Menendez speaks from Senate floor on Obama’s Cuba visit

PHOTO: Cuban man wearing an American flag applauds as Pres Barack Obama’s convoy passes by in the rain along the Malecon into Old Havana, Cuba, Sunday. Rebecca Blackwell, AP. 

I post this video below from Senator Bob Menendez not because I fundamentally agree with it – I don’t – but because he’s our senior senator, and because as a Cuban-American who lives in and represents this country by choice, he’s an interested party with strong opinions that deserve a hearing. This is a nearly 30-minute speech that will have among its most vigorous adherents some Cuban-Americans in Hudson County, some in South Florida as well as Republicans determined to let no foreign policy move by this president go unchallenged (Menendez echoes GOP complaints of Obama’s “hunger for legacy.”) Posting this here is a measure of respect to a man I like, but sometimes disagree with.

American fear and loathing of the Castro regime is largely generational, even in North Jersey. New York Times today cites its poll (conducted with CBS News) saying 62% are optimistic opening diplomatic relations will be good for our country; fewer assume it will lead to a more democratic Cuba. In an email to press today, Obama makes the point he was born in 1961, the year of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Some of the old red-baiting has less claim on younger Americans weary of their country’s drive toward regime change around the world.

I will add that at least one Cuban dissident that Menendez names – Berta Soler of Ladies in White – who testified before Congress last year about life for dissidents on the island in a hearing Marco Rubio tried to dominate, and whose leadership has been challenged by exiles in America, is among those invited to meet with Obama Tuesday. Yesterday, Cuban police broke up a march led by Ladies in White, detaining about 50 people. About 200 were detained briefly the last few days. Tomorrow, Obama’s schedule includes a meeting with some of those critical of the Castro government. This is Menendez:


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