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Nancy Smith

Charlie Crist's Secret Cuba Visit: Why Was He Chatting up Maduro's Enablers?

May 16, 2019 - 7:00am
Charlie Crist and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, in Cuba
Charlie Crist and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, in Cuba

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist always did like to make cozy with important people. You remember. 

The Florida congressman and former governor apparently got to do both April 25 when he slipped out of Washington in secret, boarded a plane and flew with Chief of Staff Austin Durrer to Havana. 

Certainly his office kept the three-day trip under 'wraps. 

It was Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times who brought the story to light Wednesday.

I Beg to DifferOdd timing for such a trip. Risky even. As Contorno wrote, "Crist’s tour of the island coincided with growing diplomatic strain between Trump and Cuban leaders over the situation in Venezuela, a country in the midst of a humanitarian and constitutional crisis. (President Donald) Trump’s foreign policy team and influential Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio have accused Cuba of propping up Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the country’s disputed leader. National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed there are more than 20,000 Cuban troops in South America providing security for Maduro."

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, who hung out with Crist on the island, denied the claim on the day Crist arrived, calling Bolton a "pathological liar."

Also strange is how the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), the left-leaning organization that paid Crist's way, came to sponsor this political chameleon from St. Petersburg -- out of all the lawmakers in Washington. CDA's stated mission is to establish "a U.S. policy toward Cuba based on engagement and recognition of Cuba's sovereignty."

Think about it. On the one hand, Crist the Obama hugger -- the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat -- was a big supporter of the former president's easing of travel and business restrictions to Cuba four years ago. But on the other hand, "he has joined most of the Florida Congressional delegation in calling for Maduro to turn over power to Interim President Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by Venezuela’s national assembly, the United States and dozens of allies as the country’s legitimate leader."

Trouble is, one thing we've learned about Crist is, if you want to know where he stands at any given moment, look at the company he keeps. The man is a master political gyro who turns on a dime. It's his gift.

We don't know exactly what he and Parrilla talked about for two or three days, but certainly he and the Cuban foreign minister look relaxed and cozy in a photograph (shown above) published by the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.

When he got home, back with American media, away from the Cuban cameras, he released a statement calling on Maduro to "step down and end the senseless killing of his own civilians, who yearn for nothing more freedom and a better tomorrow.”

Sen. Rick Scott, after reading the Times story Wednesday, was roiling like a Hawaiian volcano. "Nicolas Maduro is carrying out a genocide on his people in large part because of the support he’s receiving from the brutal Castro Regime," Scott said in a fiery press statement. "Congressman Crist ... hobnobbed with killers while the money he and any staff spent in Havana was sent to Caracas to keep Maduro and his brutal regime in power. He should immediately tell the people of Florida how much taxpayer money was spent on this trip. 

"The people of Venezuela are crying out for freedom from the oppression of Maduro and his Cuban puppet-masters. We should be standing with them, not with the people oppressing them.”

Crist's clout in any diplomacy remotely related to Cuba? Pretty close to zero.

So, what did self-appointed envoy Crist, a political eunuch all his life, actually think he could accomplish? It must be something. He hasn't yet told us why he kept his trip secret.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.

Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer whose stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist. 

Comments

Gee, Nancy, once again Charlie Crist is your go-to attack personality . . . . . replacing Bill Nelson . . . . . speaking of . . . . . by the way, when are you going to apologize to Nelson for falsehoods like -->"never once did he mention his claims about Russian hacking in Florida, nor did he refute them. Admit you went too far, Senator. None of this is amusing. Early voting has already started. It was wildly irresponsible for you to let this lie linger, needlessly casting doubt on the integrity of Florida’s elections in order to give your campaign and self-importance a boost." . . . . . . no lie, indeed, afterall . . . . . . hacking did occur, as Gov. DeSantis confirmed . . . . . . . apologize . . . . . . unless you're willing to be labeled as spinning Fake News once again . . . . . . to not apologize, well that's just . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

"Frank the pathetic fake scientist"

Writes the Nancy Smith apologist who doesn't even know their own name . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Nelson was (and still is) a "Hack"; who always "shortchanged" his constituents... unless they "contributed BIGTIME" OR were members of "special interest" groups. "Rocket-Monkey" was always a huge disgrace !

Bill Nelson never represented Floridians. Bill Nelson only represented the Democrat party which is made clear by his terrible voting record that never strayed from Chuck Schumer's orders.

Agreed. Bill Nelson was a disease on Florida. The cure was the election that gave him the order to pack his bags.

So you believe that partisan Rick Scott will do anything but vote on the far right (or for things that increase his wealth) . . . . . how does that represent Floridians? . . . . . . . . . delusional SSN first time newbie commentator . . . . . . did someone associated with SSN put you up to this? . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

But then, he isn't a red neck racist, anti-woman, attack anyone not like "me" C Breeze Trumpite, is he . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Maybe Crist is just trying to make nice and fall "in love" with a dictator just like Trump has fallen in love with dictators Putin, Kim Jong Un, Orban, Mohammed Bin Salman, et. al. ??? If it's good for the Goose-In-Chief, then it should be good for the Ganders, also! In any event, Crist was the best-ever Republican governor of Florida when he served in that capacity from '07 to '11.

And Charlie Crist is an awful piece of offal, just like you VoteDem2020

Schmuck off Charlie.

Well over 3,000 Cuban troops in Venezuela "assisting" Maduro's regime,... and "Charlie 'the tuna' Crist" once again demonstrates his loyalty to HIMSELF (rather than to America)... What does he need???...Putin banging his shoe on a table, 'a la' "1962 Kruzchev"?!? (NO RUSSIANS NOR "PETTY SELF-SERVING AMERICAN POLITITIONS" IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE ! ! ! AND THAT INCLUDES REGULARLY SCHEDULED "CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS" VACATION JAUNTS TO COMMUNIST CUBA ! ! !)

OK, so Crist is working a trade mission to Cuba, which was completely unrelated to Maduro and Venezuela, which as bad as he is, is the elected leader of a sovereign country. This is just terrible. Yet, your president hobnobs, supports and gives kudos on the daily to one of the most brutal and ruthless people in the world in Putin, who is occupying parts of a sovereign country in Ukraine, actively interfering in our democracy, and working side deals with N. Korea, China and Iran, yet that gets no news from you. You out of work bloggers are at the height of hypocrisy...baahaahaa.

The rightwingnuts will hound Charlie to death because he got fed up with the anti-Constitution, anti-democracy, anti-"The People" Republican Party over the past 25 years. Charlie was a traditionalist Republican - and that definitely doesn't fit in with the autocrats and fascists and fatcats that control the party today.

I haven't seen the democrats this angry since the Republicans freed their slaves.

In response, the DNC created the KKK.

Gee, that must mean you're dead, dead, dead . . . . . . . . Lincoln would be livid over the blatant racist and extreme lies of today's Trumpite Republicans . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

"Maduro is the elected leader of a sovereign country" - Actually, you and your buddy Putin are among just a few nut-cases who actually believe that.

I think what you are describing here is diplomacy, which every President is involved with. Forget Obama striking deals with Iran? I think the main point to this story is the president has not visited an enemy state in secret, like Crist did.

Permalink - Hypocrisy? Gotta find a stronger word for these clowns who seem to have their noses stuck up Fox News posterior.

Keep preaching truth to 'em, and you didn't even mention the murdering Saudis who get a free pass from this Admin as well...

The recent actions of this ex Florida Governor are a disgrace to all citizens of our state. I have been motivated to make a comeback from beyond the grave to urge all Floridians to vote this man out of office. Well except for the small minority of lockstep mindless liberals who troll the comment section of honest news sites...you guys can still vote for Charley.

You can tell immediately that you are still dead...

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