
“In the United States, in comparison to Cuba, we have a free press,” continued Rubio. “The press can question and criticize me all they want, and they do so daily. I’m glad we’re able to hold a debate, because in Cuba you can’t have a debate.”
Rubio then reiterated that he is supported by the people who support his positions, and those who don’t agree with him can vote against him.
“I wish you could also do that in Cuba, because you can’t,” concluded Rubio.
Unsurprisingly, Gomez’s official writeup at Granma omits all of Rubio’s comments about freedom of the press and the lack thereof in Cuba. Gomez did manage to complain that Rubio was attending the summit “en ocasión de la ausencia del presidente Donald Trump con el objetivo de avanzar en su agenda agresiva contra Venezuela y Cuba” (on the occasion of President Donald Trump’s absence in order to advance his aggressive agenda against Venezuela and Cuba).
Watch the exchange between Rubio and Gomez here:
Transcript of English translation:
Sergio Gomez: The central theme of the summit is the fight against corruption. I wonder if the influence lobbyists hold on politicians was in the agenda, specifically the NRA from whom you’ve received more than $3 million dollars. What do you say to your voters from Lima? Will you continue to accept money from that organization? What do you say to the Parkland victims?
Sen. Marco Rubio: Where are you from? What news outlet?
Gomez: Sergio Gomez, from Cuba. Granma newspaper.
Rubio: Which one?
Rubio: I’m glad you can come here and freely express yourself and I welcome you. I think this is important because I am willing to answer questions in an open forum where you can have discrepancies. There are people in my country that don’t agree with how the Second Amendment of the Constitution is interpreted. Those people who are in disagreement with my stance on this issue have the right to vote against me. Even though I won the elections, in my country, those individuals who disagree with me on that topic can vote against me. Millions voted against me, but millions more voted in my favor. That’s my greatest desire. My wish is that Cuba, Venezuela and every country who has differences can decide them in the polls. Not through violence, not through illegitimate political movements. That’s what I wish. At the end of the day I think that in a free society, those who have disagreements with a political stance can vote against that politician. In 5 years I will have to run again.
Gomez: Will you continue accepting the money? It’s a direct question.
Rubio: It’s simple. In the United States, in comparison to Cuba, we have a free press. The press can question and criticize me all they want, and they do so daily. I’m glad we’re able to hold a debate, because in Cuba you can’t have a debate. The answer is that in the U.S. the people know my stance. We also have transparency on who donates and who doesn’t. Yes, I support the Second Amendment and those people who support that Amendment support me. Those who don’t support it can vote against me. I wish you could also do that in Cuba, because you can’t.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.