Cuban-American Republicans in Congress are not pleased with the president’s move to start normalizing relations with the island nation.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement that the president’s move is “inexplicable” and that he plans to use his perch next Congress as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to try to block the president’s move.
“Appeasing the Castro brothers will only cause other tyrants from Caracas to Tehran to Pyongyang to see that they can take advantage of President Obama’s naiveté during his final two years in office,” he said. “As a result, America will be less safe as a result of the President’s change in policy.”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, another Cuban-American Republican from Florida, took a similar stance. He called Obama “the Appeaser-in-Chief” and labeled the spy swap “an egregious miscarriage of justice.”
“President Obama's decision to allow the Castro regime to blackmail the United States and abandon our pro-democracy principles is an outrage,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, was born in Havana. Her family fled the Castro regime when she was 8 years old, and she’s been an outspoken critic of the current regime there. She issued a statement on Wednesday morning saying the president’s move to exchange three Cuban spies for American prisoner Alan Gross is a national security threat.
“This misguided action by President Obama will embolden the Castro regime to continue its illicit activities, trample on fundamental freedoms, and disregard democratic principles,” she said of the president’s push.
Among the Hill’s Cuban-Americans, there’s bipartisan opposition to the president’s move. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, leveled biting criticism at the president.
“President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” he said in his statement.
“This asymmetrical trade will invite further belligerence toward Cuba's opposition movement and the hardening of the government’s dictatorial hold on its people,” he continued. “Let us all remind ourselves that an untold number of ordinary people yearning for democracy remain imprisoned by the exact same tormentors that have punished Alan Gross and they, along with all Cubans, deserve a free and liberated Cuba.”