Rubio Defends Statements on Parents' "Exile" From Cuba

TAMPA (2011-10-27) -

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio paid a rare visit to Tampa, speaking before a business roundtable at the Tampa Chamber of Commerce. There, Rubio defended his record on saying when his parents left Cuba.

Rubio defended his record on saying his parents were exiles from Castro's communist regime. His previous statements shifted between saying his parents escaped Castro after his takeover, to saying they left Cuba before, in either 1958 or 59. It was then revealed they came at least three years before the Communist takeover.

"Are there dates that are different or are wrong? Because I didn't know. We're talking about things that happened 15 years before I was even born," says Rubio. "But the bottom line is the story is essentially the same one. I think it's been blown way out of proportion by some people in the media. Fact of the matter is my parents came here from Cuba in search of a better life. And they always hoped to return to Cuba if they could. They tried, and they're permanently exiled from their homeland. And it's shaped me."

Rubio also says he still opposes direct flights between Tampa and Havana, He says the money charged for these flights helps prop up the Castro regime.

"They charge exhorbitant fees on these flights, and that money is used to fund a repressive regime," he says. "And I can't support that. And I'm against this increased traffic from Tampa, from Miami, because I think it helps fund a repressive regime. We're giving money directly into the pockets of a government that beats up its own people."

In February, Rubio proposed an amendment that would have prohibited additional flights between the U.S. and Cuba. Flights then were limited to to Miami, New York and Los Angeles. But his amendment failed in the Senate. Tampa International now hosts flights twice a week to Havana. Two more flights have been approved and should start next month.

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