Miami-Dade County leaders oppose Cuban consulate in Miami
Miami-Dade County commissioners oppose a Cuban consulate coming to Miami
A commissioner who is the son of a Bay of Pigs veteran led the opposition
The federal government can still put a consulate wherever it wants, and
hasn't announced any plans
BY MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Until democracy comes to Cuba, a Cuban consulate should not come to
Miami, county leaders proclaimed Wednesday.
In a 9-3 vote, Miami-Dade County commissioners urged the federal
government to avoid placing a Cuban consulate on their turf. The talk of
a hypothetical consulate in Miami has grown as President Barack Obama
pursues warmer relations with the island nation.
Cuba's embassy in Washington reopened in July. The typical next step
would be a U.S. consulate in a city with a large Cuban immigrant population.
Miami obviously fits that description, but County Commissioner Esteban
"Steve" Bovo — the son of a Bay of Pigs veteran — says the time is not
right. Bovo, who sponsored the county's anti-consulate resolution
Wednesday, said talks between Washington and Havana haven't produced
meaningful changes in how the Cuban government treats its people. The
Cuban government is still oppressive, he said, and a consulate location
in Miami's exile community could spark protests, and leave Miami-Dade
taxpayers to foot the bill for the cost of protecting consular officials.
"To think for a second, to have the Cuban government here, the
dictatorship basically, here in Miami, I think is an affront to a huge
majority of the Cuban-American community," Bovo told the Herald after
his measure passed.
Bovo isn't the only local elected official strongly opposed to the
consulate idea. Earlier this week, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said he
would sue to block a Cuban consulate from opening within city limits. A
2014 Bendixen & Amandi poll found that Cuban Americans nationally
favored the idea of a Miami consulate (50 percent in support, 39 percent
opposed) while exiles in Florida were less supportive, with 41 percent
in support, and 46 percent opposed.
Bovo's resolution is largely symbolic, and would not prevent the federal
government from placing a consulate wherever it wants, including Miami.
The county's lobbying team in Washington will now have orders to push
back against being chosen as a consulate location, and the county's
formal statement in opposition is being transmitted to President Obama,
Florida's congressional delegation and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Bovo said he is not aware of any time line for the placement of a Cuban
consulate, so it's possible that the federal government won't open one —
anywhere — for a while.
Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, in supporting Bovo's resolution, said she
was trying to be "sensitive to all communities."
"If it makes that particular group uncomfortable, then we should not do
it," she said.
Voting against the resolution were commissioners Barbara Jordan,
Daniella Levine Cava and Xavier Suarez. During debate on the issue,
Jordan said, "Miami is the most logical place to come."
"We have to start healing somewhere," she said. "And to me, it's a
process of healing."
Suarez, who hails from Las Villas, Cuba, told a reporter that the
decision is ultimately up to the federal government.
"It's not within our jurisdiction," Suarez said. "I don't have any major
concern about having to protect the people that are there, because I
think the people here will act lawfully.
"In fact, it's a good place to go and demonstrate."
Source: Miami-Dade County leaders oppose Cuban consulate in Miami |
Miami Herald -