— -- The release of Alan Gross, the American contractor imprisoned in Cuba for more than five years, “set a price on the head of every American abroad,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said in an interview today.
“I would love for there to be normal relations with Cuba, but for that to happen, Cuba has to be normal, and it's not. It is a brutal dictatorship,” Rubio, who is a Cuban-American, told ABC News' Jeff Zeleny. “Now dictatorships know that if they take an American, they may be able to get unilateral policy concessions.”
According to Rubio, the Obama administration’s intention to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba is “terrible for the Cuban people.”
The Cuban government won’t allow free elections, political parties, or freedom of the press “just because people can buy Coca Cola,” said the Florida Republican, who is often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. He added, “Five years from now, Cuba will still be a dictatorship -- but a much more profitable one.”
“I think this has now made it even harder to achieve the sort of democracy in Cuba that you find virtually everywhere else in this hemisphere,” Rubio said.
Rubio called President Obama the “worst negotiator” of “my lifetime.”
“He'll give up everything in exchange for nothing,” Rubio said. “What have the Cubans agreed to do?”
“The United States today, under this president, has opened up relationships with the most brutal dictatorship this hemisphere has known for the better part of 50 years. And all it's done is it's sent a signal to others fighting for democracy in the region and around the world that the US is not a reliable partner when it comes to fighting for democracy," he said.