‘Violated’: GOP lawmakers demand answers, vow probe after Cuban tour of Miami airport security

‘Under your watch, Cuban operatives have again accessed sensitive, secure areas within the U.S. transportation system.’

Unsatisfied with the agency’s explanation, Republican federal lawmakers are demanding more information about why the TSA gave Cuban officials a tour of security areas at Miami International Airport this week.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, a House Committee on Homeland Security member, said his chamber will launch an investigation and introduce legislation to prevent such an incident from happening again.

He and four other GOP lawmakers — U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and U.S. Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart and María Elvira Salazar — also penned a joint letter chastising the federal administrators who authorized it this time.

In the Tuesday letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and TSA Administrator David Pekoske, the quintet expressed “profound concern and outrage” over the tour, which took place Monday.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, whose administration is responsible for the airport, said Tuesday that no one in her office was notified of the visit.

The letter noted that this was not the first time members of the Cuban regime were granted access to U.S. security facilities in the past four years and that Pekoske did not mention the MIA tour when he spoke to the House last week.

“It has been reported that these operatives accessed secure areas and were able to view sensitive security protocols of the airport,” the letter reads. “As you know, the Cuban regime is designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SSOT) and has absolutely no reason to be invited to tour sensitive areas or view security protocols of an American airport which sole purpose is to safeguard the millions of travelers that pass through the U.S. commercial aviation system every year.”

The letter said this is the second time that an agency reporting to him invited members of Cuba’s communist regime to tour U.S. facilities and access sensitive areas. The first was in early 2023, when the U.S. Coast Guard invited members of Cuba’s Interior, Transportation and Foreign Relations ministries to visit its Washington headquarters and tour North Carolina port facilities.

That visit roused the concerns of Rubio, U.S. Rep. David Rouzer and others, who successfully pressured President Joe Biden’s administration to cut the trip short. Congress later added language to the National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit such tours under the International Port Security Program.

“Under your watch, Cuban operatives have again accessed sensitive, secure areas within the U.S. transportation system,” the letter said. “Yet again, Congress must step in to prevent your Department and the Biden Administration from hosting individuals from a country which our Department of State has listed as a SSOT since 2021.”

The letter also said Pekoske “made no mention” of the MIA visit when he spoke to Congress last week about the TSA’s budget requests. He also failed to notify Congress, the lawmakers said, “about an invitation to host operatives from a SSOT.”

“This lack of transparency calls into question whether this omission was made purposely, or is an example of a gross lapse in judgment by TSA under your stewardship,” the letter said. “TSA’s stated mission is to ‘protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.’ Through these actions, you have violated this mission and made America less safe.”

Several hours after news and condemnation spread about the tour at MIA, TSA spokesperson Mark Howell told members the event didn’t include any security risks and was no different than those given to other international flight partners of the U.S.

He said the TSA “routinely works with all countries with direct flights to the United States … to foster strong global aviation security posture.” The agency’s civil aviation security work with Cuba has gone on “for many years,” he added, including under ex-President Donald Trump.

Rubio, Scott, Díaz-Balart, Giménez and Salazar said they need further elucidation.

They posed seven questions to Mayorkas and Pekoske:

—Under what statutory authority did the TSA or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security invite members of the Cuban Communist Party to tour sensitive areas at MIA?

—What areas of MIA did Cuban officials access during the tour?

—What U.S. airports have Cuban regime operatives, or representatives of other foreign countries designated as SSOTs, toured under the Mayorkas and Pekoske’s leadership?

—What security protocols does TSA have in place to vet foreign visitors on TSA-hosted tours of U.S. airports?

—What was the process for authorizing TSA-hosted foreign visitor tours? Did the TSA follow this process for the MIA tour Monday?

—What visas were issued to the Cuban operatives and were their visas processed?

—Who is the current last departure airport contact at MIA and when were they told of the Cuban delegation’s tour?

The letter says the lawmakers expect answers back Friday.

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.


  • Elvis Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    May 22, 2024 at 8:16 pm

    Good evening America,
    The “Dook 4 Brains Leftys” behind this Cuban Tour are to immediatly be taken to Guantanimo Bay and detained for an indefinate period of time.
    Thank you America,
    Elvis [FKA Earl] Pitts American

  • My Take

    May 22, 2024 at 8:58 pm

    GOPer goofball gushing.
    Do you think there are control rooms for spy satellites or drones over Cuba at MIA?

  • Blog

    May 22, 2024 at 11:56 pm

    What information could they take?
    Did they all pull a business deal while reflecting the sensitive what ever it was.
    Or taking Communist approach to flight business..
    And with flight business comes all the flight people’s
    Now you have 30 million flight people’s that have longitude and latitude position’s they will attained..may be some will get military ammo. And some just business.and coding for algebra alfa military codes
    I guess it is a wait and see.

  • Ocean Joe

    May 23, 2024 at 9:14 am

    We need to get to the bottom of this. Next thing you know representatives of the Maldives will get a tour.

  • My Take

    May 23, 2024 at 5:11 pm

    “Trumpy’s” top-secret documents are a lot bigger deal.

Comments are closed.


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