Cuban Americans remain furious about Tom Emmer’s position on trade embargo
On the attack: NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer of Minnesota is targeting 55 Democratic-held seats, several of which are in Florida.

Tom Emmer
Activists plan to lobby South Florida Republicans to kill the GOP Conference designee's Speaker bid.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer emerged as the GOP Conference choice for Speaker. But a number of Florida activists remain alarmed at the Minnesota Republican’s position on Cuba.

Christian Cámara, President of Chamber Consultants and a Cuban American, said he wants to see Florida lawmakers stand together in opposition to Emmer on the floor.

“I don’t think he is going to be able to get it,” Cámara said, “and I am going to encourage all of my congressional delegation for the reasons I have established.”

Cámara and other Cuban American leaders discouraged Florida lawmakers from supporting Emmer in the GOP conference. The concerns involve years of Emmer advocating for opening trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba. That included filing the Cuba Trade Act in 2015, legislation to lift a decades-old embargo. Emmer also has traveled to Cuba and posed for photos with members of the communist government there.

Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid said Emmer’s ascension would be viewed by Republicans in his community as a betrayal. He notes Gov. Ron DeSantis’ victory even in traditionally blue Miami-Dade County last year was largely on the strength of Cuban American voters.

“Cuban Americans like myself who have been very loyal Republicans for decades have always said the party spoke for us, not only on financial liberty but also on freedom and taking on dictators around the world and specifically 90 miles away,” said Cid, a candidate for Miami-Dade County Mayor.

He said if Republicans elevate a Speaker of the House who does not support sanctions against Cuba, many Cuban American voters will feel betrayed.

It’s unclear, however, who will block Emmer, at least based on these concerns.

South Florida Republicans did seek a different leader for the conference in a committee vote today. U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican, gave a nominating speech for U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican. U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican, endorsed Donalds as well.

But Donalds came in third place across three ballots before bowing out of the race. Afterward, a roll call vote showed most of the GOP conference, including Díaz-Balart and Giménez, voting to support Emmer on the House floor.

That said, it’s unclear Emmer will have the votes. A total of 26 Republican members, including U.S. Reps. Cory Mills of Winter Park and Greg Steube of Sarasota, said they would not back Emmer. He can only lose four or five votes and secure a clear majority on the House floor.

Cámara said he will lobby all Florida Republicans against backing Emmer, including his own Representative, U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn of Panama City. Cid said he expects at least the three Cuban American Republicans representing South Florida — Díaz-Balart, Giménez and María Elvira Salazar — to stand up for Cuba and vote against Emmer.

“We cannot have a Tom Emmer as a Speaker of the House, based on his position on freedom issues, specifically in Cuba,” Cid said.  “We have thousands upon thousands of people who try to leave Cuba every day. For somebody to say, ‘I want to do business with that dictatorship,’ it’s a non-starter for me and my community.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • My Take

    October 24, 2023 at 2:48 pm

    Fidel still haunts their dreams.
    Cuba would be freer and happier if we had ended the embargo and made it more open decades ago.
    When you are strangling somèone, ďon’t try to blame all their unhappiness on someone else.

    • Mack Lack

      October 24, 2023 at 6:16 pm

      You mean like we’ve made China freer and happier and more open with their dictatorship? I have no doubt you fly an Ukrainian flag in your Twitter bio.

  • My Take

    October 24, 2023 at 3:34 pm

    Fidel in Hell is laughing that he is STILL causing conservatives headaches.

  • PeterH

    October 24, 2023 at 5:02 pm


    Tom Emmer’s Speakership has miserably failed. As long as Donald Trump drives the Klown bus the MAGA caucus will continue to control House insanity! The FREEDUMB CAUCUS has accomplished absolutely nothing to make America a better place for Americans!

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

Comments are closed.


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