Diaz-Balart to Cuban military: avoid Tiananmen
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ
AP Hispanic Affairs Writer
MIAMI -- Outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart on Monday
called on Cuba's military to help its citizens liberate their country
from the leadership of Fidel and Raul Castro and to avoid another
Tiananmen, a reference to the massive 1989 Chinese military crackdown
against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.
The Cuban-American lawmaker was honored by a who's who list of Cuban
political and business leaders at a luncheon organized by the U.S. Cuba
Democracy PAC, which supports tight restrictions on travel, trade and
diplomacy with the communist island.
Diaz-Balart passionately fought to strengthen the U.S. embargo of Cuba
during his nearly two decades in Congress, orchestrating the effort to
turn the embargo from an executive order into a more permanent law.
He is retiring from the House but has pledged to continue fighting to
bring political change to Cuba.
"I have a message for the armed forces of Cuba," he told the packed
audience at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. "Help the Cubans free
themselves from the Castro brothers. If you help with the transition to
democracy, you will enjoy the role that all armed forces should have in
a democratic society ... and not the guaranteed repudiation of a
Tiananmen," he said.
The PAC, which contributed more than $450,000 to Democratic and
Republican political campaigns in the 2010 election, celebrated the
election last month of two new Cuban-American officials: Florida
Republicans U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio and Congressman-elect David
Rivera. Both men have long opposed travel and diplomacy with Cuba.
Outgoing Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who has long
supported the embargo and lost the Senate race to Rubio, also received a
standing ovation from the crowd.
Rubio joked that the two had spent a significant amount of time together
during the campaign in makeup, a nod to their frequent televised
debates. But he also saluted Meek's decision to stay in the three-way
race with Republican turned independent Charlie Crist, despite pressure
on Meek to bow out, calling it a sign of the Democrat's principled