Don't Recognize Cuba's Next Leader as Legitimate, Florida GOPs Urge Trump

WASHINGTON -- Florida Republicans are urging President Trump to not recognize the next strongman in Cuba as legitimate after Raul Castro steps down on April 19.

Castro, 86, announced in December that he would resign due to health issues. He first became acting president in 2006 when his brother Fidel was ailing.

National Assembly of People's Power elections will be held this Sunday, and those lawmakers will pick the next president of Cuba.

In a letter to Trump today, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla. and Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) asked that he "denounce Castro’s successor as illegitimate in the absence of free, fair, and multiparty elections, and call upon the international community to support the right of the Cuban people to decide their future."

"We write today to thank you for holding the Castro regime accountable for its oppression and ongoing human rights abuses against the Cuban people, and for furthering U.S. national security and foreign policy interests of promoting democracy," said the letter. "We also request, within all applicable rules and regulations, that you continue to work toward empowering the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty."

Action is crucial, they argued, as a "predetermined, charade election orchestrated by regime officials will continue the dictatorship."

"This sham election is yet another example of the regime’s dictatorial repression of fundamental freedoms which must not be recognized by those who value freedom and democracy," the lawmakers wrote. "This, along with your ongoing efforts to restrict financial transactions with the Cuban military that aid the Castro regime, will assist the Cuban people in their goal of self-government."