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Lincoln Diaz-Balart takes on USA Today -- and Castro

Lincoln Diaz-Balart opines in today's USA Today, taking on the newspaper's editorial board which writes in favor of lifting the embargo on Cuba, given the damage caused by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

"Rather than stick to outdated political games, the United States should deprive the Cuban regime of its scapegoat and lift the embargo," the editorial says. "Castro's attempts to hold the United States responsible for his country's woes could then be exposed for what they are: an attempt to shift blame. And millions of Cubans can both be helped and start seeing a different truth from the Castro brothers' insistence that the U.S. is the author of all that goes wrong in Cuba."

Retorts Diaz-Balart: "The gravely ill Fidel Castro might have given up some titles, but he remains the tyrant. At the time of his death, it will be critical for the U.S. embargo to be in place as it is today, with its lifting being conditioned on three fundamental developments: the liberation of all political prisoners; the legalization of all political parties, labor unions and the press; and the scheduling of free elections.

"Those are the exact same conditions that brought about the democratic transitions in Portugal, in Spain, in South Africa, in Chile, in the Dominican Republic and in many other dictatorships," Diaz-Balart wrote. "This is not the time to give the Cuban dictatorship billions of dollars unilaterally, while Cuba's prisons remain full of political prisoners and the regime remains a state sponsor of international terrorism."