Miami Politicians Push to Prevent Cuban Consulate

It's a controversial debate over the official presence of the Cuban government in South Florida.

With the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, there are talks in Washington, D.C. to set up a Cuban consulate in Miami, but some politicians are pushing back against the idea.

"Not in our backyard" is the resounding message from some local politicians as they try to block the Cuban consulate from potentially opening in Miami, prompting tough legal talk from Mayor Tomas Regalado.

"I would sue the federal government as a person and as the mayor of Miami," Regalado said.

Beyond the threat of litigation, Regalado said his first priority is to his community, "It would affect the peace and stability and health of the residents of the City of Miami."

With a huge population of Cuban exiles in South Florida, Regalado argues that a Cuban consulate would inflame passions and pose a security risk, with a threat of widespread protests.

"The issue is that a Cuban consulate here would be an unfunded mandate. The City of Miami Police Department, if the consulate is in the City of Miami, will have to protect those who are protesting, those who want to come in and the diplomats who are inside," Regalado said.

After more than 50 years of strained relations, and complicated politics between Miami and the island nation, others are more open to the idea.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the talks are premature and proposed a more moderate approach, "We're a big city, we have to act like a big city, a big town and so we will deal with it. Do we want it right now? I don't think it's appropriate to have it right now but again, that is the choice and that's the duty of the federal government."

Since Cuba reopened its Washington embassy in July, many consider a consulate on U.S. soil to be the next logical step. As the old Cuban consulate lies dormant for decades, there is still no exact location yet for this proposed diplomatic outpost.

The Miami-Dade County Commission could vote on a resolution later this week that would urge President Obama to reconsider his plans for a consulate in Miami. Ultimately though, this is a federal decision.

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