Miami-based Senator Marco Rubio on Thursday denounced the U.S. government’s issuance of a U.S. visa to Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter, calling the decision “outrageous and an enormous mistake.”
“Not only that, it sends a terrible message to the democratic movement in Cuba, to those brave people in Cuba who every single day resist and speak out against the tyranny of the Castro brothers,” Rubio said in a statement about the visa for Mariela Castro.
The Cuban first daughter, 50, who is a gay rights advocate, was granted the visa to attend events in San Francisco and New York. She will lead a panel on sexual diversity at a Latin American Studies Association conference in San Francisco May 23-26, and is scheduled to take part in a talk about international gay rights at the New York Public Library May 29.
Mariela Castro previously visited Los Angeles, Virginia and Washington when she was granted a visa in 2002.
A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing rules that prohibit discussion of individual visa applications.
Some Cuba experts said the new visa was not a big deal, or was a positive move.
But Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera of South Florida, along with Albio Sires of New Jersey, condemned the move in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"The administration's appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts Congressional intent and longstanding U.S. foreign policy," they wrote.
Mariela Castro is not merely Raul Castro’s daughter, Rubio said.
“She is an arm of his regime, who is an outspoken supporter and is coming to the United States to spread their anti-American propaganda. It’s shameful that they would grant that visa,” he said.