TSA gave Cuban officials secretive tour of Miami airport security areas, county says

The incident happened f5 years after reportedly leaked intelligence showed Cuban spies stole security information from the hub.

Visiting members of Cuba’s socialist regime got a special, TSA-led tour of Miami International Airport (MIA) security areas this week, and Miami-Dade officials said they were kept in the dark about it.

In a statement on social media, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she was “shocked” to learn the Transportation Security Administration invited a Cuban delegation to tour its MIA facilities, where they could view potential security vulnerabilities.

The tour happened Monday and was given without the county’s knowledge, Miami-Dade Aviation Department spokesperson Greg Chin told Florida Politics.

Levine Cava said her office has contacted the Department of Homeland Security “to understand how this decision was made” and to include the county in “any future decisions regarding access to MIA facilities to foreign government officials.”

The troubling incident occurred on the same day many celebrated Cuban Independence Day to commemorate the island nation’s separation from Spain and honor those who have fought to wrest its control from dictators since. Miami-Dade has the largest Cuban diaspora in the United States, with more than 1.2 million Cuban American residents.

The tour also happened just under five years after reportedly leaked Cuban intelligence showed that spies at MIA had stolen security codes and other confidential information.

Then-MIA Director Lester Sola downplayed the documents’ credibility. His predecessor, Emilio González, a retired colonel who once worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency, was less convinced of their inauthenticity and said they raised concerns, if authentic. Gonzalez’s predecessor, Jose Abreu, agreed, noting that “there are security-sensitive areas in the airport. There’s no question about that.”

Ralph Cutíe, MIA’s current Director, said Monday that as a Cuban American, the TSA’s actions “appalled” him.

CBS News’ “60 Minutes” last month featured a story on how espionage, including stealing and selling security secrets, is among Cuba’s most lucrative products and that spies working for the country are probably active today in numerous U.S. government agencies.

Miami-Dade Chief of Public Safety James Reyes, Levine Cava’s preferred candidate in the county’s crowded Sheriff’s race this year, said on X that he found it “offensive” as the son of a Cuban political prisoner that the TSA would allow Cuban officials into confidential MIA spaces.

“This decision was done unilaterally by TSA and without any knowledge of County officials,” he said. “The shocking move, on the day Cubans celebrate Cuban Independence Day, must never happen again.”

Miami-Dade Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera, a staunch Donald Trump ally, called the TSA’s actions “incredibly reckless” and blasted President Joe Biden’s administration for being “tone-deaf” toward Cuban Americans.

“This situation is yet another example of an insensitive administration being manipulated by Cuban communists for a propaganda victory,” he said in a statement. “The administration’s decision not only endangers all Americans and disrespects those who defend us, but also serves as a slap in the face to all Cubans suffering under a tyrannical and criminal communist regime.”

Florida Politics contacted TSA regional spokesperson Mark Howell for comment but received none by press time.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told the Miami Herald the TSA has conducted “frequent airport assessments in Cuba as far back as 2003” and began hosting “reciprocal visits” in 2011.

Those visits “continued through the (DonaldTrump administration until today,” they said.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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  • KathrynA

    May 21, 2024 at 3:40 pm

    This seems simply crazy and surely hope there is an investigation into how this happened. It sounds like some of the Republicans giving tours of the Capitol the night before the Insurrection.

  • My Take

    May 21, 2024 at 4:07 pm

    We have cooperated with Cuba regarding hijackings for decades.
    Depending on what these areas are used for this may be a big nothing.
    But maybe big.
    As per usual , convenient accusations and no details.

    • Jesus Cespedes

      May 22, 2024 at 10:14 am

      With Cuba it’s never a big nothing ,they will always have used any opportunity to spy on the USA and not for a good cause.

      • My Take

        May 23, 2024 at 11:40 pm

        Not if there is nothing of any significance to see.
        That is the lynchpin.

Comments are closed.


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