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U.S.A., Cuba: Cuban-American Congressman Announces Resignation

As is the case with many of the Obama administration's accomplishments during its first year, advancements in diplomatic relationship between the US and Cuba have been subtle.  Yet small changes in policy may mean bigger shifts in behavior, especially when it comes to Cuban-Americans and the voting booth.
Bloggers in Miami and Cuba are buzzing over the news that US Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart will not run for reelection in the fall.  Diaz-Balart, a Republican, is a staunch supporter of the trade embargo against Cuba, and he took his resignation speech as an opportunity to highlight his role in codifying the embargo. As a senior member of the House Rules Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, and the Co-Chairman of the Florida Congressional Delegation, Diaz-Balart's absence will definitely be felt.
Blue in Miami notes, in an excellent write up of what's been reported so far about Diaz-Balart's district (the 21st), that retiring Congressman's brother will most likely leave his own House seat–representing the 25th–to run for the now empty spot.
” I used to think it was natural to run for re-election in the district you already represent, especially if you're running unopposed, but I guess that's not true if your poll numbers are slipping.”
The elder Diaz-Balart's district is seen as more favorable to Republicans.  But Blue in Miami says that there is a definite opportunity for Democrats to pick up both seats. And Down With Tyranny, anti-embargo blog, writes: “demographically, this district is no longer safe for Republicans.” Reuters quotes a Cuban-American businessman as saying that “there are a significant amount of Cuban Americans who are voting with their feet–” , referring to the increased communication between Cuban-Americans and their relatives or friends in Cuba as a result of the easing of restrictions on travel for American citizens with relatives in Cuba.
The blogosphere is definitely interpreting this event as a sign of the political winds. One commenter at Penultimos Dias says:
Jamás comprendí por qué necesitábamos dos Díaz-Balart en el Congreso:
I never understodd why we needed two Diaz-Balart(s) in Congress.
And Havana Times paints the news as a sign of just how retrograde the embargo is: “The US economic blockade on Cuba has lasted about a half century and one of its biggest supporters, Miami Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, threw in the towel on Thursday”

As is the case with many of the Obama administration's accomplishments during its first year, advancements in relations between the US and Cuba have been subtle.  Yet small changes in policy may mean bigger shifts in behavior, especially when it comes to Cuban-Americans and the voting booth.

Bloggers in Miami and Cuba are buzzing over the news that US Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart will not run for reelection in the fall.  Diaz-Balart, a Republican, is a staunch supporter of the trade embargo against Cuba, and he took his resignation speech as an opportunity to highlight his role in codifying the blockade. As a senior member of the House Rules Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, and the Co-Chairman of the Florida Congressional Delegation, Diaz-Balart's absence will definitely be felt.

In an excellent write up of what's been reported so far about Diaz-Balart's district (the 21st), Blue in Miami notes that the retiring Congressman's brother will most likely leave his own House seat–representing the 25th–to run for the vacated spot. “I used to think it was natural to run for re-election in the district you already represent, especially if you're running unopposed, but I guess that's not true if your poll numbers are slipping,” they write.

The 21st is seen as a more favorable district for Republicans than the 25th.  But Blue in Miami says that there is a definite opportunity for Democrats to pick up both seats.

“Demographically, this district is no longer safe for Republicans,” writes Down With Tyranny.  And Reuters quotes a Cuban-American businessman as saying: “There are a significant amount of Cuban Americans who are voting with their feet,” in reference to the effects that the recent easing of travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans who wish to visit the island may be having on their politics.

The blogosphere is definitely interpreting this event as a sign of the political winds. One commenter at Penultimos Dias says:

“Jamás comprendí por qué necesitábamos dos Díaz-Balart en el Congreso

“I never understood why we needed two Diaz-Balarts in Congress.”

And Havana Times paints the news as a sign of just how retrograde the embargo is, writing: “The US economic blockade on Cuba has lasted about a half century and one of its biggest supporters, Miami Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, threw in the towel on Thursday.”

There's no way to know for sure if the small steps taken by the Obama administration is making Cuban-Americans rethink their stance on the blockade, but it will be interesting to watch these races for any sign of a leftward shift in the Cuban emigre portion of the electorate.

7 comments

  • Welcome to GV, Susannah

  • Thanks, Eduardo!

  • Yo pienso que Diaz Balart esta viendo el final del regimen cubano muy cerca, y quiere estar libre, para poder participar en la politica cubana una vez muera el dictador.

  • I don’t agree with the opinion that either congressional seat (FL 21 and 25) are favorable for Dems to pick up. People have been saying for years now that the “demographics are shifting” in those districts (especially FL-25 which I happen to live in). The fact is, however, that even in 2008 with the political climate strongly anti-incumbent AND in favor of Democrats, a young, well-known name such as Joe Garcia lost by 6 points to Mario Diaz-Balart. That tells me a Democrat would have a huge mountain to climb in order to win an election in 2010 when Democrats are no longer the stars of the show.

  • eduardo

    El “retiro” de este sr debe tener una cola de una milla, solo que ahora no se percibe. En las pasadas elecciones lucho con unas y dientes por su posicion y nadie se cree el cuento de retornar a la abogacia. Su esperanza de ocupar la presidencia de una Cuba post Castro, ademas de remota es ridicula. La Florida estaria mejor sin la “ayuda” de los hermanitos

  • Robert. You’re right–with the Dems generally facing a challenge in the midterms, the chances of them picking up those seats may very well be quite low. However, the impression that I got was that in the specific case of Cuban-American voters, increased communication between them and family and friends still on the island may be shifting their stances on Cuba related issues. Even if this were the case, I don’t think we can assume that Cubans would vote based only on the issue of Cuban-US relations!

  • pedro animala

    Either some dirty laundry against Fidel’s nephew (Diaz-Balart) has been uncovered, thus causing his “retirement”; or a different political agenda is being cooked up by these mafiosos.
    Regardless, it is not going to affect floridian or national politics; am certain their aim, as always, is Cuba. Or who knows, the planting of new dictators in Lat America.

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