Sugar Baron Alfonso Fanjul Open to Doing Business in Cuba; Diaz-Balart and Rubio Rip Back
Alfonso Fanjul is one of South Florida's most powerful businessmen, a Cuban exile and longtime critic of the Castro regime, but apparently he's changing his tune. He's now laying plans to quietly invest in the Communist nation.
Cuban-American politicians were quite blunt in their response.
Fanjul, who along with his brothers own Funjul Corp., a sugar and real estate conglomerate, has started traveling back to Cuba to meet with party leaders in a move the Washington Post calls "a startling development for the exile network."
"I'd like to see our family back in Cuba, where we started. . . . But it has to be under the right circumstances," Fanjul told the paper. "One day we hope that the United States and Cuba would find a way so the whole Cuban community could be able to live and work together."
Fanjul also refused to clarify whether or not he'd wait to do business until the fall of the Castro regime. A connected Democratic donor (his brother Pepe meanwhile runs in Republican circles), he's also shared his changing views on the embargo with notables like Hillary Clinton.
According to the Miami Herald, Cuban-American Republican lawmakers wasted no time sharply rebuking Fanjul's evolving stance.
"I am outraged by reports that a fellow Cuban-American, who has witnessed the atrocities inflicted by the Castro regime, has apparently chosen short-term profit over standing with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart in a statement. "Some might be blind to the Castro regime's brutality and ruthless oppression, but Alfonso Fanjul's betrayal is compounded because he knows better."
"Alfonso should cry less for his lost mansion, and more for the imprisoned artists and musicians, oppressed independent journalists, or for the women that are beaten every Sunday for simply wanting to celebrate mass."
Marco Rubio's response was less ferocious, but equally critical.
"Senator Rubio was surprised and disappointed to read about Alfonso Fanjul's new position on the Cuban trade embargo," read a statement. "We should not ignore the systemic violations of human rights in Cuba for the sake of opening up new business opportunities."