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Florida politicians react to U.S. embassy opening in Havana


South Florida Republicans in particular are upset about the Obama administration's planned opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana Friday. We'll update this post with statements as we get them.

(We posted separate blog items about a Marco Rubio speech, and about a Jeb Bush statement.)

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

John Kerry's presence in Havana on his global capitulation tour is yet another example of the Obama administration’s d’esire to pursue deals at any cost. While the Castro brothers will roll out the red carpet for Secretary Kerry, the people of Cuba will continue to be met with violence and detentions. While Secretary Kerry just changes the sign on the door at our post, he purposefully forgets that the Castro regime tries to prevent the people of Cuba from even reaching our building.  While political prisoners languish in Castro’s gulags, Secretary Kerry will be shaking hands with their oppressor. The arrest of more than 100 pro-democracy leaders just days before Kerry’s visit should provide proof enough that the Castro regime has no intention of changing, so why should our policies change?

From a dangerous Iran deal to being weak against North Korea to giving in to the demands of the Castro brothers, this administration has demonstrated it imposes no moral bar to negotiating with tyrannical regimes. It is a shame we continue to give away so much in exchange for nothing since the White House was unable to ensure democratic freedoms for the people of Cuba, the return of fugitives from American justice, or compensation for illegally confiscated properties. Our country stands for so much more than the pittance it has accepted from the Castro regime.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 2016 Republican U.S. Senate

The Obama Administration’s refusal to invite pro-democracy leaders to Friday’s U.S. Embassy ceremony in Havana is a shameful embarrassment that emboldens Castro's repressive regime. Once again, it demonstrates that President Obama is committed to a policy that allows the Castros to dictate the terms and conditions of their relationship with the U.S., to the detriment of the Cuban people’s right to freedom and self-determination.

During his visit to the enslaved island of Cuba, I call on Secretary Kerry to demand the dictatorship immediately release all political prisoners and end the repeated violence against peaceful pro-democracy leaders. Because the Obama Administration has decided to proceed with normalization while disregarding the clear evidence of increased brutality against peaceful dissidents, President Obama now bears the responsibility for the violence that will continue to be inflicted upon the Cuban people.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, 2016 U.S. Senate candidate

It’s a sad day when America celebrates the establishment of diplomatic ties with a tyrannical dictatorship that has connections to world-wide terrorism. Legitimizing the Castro dictatorship undermines our security and will, tragically, marginalize the pro-American freedom fighters and dissidents who are bravely standing up to the regime inside Cuba.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

That a U.S. Secretary of State would sideline Cuba's pro-democracy activists simply to avoid offending their oppressors is unthinkable. In Cuba, pro-democracy and human rights activists strive each day, at grave personal risk, to achieve freedom for the Cuban people. It is shameful that President Obama and Secretary Kerry have stooped so low as to publicly choose the Castro regime over the Cuban people, and exclude Cuba's brave leaders from a U.S.-hosted event at our post in Havana. Our U.S. mission in Cuba has always been a welcoming haven and symbol of liberty for those struggling for freedom in the midst of tyranny. The U.S. must remain unequivocal in its support for democracy, human rights and essential liberties, which necessarily includes standing by those struggling to achieve them.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

Secretary Kerry's trip to Cuba only legitimizes the Castro's illegitimate tyrannical rule. Since President Obama’s December announcement, over 3000 political arrests have been made, including over a hundred just this past weekend. The Obama Administration has put blinders on to the to the increased repression against peaceful pro-democracy activists. This is the true nature of the dictatorship this Administration has acquiesced to. I again call on Secretary Kerry to summon the moral courage and backbone to condemn these atrocious human rights violations against the Cuban people.