This evening on “Special Report,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed the Obama administration for concessions with Cuba.

President Barack Obama said today that he will end an “outdated approach” with Cuba. He plans to take steps to normalize relations, including opening an embassy in Havana. Obama is also reportedly expected to call on Congress to lift a longstanding embargo on Cuba.

Rubio said that the purpose of sanctions is leverage to negotiate with the successor to the Castro regime.

“The president has given away much of that leverage in exchange for nothing,” he said.

Rubio charged that Obama’s concessions will provide the currency and economic progress that the Cuban government needs to make conditions there permanent.

“It is the most historic thing that's happened in the relationship with Cuba since 1961,” Rubio said of today’s news. “But in my mind, it sets back democratic progress. Put yourself, for a moment, in the place of an activist, or a dissident on the island of Cuba who has made it their life purpose to condemn what the Castro regime is doing. And now here comes the U.S., under Barack Obama, and basically embraces that government and has said […] in return for this embrace, we're not asking them to treat you any better.

Rubio also responded to Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who has sided with the administration. Flake said, “Certainly, the policy is right and good politics usually follow."

“This has nothing to do with politics,” Rubio said. “I don't care if 99 percent of the people in America think we should lift sanctions. I would still be against it, because my interest is not politics when it comes to Cuba, it is freedom and democracy for the Cuban people, who deserve to be able to elect their leaders just the same way we do and every other nation in the hemisphere does.”

Rubio said that today is a sad one.

“It's a terrible day for democracy. It's a sad day for those that want freedom and liberty for the Cuban people. Today is a dramatic step in the direction of the Cuban regime becoming a permanent fixture that we'll be asked to accept forever. It's a terrible day for freedom.”