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Miami Beach Commission Nixes Cuban Consulate Idea

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The Miami Beach commission has thrown cold water on their mayor's hotly debated idea of a having a Cuban consulate in the city.

It was a standing room only, angry, anti-Cuba crowd that packed the commission chambers Wednesday morning as commissioners discussed the 'possibility' of establishing a Cuban consulate in the city as U.S./Cuba relations ease.

The consulate idea came about after Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine attended a private meeting with officials at Cuba's Foreign Relations Ministry last month while visiting Havana.

"The 11 million people in Cuba who are listening to us, they hear us closing the door on them. When I walked into their homes, and I met with those people and I sat with them, all they want is to have a relationship with us," Levine told the crowd.

But for many in the room, wounds inflected by the Cuban regime for over half a century simply run too deep.

"I am not angry but I am disappointed to read headlines about Miami Beach welcoming a Cuban consulate because this commissioner does not," said Michael Grieco.

In the end, the commission voted 4-3 to adopt recommendations by the Hispanic Affairs Committee which included opposing a consulate unless human rights reforms were made in Cuba.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, whose father was once a political prisoner in Cuba, opposed a consulate in his city and has threatened to sue in federal court.

As for Miami-Dade County, commissioners passed a resolution in January for the U.S. to keep a consulate away from the county.

But whether the consulate comes to South Florida is not up to the local governments. It's the federal government that make the decision.


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