The Florida Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to send President Barack Obama a message that it opposes his decision to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The three-page message to Obama and Congress expresses "profound disagreement" with the president's decision last December to restore relations with the communist nation just 90 miles off the Florida coast. It says Fidel and Raul Castro have mistreated Cuban citizens since they took power in 1959.
"The actions of the Castro brothers have resulted in the impoverishment of the Cuban people and a complete and blatant disregard for human rights and democratic principles," it reads.
The message was sponsored by three Cuban-American senators: Republicans Anitere Flores, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Rene Garcia of Miami-Dade County.
"We're blessed to live in the best country in the world, a country that was founded on enshrining basic freedoms. The Cuban government does the opposite. They want to take away those freedoms from their people every day and at every moment," Flores said.
The only objection came from Democratic Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, who said she supported Obama's decision.
"His moving this forward is an effort to bring freedom to the Cuban people," Joyner said.
But Diaz de la Portilla said the policy will only empower the Castros. He said it is naive to think that the Castros will change "by sending American cash so that Americans can buy Cuban cigars and Cuban rum and vacation in those hotels that are on stolen property."
He said Raul Castro said the day the policy was announced that he wasn't going to change his principles.
"And what are the Castro brothers' principles? Oppression, dictatorship, lack of human rights, murder, stealing property, shipping weapons to North Korea, participating in state terrorism," Diaz de la Portilla said. "This new policy will ensure that the Castro regime stays in power."
A similar message is awaiting a House vote.