The Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia pointed out some discrepancies in Rubio’s version of his family history in a story last week. The senator has frequently stated that his parents came from Cuba in 1959 or after Fidel Castro took power. Castro took control of the island in January1959. Records show that his parents left in May 1956 — long before Castro took power and six months before Castro even invaded the island.
In a 2009 interview with NPR reporter Robert Siegel, Rubio said that his mother went to visit her father in Cuba in 1960, because he had gotten in an accident and was stuck in the hospital.
“My grandfather, who had already been stricken with polio as a young man, had an accident he was hit by a bus,” Rubio told Siegel, in audio aired on “All Things Considered” Monday. “So my mom went back with her sister to take care of her father in 1960, and my dad stayed behind [in Miami] working.”
Rubio’s grandfather had also emigrated to the United States at that point; Rubio’s office told NPR for Monday’s story that he had returned for a visit and gotten in an accident.
He went on: “When the time came to come home, the Cuban government wouldn’t let her. So my dad was here in Miami, working, and desperate. ... And they would go to the airport every day for nine months waiting to be let go, and finally they were able to come and it was very frightening. And I think that’s when they knew for sure that thats not the place they wanted to be.”
Rubio wrote in Politico last week that the senator’s mother returned to Cuba in 1961, “with the intention of moving back,” and stayed for about a month before realizing that “the change happening in Cuba was not for the better.” He did not mention the grandfather or any inability to leave the country..
A spokesman for the senator told NPR that Rubio’s mother was temporarily barred from leaving Cuba on a trip back.
“But rather than the nine-month forced wait that Rubio described two years ago to NPR, Rubio in the latest version of his family story says they arrived in Cuba in 1961 and left the following month,” NPR’s David Welna reported today.
Records show that Rubio’s mother entered Cuba on Feb. 27, 1961, and she left on March 29, 1961.
In various statements, Rubio has maintained that he is the son of exiles, and that the specific dates and timelines are not relevant to the overall point of his family’s story.
“It is important to remember that these events occurred over a decade before he was born, and the dates and time frames are based on how these events were described to him almost two decades after they happened,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told The Fix. “As it turns out, some of the dates and time frames were wrong. But his family story is essentially the same.”
Roig-Franzia answered reader questions about the story today.