Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas with Mario

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart has attached an amendment to a year-end catch-all spending bill that will have the effect of repealing President Obama’s policy that removed restrictions on Cuban Americans’ visits to their family in Cuba and on the cash assistance they send. The Bush rules would again be in effect: one visit every three years, a narrower definition of “family” that one may visit or assist, and $1,200 per year in remittances per recipient household.

The reason, he explains, is to cut off an excessive flow of money to the Cuban government. The holiday message he is really delivering to those Cuban Americans who travel to Cuba is roughly as follows: “If you oppose this, I don’t care, nor do I care that this would cut off family visits just before Christmas. You live in my district but you don’t seek citizenship and you don’t register to vote, and I bet you never will. Cuban Americans are exiles, not immigrants, and it’s time you started acting that way.”

An earlier note on Mario’s gambit is here.

Say what you will about his legislation, he is engaging in some remarkable politics, defying and calling the bluff of a large number of constituents. If it becomes law, it would put the onus on those Cuban Americans who do not vote to decide what kind of representation they want in Washington, and whether they are interested in being part of that decision. So far, regardless of changes in the Cuban American community, those who organize and vote based on Cuba issues are the hard-liners. That is why the entire Cuban American contingent in Congress is part of the maximum sanctions school, even as Cuban Americans fill dozens of flights every week.

But the Diaz-Balart language is not yet law. If Congress does not strip it on its own, the outcome would seem to depend on President Obama and the strength with which he would threaten a veto. The leverage there is not persuasion, heaven forbid, and it’s not necessarily a government shutdown if the spending bill is not enacted. Rather, it’s the threat that a fight over a bunch of small provisions in a huge bill could delay the Congressional Christmas break, or even keep Congress in Washington into Christmas itself. That’s real leverage and let’s hope he uses it.

Here’s coverage from the Herald, Granma, and the Christian Science Monitor.


Anonymous said...

Rubio's gambit is short-term and short sighted politics, if his amendment passes it will re-set things back to Bush jr, but it won't stop Cuban Americans from returning to their homeland. The long term repercussions of this will be disastrous for Rubio and the gang, once those non-voting Cuban-Americans see reality. He's gambling they never will, it is a bet that he's sure to lose. Those leaving Cuba know they aren't exiles, they are immigrants, and that is the key.

Anonymous said...

One of the most insane things I've read in many months. This is so immoral and unjust. He must be full of hatred.

brianmack said...

Am I the only one in this country who thinks? Seriously, we have a nation
of so called citizens who routinely
have their rights eroded by interest
groups who are fortunate to live here.
Who are these people who continue
to defy the logic that every single
country in this world knows, the embargo is immoral and, I won't mention his name, counterproductive.
Mr. Gross was trying to distribute
computers to citizens BUT they have
no way to get on line (except by
insane telephone lines.) Think!
If we had no embargo, Cuba would have internet access, cable access
and a clear idea how great this country is. What do you think would happen? You have restricted my right to travel Congressman and
sad to say I dislike you and your
agenda. P.S. I'm a conservative!

Anonymous said...

I am a moderate Cuban American and I have no liking for the right wing Cuban American politicians that proposed this measure nor for the policies they favor.

However, in politics I try to be realistic and I believe that, given the Alan Gross- five spy deadlock, it has a good chance of passing.

The reason is that President Bush has, in order not to have an erosion of his Jewish electoral support, to appear to take a strong attitude in the Alan Gross matter.

He can do so in one of two ways:

1- He can strike a deal with the Cuban government to get Gross back.

2- He can sanction the Cuban government.

The first alternative will require a long period of negotiating and haggling with the Cuban government which wants its five spies back in return for Gross.

But Obama cannot make such a one for five deal because this would give the appearance of being very unequal exchange and open him up to the twin charge of:

1 Weakness.

2 Allowing himself to be blackmailed by the Cuban government.

He would have to obtain a more balanced agreement in order to save face.

This would require him to get Gross and the freedom of a good number of the remaining political prisoners in the island in order not to appear weak and lose votes.

However, this would take ardous and long negotiations and leave him subject to the mercurial whims of the Cuban government.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am furious, and I'm not the type who travels to Cuba, but I do support the right of every Cuban-American to do so. These so called representatives want to emulate, imitate and even surpass the Castro regime when it comes to controlling Cubans. They want to impose their will. More so now that they see some changes taking place in Cuba and see the money their relatives send those in Cuba at threat to them. That money is allowing Cubans to set up their own shops, buy houses etc. This they do not want to see. They want things to worsen, not to improve.

brianmack said...

It appears that this attached amendment was dropped from the spending bill. I now put Mr. Diaz-Balart on my "neutral" list and hope someday to add him to my 'positive' politician. I'm fully aware of the hatred, and in many cases rightfully so, the Cuban expatriates have towards the Castro regime. I'm with you all the way on this but again, we win the battle by
trade and allowing Cuba the means to
fully understand how great the USA
truly is. The Cubans who fled and
now thrive in America is a classic example. Good job in dropping this amendment