Marco Rubio

Radios headed to info-starved Puerto Rico, thanks to broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters is donating 10,000 battery-operated radios to Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria.

IMG_2270

Tampa volunteers gathered 2 million pounds of supplies for Puerto Rico last week

The effort is being funded by NAB, the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, and multiple U.S. broadcasters, according to press release issued by NAB.

The broadcasters are working with FEMA and local Puerto Rican authorities “to ensure that the radios are properly distributed to those most in need,” the release said.

Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Congressman Darren Soto “were instrumental in coordinating this effort,” according to the release.

Here’s more from thepress release:

“Time and again, broadcast radio has served as a lifeline to communities desperate for information and support,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Our fellow Americans in the Caribbean now face a once-in-a-generation humanitarian crisis, and radio is one of the only communications resources available. We admire the resolve of our friends in Puerto Rico and are proud to undertake this effort with help from FEMA to keep citizens safe and informed.”

“We can’t thank NAB, NASBA and our radio brothers and sisters on the U.S. mainland enough for this initiative,” said Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association Executive Director Jose Ribas Dominicci. Raul Santiago Santos, Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association Board President, said, “This is going to be a very long recovery, and Puerto Ricans are information-starved for where to get help. Having local radio in the hands of our citizens will make a real and positive difference for our people.”

Florida Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Pat Roberts spearheaded this initiative on the ground and successfully secured transportation of the radios from Miami to Puerto Rico.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who is helping secure a staging ground in Miami for the radios prior to shipment to Puerto Rico, said the crisis “requires our ongoing support and commitment, which is why I’m thankful to the NAB for stepping up to provide critical communications infrastructure. I saw firsthand how the local leadership and residents are eager to restore normal order and the efforts by the NAB and a number of companies in the private sector is what’s making a big difference. I look forward to the continued efforts to aid the great people of Puerto Rico because right now, todos somos Puertorriqueños (‘We are all Puerto Ricans’).”

Rubio: Trump admin response to Cuba “weak, unacceptable, and outrageous”

First he criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for a lackluster response to the “humanitarian crisis” developing in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Now, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lambasted Trump’s state department for its handling of attacks on American diplomats in Cuba.

The U.S. Department of State announced Friday it is yanking more than half its staff from the American embassy in Havana, following mysterious attacks affecting nearly two-dozen staffers.

In a statement released Friday, Rubio blasted the Trump administration as “weak, unacceptable and outrageous” for not tossing Cuban diplomats out of the U.S.

Here’s Rubio’s full statement:

“In light of these harmful attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba, it is weak, unacceptable and outrageous for the U.S. State Department to allow Raul Castro to keep as many of his operatives in the U.S. as he wants. The Cuban government has failed its obligation under international treaties to keep foreign diplomats safe on its soil. The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd. The State Department must conduct its own investigation independent of the Castro regime and submit a comprehensive report to Congress. Until those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, the U.S. should immediately expel an equal number of Cuban operatives, downgrade the U.S. embassy in Havana to an interests section, and consider relisting Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, also released a statement, calling the attacks on the American embassy personnel “inexcusable.”

Here’s what Nelson had to say:

“The fact that the Cuban government isn’t protecting the health and wellbeing of our U.S. Embassy personnel is inexcusable. With the loss of hearing and stroke-like-symptoms, the Cuban government owes an explanation and reparations to the families of those injured and must work to ensure these attacks cease immediately. In the meantime, the Cuban Embassy’s staff in Washington, D.C. should be reduced by the same proportionate number of U.S. personnel recalled.”

Dems ask Scott for relief centers to aid in expected Puerto Rican migration

As conditions continue to deteriorate in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, Florida Democratic legislators are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to set up relief centers for Puerto Rican evacuees.

Friday’s ask comes as Scott, who traveled to the island yesterday, meets with President Donald Trump in Washington to give him an update of what’s going on in Puerto Rico and the Sunshine State, still recovering from Hurricane Irma.

The situation in Puerto Rico is growing dire, the Democrats wrote in a letter to Scott.

“Now more than a week removed from Maria’s landfall, nearly 3.4 million Puerto Ricans remain without power, the telecommunications grid for the island is in tatters, citizens are running low on cash due to the lack of functioning ATMs necessary to purchase supplies and are faced with an inability to process debit transactions, and large areas outside urban centers remain inaccessible as roads continue to be blocked by fallen debris or are washed away completely,” incoming Senate Minority Leader Jeff Clemens, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, and a handful of House and Senate members wrote to Scott.

The disaster could result in “hundreds of thousands” of evacuees fleeing to Florida, home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans already, the Democrats wrote.

“To prepare for this influx of hundreds of thousands new Floridians, we believe it is vital that the state respond proactively to ease their transition and reduce the mental and financial strain this process is sure to inflict on many families,” they wrote.

The “relief centers” could provide”one-stop access to local, state, and federal officials who could offer guidance on housing aid and availability and other services, the Democrats suggested.

The request for the relief centers comes a day after Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio called for the “cavalry” — in the form of the U.S. military — to come to the rescue in Puerto Rico.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan after touring Florida Irma damage: “We are in it with you”

9mb8BeqW7i_wGqwe

After touring the wreckage caused by Hurricane Irma in Jacksonville and the Keys, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan assured Floridians that he’s got their backs.

“America loves Florida. I gotta just tell ya,” Ryan, flanked by bipartisan representatives of Florida’s congressional delegation and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, told a gaggle of reporters at an airport hangar in Miami.

The group’s tour took place as Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, leaving 100 percent of the island — still reeling from Irma — without power.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a young guy. I’ve been fishing in the back bay, in Florida Bay behind Islamorada since my early 20s. My mom is a resident of Broward County. And so we want Floridians to know that they, too are in the front of our thoughts and our prayers, that the federal response will be there. That’s why we are here.”

The Florida lawmakers brought the House speaker (and other congressional budget leaders) down to witness first-hand Irma’s widespread impact, Rubio said.

“We know there’s going to be money needed to help the state of Florida recover,” Rubio said. “We wanted him to see it.

The assessment apparently worked, with Ryan pledging bipartisan support for rebuilding Florida, “whether it’s structures or businesses or agriculture or everything in between.”

“More is going to occur. More is coming,” he said. “We want the people of Florida to know that we are in it with you, that the federal response will be complete and that we have more work to do and that’s why we’re here, to assess this.”

Ryan called the damage to Florida “really astounding” after flying over Miami and the Keys, where Irma initially made landfall Sunday before coming ashore again in the southwest region of the state.

Ryan marveled that the massive storm affected nearly every part of Florida.

“What’s impressive is the response and what is needed is more aid and more help,” he said. “We know the federal government has a very important role to play here.”

In Their Own Words: Trump in Ft. Myers praises media for Irma coverage

IMG_0578 In Florida to tour damage from Hurricane Irma President Donald Trump spoke at an airport hangar in Fort Myers before he and First Lady Melania Trump headed to Naples to hand out hoagies to hurricane survivors.

In Fort Myers, Trump gave a bunch of thank–yous to FEMA, the Coast Guard, first responders — the list went on and on.

Trump also heaped praise on Florida Power & Light President and CEO Eric Silagy, who was part of the president’s posse.

“I must say, Florida Power & Light — where’s Eric?  Eric.  Where’s Eric?  Eric, great job,” Trump said, eliciting applause.

“I will say they’re way ahead of schedule.  There are more electrical people in this state, I think, than ever accumulated anywhere in the world is what I read before.  It’s from all over the country they came and I’ve never seen — you’ve never seen anything – ” Trump said before being interrupted from an audience member who may have a different view of the state’s largest utility.

“No, we haven’t,” he said.

Trump, who’s had a rocky relationship with the media, also had some kind words for the press.

“Media, we appreciate you being so understanding.  It’s been a very tough period of time even for you folks, and we really do appreciate your understanding.  This has been a difficult situation,” he said.

Read the full transcript after the jump.

(more…)

Rubio to Venezuelans: Fat leaders smile while you starve

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio made a direct appeal to Venezuelans, showing his support for the “gente” after a controversial vote that bolstered the power of President Nicolás Maduro.

U.S. President Donald Trump branded Maduro a “dictator,” and his administration imposed financial sanctions on Maduro. The country has been roiled by violence for months, and at least 10 people were killed Sunday, according to reports.

Food shortages have been a major issue for Venezuelans embroiled in what appears to be the makings of a civil war.

Rubio, a Florida Republican, issued a message of solidarity broadcast on Globovisión last night throughout Venezuela, according to a press release distributed by his office this morning.

In it, Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles, uses Venezuela leaders’ physical appearance as proof of a corrupt government.

“Mientras el pueblo lucha cada día para alimentar a sus familias, ¿Ha notado usted, cuántos de sus líderes han engordado?,” Rubio said.

In English, what he said was, “While the people of Venezuela struggle each day to feed their families, have you noticed how many of your leaders have gained weight?”

He also called out spending by Venezuelans in South Florida as evidence of “vast amounts of wealth stolen from you by the families of those in power and those who support them.”

“The vast horse ranches in Wellington, Florida and the mansions in Gables Estates. The private jets at our airports and $10,000 shopping sprees at the Mall at Merrick Place,” Rubio said. “We see them flying into Miami, enjoying luxuries few Americans themselves enjoy, and then return back with a smile on their face. As if to say, we can do anything we want, anywhere we want, and no one can stop us.”

The translation is below the video.

 

Good evening,

I am speaking to you tonight from Washington, D.C. But I come to you not as a United States Senator, but as someone who was born and raised in a community shaped by the events of our hemisphere.

The over 1 million Cubans forced to flee their homeland because of the Castro dictatorship. The tens of thousands of Nicaraguans forced to begin life in a new country because of the Sandinistas. And now, sadly, the thousands of your fellow countrymen who seek asylum because of recent events.

The exodus of these people to the United States has enriched our country. And it has made the city of my birth and the state I represent here in Washington among the most vibrant in the world.

But it also divided families, killed dreams, and robbed these nations of the talents of its people.

The root cause of all these tragedies is not a battle between the political left and right. For plenty of nations in this hemisphere and around the world have found how to provide a space for both points of view in its political system.

The root cause is tyranny.

Tyranny that unjustly imprisons and even kills those who the tyrants see as a danger to their power.

Tyranny that manipulates the power of government to close off space for those with different points of view.

Tyranny that ultimately concludes it cannot hold on to power if it must submit to free elections and a free press.

A close relative of tyranny is corruption. For with tyranny comes unchecked power.  And in the words of the wise British politician Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

I have seen firsthand the corruption which results from the absolute power now in the hands of a privileged few in Nicolas Maduro’s government.

The vast horse ranches in Wellington, Florida and the mansions in Gables Estates. The private jets at our airports and $10,000 shopping sprees at the Mall at Merrick Place.

Vast amounts of wealth stolen from you by the families of those in power and those who support them.

While the people of Venezuela struggle each day to feed their families, have you noticed how many of your leaders have gained weight?

While many struggle to access basic medicines, when was the last time a relative of someone in power in Venezuela died because they couldn’t get prescription medication?

We see them flying into Miami, enjoying luxuries few Americans themselves enjoy, and then return back with a smile on their face. As if to say, we can do anything we want, anywhere we want, and no one can stop us.

And it was this, as much as anything else, which led me to take up this cause here in Washington.

The United States has its own challenges, both at home and abroad. But as someone raised in a community of so many people who were victims of tyranny and corruption in the nation of their birth, I simply could not and would not stand by silently while history repeated itself in my time.

We have seen undemocratic leaders come to power in our hemisphere by manipulating and even abusing the instruments of democracy before. But yesterday, for the first time in almost four decades, we witnessed an attempt to formally and openly destroy the last remnants of democracy in a neighboring nation.

As tyrants usually do, they seek to cover their failures by blaming their opposition at home and others abroad. Thankfully, the people of Venezuela are too well informed and too sophisticated to fall for their tricks.

There is no U.S. economic blockade on Venezuela. Yet the economy of a rich nation is in shambles, because the Maduro government has given away your oil and much of your sovereignty to Cuba.

Multiple nations and the Catholic church has offered to deliver supplies of food and medicine for your people, but the Maduro government has refused to allow it, because it uses access to food and medicine as a way to punish its opponents and reward those who remain loyal.

And every few months, the Maduro government sells oil to China and Russia for far below market value in exchange for cash. Those in power take a percentage of it for them and use the rest to make interest payments on the old debt, so they can keep borrowing money to do the same all over again.

Now, speaking to you as a Senator of the United States, I state at the outset that it is neither my right nor my intention to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. But all nations have a right to determine with whom they seek to have relations and what the nature of those relations should be.

I for one, seek to have peaceful and respectful relations between the United States and Venezuela. But a Venezuela represented by legitimate and elected leaders. Not with leaders who have seized power without the consent of those they claim to represent.

For the United States, or any nation, to accept a legitimate a government which holds on to power through intimidation and brutality, is equivalent to condoning those actions. It would be a betrayal to the principles our nation was founded on. And it would be to abandon the people of Venezuela.

In this struggle, know neither we nor you are alone. Since last night’s fraudulent exercise, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and other nations from across the world have joined in announcing they do not recognize this constituent assembly.

In the days to come, you can expect the President of the United States to impose sanctions against even more individuals who have carried out and benefited from the tragedy that faces your nation.

And yes, it is my hope and my expectation, that the President will impose sanctions on economic sectors of the Maduro regime in a way that does not harm the people, but deprives their corrupt government rulers from continuing to enrich themselves by stealing the treasure of a wealthy nation.

My closing message to you is this. You are not alone.

Your cause is being spoken about here in Washington. At a time of deep divisions in our own politics, both the left and the right here in the United States support the people of Venezuela and condemn the Maduro government. Even those here who sympathized and defended the late Hugo Chavez, condemn the direction Nicolas Maduro has taken your country.

Ultimately, the way out of the tragedy before you is not violence or armed conflict.  Venezuela is only a free and fair election away from a better future.

If the Maduro regime is so confident in the support of its people, then why not schedule the free and fair election called for in your constitution? Why not submit yourselves to the people in an election that recognizes the principles of one person and one vote?

Why not free those imprisoned for their political views so they can participate in your national debate?

And why not recognize the power of a National Assembly elected directly by the people?

For Nicolas Maduro, who I am sure is watching, the current path you are on will not end well for you.

Unlike Fidel Castro in 1959, there is no Soviet Union left to subsidize your government for the next 30 years. The loyalty of many around you depends entirely on your ability to continue to provide them with privileges most in Venezuela no longer have. When you can no longer provide them toilet paper, toothpaste and bread, they will no longer have any reason to be with you.

And I assure you, that already, there are those who yesterday wore their red shirt while celebrating the Constituent Assembly on national television, but this morning were already plotting to take your place when the time was right.

There is only one way forward, elections, freedom and peace.

 

I will continue to pray that God create the space for this to happen.

 

And we will continue to stand with the brave people of Venezuela until it does.

 

Mallea snags Jeb! en español

Miami brewmeister Jose Mallea, Miami Republican with close ties to the Bush dynasty, released a Spanish-language radio ad Monday featuring former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mallea, who’s facing off against lawyer Daniel Perez in a heated GOP special primary election to replace state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, worked as a campaign aide for Bush and for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, another Hispanic South Florida home boy whose connection Mallea has tried to capitalize on.

In a press release from his campaign Monday, Mallea touted his support from former governor, who backed Mallea early on in the battle for District 116.

“Governor Bush is one of Florida’s greatest leaders, and I am honored to have him behind our campaign,” said Mallea. “I plan to keep working hard in the home stretch of this primary to make sure District 116 has a representative in Tallahassee who will work hard for conservative policies that will improve education and increase opportunity for everyone.” 

Here’s the translation of the ad:

 

“This is Jose Mallea asking for your support for the special election on July 25th.

I am asking that you don’t believe the lies from the low campaign my opponent is running.

Our district deserves better! Less taxes and more opportunity.

This is why former Governor Jeb Bush is supporting me in my campaign for State Representative.

“Hello, this is Jeb Bush. Jose Mallea is a trusted friend that’s going to defend us. Jose will use his Republican values to work for you in the Florida Legislature.

That’s why I am asking you to vote for Jose on July 25th.