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Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Congressman With Tie To Castro Sympathizer Backs U.S.Trade With Cuba

Rep. Joe Garcia/ The Shark Tank

Rep. Joe Garcia/ The Shark Tank

By JAVIER MANJARRES

Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia is backing an effort that would sandbag the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and open up trade between the two countries, a move that will certainly make him public enemy #1 in the Cuban-exile community.

Garcia is backing the Havana research institute’s efforts of seeking U.S. approval to “test and market a diabetes treatment in this country,” which squarely puts him at odds with the South Florida Congressional delegation, that includes Representatives Ros-Lehtinen (R), Diaz-Balart (R),Wilson (D), and Wasserman Schultz (D), who all support the embargo.

Garcia’s endorsement marks the first time a Cuban-American in Congress has overtly backed a measure that, in the eyes of critics, undermines the embargo and could eventually give the Castro government access to U.S. markets without making democratic reforms

Garcia said his decision was not political, but was intended to help people who suffer from diabetic foot ulcers.

“This is about something that can maybe save lives. This is about medicine,” Garcia said. “There are 70,000 amputations that happen yearly from diabetes. I’m not going to be the guy who decides that people will suffer because of the embargo.” -Miami Herald

Garcia, who has supported the  U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC’s efforts to keep the embargo in place, seems to have changed his position on the issue, and has taken a step back from supporting the plight of Cuban exiles, by citing medicine as the excuse for opening up trade with the Communist regime.

But this sudden move by Garcia to open up trade with Cuba is nothing new, as far as Joe Garcia is concerned. It seems as if Garcia has always been a supporter of doing away with the embargo, and by taking a peek at who has donated and supported him over the years, the case can be made that Garcia backs the anti-Embargo play.


Back in 2010, The Shark Tank brought to light a number of Garcia donors, who all have business ties with Cuba, have benefited from President Obama’s easing of travel restrictions to the island, and would stand to benefit from the lifting of the embargo.

“It’s time to let Cuban-Americans see their mothers and their fathers, their sisters and their brothers.  It’s time to let Cuban-American money make their families less dependent on the Castro regime.”-President Barack Obama (2010)

Questions continue to be raised, as to how deep Garcia’s ties are to these individuals, and whether Fidel Castro’s influence in South Florida extends right through Joe Garcia’s congressional campaign.

Maria ‘Tessie” Aral- President of  ABC Charters Donated- $5295
ABC Charters flew 10,500 passengers to Cuba this summer, up from 6,000 last year.

”I think all of that will be wonderful when all travel restrictions are lifted,” Ms. Aral said. “But we’re not there yet.”

Marvin Verble- Executive, ABC Charters MIA Operations Donated- $2000
Married to Vivan Mannerud of ABC Charters (Airline Brokers Co.) Read more here
John Cabanas- Owner of C&T Donated-$7100
Loann Cabanas Donated-$800
Adalgiza Cabanas Donated-$7100

“I support the revolution very strongly, very passionately,” he said. “I am integrated into the revolution in the deepest part of my being . . . I love Fidel like my father, and I believe he loves me like his son.”-John Cabanas

John Cabanas, of C&T Charters, is perhaps the least known but the most powerful owner in a group that includes Vivian Mannerud, who followed her father into the business after he was convicted in the 1980s of “trading with the enemy,” in part for taking four Pepsi machines to Cuba; and Francisco Aruca, owner of Marazul Charters, who sneaked out of a Castro-run prison dressed as a child, but now praises Cuba on his Miami radio show.

A large man, quick to laugh and partial to linen Guayaberas with a gold plane pinned to the collar, Mr. Cabanas, 66, grew up in Key West, Fla., but spent 28 years in Cuba. He says his company is the largest of the seven or eight that fly there regularly. -Click here to read more about the donors

Expect Garcia to receive a significant pushback from the Cuban-exile community, for his change in position on the embargo. Garcia’s main Republican rival in the 2014 mid term elections, Carlos Curbelo, who has just reported that he has raised well over $400K in donations, will surely pounce on his statement, and continue to make the case, as to why the embargo needs to be kept in place.

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About author

Javier Manjarres

As the managing editor of The Shark Tank, Javier was awarded the 2011 CPAC Blogger of the Year. Countless videos and articles from the Shark Tank have been featured on Fox News, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, and other national news publications. Javier has also appeared on Univision’s “Al Punto” and numerous radio shows, including being the weekly 92.5 Fox News' DayBreak with Drew Steele political contributor, as well as one of NewsmaxTV's conservative commentators.

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  • Nancy Celano

    Surprise! Surprise! Garcia is very quickly digging his own grave in politics.

  • Benton H Marder

    I’ve been out of the loop anent Cuba for a long time, and have lost track of the Cubans I knew during the early ’60s in Miami. Perhaps some could inform me of te likely situation in Cuba after the Castro brothers depart this world. If I recall aright, the present regime is reliant upon the charisma of Fidel himself, a charisma not possessed by Raul. I have no idea of what might transpire in a post-Castro Cuba. Could the successors maintain the present state—or, would they? I suspect that there is much not known to us here.

  • Paul

    I don’t understand why we all can’t just live on the this Earth and respect the ways of others. Who the hell gives a crap how Castro runs his country. Isn’t that the reason why most Muslims hate us? If we could only mind our own business; help when we can or are asked, and let the people of whatever nation decide what they want and how they chose to live. We blame Communists, Socialist and God know who else for trying to change our way of life, meanwhile we try to shove our ways down their throats. That my friends is how government works.

  • Carlos

    Let’s not forget, Miami is not the same 1960s town we came to, fleeing Castro’s gulag. There’s a lot of a rafter vermin with no work ethic or respect for private property and they vote Dem 99%. These are the same losers who come here as sham political refugees then go back as soon as they can. Thank you IRL and MBD for not fighting to repeal the Cuban Adj. Act, a total dinosaur whose usefulness is long gone. So, of course Garcia will support that element and their agenda.

  • Rich

    Why don’t we just offer Cuba statehood?

  • MotherBatherick

    What do Cuba, China, Laos and Vietnam have in common? Communism.

    Any company/firm who hires a Cuban must pay their government. Whether a tourist, investor, employer or…US congressman, money given to a Cuban will go directly to their communist government to be used against that individual or Cuban company, as most production in Cuba is owned by the govt. This is one of the reasons why there is an embargo on Cuba. In his own words, Congressman Garcia wants to support the Cuban Communist Regime.

    • Rich

      Just think how much better things would be if we would have embraced Fidel Castro in 1959 instead of forcing him into the Communist camp.
      Same thing in China. We could have embraced Mao in 1948 but instead we supported the corrupt Chiang Kai Chek and look where it’s gotten us???
      Big business demanded we take the side of Fulgencio Batista who was equally as corrupt because he let them do what they wished in exchange for bribes whereas Fidel Castro was not as friendly to big business abusing the people of Cuba. Hell, for years Cuba was America’s whorehouse!!
      We’ve made some bad choices here and there and now we have to live with them.
      Just think how it would be if we had supported the legitimate government of Iran in 1953 instead of the evil and corrupt Shah?

      • MotherBatherick

        Rich Man/Poor Man; it is evident that you haven’t been around long enough to even understand history much less, lived it. Next, you ‘ll be saying we should’ve “embraced” Hitler and his “economic” ideas towards the achievement of “diversity”. My guess, is that you were raised as obama was…an anti-American red diaper baby.

        • Rich

          Madam, your post makes absolutely no sense.
          What is this Rich Man/Poor Man supposed to mean?

          Did I happen to mention Adolph Hitler in my post?
          Your guess, as is your politics, is completely incorrect, you flaming hypocrite.
          Understand history? If you had any grasp of anything you would be on the progressive side working to improve the lot of hard working, tax paying middle class Americans instead of doing the Koch Brothers bidding. Fools like you won’t be happy until you’re working in a Koch owned sweatshop for pennies an hour.

      • Nevin

        Rich: While you are right that the dictatorships of President Batista and Chiang Kai Shek, along with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi were fascistic collectivist regimes, Castro, Mao, and Khomeini were philosophically opposed to Western liberalism and free market economics. They implemented a form of communist or Islamic-Fascist collectivism based on not how the US provided aid and trade with Batista, the Shah, and Chiang, but on their own ideological mindset. On Cuba, I would read the biography of Castro called Guerrilla Prince by Georgie Ann Geyer, Nathaniel Weyl’s Red Star Over Cuba, and the testimony of Castro defectors Major Pedro Diaz Lanz, DGI officer Andres Torres Alfaya, Finance Ministry official Lopez Fresquet, Teresa Casuso who worked in the Cuban UN Mission in NYC, and Ernesto Betancourt who also was an official of the Cuban Embassy and National Bank in DC…all of whom revealed that Castro was either a power hungry and anti-US opportunist who latched onto communism as a means of satisfying his cravings for absolute rule or an ideological communist. As Earl E.T. Smith, our former US Ambassador to Cuba revealed in The Fourth Floor, the US withdrew support from Batista and even held up shipments of M-1 rifles that were paid for by the Cuban Government at that time. The new US Ambassador to Cuba Phillip Bonsal was conciliatory to Castro and the US did not cut off all trade with Cuba until late 1960 and US companies even bought Cuban agricultural products such as molasses and tobacco until 1962, when the OAS voted to embargo all trade with Castro. Even then Castro was making several million dollars in US dollars from this trade. Major Angel Saavedra who was Cuba’s Military Attache in Washington DC defected and revealed that the Castro G-2 agents in DC passed on intelligence to the Red Chinese and Soviets. In 1960, Cuban Consulates were known to have provided money to leftists in the US to foment disturbances and subversion according to the New York Times. The US was then prompted to close down these consulates as a result of these activities. Senator Smathers in 1960 received information in 1960 that hard currency from US purchases of Cuban sugar was being used to finance the Soviet military buildup in Cuba including airfields. Cuba also was used as a transit point and refuge in 1960 for two NSA defectors to flee to the USSR. And Castro’s government staged fake bombing raids on Cuba in an attempt to prove that the US was hostile to Cuba…Castro’s B-26s inherited from Batista were used if memory serves me correctly. Ramiro Valdes, chief of the G-2, met with Soviet Ambassador Bazikin and the Czech commercial attache in Mexico in an effort to forge intelligence cooperation, which was confirmed by high level Czech defector Major General Jan Sejna. Castro even admitted in the 1970s that he could never foment his revolution in the Sierra Maestra if he prematurely proclaimed Marxism Leninism. The evidence is endless, but one point is true…the US did not force Castro into the arms of the Soviets.

        • Clara

          If only the Yankees signed Castro, Cuba would still be owned by the mafia.

  • http://www.lorenzopalomares.com Lorenzo Palomares

    Joe Garcia’ s support for is supporting the efforts of a Havana research institute that wants U.S. approval to test and market a diabetes treatment in this country, is another of the liberal attempts of the Obama administration to lift the economic sanctions imposed by the Embargo codified by 22 U.S.C.§ 6001 et.seq . In 1996, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act, 22 U.S.C. §§ 6021–6091, which further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government are met [Democracy & free elections in Cuba].
    These goals have not been met and Garcia’s must respect them, notwithstanding his Obamization of the political and constitutional structure. By all accounts Cuban researchers are 54 years tardy in research; at least that is what those who follow and want to overturn the Embargo say it is.
    Garcia’s move splits the Cuban-American congressional delegation in South Florida, but it is not the first time Garcia moves away from representing the 26th District interest. He recently said “nay” to the National Guard and Reserves having these in District 26 he voted against their pay.
    Those of us that follow politics in the District 26 have ulcers from Garcia’s political views and those he has chosen to associate with as staffers.

  • abunchofbullshit

    As a ‘non-Cuban’ but a US Citizen born, I resent Obama’s change in 2010 to allow ‘Cuban-American’s’ the opportunity to visit and spend/send money, but not me! I never knew there were separate rights for different ‘classes’ of American’s, but under this President there obviously is. We should all be able to go and spend, or nobody should go period!!

    Personally, I think this embargo has gone on long enough for any idiot, except the Politicians in Washington, to see that it hasn’t, isn’t and won’t work!! If it is working, then I can tick off dozens of countries that we should do the same with. Inundate Cuba with American tourists and travelers and it will change; check out how this has worked in non-embargoed countries over history.

    • Clara

      You can go to Cuba for cultural reasons. Check the web for tour groups and info. You can always go thru Mexico or Canada or the Bahamas. I have family in Cuba and read Gramma (Cuba papers) and Miami Herald all the time. They have a different view about the embargo and they want to keep it. I think you should come to Miami and talk to the people here. Plus, the Cuban exile community has a special relationship with the US government. We get with we want.

  • Clara

    Ted Cruz’s father fought with Castro.

  • Mack Lack

    Bye, Bye Joe. See you in the travel business…