Rubio pledges to block ambassador to Cuba
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio in Colombia to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week 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 FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger 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 McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions 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."