Rubio pledges to block ambassador to Cuba
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump administration designates B of PPP funds for community lenders The Memo: Trump's Scarborough tweets unsettle his allies House passes bill that would sanction Chinese officials over Xinjiang camps 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 Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation COVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks 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."