Politically influential Cuban-Americans in Florida are more responsible for the embargo against Cuba than the communist nation itself, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) claimed Tuesday, touching on an often understood -- if unspoken -- theme in Florida politics.

"The little-known secret is the reason for the embargo and the reason it stayed for over 50 years has very little to do with Cuba and everything to do with Cuban exiles who really made the difference and who won Republicans and Democrats in the electoral vote in Florida," Rangel said during an appearance on CNN.

Rangel, a proponent of lifting the embargo against the decades-old communist nation, asserted that the only way to spread freedom to the country would be to open up travel to the country.

The nation's stance toward Cuba has always been a politically dicey issue in Florida politics, with Cuban-Americans and Cuban exiles in south Florida often pushing for a more hawkish approach toward their native country.

"You know Cubans want to visit Cuba like anybody else," Rangel said. "And the whole idea that Americans and Cuban-Americans can't visit any country they want is just totally un-American and unfair."

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who supports linking a lifting of the embargo to expanded human rights in the country.

"The Castro brothers, which have one of the worst violations of human rights in the world in terms of their government, will get a huge bonanza when it comes to cash," he said. "I believe that lifting the travel ban but only with human rights conditions."