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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A symbolic rebuke of President Obama’s effort to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba sailed through a Senate committee Thursday.
The Senate Rules Committee voted 10-2 in support of what is known as a “memorial” (SM 866) that expresses “profound disagreement” with Obama’s decision in December to restore relations with the communist government.
The memorial also opposes the opening of any diplomatic offices in Cuba and urges no change be made to the U.S. embargo, which has been in place for more than half a century.
Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican who sponsored the memorial, noted that her mother, grandmother and aunt abruptly left the island in 1959 as the Castro brothers were taking power.
“Today in Cuba is no different than 1959 in Cuba,” Flores said. “There is no freedom to speak. There is no ability for somebody to come before their legislature and petition and say these are the laws and these are the things I’d like to see changed.”
Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, voted against the memorial.
Joyner defended the president’s actions, calling the decision a “humanitarian” gesture that has been embraced by Pope Francis and is intended to “extend the light of liberty through the hand of friendship.”
The next stop for the memorial is the Senate floor. The House companion (HM 727) has been backed 9-4 by the Local and Federal Affairs Committee and awaits a hearing in State Affairs Committee.
“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”