‘Insult to injury’: Florida lawmakers erupt over Cuban officials touring secure parts of top airport

FIRST ON FOX: Florida lawmakers in Congress are demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security about Cuban officials touring secure areas of the Miami International Airport, raising national security concerns from both local and national lawmakers. “You are taking agents from a country which is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. And you’re showing them our procedures and our equipment and our sensitive areas that protect the American public from terrorism. So how does that make sense?” Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., told Fox News Digital in an interview. Republican lawmakers led by Gimenez wrote to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and TSA Administrator David Pekoske about the tour, which took place on Monday at the Miami airport.CUBA PROTESTERS DEMAND FOOD, ELECTRICITY AS RUBIO SAYS NATION ON ‘VERGE OF COLLAPSE’ FROM MARXIST POLICIESOther lawmakers on the letter include Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar and Mario Diaz-Balart.CBS News Miami reported that officials said the five-hour tour involved a tour of sensitive areas of the airport — a security checkpoint and a baggage screen area.  “You’re taking agents of the Cuban Communist Party and showing them the TSA equipment and procedures at Miami International Airport, where there’s a community of over a million Cuban exiles, that were exiled due to that same regime. It’s a slap in the face of that community,” Gimenez said.He also noted that the visit purportedly took place on May 20th — Cuban Independence Day.PROTESTS ERUPT IN SANTIAGO OVER POWER OUTAGES, FOOD SHORTAGES AS CUBA FACES ECONOMIC CRISIS”You’re also doing it on May 20th. May 20th is the equivalent of July 4th here. So it’s Cuban Independence Day, you’re doing it in Miami, and you’re showing it to who? The agents of the regime that have been oppressing the Cuban people for over 60 years.””You’re adding insult upon insult, insult to injury,” he added.PROGRESSIVE HOUSE DEMS MADE SECRET ‘HUMAN RIGHTS’ TRIP TO CUBA AMID WORSENING BORDER CRISIS AT HOMEIn the letter, the lawmakers say that it is not the first time that Cuban delegations have been given tours, pointing to tours of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters last year and a visit of port facilities in Wilmington, North Carolina.”Under your watch, Cuban operatives have again accessed sensitive, secure areas within the U.S. transportation system. 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 lawmakers said.The lawmakers want to know which statutory authority officials invited members of the Cuban government under, the areas accessed, the process for hosting tours, any visas that were issued and the security protocols in place.In response to the letter, a DHS spokesperson said it “responds to congressional correspondence directly via official channels, and the Department will continue to respond appropriately to Congressional oversight.” A TSA spokesperson told Fox that it “routinely works with all countries with direct flights to the United States.” “TSA hosts government officials and members of the aviation community at U.S. airports to foster a strong global aviation security posture.U.S. and Cuban authorities jointly manage the airspace between Cuba and the United States and ensure the safety and security of travelers using our airports,” the spokesperson said. “The Republic of Cuba has six last point of departure airports with direct flights to the United States, and accordingly TSA continually works to strengthen the security framework with Cuba and other Caribbean nations.The agency says that Cuban officials did not access sensitive technology or systems and instead received a general overview of security operations, including Equipments that anyone screened can see, along with best practices so that Cuba can implement similar measures. It also said that Miami International Airport recently welcomed officials from Antigua, Barbados, Spain and Brazil for similar visits and that the last such Cuban delegation visit came in August 2018.The State Dept. told Fox News Digital that it coordinates the visits with TSA consistent with applicable authorities and procedures. A spokesperson said that Cuba started sending visits to the U.S. in 2011, after the U.S. started assessments of Cuban airports in 2003, and those visits have continued to the current day. “Aviation security is clearly in the national interest,” the spokesperson said.. “Given Cuba’s proximity and the existence of direct flights to and from our countries, U.S. and Cuban authorities must collaborate while each working to ensure the safety and security of travelers at airports. As we have noted repeatedly, we will engage with the Cuban government when it is in the U.S. national interest to do so.”But the tour brought outrage from Democrats as well. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said that the Cuban government “should have no place in our government. END OF STORY!””They should not have been invited to Miami International Airport and as a Transportation committee member, I’ll be reaching out to TSA to find answers as to how this happened,” she said.Democratic Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levine Cava said she was “shocked” to learn of the invitation and distanced herself from the move.”The decision to allow Cuban officials to tour secure areas at MIA was made without the knowledge of the Miami-Dade Aviation Dept. and took place on Cuban Independence Day — a day that we reaffirm our commitment to freedom and democracy in Cuba in the face of a brutal dictatorship.Emilio González, a former Miami International Airport Director and Miami City Manager, told Florida Politics that “heads should roll.””No common sense and (a) lack of security awareness,” he said. Meanwhile, Gimenez is the chair of the subcommittee that oversees TSA and told Fox Digital that he has an eye on potential hearings on the matter.”If you’re doing it with Cuba, who else are you doing it with?”
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