The PJ Tatler

WaPo: Marco Rubio's Parents Left Cuba Before Castro's Rise to Power

As one of my PJ colleagues noted, the Post has launched a skillful attempt at character assassination. As another noted, it has the left salivating. So what’s the story? Well, this:

During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the son of exiles, he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.

But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that Rubio’s dramatic account of his family saga embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than 2½ years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.

The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning, Tea Party-propelled victory in last year’s race for the U.S. Senate. Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and a possible future presidential candidate — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says Mario and Oriales Rubio “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” And the 40-year-old senator with the boyish smile and prom-king good looks has drawn on the power of that claim to entrance audiences captivated by the rhetorical skills of one of the more dynamic stump speakers in modern American politics.

The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life. In the year they arrived in Florida, the future Marxist dictator was in Mexico plotting a quixotic return to Cuba.

Rubio’s office on Thursday confirmed that his parents arrived in the United States in 1956 but noted that “while they were prepared to live here permanently, they always held out the hope and the option of returning to Cuba if things improved.” They returned to Cuba several times after Castro came to power to “assess the situation with the hope of eventually moving back,” the office said in a statement.

Things obviously didn’t improve. Castro took over and promptly turned Cuba into a “worker’s paradise,” i.e. a prison nation and a Communist hellhole. So Marco Rubio’s parents ended up staying, becoming citizens of the US, and having a child who is now a US senator. Rubio’s older brother, born in Cuba, has also become a naturalized US citizen.

A couple of points are worth making here. Rubio’s parents left Cuba 15 years before he was born. He wasn’t an eye witness to the events in question, so this isn’t on the same level as Joe Biden being a plagiarist or Hillary Clinton claiming that she dodge bullets in Kosovo or wherever. We all rely to some extent on the family story and what our elders tell us. He may never had had a reason to look over the old family box of documents until the press started nosing around. Given the fact that he has used their story in his narrative, he obviously should have checked the paperwork, but it’s possible that he just took it all for what he heard growing up.

Social security numbers become public information after death, and the story hints that the Post’s reporter did use Rubio’s father’s number to track at least some of the documents down. There’s nothing unseemly about that, but it is worth asking why the reporter even bothered. Has the sitting president gotten a similar background check?

As Allah points out, either way you go you end up with the Rubios staying out of Cuba because of Castro and Communism. The difference is where they made that choice. Turns out, they made it in the US, not in Cuba. Rubio has responded to the Post’s story:

To suggest my family’s story is embellished for political gain is outrageous.  The dates I have given regarding my family’s history have always been based on my parents’ recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago and which were relayed to me by them more than two decades after they happened.  I was not made aware of the exact dates until very recently.

What’s important is that the essential facts of my family’s story are completely accurate.  My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times.  In 1961, my mother and older siblings did in fact return to Cuba while my father stayed behind wrapping up the family’s matters in the U.S.  After just a few weeks living there, she fully realized the true nature of the direction Castro was taking Cuba and returned to the United States one month later, never to return.

They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”