TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – After sometimes-emotional discussion, the Florida Senate went on the record Tuesday opposing President Obama’s decision to open diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Senators approved in a voice vote what is known as a “memorial” (SM 866), which does not have legal power but expresses the view of the Senate.
The effort to pass the measure was led by three Cuban-American lawmakers: Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami. They said the Castro regime has taken away freedoms and property, and they also recounted how relatives had fled the island or been imprisoned.
“If we (senators) don’t stand for freedom, then who will?” Flores asked.
Garcia and Diaz de la Portilla said opening diplomatic relations won’t change the circumstances on the island, with Diaz de la Portilla asking senators for “solidarity” in opposing the Obama administration’s move.
“This new policy will ensure that the Castro regime will stay in power a little longer and the Cuban people will continue to suffer,” he said.
But Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, spoke in support of the president, who announced the diplomatic changes in December. Joyner said the administration took “historic steps to chart a new course” in U.S. relations with Cuba.
“I know that his moving this forward is an effort to bring freedom to the Cuban people,” Joyner said.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.