On Monday, soon after the New York Times slammed Florida senator Marco Rubio as Cuba's “least favorite son,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate fired back, accusing reporter Jason Horowitz of using the “Castro regime's propaganda” in his article, which was entitled “Marco Rubio Is Hardly a Hero in Cuba. He Likes That.”
In a Twitter message, Rubio asserted that the newspaper was following up its “scoops” attacking him for getting 17 speeding tickets -- most of which were actually received by his wife – and its article accusing him of owning “a luxury speedboat” that is only one-third as long as secretary of state John Kerry's $7 million yacht.
“For the record,” the Republican official added, “I'm proud that the Castro regime feels threatened by us. They fear freedom and democracy.”
The Times article, which was originally entitled “Little Affinity for Marco Rubio in Cuba Despite Family Roots,” began:
In the lush countryside and teeming city neighborhoods where Senator Marco Rubio's family cut sugar cane, toiled in tobacco mills and scraped by to make a better life for their children, the first Cuban-American to have a plausible chance to become president of the United States is the island’s least favorite son.
“If Marco Rubio becomes president, we’re done for,” said Héctor Montiel, 66, offering a vigorous thumbs-down as he sat on the Havana street where Mr. Rubio’s father grew up. “He’s against Cuba in every possible way. Hillary Clinton understands much more the case of Cuba. Rubio and these Republicans, they are still stuck in 1959.”
Horowitz then noted: “Resistance to Fidel Castro's Communist government has served as the foundation of Mr. Rubio’s personal and political identity.”
“A Florida Republican who has been identified” in the island nation as a “representative in the Senate of the Cuban-American terrorist mafia,” the reporter continued, “'he has argued for years that normalized relations with the United States would only strengthen an oppressive Cuban government that impoverishes its people, limits access to information and violates human rights.”
“That did not change in the months leading up to Wednesday’s announcement that the United States and Cuba will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals,” Horowitz stated, “a critical step in ending a devastating half-century embargo. Signs on the road here read “Blockade: The Worst Genocide in History,” punctuated with a noose.”
As the Florida senator intensified his opposition, Cubans have begun to view him as “the most prominent of American hangmen.”
“'He wants to kill us!' Alain Marcelo, 46, said as he sat on a porch next to a grazing horse and a shack scrawled with yellow “Viva Fidel y Raúl” graffiti in Jicotea, “the no-streetlight town where Rubio’s great-grandparents arrived from Spain to farm sugar cane in the late 19th century.”
“He’s our enemy!” Marcelo also declared.
On the other hand, Rubio said it's “sad” that the island's government depicts him as someone who would “starve the Cuban people.” But for him, the demonizing is just further proof of the “information blockade the people in Cuba are facing.”
“I’m glad they see us as a threat,” Rubio said. “They should.”
Interestingly, the senator was born in Miami, Florida, the second son and third child of Mario and Oria (Garcia) Rubio. His parents had immigrated to the United States in 1956, prior to the advent of Fidel Castro in January 1959.
Ultimately, his parents applied for U.S. citizenship and were naturalized in 1975, and curiously, Rubio himself has never actually been to Cuba.
Alex Griswold of the mediaite.com website expressed an interesting insight regarding the Rubio article:
Oddly enough, the Times openly admits that negative perceptions of Republican candidates in Cuba stems from the regime’s Communist propaganda.
[F]or all of Jeb Bush’s closeness to the Cuban-American community of Florida, people here think he is either his father or his brother, caricatured in the Museum of the Revolution as Caesar and a Nazi storm trooper holding a book upside down.
Horowitz explained “the uniformity of opinion that Mr. Rubio accurately describes may owe something to Granma, an eight-page state-controlled tabloid that is the country’s leading paper” and was named after a small boat Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries rode back to Cuba in 1956.
“Delfín Xiques, who runs the paper’s archives,” told the reporter that the publication was “only now beginning to pay attention” to Rubio, “though not too much attention.”
“We don’t like to cover him a lot,” said Xiques, “suggesting it did not make much sense to print the 'propaganda' of the anti-Castro senator. It’s his own stupidity we would be publishing.”
Despite the heavy-handedness of the Times article, many people, including Freedom Patriot -- a fellow Twitter poster -- expressed support for Rubio: “Marco, consider it free advertising. No one takes that RAG seriously today!!! Keep pushing forward and win!!!”