Miami: Cuban exiles in Miami and Republican legislators from Florida, outraged by the White House’s about turn on Cuba, are preparing to block in Congress President Barack Obama’s decision to establish diplomatic ties with Havana.
Senator Marco Rubio and lawmakers Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Cuban-Americans, appeared before the media Thursday with the families of Brothers to the Rescue pilots who died in a Cuban air attack in 1996.
At a tense and emotional press conference, Rubio and the congress members had strong words for the president and his agreement to resume immediate diplomatic ties with Cuba after six decades of hostility and mistrust.
The three expressed their anger and feelings of betrayal, sadness, deception, pain and insult that they said overwhelmed them.
In one day, Obama has betrayed half a century of sacrifice for freedom and democracy in Cuba, said a visibly affected Ros-Lehtinen.
In her opinion, Obama’s announcement was an insult to the Cuban-American community that yearns for liberty in Cuba and destroys the efforts of many Cubans who believed in moving the country towards a democratic government that respects human rights.
For Rubio, the agreement that includes cooperation in areas as important as banking and telecommunications was terrible, and for which the US got nothing in return.
Their disappointment and outrage were echoed by many Cuban exiles in Florida who are planning a protest in Miami over the weekend.
Only a few experts and analysts considered the move to resume ties with Cuba after a break of more than 50 years to be a positive step, and remarked that with the agreement, Cuba could no longer blame its problems on the “imperial” giant to the north.
Florida International University Director of the Latin American Studies Department, Eduardo Gamarra, told Spanish news agency Efe that the policy of embargo had run its course and that it was time for it to be lifted.
Frank Mora, who heads the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Center, said that the US had taken an important step and it was Cuba’s turn to fulfil its promise of making changes towards democracy and protecting human rights.
Other experts, like University of Miami Cuban Institute Director Jaime Suchlicki, said they felt that the impact of Obama’s actions would be very limited as Congress would be reluctant to approve his initiatives.