Did congressmen from South Florida accomplish what they wanted with new Cuba policy?

Frank Mora says plan isn't close to what was promised

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - The clock is now running on the new rolled-back rules for business and travel with Cuba.  

Two South Florida lawmakers were instrumental in getting President Donald Trump to take a harder line toward the Castro government. But did they accomplish what they wanted?  

Frank Mora, the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, said no.

That’s because, while the president announced full reversal of U.S.-Cuban relations, in practice, what he did was not.

"Compared to what we were expecting, what (U.S. Rep.) Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) wanted (and) what the president said during the campaign, it's not even close to that," Mora said.

The new Cuba policy, steered by Diaz-Balart and Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Florida, still allows U.S. air and cruise business and diplomatic relations, and lets Cuban-Americans travel and send money to family members.  

Mora was recently behind a report studying tourism in Cuba that noted much of President Barack Obama's openings were still in place.  

"This president is an incredibly transactional president," Mora said. "I give you something, you're going to have to give me something in return."

Opponents allege Rubio scaled back criticism of the president and possible Russia ties in return for a tough stance on Cuba.

Others allege Diaz-Balart's concession was voting for the president's Obamacare repeal, against his constituents' wishes.

"It is my duty to advocate for the issues that are important to my constituents, and I will not apologize for using every available avenue to effectively resolve them," Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

Diaz-Balart was the one who proposed a full reversal, Mora said.

"And now he's accepting much, much less than what he had proposed to the president," Mora said.

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