Salazar opposes sending US aid to Cuban officials pleading for help after Ian

Taddeo supports US aid to non-governmental organizations helping Cubans

After Cuba's desperate request for help to the U.S., the issue causes controversy amid the upcoming November election.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – After news that President Joe Biden’s administration was considering Cuban officials’ request last week for emergency aid after Hurricane Ian, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar stood in opposition.

There were small protests in Cuba amid a countrywide blackout after Ian, as Unión Eléctrica had struggled even before the storm ravaged the island’s western provinces.

Cuban officials shunned U.S. aid after a hotel collapse in May and a fire at an oil storage facility in August. With Russia and China as allies, the request is highly unusual.

People protest asking for the restoration of electrical service after four days of blackout due to the devastation of Hurricane Ian in Bacuranao, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“Giving aid to a state sponsor of terrorism would be immoral and dangerous. We know any potential aid will not be used to help the Cuban people,” Salazar said Thursday in a statement.

The controversy in the U.S. about whether or not to send aid amid the 60-year-old Cuba trade embargo comes just as the November election approaches and there are tight races in South Florida.

Salazar, a Republican who represents Florida’s 27th congressional district, is running for re-election against State Senator Annette Taddeo, a Democrat who was recently endorsed by the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

A man looks at the entrance of a parking garage at a street flooded by the waves that break on the Malecon in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Taddeo, a businesswoman whose father was a kidnapping target of the Marxist-Leninist guerrilla in Colombia, and Salazar, a retired journalist whose parents had to flee Cuba, partially agree.

“We should not give oxygen to the Cuban regime, but we give it to organizations that are trusted, that we know it’s going to make it in the hands to help the people,” Taddeo said.

Biden hasn’t changed former President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of Cuba’s U.S. designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. But his administration reinstated talks on immigration.

Taddeo has criticized Salazar for remaining silent when Gov. Ron DeSantis flew migrants from Texas to Massachusetts. DeSantis, who is also running for re-election, suspended his campaign to respond to Ian’s deadly aftermath in western Florida.

Men lead their ox cart past a tobacco warehouse smashed by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Democrats were also critical of Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez’s support of DeSantis’ migrant flights and accused her of suggesting that undocumented Cubans be sent to Delaware, a state Biden represented for more than three decades in the U.S. Senate.

Núñez, a Cuban American from Miami, addressed the criticism on Americano Media, a conservative, Spanish-language talk radio station, and made a distinction between Cubans who are in the U.S. “for political reasons” and those for “economic ones.”

The People’s Forum, a socialist New York-based organization advocating for the “working class and marginalized communities,” published a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times asking Biden to allow U.S. aid to flow freely to Cuba.

Mercedes Valdez holds her dog Kira as she waits for transportation after losing her home to Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Interactive map: Ian’s aftermath in Cuba

Maria Llonch retrieves her belongings from her home damaged by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Interactive graphic: Increase in Cuban migration

A woman points to damage in her roof, above the second story, caused by Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Watch This Week In South Florida

Oct. 2, 2022 episode

On the latest episode of This Week in South Florida, host Glenna Milberg welcomes Florida state Rep. Spencer Roach, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Brendan McPherson, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation President and CEO Barry Gilway and Broward County Mayor Michael Udine.

Torres contributed to this report from Miami.


About the Authors:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.