Why? Because Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen  is poised to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee  if the GOP takes control of the House. This vitriolic anti-Castroite, pro-embargo Cuban-American legislator promises to be a throwback to the gloomy days when Senator Jesse Helms  headed the Senate's equivalent Committee. (Helms, of course, gave us the nonsensical The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act  of 1996, aka Helms–Burton Law, which among its myriad of negative provisions, codified the U.S. embargo – which at the time was merely an “executive order” – into law.)
As Chair, Ros-Lehtinen would be in an enhanced position to influence U.S. policy on Cuba  through her position among the House leadership's inner circle. (In 1989, she became the first Cuban American, and the first Hispanic woman, elected to Congress. Her campaign manager was then-President George Bush ’s son Jeb Bush , later to be Governor of Florida.)
I’m immensely saddened by the possibility that the GOP will retake the House and scupper all the efforts made in the past two years towards lifting the unconstitutional restrictions on U.S. citizens’ right to travel to Cuba.
Talk about a reversal! Pro-freedom-to-travel advocates came within a hair’s-breadth of getting the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act  onto the House floor for a vote last month. The current chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, California Democrat Howard Berman , is a longtime advocate for reforming Cuba policy. However, Berman decided to drop the bill on the very eve – literally! – of the recess of Congress two weeks ago.
Ros-Lehtinen, who was Born in Havana  in 1952 (she came to the USA in 1959 when her parents fled the Cuban Revolution ), has a take-no-prisoners approach to debate on any opening to Cuba, which she opposes with bulldog tenacity. Along the way she seems to have lost her moral compass. She has supported terrorists such as Cuban exile Orlando Bosch Ávila  , (who was convicted of various terrorist acts; Ros-Lehtinen lobbied for his pardon and release) and Luis Posada , who like Bosch, is accused of involvement in the 1976 bombing of Cubana Flight 455 , which killed all 73 passengers.
Although several countries seek Bosch's extradition, he remains free in the United States, much thanks to the political pressure used by Ros-Lehtinen, who has even called for Castro to be assassinated. Er, note to Florida’s Miami-Dade country Rep... assassination is illegal! ("Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." Executive Order 12333, issued December. 4, 1981, by President Ronald Reagan.)
The GOP needs 39 seats to regain the House.
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Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker