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What They’re Saying: Florida Democrats Call Out Republican Hypocrisy on Cuba Visits

On Tuesday, Axios Miami first reported that the Transport Security Administration provided Cuban government officials a tour of Miami International Airport on May 20, a day that marks Cuban Independence Day. 

According to reports, local authorities including Miami-Dade County officials and Congress were not notified of the visit, raising questions about protocols and sparking security concerns. 

Florida Republicans including U.S. Senator Rick Scott and Rep. Carlos Giménez, who served mayor of Miami-Dade County from 2011 to 2020, were quick to respond with outrage claiming in a letter and recorded videos that this is the first time they have heard of the Cuban delegation visits but yesterday, the Miami-Herald reported that Cuban officials visited Miami’s airport in 2015 and 2011. 

Excerpts from the Miami-Herald article are below:

– Federal authorities brought Cuban aviation officials to tour Miami International Airport in 2011 and 2015, the Transportation Security Administration confirmed Wednesday, two days after the revelation of a similar visit launched a political storm in Miami.
– Cuban groups also visited security operations at other U.S. airports under the administration of President Donald Trump. In 2018, three Cuban officials visited airports in Philadelphia; Arlington, Virginia; and Atlantic City, New Jersey, Howell said.
– Giménez was mayor in 2015 and took office in the first half of 2011. In a videotaped question-and-answer session released by a spokesperson Wednesday afternoon, Gimenez said he wasn’t notified of any Cuban officials visiting MIA while he was overseeing the airport as mayor.
– Federal authorities said the Cuba visits are part of a broader program to promote better security screening at foreign airports with direct flights to the United States. 

In response, Florida Democrats called out the hypocrisy from Florida Republicans and coordinated with authorities to establish protocols and received an apology and commitment from the TSA to ensure transparency on visits in the future:

Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried: “It is not the first time this has happened but the timing of the visit on Cuban Independence Day is a slap in the face to the Cuban American community in exile. While Florida Democrats are cooperating with authorities to demand answers and make sure this never happens again without full transparency, the hypocrisy from Florida Republicans is questionable. The first Cuban delegation visit to Miami airport happened when Giménez was mayor and Rick Scott was governor. Why didn’t they raise their concerns the first time? Spare us the spectacle.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25): “I immediately demanded an explanation from the Trump-appointed TSA director who let this unacceptable behind-the-scenes tour happen. I hope MAGA apologists bring the same energy against Putin or the other dictators they salivate over, who prop up Cuba’s despotic regime. Nobody has worked harder than President Biden and Florida Democrats to free political prisoners, assist Cuba’s democracy movement, and stand up to autocrats and their bootlicking admirers in Havana, Caracas, Moscow, and Mar-a-Lago.”

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava“Today, I met with the Department of Homeland Security, TSA and the State Department to share our community’s deep frustration about the visit of Cuban officials to MIA. The agencies apologized and committed to changing their protocols to ensure we are informed before any other foreign delegations tour our airport.”

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