Thursday, February 17, 2011

Senator Rubio gets started

Starting with the positive, Florida Senator Marco Rubio doesn’t mind being unconventional.

He made an unusual legislative debut this week with an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill that would stop the federal government from permitting any additional airports to offer flights to Cuba. He would freeze the status quo where Miami has 30-50 flights per week depending on the season, while JFK and LAX have one flight weekly.

Rubio’s spokesman told the St. Petersburg Times that the amendment failed last night, but the Senator will keep trying to pass it.

The amendment was all about Cuba but didn’t include the word “Cuba.” It pretended to be about terrorism, as if there were a debate about flights to Syria, Iran, or North Korea.

Stranger still was his messages to Florida constituents, including Cuban Americans all over the state: If you travel to Cuba I want federal law to force you first to drive or fly to Miami. Any local airport authority that might want to run a flight or two per week can simply stuff it.

Tampa, Orlando, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, take note.

Last May as a candidate, Rubio didn’t beat around the bush with an argument about global terrorism. He forthrightly opposed President Obama’s policy of allowing Cuban Americans to visit family in Cuba without restriction. He told Human Events that the policy brings too much hard currency to Cuba and “threatens the exile status of the Cuban community.”

“How do you argue that you’re an exile,” he asked, “when exile is supposed to be people that can’t return for political purposes?”

Well, Senator, they don’t argue that they are exiles.

Some Cuban Americans freely choose, quite understandably, never to return to Cuba as long as the Communist Party is in power.

Other Cuban Americans don’t consider themselves exiles, and freely decide otherwise. Several hundred thousand per year travel to Cuba, they line up every day at MIA, Concourse G.

Senator Rubio often waxes lyrical about liberty and the U.S. Constitution. But when it comes to freedom to travel, freedom for Cuban Americans to consider themselves “exiles” or not, or the mundane matter of permitting flights to depart from airports convenient to American passengers, he has other ideas.

And he’s just getting started.


tredway said...

Rubio believes that he is safe in taking the hardline because it will play well with the Tea Party and a large number of Cuban Americans in Florida. Also, he believes that the majority of Floridians simply don't care about Cuba policy. But it isn't just Rubio. Go anywhere in the Florida congressional delegation--demo or rep--and they run for cover when it comes to normalizing relations. Sure, you have Castor(D-Tampa) urging flights from TPA because it's self-interest but go to other issues such as ending the embargo and she will run the other way like others in Florida.

Anonymous said...

You make a very good point regarding "exiles". It would be interesting to know what percentage of Cuban Americans consider themselves to be true exiles: Someone that was forced to leave Cuba due to circumstances and can not or is not willing to return until the circumstances change.

Its interesting, or sad, that hardliners believe that as part of the bargain for entering the US under the wet-foot-dry-foot policy is that you are now must act as an "exile". Its not the Cubans fault that US foreign policy has handed them such a favorable proposition and that they choose to accept it. I live in a developed country and I would consider doing the same for quick and easy US permanent residency.

The ironies of the hardliners are many. This example of them expecting ALL Cuban Americans to agree and follow their ideals and become down right aggressive when they don't, when they claim to have fled a similar repression is just one of them.