Fla. lawmaker: Crist's comments repulsive

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) on Sunday said former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s call for an end to the decades-old trade embargo with Cuba was “repulsive.”

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“Charlie Crist's recent comments about the Cuban-American community and U.S. policy are shameful,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

“To suggest that current law, which is a measure of solidarity, is to blame for the prolonged Castro tyranny is repulsive and only serves the interests of the Castro brothers,” he added.

"The embargo has done nothing in more than 50 years to change the regime in Cuba," Crist, a former Republican who is now running as a Democrat to retake his seat from GOP Gov. Rick Scott, said in a statement to CNN. "If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there."

Eliminating the 52-year-old embargo, Crist said, would be a great economic stimulus for Florida, which sits roughly 100 miles from the communist island nation.

“While countless brave men and women in Cuba are being beaten and arrested for peacefully demanding freedom and democracy, Crist further insults the victims of that oppressive regime by wanting Florida business to provide it resources so that it continues its violent repression,” Diaz-Balart said.

In 2011, President Obama eased some travel restrictions to Cuba. More recently, the administration has signaled that no further steps would be taken until Cuba makes progress on its human-rights record.