Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Bret Baier on Special Report to discuss the ongoing, historic protests in Cuba, Russian cyber attacks, and more. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the Cuban government’s loss of legitimacy:
“Well first of all, Cuba today is basically in a state of martial law. In many of the major cities across the country, troops are stationed, security forces are stationed, and the message is clear. They are continuing to repress people. These horrifying reports we’ve seen and gotten of people being tortured, of people being abducted from their homes and family members not knowing where they are — this is the model they have followed for a long time. The only difference between now and in the past is that some of it is being documented and posted on social media for the world to see. As far as where it goes next, something changed on the 11th of July. I don’t think it’s going to happen from one day to the next. It’s the beginning of a process.
“But what is clear now is that the rupture between the people and the regime is complete and that they have lost their legitimacy to govern. That’s the point that needs to continue to be driven home. No matter how you feel about them ideologically, they no longer have legitimacy, and it’s time for change to begin on the island of Cuba. I think from our end, the most important thing we can do is help provide free, unfettered internet access to the people of Cuba so that they can communicate with the world and with each other.”
On the economic embargo on Cuba:
“Well, I would say most of the people that give those opinions don’t even know what the embargo is or how it works. There are only two embargoes here: the embargo against government-owned companies and the embargo that the Cuban regime imposes on its own people. Right now, if an independent business operator, a small farm owner, a consultant, or independent contractor in Cuba wants to do business with Americans, they can. There is no restriction on that. It’s the Cuban regime that does not allow it. They do not want Cubans to own hardware stores, they don’t want them to grow food on a farm and provide it directly to the market, they don’t want independent contractors and consultants to have American clients. They want to control how much money people make every month. It’s leverage they hold over their heads.
“The people who give these opinions don’t know what they’re talking about. All they know to do is to spew off leftwing talking points.These are the same people over and over again. It’s always America’s fault, no matter the problem in the world. ‘America is to blame for it,’ and ‘America has done something wrong.’ They don’t know what the heck they are talking about.”
On Russian support for the Cuban regime:
“Russia is already [in Cuba]. They have a signals intelligence station and so do the Chinese. It’s the model they followed everywhere in the world. It may not be official Russian troops; it could be private contractors that are basically Russian troops that they send around the world. This is what they have done in place after place: in Venezuela, Syria, and eastern Ukraine. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Cuban government requests it, the Russians will provide that.”
On Russian cyber attacks:
“We certainly have to have the option to retaliate in kind and in a proportional way that sends a message about what our red lines are. I’m not sure yet that there is a clear understanding by either the Russians or the Chinese about what the American red lines are with regard to cyber intrusions. You pointed a moment ago to this Microsoft intrusion, and there are others like it. We are entering an era now where you are not going to be able to attribute [cyberattacks] to a nation-state even though they are behind it. There is nothing that keeps a nation-state from going to criminal networks and saying, ‘We want you to do this hack,’ and in fact have every incentive like China and Russia to do so. We won’t arrest you and let you keep the money you have. But if you are caught, there’s no attribution. You can’t say it’s the government; you can say it’s a criminal organization.
“But here’s the bottom line: we are seeing a massive transfer of wealth out of the U.S. economy into the hands of these groups that furthers the foreign policy objectives of both Russia and China. This needs to be dealt with, and it needs to be clear that there are economic costs associated with continuing to allow this to happen.
“In the case of the Chinese, they are conducting the most extensive espionage operation against the United States in the history of our country, and it is in every domain: electronic, cyber, but also in our universities, everywhere you can imagine. All they do is scoop up data every day and steal our technology, our intellectual property, and collect on the U.S. government as well.”
On immigration reform:
“The overwhelming majority of Americans would say yes, if someone has been here a long time and they’re not criminals, we need to figure out a way to legally incorporate them into American life. Now is the wrong time to do it because we have an all-out border crisis today. Reports now of state troopers down there facing these efforts to rush the border and things of this nature. A lot of that is driven by a misunderstanding of what our laws actually are.
“In the early days of the Biden Administration, and even during the campaign, his rhetoric sent the message to people in Central America that the laws were changing and they were allowed to come in. The same has been true with things like DACA. It sends the perception that when you have done TPS [Temporary Protected Status], which I supported, that people misunderstand what that means or lied about what that means. That’s what a citizenship bill would do. It would create the perception that our laws would become more permissive. Trafficking networks use that to create disinformation to [lead] more people to undertake the very dangerous journey. It would be perhaps one of the worst things they could do right now, given the crisis we are facing on the border.”