President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Communist Cuba has infuriated Cuban immigrants in Florida, says newly elected Republican congressman Carlos Curbelo.
His district, which was represented by Democrat Joe Garcia before Curbelo won election in November, makes up the tip of Florida, south of Miami, and is home to a large share of Florida’s Cuban Americans.
“People are outraged, people are hurt,” Curbelo tells National Review Online. “It’s a new low point for this administration.”
Cuban-American voters, who traditionally supported Republicans in Florida and on a national level, have drifted toward the Democratic party in recent years; the president’s decision could alienate voters in a crucial swing state.
Curbelo laughed at one of the reasons President Obama offered for his decision, the suggestion that a growing Cuban-American population signals a need to change U.S. policy. The hundreds of thousands of Cubans who fled the country did so because they opposed the Castro regime, not because they wanted to cooperate with it, he says.
“The reason we have had a policy change now is because the president believes in peace through weakness,” he says. “As alarming as it is, it comes as no surprise — this is a president that has doubled down on a weak foreign policy where our enemies are rewarded and our allies are abandoned.”
The Obama administration’s shift sends a troubling message to foreign adversaries, he says — hold an American hostage long enough and get back three criminals who were actively working against the U.S. Unlike Alan Gross, the American aid worker who was released today after years of imprisonment for unlicensed work bringing Internet access to Cuba’s Jews, the three Cubans sent back to Castro’s government today were plotting against American citizens, Curbelo notes.
There will be five Cuban-American members of the House and three in the Senate when Congress returns next month, all of whom Curbelo expects to move forward in opposing the president’s latest move.