Should Cuba experience a technological revolution, the Communist regime would crumble, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio predicted Wednesday at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation and Google’s think tank, Google Ideas.
Event panelists discussed whether Cuba needed a technological revolution, and theorized about what greater Internet freedom would mean for the country. Rubio was the event’s keynote speaker and delivered his opening remarks in Spanish.
When asked in a follow-up interview with Rob Bluey of The Heritage Foundation about how Cuba would make a technological leap “when its Communist leaders won’t allow its citizens to have even the most basic Internet access,” Rubio responded, “a totalitarian regime like Castro’s would not be able to survive a technological opening.”
“Castro’s Cuba is never going to do that because they can’t survive it,” said Rubio. “The bottom line is that a totalitarian regime like theirs can’t survive a technological opening. If the people of Cuba have the ability to communicate with each other and the outside world and to receive information in real-time — not just about what’s happening on the island, but about the opportunities that people have all over the planet — the Castro government wouldn’t last but a few months, and they know that.”
“What I think you’re seeing in Cuba is they’re trying to figure out how can they extract a maximum amount of revenue out of technological openings, but not open up so much that it could cost them their grip on power,” said Rubio. “And it’s that balancing act that those of us who aspire for freedom and liberty in Cuba are trying to unbalance in favor of liberty and against totalitarianism.”
Rubio balked at the idea that lifting the Cuban Embargo — thereby opening commerce and tourism, and possibly penetrating the Cuban people’s relative isolation — would change much.
“In an academic setting or in a laboratory setting that sounds true but in the real world my answer is you just don’t know these guys,” said Rubio. “Nothing happens in Cuba that doesn’t run through the filter of the government, they do not allow anything to happen there that they don’t control.” (WATCH: Rubio denounces Catholic Church for cozying up to ‘Castro thugs’)
“So you can open up tourism as much as you want, they’re going to control who comes in and where they can go and who they get to see, and if they feel like it’s going in the wrong direction they’ll undo it really really fast,” said Rubio. “The truth is, at the end of the day, these guys, it’s hard to explain to people how much control they have.”