It is a reality that pro-Castro lobbyists and "Cuba Experts" prefer to ignore and not mention, but the truth is that the elimination of the recent unilateral concessions made to the Castro dictatorship by the Obama administration enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. Without that support, the two pieces of legislation presented in committee by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. David Rivera rescinding President Obama's potential economic and political bailout of the repressive and murderous Castro regime would have never passed.
A perfect example of this bipartisan support of the Cuban people's struggle for liberty and freedom is Massachusetts Democrat congressman William Keating. Unlike his predecessor William Delahunt, who for years was a loyal and dependable defender of the Castro regime in congress, Keating has sided with the Cuban people, and refuses to vote for legislation that benefits the dictatorship of the Castro brothers.
Keating's Cuba policy breaks with Delahunt's
U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., has apparently veered right on an issue of importance to his predecessor.
Keating, a freshman congressman, voted on July 21 to approve an amendment to a bill that would restore Bush-era restrictions on travel to the island nation of Cuba.
"Congressman Keating does not support policies that might benefit the Castro government until it ceases hostilities against our country and repression of their own people," Keating spokeswoman Lauren Amendolara said in an email to the Times.
The vote represents a rightward slant for the Quincy Democrat, who succeeded William Delahunt after he retired in 2010. During his 14 years in Congress, Delahunt was a strong proponent for easing relations with Cuba.
Keating's vote came as a shock to advocates of normalized relations with the Caribbean island, especially given Delahunt's well-established position.
"We were surprised to see a Democrat from Massachusetts vote this way on it," said Mavis Anderson, a senior associate at the Latin America Working Group in Washington, D.C.
The amendment was part of a larger resolution that is unlikely to become law, but advocates warn it could embolden lawmakers on a similar measure that's more likely to pass.
On July 21, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs was marking up the Foreign Relations Authorization Bill, which would fund the State Department. During the legislative process, Florida Republican David Rivera proposed an amendment to enforce regulations on travel to Cuba that were in place in January 2009.
The measure would essentially scale back progress made by the Obama administration to open travel to Cuba.
The amendment passed 36-6, with 13 of 19 Democrats in support, including Keating. He did, however, vote along party lines in opposing the overall bill.
A similar, but less expansive measure was proposed by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., as part of an essential financial spending bill. Diaz-Balart's amendment would restrict travel for Cuban-Americans as well as reign in remittances to the country. Diaz-Balart's proposal has become a polarizing issue in Florida, where the large Cuban-American population is split over whether to limit American travel — and the flow of U.S. money — to Cuba or to normalize relations.
In Massachusetts' 10th Congressional District, it's an issue with few political implications.
According to the American Community Survey for the period 2005-2009, Barnstable County had only 208 residents who identified themselves as Hispanics of Cuban origin — less than 0.1 percent of the population. In the same survey, the 10th Congressional District as a whole had 561 residents who identified themselves as Hispanics of Cuban origin — also less than 0.1 percent of the total population.
Delahunt has called for ending sanctions on Cuba based on practical and humanitarian grounds. "It's a failed policy that has done nothing to influence or secure the betterment of the Cuban people, and has held us up to the rest of the world as being hypocritical," he told the Times earlier this year.
Before retiring last year, Delahunt made several trips to the autocratic country, which has been under the thumb of dictator Fidel Castro and his brother Raul for more than 50 years.
In 2007, Delahunt sponsored House Resolution 757, also known as the Cuban-American Family Rights Restoration Act, which would have allowed unrestricted travel to Cuba for those visiting close relatives. The measure didn't make it past the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Delahunt did not respond to a call from the Times seeking comment on Keating's approach to Cuba.
Material from The Associated Press contributed this report.