U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami has campaigned for another congressional term by focusing on bread-and-butter Democratic issues -- Medicare, Social Security, student loans -- and generally avoiding the topic of Cuba.
Yet the star of his latest political advertisement on Spanish-language television is a Cuban dissident.
Guillermo Fariñas staged more than 20 hunger strikes on the Communist island to force the release of political prisoners. He won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience in 2010 and has advocated for tough U.S. sanctions on Cuba until the island's Communist regime moves toward democracy.
"For decades, Joe Garcia has been a compatriot committed to our fight," Fariñas says in the ad, shot in front of downtown Miami's Freedom Tower.
His appearance prompted a rebuke not only from Garcia's Republican opponent, Carlos Curbelo, but also by other Miami Cuban Americans who questioned whether Fariñas -- who is back in Cuba after a recent Miami visit -- knew he'd be used in a U.S. political campaign. It appears to be the first time a Cuban dissident appears in a U.S. campaign ad.