On February 11th, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), long time pro-embargo supporter (and creator), announced that he will not run for his tenth term this coming November.
“I am convinced that in the upcoming chapter of the struggle, I can be more useful to the inevitable change that will soon come to Cuba, to Cuba’s freedom, as a private citizen dedicated to helping the heroes within Cuba,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart.
In his speech, L. Diaz-Balart also gives himself a pat on the back for creating the legislative mess that determines current U.S policy towards Cuba today. “One of the achievements of which I am most proud was the codification, the writing into U.S. law, of the U.S. embargo on the Castro dictatorship…” said Rep Diaz-Balart.
L. Diaz-Balart is following the same path as former Floridian Senator Mel Menendez (fellow Cuban-American hardliner) who retired last year. But, his retirement does not necessarily allow for a change in representation in Florida’s 21st district. Following his brother’s retirement speech, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart stated that he will leave his 25th district to run for his brother’s seat. You can read both full statements here .
Why the move? Well, the majority of Florida’s 21st district is Republican and more concerned about issues related to Cuba, as was reflected in the 2008 election where Lincoln won 58 percent of the vote as opposed to Mario who won 53 percent (against Democrat Joe Garcia). By switching districts, Mario attempts to prolong the anti-Castro legacy that the Diaz-Balarts have fashioned. However, changing Cuban-American sentiments nationwide, including in Florida, could provide a roadblock. According to a Bendixen poll (Sept 2009) 59 percent of Cuban Americans are in favor of unrestricted travel to Cuba for all Americans and only 29 percent are opposed. In the 2008 presidential campaign, democratic party registration also made significant headway in Democratic voter registration in the 21st district, as reported by Politico.
In a statement to the Miami Herald, Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of U.S Cuba Democracy PAC, applauded Lincoln’s role in creating policy towards Cuba and assured that “the policy will not retire with him.” However, with the changing opinion on U.S policy towards Cuba and the growing support for change within Congress, the retirement of Lincoln Diaz-Balart could allow for a more modern approach to U.S. policy towards Cuba.