During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio 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.
The speech drew heavy coverage in Florida, for it was a momentous event. Rubio was the first Cuban American to become speaker of the House in the Florida Legislature. In Florida, being connected to the post-Revolution exile community gives a politician cache that could never be achieved by someone identified with the pre-Castro exodus, a group often viewed with suspicion.
When Rubio’s parents left the island, Cuban migration to the United States was a trickle compared with what it would become in the years after Castro’s victory. “The vast majority of people who emigrated in the 50s went for economic reasons, not for political reasons,” said Maria Cristina Garcia, an expert on Cuban migration at Cornell University.
Multiple documents signed by Rubio’s parents, including their petitions for naturalization, show that Mario and Oriales Rubio arrived in the United States on May 27, 1956, bringing with them their five-year-old son, Mario Maternal grandfather Pedro Victor Garcia also came to the United States around the same time.
I suppose it’s possible he didn’t know the correct year that his family came to America, but it’s not like they came over on the boat 100 years ago. It was the mid 1950s. And it’s a rather salient detail as to whether the family came over to the US casually before Castro took over, or whether “the thug” kicked them out after he took power. Either Rubio lied to us or his parents lied to him.
According to the Washington Post, Rubio is now claiming that he was just repeating “family lore.” But they have all the documents, including the brother’s documents showing that the brother immigrated along with mom and dad in 1956, not after 1959. The brother never said anything when he heard Marco repeatedly saying they had fled Castro, and knew it was wrong? The parents never said anything to correct him? Seriously?
According to Wikipedia, Rubio’s father only just died in 2010. His mother is still alive. As is his brother Mario. They all knew when they came here. None of them heard Marco tell the family story wrongly? And if they did, none of them bothered telling him? It’s just not a credible explanation. These aren’t ancient documents we’re talking about – the three key players were still alive last year, and they never said a thing? Come on. (And his Wikipedia page still says, incorrectly, that his parents were Cuban exiles.)
PS According to the Post, some people are comparing this controversy to the contrived controversy about President Obama allegedly being born in Kenya. Uh, except that in Obama’s case, it was his attackers telling the lie, while in Rubio’s case, he was the one fibbing. Kind of different.