No one can really say they are surprised by the questionable behavior of U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia. His entire public career has been marked by his inexplicable and inexcusable fascination with taking stands that fly in the face of his fellow Cuban Americans and directly or indirectly support the apartheid Castro dictatorship in Cuba. Naturally, Garcia did not run for congress in 2012 highlighting his fondness for turning his back on the Cuban exile community. But being true to his nature, sooner rather than later, the real Joe appears. A Joe that is seemingly more interested in promoting the interests of Cuba’s dictatorship than that of his Cuban American constituents.
Rep. Joe Garcia, district are at center of Cuba clashes, policy changes
Congressman Joe Garcia had to choose between two worlds.
At one end of Garcia’s district, an ally persuaded fellow Key West city commissioners to unanimously pass a resolution inviting Cuban diplomats to the San Carlos Institute — a Duval Street landmark steeped in Cuban history, as well as tensions between exiles and the Castro regime.
The Key West resolution was met with outrage by some near the northern end of Garcia’s district, in Miami-Dade. His two Miami Cuban-American colleagues and another House member penned a letter that urged the U.S. State Department to block the diplomats’ Sunday visit from Washington.
Garcia didn’t sign.
The diplomats canceled amid the controversy.
But questions now linger about Garcia’s exile bona fides and, more broadly, the direction of U.S.-Cuba policy amid South Florida’s shifting politics and demographics.
The San Carlos controversy marked the second time in as many weeks that Garcia ostensibly distanced himself from the rest of the Cuban-American delegation. Last Monday, the Miami Herald reported, Garcia became the only delegation member to help advocate for U.S. trials of a diabetes treatment developed by a Cuban regime institute.
“Joe Garcia is at a crossroads. We’re at a crossroads,” said Rafael Peñalver, an exile leader who heads the San Carlos Institute and led opposition to the Cuban diplomats’ visit.
“We have to decide, and he has to decide, if we’re going to advocate for an open Cuba with cosmetic changes by a repressive regime that uses the Cuban people as slave labor for a few business interests,” Peñalver said. “Or are we going to keep the pressure on for a free Cuba without the Castro regime and with true freedom for the Cuban people?”
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