Rubio pledges to block ambassador to Cuba
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioChina sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15K GOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' MORE (R-Fla.) marked the first anniversary of restored diplomatic ties with Cuba by reiterating his opposition to anyone nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Havana.

“A U.S. ambassador is not going to influence the Cuban government, which is a dictatorial, closed regime,” he said in an interview published Wednesday by Politico.

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Rubio said he empathizes with everyday Cubans who hope better relations with the U.S. can improve their nation.

“[Cubans have] been living in this trap for close to 60 years, and they’re hoping some new dynamic will change things. I understand it. I do.”

The U.S. and Cuba officially restored ties on July 20, 2015, after more than five decades of tensions. But President Obama has yet to nominate anyone to serve as ambassador.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, said in the Politico article that opponents cannot fight changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba forever.

“Once the new president nominates an ambassador you can’t just say we’re going to sit on that and hold that,” he said.

“There are going to be too many Americans traveling to Cuba and doing legal business in Cuba to deny them the opportunity to have a full-fledged diplomatic presence there.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSara Gideon wins Democratic race to challenge Susan Collins Schumer pushes for elimination of SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus relief bill Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Ky.) said last year that the upper chamber is unlikely to approve anyone Obama nominates as the U.S. ambassador to Cuba.

“I’m having a hard time figuring out what we got out of this, you know?” he said on July 2, 2015, according to The Associated Press.

“You would think that the normalization of relations with Cuba would be accompanied by some modification of their behavior,” McConnell added during a speech before Kentucky’s chamber of commerce.

“I don’t see any evidence at all that they are going to change their behavior. So I doubt if we’ll confirm an ambassador. They probably don’t need one."