MIAMI – The Miami Beach City Commission voted against the opening of a Cuban consulate until significant human rights reforms have been made in that country, local media reported Wednesday.
With four votes in favor and three against, the commission “has thrown cold water on their mayor’s hotly debated idea of a having a Cuban consulate in the city,” according to CBSMiami television.
The hearing and recent vote came after a series of talks between Cuban authorities and Miami Beach officials including Mayor Philip Levine, during which the latter expressed his wish to welcome a Cuban consulate.
Last Monday, Cuban residents of Miami Beach expressed their anger during a public hearing at City Hall about the possible establishment of a Cuban consulate in that city.
Nonetheless, some Cubans spoke of the convenience of having a consulate nearby where they could carry out the necessary procedures for visiting their relatives in Cuba.
During the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuba last March, Levine, who also went to the island, held meetings with Cuban government officials, to whom he expressed his wish to welcome a consulate in Miami Beach, next to Miami.
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, however, said for his part that for “moral reasons” he rejects the eventual opening of a consulate of Cuba in Miami Beach, considering it “a provocation” for the “capital of the exile.”
The U.S. and Cuba renewed diplomatic relations in July 2015 with the reopening of their respective embassies in Havana and Washington.