NJ politicians react to unauthorized Cuba trip
Recently 10 NJ legislators took a trip to Cuba and since, there have been other NJ lawmakers who have condemned the trip for attempting to do business with that government's dictatorship.
This morning we discussed the unauthorized trip that was discovered by other NJ politicians by reading a Cuban-owned newspaper.
One of the most outspoken NJ lawmakers against the trip, was Woodcliff Mayor Carlos Rendo, who is also the NJ co-chair for Rubio for president. Rendo, who was born in Cuba, immigrated to the U.S. in 1966 with his parents. "I'm upset with the travel of our legislators to Cuba because of the secretive nature of the trip. I only found out about the trip through Cuban exiles that received a newspaper article from the Cuban propaganda machine in Havana, saying how the NJ legislature was meeting with the Cuban National Assembly and the Cuban Foreign Minister. When I heard that I said "well, was it authorized, who was it authorized by, was NJ taxpayer money being used to fund this trip? Those were my concerns.'" Rendo went on to call the trip "very inconsistent" regarding what message and explanation they are receiving from Trenton.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, who was one of the 10 lawmakers who went on the controversial trip, called in to the show to explain why this was a good trip for NJ lawmakers to take. Many that have criticized the trip, bring up the name of Joanne Chesimard, and the refusal by Cuban government to hand her over after fleeing to Cuba after breaking out of prison in 1979. Chesimard was a convicted cop killer at the time.
Gusciora argued that at least by traveling to Cuba, they had a discussion about it "She's been there for 30 years. And unlike people who are critical of our going down there, at least we went eyeball-to-eyeball and brought her up. I think we've one more than the 30 years she's been down there."
As far as what they wanted to accomplish by going down there, Gusciora referenced medical advancements in diabetes and pancreatic cancer that would really benefit local NJ pharmaceutical companies to exchange research and learn about their advancements.
As far as Cuban immigrants such a Bob Menendez and others that have been critical of opening relations with Cuba, Gusciora says while he gets their point, the issues with Cuba are not something new and we've had time to change it up until now. "I understand the pain of what happened to their families. Not withstanding, we've had a 50 year policy and it's been a failure. We have not brought the Castro regime to their knees."
Later on in the morning, Hamilton Township Council President Ileana Schirmer, the first hispanic female to be elected in Mercer County called in to refute Assemblyman Gusciora's reasoning for traveling to Cuba. Schirmer, who immigrated to America from Cuba with absolutely nothing in 1970, says no matter what they're reasoning was, the trip angered her.
"Don't lie to me and don't try to spin it. The reality is you did not go on a tourist trip. You went there representing NJ, for whatever reason, they went I'm not even sure. Financials, trying to look at possibly opening pharmaceutical trade. I mean give me a break. The reality is you work for New Jersey first and foremost. New Jersey has so many issues going on, so many problems. They should be focusing on that. Now what they think they can do in Cuba."