Former Congressman Joe Garcia Resorts to the Figure of Mas Canosa to Justify his Trip to Cuba

García, the second from left to right, during a meeting with Cuban businesspeople from the private sector. (Twitter/Joe García)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2022 — Former Democratic congressman for Florida, Joe García, pointed out in an interview with OnCuba that the Biden government will take more steps in its policy of rapprochement with the Island, the first of which, the issue of remittances, is already underway.  In a conversation with the media he defended his controversial trip to Havana, where he met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and he said that it didn’t contradict the spirit of Jorge Mas Canosa, the deceased historical leader of Miami’s Cuban exile community and García’s mentor.

“It doesn’t seem to me that I did anything that wasn’t in agreement with the history of Jorge Mas Canosa. Remember that once he debated with Ricardo Alarcón,” alleges the politician, whose interest is focussed on promoting cooperation between Florida and the Island through small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs]. He emphatically states that “Cuba’s problem cannot be solved without Miami.”

“The rules [of the embargo] that apply to the Government and Cuban companies do not apply to SMEs in Cuba,” García explains. According to him, despite not exactly being a businessman, he has been working for some time to establish relations allowed by the embargo laws and despite the obstacles in Havana.

The former congressman, born in Miami in 1963 and close to former President Barack Obama, recounted his trip last week to the Island. In it, he had the opportunity to verify that the population’s need is extreme and considers that the Cuban community abroad can help develop initiatives that improve the lives of Cubans without going through the Cuban Government, which is possible, he indicates, through private businesses.

“They can buy without restrictions. They are entrepreneurs, and the law and regulations that Obama wrote allow them to do business with SMEs,” he emphasizes. Asked about the timid progress of the current president, García says that there will be more: “[Joe Biden] has done a little and will do more. Look, he opened the embassy again, restarted the flights, not only to Havana but to the interior, and now they are working to improve the situation with remittances.”

Joe García participated in a meeting that has generated a lot of discomfort in the sector considered the hardcore of exile, which no longer makes up only the political exiles of the 1960s, as before. The Democrat reflects on the most recent wave of emigrants, many of them for economic reasons, who arrived in the United States more radicalized than before.

“That is a question that the Government of Cuba should ask itself, because these are children of the Revolution. Here you can’t blame Batista, the CIA, the US government, the Russians. Who is to blame for this reality, that mostly people between the ages of 35 and younger arrive with perceptions about their own country that could not be instilled by me, or anyone else? The question is as follows: if Cuba can’t talk to its children, who is it talking to? Who are you going to bury?” he argues.

The politician defends himself against the sector that has criticized his trip more vigorously and says that he was with an entire group of people gathered to “study the theme of SMEs and the forms of investment in Cuba.” They met in a salon where Miguel Díaz-Canel gave a speech, after which García had the opportunity to talk with him.

“There are things that I’m not going to reveal. But I told him that the issue of SMEs had to be pursued, that it was an opportunity, and that the decisions that were made had to be implemented. I also advocated for the people who are imprisoned in Cuba after the events of July last year and other events,” he says. He recognizes, however, that there was no reaction. “We’ll see if he listened to me. But he heard me.”

The former congressman insists that neither his trip, his conversations with Cuban officials or his intention to do business on the Island clash with the ideas of his admired Mas Canosa who, he says, he had in mind at this meeting.

“What I know is that I have buried many friends, men who fought with weapons in Cuba, and who impressed me with their memories, their affection, their deep love for the Cuban nation. I have buried many. Some of them, in important positions, all they want is a dignified reunion with their country. And it seems to me that it’s something that the country owes them too. No 80-year-old man, who must be the age of the youngest brigadier [of Playa Girón — the Bay of Pigs, to Americans], is a threat and something that the Government of Cuba must fear.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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