The Republican Grinch, Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), nearly stole all the presents from under the Cuban Christmas trees this year. In an effort to leverage the extension of the unemployment benefits bill and the threatened shut down of the US government due to the need to extend the debt ceiling, Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) temporarily convinced the Republican leadership to insert a provision that would have severely restricted the ability of Cuban-Americans to send support and visit their relatives in Cuba. The Democrats dug in their heels and refused to be bullied. The Republicans finally saw the light of day and killed the Díaz-Balart amendments. These two south Florida Republicans are intent on continuing the failed policy of the embargo and attendant travel restrictions, apparently thinking that if the policy hasn’t worked in 50 years, another half-century of insanity is just what is needed to free Cuba from its Communist dictatorship.
The myopia of Díaz-Balart makes me wonder if his political views are not colored by his personal family situation. His aunt, Mirta Díaz-Balart was Fidel Castro’s first wife. That marriage ended in divorce, but produced a son, Fidel Ángel Castro Díaz-Balart, also known as Fidelito. Fidelito is the presumptive heir to Fidel and Raul Castro and Balart’s first cousin. When Fidel became very ill six years ago, Fidelito implored his mother to leave Spain, where she was looking after her second husband who was suffering from Altzheimers, and come to Fidel's bedside. She came to be with Fidel and her husband then died. Could the personal animosity of Balart toward his family members who are leaders of the dictatorship that has exploited the Cuban people since 1959 be responsible for the blinders that prevent a fresh approach being taken to deal with the Cuban government?
I would be interested in seeing an explanation that demonstrates what changes have occurred in Cuba that makes those who advocate a continuation of the embargo believe that its continuation will produce any likely meaningful change in the structure of Cuban government. I certainly understand that a discontinuation of the policy is no guaranty of success, but 50 years of failure is a pretty convincing evidence that continuing the same is no solution at all.
For the millions of unemployed in the United States, I am happy that the South Florida Republican Grinches have been given coals for their stockings. Hopefully, the Cuban children who receive gifts from their American relatives this year will have positive thoughts about the adoptive country of their expatriate family members.