Editorial: What Cuban 'justice' reveals about Rubio

South Florida Sun Sentinel, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Political News

Maybe Marco Rubio doesn’t know any better.

But ignorance isn’t the only reason why Florida’s senior senator would indignantly compare Donald Trump’s criminal conviction to a show trial in Cuba. It’s merely the kindest.

This University of Miami School of Law graduate must surely have missed classes explaining that in an American court, Trump must prove the truth of what he says. A Cuban court would have spared him the burden and put words in his mouth.

Justice, here and there

In Manhattan criminal court, Trump got the best lawyer his millions could buy. In a criminal trial in Cuba, he would have been stuck with whichever state lawyer pulled the short straw.

Here, Trump had the right to testify in his own defense. There, he would have had the right to explain why he committed the crime.

Rubio hammered home his argument that there’s no daylight between Cuba’s lack of justice and Trump’s own trial, with a video featuring a military official manacled and brought before a crowd of more than 15,000 in the Havana Sports Palace arena. Thirteen hours of screamed jeers and accusations ended at dawn with a judgment of death.

In America, Trump complained about the courtroom’s air conditioning. He was allowed to call his own trial “rigged,” the judge “corrupt” and the verdict “a disgrace.”

Try getting away with that in Havana.

Consumed by ambition

In Cuba, there is no jury of peers in a criminal trial. And although the former president appears to doubt he has peers anywhere, he does, and they judged him — not a state tribunal.

Still, some people will believe Rubio. They might think that the son of Cuban immigrants is speaking from experience. He’s not. He’s speaking from an ambition so humiliatingly raw that a person could be embarrassed for him.

Rubio exploited the memory of thousands who lost their freedom to Cuban justice to score political points.

But the man he is defending, Trump, is the man he hopes will anoint him as his vice presidential running mate.

In Cuba, Trump’s stated goals for American justice fit right in.

Cuba and Trump’s America

Trump endorsed the termination of the U.S. Constitution if it would put him back in power. Havana’s latest 2019 constitution ensures that those who are in power stay in power.

Cuba executes drug users. Trump seeks to execute drug dealers.

Cuba locks up its political enemies. Trump has been calling for that since 2016.

Cuba sent in military and national police to break up protests over the economy.

Trump sent in the National Guard to break up Washington D.C. protests over George Floyd. If states did not do the same, he told governors, he would send in the military.


Police tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators in Cuba.

Police tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators to allow Trump to walk to a church for a photo-op.

Cuba sentenced 171 protestors to an average of 10 years and two months in prison.

Trump has called for U.S. protestors to be imprisoned for 10 years.

This years-long fire hose of daily outrages from Trump and his lackeys makes it hard to pause and remember the inflammatory pledges are not jokes over beers or a little something to gin up a rally.

Listen to Trump’s words

Trump has always done, or tried to do, exactly what he says he wants to do.

And he is saying he wants the American justice system dismantled from the ground up to better serve him.

He’s shrewd enough to distance himself from the most noxious of the anti-democratic specifics. The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, for instance, has not been openly endorsed by the Trump campaign.

But to a man who said he will be a dictator — for just one day, though — Project 2025’s plans for the American justice system are catnip.

As in Cuba, law enforcement under Project 2025 would be subordinate to one man. Every federal prosecution and investigation would have to reflect the president’s policy goals, or they could be stopped.

That, though, is not the mockery of America’s justice system Rubio wants us to focus on.

“A travesty,” he said after Trump’s convictions. “An ugly, ugly blemish.” And to his followers on X: “Get even.”

All this venom from the senator for convictions that may not even stand.

Trump is appealing, and he might win. That’s because, at least for the time being, America remains a nation of laws, and not men.

Another reason Trump might win is because this is still America — not Cuba.


The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Opinion Editor Dan Sweeney, editorial writer Martin Dyckman and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Editorials are the opinion of the Board and written by one of its members or a designee. To contact us, email at letters@sun-sentinel.com.


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