Oriales Rubio, the mother of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, died Friday at age 88.
Marco Rubio announced his mother’s passing in an Instagram post on Sunday.
“My mother Oria Rubio returned to be with the Lord on Friday night,” Rubio wrote. “God blessed her with almost 89 years of life filled with love. And with a peaceful death surrounded by those who loved her.”
He added that the love she had for her children is “but a glimpse of the even greater love God has for His.”
Oriales Rubio was born on Nov. 2, 1930, in Jatibonico, Cuba. In 1956, she and her husband, Mario Rubio, arrived in the United States from Cuba, 2 1/2 years before Fidel Castro’s takeover, and they lived in Miami until 1979, when they moved to Las Vegas. In 1985, the Rubio family returned to South Florida and moved to West Miami, where their son began his political career. Rubio’s father died in 2010.
A biography previously posted on Rubio’s Senate website noted that his mother worked as a housekeeper at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas and as a Kmart stock clerk in Miami until she retired in 1995.
Rubio’s family story was a central theme during his 2016 presidential campaign, when he became the second Hispanic to win a caucus or primary. He frequently noted his mother and father’s working-class roots on the campaign trail. Since President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, he has argued that conservatives need to better position themselves as champions of the working class, including advocating for an expanded child tax credit rather than a larger corporate tax rate cut in the Republican tax bill that became law in 2017.
Rubio mentioned his mother during his 2016 presidential campaign launch at the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami.
“Both of my parents were born to poor families in Cuba,” Rubio said. “After his mother died when he was 9, my father left school to go work. My mother was one of seven girls raised by a disabled father who struggled to provide for his family.
“When they were young, my parents had big dreams for themselves. But because they were not born into wealth or power, their future was destined to be defined by their past. So in 1956 they came here, to the one place on earth where the aspirations of people like them could be more than just dreams.”
Rubio lives four blocks from his parents’ home in West Miami, where he began his political career as a city commissioner before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He became Speaker of the Florida House in 2006. In 2010, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
“My father became a bartender. My mother a cashier, a maid and a Kmart stock clerk,” Rubio said in his campaign launch speech. “They never made it big. But they were successful. Two immigrants with little money or education found stable jobs, owned a home, retired with security and gave all four of their children a life far better than their own.”