Josef Korbel School PhD candidate Arturo Lopez Levy has a new article on foreignpolicy.com about the last mid-term elections and U.S.-Cuba relations.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Florida Republican who is poised to take the gavel for the House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs after her party's sweep of Tuesday's congressional elections, arrived in the United States in 1960, at the age of 8. The Pan Am jet that carried her to Miami International Airport from Havana, where her father had been a prominent member of the anti-Castro violent resistance, was one of the last commercial flights to leave Cuba. "We thought it was just another revolution in the homeland that would blow over in a matter of weeks," she told the Washington Post in 2007. "The weeks turned into decades, and here we are. Pan Am went bankrupt, and the Castro regime is still operating."
Ros-Lehtinen is not only the first Hispanic woman elected to the House of Representatives, but also the first Cuban exile, and her policy record shows it. She has supported every single law and regulation shoring up the United States' 48-year-old embargo of the island, and opposed any international engagement with the Fidel Castro regime- even Pope John Paul II's visit to the country in 1998. In 1989, she successfully lobbied President George H. W. Bush to secure the release of -- and amnesty for -- Orlando Bosch, a Cuban exile previously imprisoned in Venezuela for blowing up a Cuban airliner with 73 passengers aboard, including 24 members of the Cuban national fencing team. In 2000, she fought the repatriation of Elian Gonzalez, with less success.
Marco Rubio, Ros-Lehtinen's former intern who was elected as Florida's Republican junior senator on Tuesday, shares her background in the exile community and much of her outlook on Cuba policy. In his victory speech, he described Castro's revolution, in a well-worn exile phrase, as "an accident of history." As a member of the Florida legislature seven years ago, he signed a letter to President George W. Bush calling for the end of the "wet foot/dry foot" immigration policy towards Cubans and more funding for the anti-Castro radio and television stations the U.S. government broadcasts into Cuba.