BY KRISTEN M. CLARK
Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro on Tuesday, calling for him to change course and “allow a new era of freedom and opportunity for Cuba.”
Scott referenced the celebrations in Miami after the death of Fidel Castro last month, saying the demonstrations “represented the hope for an end to the decades of torture, repression, incarceration and death that you and your brother have caused the people of Cuba.”
But, Scott noted, Raúl Castro appears to be continuing his brother’s legacy — with recent examples that include the arrest of Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado, who mocked Fidel’s death in an online video.
“After Pope Francis’ trip to Cuba, you suggested that you may return to the church and pray again. My prayer for you and the Cuban people is that you listen to Pope Francis and focus on bringing absolute freedom and democracy to Cuba,” Scott wrote. “I pray that you open Cuba to freedom of the press and religion; release all political prisoners; provide unfettered access to the internet; allow ownership of land; provide reparations to those whose property was confiscated; bring all Cuban military home and allow for free and fair elections with international supervision.”
Scott advised Castro that he can take Cuba on one of two paths: “Allow a new era of freedom and opportunity for Cuba” or “continue on the other path … best characterized by oppression, tyranny, wrongful imprisonment, torture and murder.”
“Right in front of you is the opportunity to embrace freedom and bring in a new era of unprecedented prosperity for your people,” Scott wrote. “I have no doubt that the people of Florida stand ready to flood Cuba with prosperity.”
He concluded the letter saying: “No one thinks you will choose the way of freedom, the way of democracy, the way of peace. People will mock this letter and call it naïve. But, for the sake of the Cuban people, I pray change will come.”
Read Scott’s full letter here in English and here in Spanish.
State governors typically don’t get involved in foreign diplomatic affairs, but the letter is a way for Scott — who is widely expected to run for U.S. Senate in 2018 — to flex some muscle in that arena.