Governor Scott Can't Condone Cuba's 'Oppressive Behavior': What About China?
Posted January 27, 2017 04:00 am | Op-Ed
Gov. Rick Scott threatened Florida ports with sanctions if they do business with Cuba. He underscored it with a pair of tweets, the first in Spanish: “No podemos tolerar una dictadura brutal en Cuba.”
Translation: We cannot tolerate a brutal dictatorship in Cuba.
In another tweet, channeling his inner Donald Trump, Gov. Scott noted, “We cannot condone Raul Castro’s oppressive behavior. Serious security/human rights concerns.”
He has vowed to withhold state money from ports which ink trade agreements with that island nation.
Well, OK. Let’s think this through. If Cuba is off limits, I guess China should be too.
According to a 2016 report by Human Rights Watch: “China remains an authoritarian state, one that systematically curtails a wide range of fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion … the trend for human rights under President Xi Jinping continued in a decidedly negative direction.”
Well, shucks. That sounds suspiciously like, to use the governor’s words, “serious security/human rights concerns.”
A report from Enterprise Florida shows our state did more than $28 billion (with a B) in merchandise trade with that totalitarian nation from 2013-15. The Miami Herald reported that China ranks behind only Brazil and Colombia as trading partners with South Florida.
But, if we’re going to make a stand …
We also sent about $2 billion in exports to Saudi Arabia from 2013-15. Of that nation, Human Rights Watch notes: “Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest. Judges routinely sentence defendants to floggings of hundreds of lashes.”
That sounds, oh … what’s the word I’m looking for?
I think we know what’s going on here. Republicans from Washington to Tallahassee have used Cuba as a political piñata for decades. They stepped it up after President Obama made several moves toward normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has been particularly outspoken on that subject, but after his poodle-like yapping against the business relationship between incoming secretary of state Rex Tillerson has with Russia didn’t result in a vote against his confirmation, we can tune that out.
By the way, Florida has a lot of trade with Russia too.
It is assumed Scott has his eye on Bill Nelson’s Senate seat in 2018, and the game plan for any serious GOP candidate involves cutting into Democrats’ traditional support in south Florida by pandering to those who hate the Castro family.
Scott’s actions look to me like a ready-made campaign ad for future ambitions. Meanwhile, Cuba will just keep doing business with the rest of the world.
Joe Henderson had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Mr. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years, and has two grown sons. Column courtesy of Florida Politics.
This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.