Cuban American lawmakers frustrated with progressives’ trip to Cuba: ‘Why were they there?’

Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) responded to the backlash for their trip to Cuba.

Jayapal and Omar traveled to the island to meet with residents and government officials to discuss human rights and the relationship between the United States and Cuba. They did not disclose the trip until after they returned, and the initially classified nature of the trip did not sit right with fellow representatives of Cuban descent.

“Recently, Members of Congress travelled to my native Cuba to meet with the murderous regime that has killed thousands & forced millions more into exile,” Cuban-born Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), who was born in Havana and fled as a child, said in a statement. “There is no negotiating with these pathetic thugs.”

“Just last week, a congressional delegation met with Cuban regime operatives,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was also born in Cuba, wrote on X. “Cuba remains hostile to the United States and is a dangerous malignancy within our hemisphere.”

Meanwhile, Omar claimed her meetings with President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other Cuban officials were “really productive” in a statement to Politico.

“It was frank, honest conversation,” Omar said. “We were able to challenge them on some of the concerns that we have that might continue to hinder the possibility of having a more productive relationship.”

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), who represents Florida’s “Little Havana’ district, was shocked. “I wanted them to have told me about it, so I could tell them some of the items that maybe you should have put on the agenda,” she told the outlet. “I never knew about it. I heard through some sources. I didn’t want to believe it. But why were they there?”

Jayapal reported to Politico that the trip was kept confidential for security reasons. She claimed to have since had a conversation with Salazar.

“Their reactions are hyperbolic and meritless,” Omar said. “For them to infer that we would need permission from them to do the work that we think is necessary as members of Congress, again, it’s ridiculous.”

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“Anti-American Members of Congress who prop up its murderous regime should STAY there,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) wrote on X. Malliotakis’s mother is from Cuba and fled during the rise of the Castro regime.

Jayapal and Omar voted against a 2021 resolution that supported peaceful demonstrations against the Cuban government. The country remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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