Senator Rubio, whose parents escaped Cuba before he was born, has said granting Mariela Castro a US visa is 'shameful'.
18 May 2012
Rubio reacts to Castro’s US visa grant
Senator Marco Rubio, a child of Cuban immigrants, has reacted angrily to the decision to grant the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro a US visa.
Senator Rubio has labelled the move to grant Mariela Castro, head of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENSEX) and part of the ruling Castro family, a US visa 'an enormous mistake'.
"I think the decision to grant the daughter of Raul Castro a visa to come to the United States and spread the propaganda of her father's regime is outrageous and an enormous mistake," said the Junior Republican Senator for Florida. "It sends a terrible message to the democratic movement in Cuba."
Ms Castro has been granted a US visa so she can address a Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference in San Francisco next week. Ms Castro is a prominent advocate for LGBT rights and will speak about sexual issues within Cuba at the conference.
Senator Rubio, whose national profile has risen considerably in the past few months due to the likelihood he will be named as a running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in November's election, has been outspoken in recent weeks over his Republican proposal for US immigration reform, but his parents' escape from Cuba has prompted a much more defensive response
Senator Rubio said Ms Castro was an 'arm of [Raul Castro's] regime' and the decision to provide her a visa to enter the US was 'shameful'.
The US has embargoed trade with Cuba since the Kennedy administration and ties between the two have remained frosty since.
The decision is seen by many as a significant step forward in cooling tensions between the two countries; Chris Sabatini, policy director at the Americas Society, said Ms Castro's visit showed the Obama administration's commitment to fostering a better relationship but urged the federal government to petition Cuba over its questionable record on human rights.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.