Hialeah. The home of international fugitive terrorist Luis Posada. Hialeah. The city awarded the keys to the city to this terrorist. Hialeah. Is it any wonder that Mario Diaz-Balart is its representative in the House of Representatives? Hialeah. Florida's 21st district.
As nearly the entire world has recognized, the U.S. embargo against Cuba should end. Long after the end of the Cold War, over a decade after the attempted kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez, tensions remain between the two countries. It really isn't necessary, Cuba has reiterated its willingness to have discussions with the United States. But the prerequisite Cuba places is too much for Washington to accept at this time. What is Cuba's prerequisite? To be treated respectfully.
Cuba isn't alone in its insistence of a prerequisite for talks. The U.S. believes that it has some sort of moral authority to decide if Cuba has met the artificial requirements that the U.S. has decided to place as conditions to holding talks. It's pure arrogance on the part of my country, the United States.
History's irony has landed Mario Diaz-Balart in the position of U.S. Representative for the 21st District of Florida. He is the congressman with the most direct ties to the Batista regime which was removed by the triumph of the Cuban revolution. His father worked directly for Fulgencio Batista and obviously couldn't accept the revolution that removed his ruling circle. But the most ironic historical fact is that Mario's aunt had been married to Fidel himself and with him, had a child, Mario's cousin.
Opinions of Cubans living in the U.S. are drasticly different than they were a few decades ago. Cubans living here are now very interested in maintaining family ties with relatives on the island. Many are apolitical or are just plain tired of the politics of the past. Diaz-Balart couldn't care less. His personal frustrations about Cuba's independence trump the desires of much of the public he is supposed to represent. He has refused to speak with constituents who oppose his policies choosing instead to be sure that people like the old terrorist Posada Carriles, who have spent much of their lives dedicated to policies that are meant to cause suffering, can smile to each other even though their circle is getting smaller and weaker as the days pass.
His personal ambitions of impressing to most extremist elements in South Florida outweigh the respect of family that his own political party like to tout (although it is just a lot of political posturing). His most recent claim to fame is the fact that he is attempting to turn back the laws regarding travel to where they were during the infinitely terrible Bush presidency. His proposal is to prevent people from traveling to the island more than once every three years. Of course in the twisted logic of an anti-Cuba politician, this proposal is supposedly for the good of the Cuban people.
Candidate Obama made a lot of promises. To me, the most easy to accomplish of all was his promise to eliminate restrictions on travel for people with relatives on the island. This opinion was so popular that he was able to receive applause while speaking to the Cuban American National Foundation during the campaign. The Bush policy was extremely upsetting to many and a change was more than welcomed. Now if Mario Diaz-Balart's proposal makes its way through all of the wrangling in Congress, it will be up to President Obama to stand by his word and veto this madness. Will he? Will this provision even make it that far? That is to be seen. But either way, the President must realize that allowing this kind of thing to make its way into law will be an insult to the idea of family, a defeat for justice.
It is to be expected that Hialeah's representative stands for destructive, counterproductive policy. It is expected that a son of the Batista dictatorship has no regard for the Cuban people, neither those one the island nor those he is supposed to represent. Congressman Jose Serrano from the Bronx represents the immigrants from Cuba better than Mario Diaz-Balart. What a shame that such a man, such a hateful ideology still seems to find a way to cause so much hurt.
Let"s find a replacement for the folks like Diaz-Balart in 2012. Let's move towards the future in a way that avoids the obvious mistakes of the past. Let's respect our fellow nations and let us truly respect the idea of family. Throw away this hurtful provision and go further. End the travel ban on Americans to Cuba and the entire embargo. Let's not let the small man from Florida's 21st district destroy the only positive pieces to the puzzle of U.S.-Cuba relations.