This week, the Biden administration eased some restrictive policies toward Cuba and Venezuela in an attempt to negotiate with drug-trafficking communist governments, a move that has drawn bipartisan pushback and may further jeopardize Democrats’ chances of winning over some Hispanic voters. in Florida and elsewhere.
Biden ran into trouble in Florida in the 2020 election when Republicans portrayed his opponents as leaning toward socialist policies. With Biden moving to engage with Cuba and Venezuela, those attacks are likely to return before the midterm elections, which could further alienate voters who have fled or have relatives in those countries.
In a sign of how unpopular the policies can be with some voters, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who is running against Florida Republican Marco Rubio for her Senate seat in November, gave a cool reception to the Biden administration announcements.
“Relieving sanctions on Venezuela only empowers Maduro and his cronies,” Val Demings tweeted. “We do not support the Venezuelan people who are fighting for freedom and democracy by appeasing their murderous regime. We must focus on lowering the cost of gasoline for Florida families without giving comfort to dictators.”
Sen. Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized the administration for its overtures toward the two dictatorships, and it was not the first time he has done so in recent months. .
“From Tehran to Havana to Pyongyang, history shows us that negotiations based on unilateral concessions have a failed record of producing real changes in the behavior of authoritarian systems. Giving Maduro a handful of undeserved handouts so that his regime promises to sit down to negotiate is a strategy doomed to fail,” Menéndez said in a statement on Tuesday.
Democrats are not expected to be competitive in Miami, a region where until recently they consistently competed for two of Florida’s three southernmost congressional districts.
The Biden administration is taking a holistic view of foreign affairs, with Latin American allies clamoring for openness to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua amid larger struggles on the international stage.
Officials said in background calls about the policy changes in Cuba and Venezuela that they were hopeful the changes would ultimately benefit residents of each nation. And they noted that sanctions could be quickly reversed if any of the symptoms appeared to be acting in bad faith.
“These are steps that … are intended to help alleviate the humanitarian suffering caused by migration from Cuba, and also further our interest in supporting the Cuban people,” a senior administration official said, arguing that Cuban Americans and Americans who traveling to Cuba could help. spread democratic values on the island. Something that in reality will not work. Cubans will continue to emigrate from the prison island.
The Biden administration announced Monday that it would allow limited flights to Cuban cities other than Havana, restore a family reunification program that had been dormant, and support efforts to boost the Cuban private sector by supporting greater access to health services. The US Internet is thus betting on a failed policy initiated by Obama.
On Tuesday, the administration followed up with planes to lift some sanctions on Venezuela in an attempt to encourage talks between the Nicolás Maduro regime and opposition leaders. The administration said it would allow discussions between the Maduro government and Chevron, a US oil company that operates in Venezuela.
Limited overtures to Cuba and Venezuela are unlikely to have much of an impact on bilateral relations with either country, but could pave the way for other Latin American leaders to attend the Summit of the Americas hosted by the Biden administration in June in The Angels. Several leaders have previously said they will not attend, including the presidents of Mexico and Honduras.
“Biden has officially surrendered to the Latin American dictators. Yesterday he delivered American businesses to the Cuban regime. He today removes sanctions from Maduro in Venezuela to buy oil stained with blood. We will not forget this November,” tweeted Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), the daughter of Cuban exiles who traded a Florida district for the GOP in 2020.
The 2020 Republican Convention featured speakers from Cuba who spoke of brutal conditions and warned of the dangers of socialism. Then-President Trump repeatedly traveled to Florida, where warnings about socialism were a constant theme.
The attacks proved at least somewhat effective, as Biden and Democrats watched Trump make significant gains among the Hispanic population en route to winning Florida by nearly 400,000 votes.
Trump performed nearly 23 percentage points better in 2020 compared to 2016 in the majority-Hispanic Miami-Dade County.
Recent polls have shown Biden struggling with the Hispanic demographic.
An April Quinnipiac poll showed that just 26 percent of Hispanic voters surveyed approved of the president’s job performance, the lowest rating of any demographic group, which could serve as a signal that could herald further deterioration for Biden in places like the Sunshine State.