By MICHELLE MARCHANTE
During a press conference early Saturday morning on Nov. 26, Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Curbelo and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz Balart addressed the Miami community over the death of Cuba’s former president Fidel Castro, whose communist dictatorship had controlled the island for more than five decades.
His brother and current president of Cuba, Raul Castro, announced his death on Cuba’s state television just past midnight on Friday, Nov. 25. Fidel, he said, died at 10:29 p.m. He was 90 years old.
History has been made with Fidel Castro’s death, the representatives said, but while Cuba’s fight for freedom is now one step closer to becoming reality, there is still work to be done.
Ros-Lehtinen was forced to flee Cuba at the age of eight to escape the Castro tyrannical regime and said that while Fidel Castro may be seen as a great leader by some such as the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, nothing could be further from the truth.
“The transition of Cuba had already occurred so don’t expect change from Castro’s death,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
The only thing he’s been successful in, she said, is staying in power. According to Ros-Lehtinen, Cuban pro-democracy activist leaders who oppose the Castro regime are currently being rounded up and thrown in jail to purge the streets from them upon his death. This is a sign, she said, of what his legacy is.
Separating families, forcing millions of Cubans to leave their island, Mario Diaz Balart said, is Castro’s legacy. His legacy, he said, has only caused “sadness, tragedy, narco trafficking and terrorism.”
The day that Cuba will truly be free and will be able to enjoy the freedom they deserve, he said, is not yet upon the Cuban people but it will come one day and the United States must help the Cuban community fight for their freedom.
“The Castro dictatorship will soon be a thing of the past,” Mario Diaz-Balart said.
Curbelo, whose grandfather was a political prisoner of Cuba and whose great-uncle was executed without trial, also said that while Castro’s death represents “a new opportunity for Cuba and the United States, the dictatorship remains and the U.S. should stand with Cuba’s Freedom Fighters.”
The current government, Curbelo said, does not represent the future of Cuba and the Freedom Fighters who are “risking their lives everyday” to give Cuba a better future should be supported with all of the resources available to the U.S. Lincoln Diaz-Balart also left Cuba when he was young and agreed that while there is still work to be done, the importance of this day, he said, cannot be minimized.
According to Lincoln Diaz-Balart, in every town “the leaders of tomorrow are risking their life today.” Cuba’s freedom is inevitable, he said and it will come, perhaps under the new Trump administration, which he said, has promised that the political freedom of the Cuban people and their liberation will be a primary focus.
“[This is] the end of the reign of evil…of that tyranny,” Lincoln Diaz-Balart said. “The brain and coordinator has died.”
MICHELLE MARCHANTE is a guest contributor for The Buzz Insider and the Opinion Director at FIUSM. She is a writer, reader and filmmaking enthusiast. Currently, she is studying to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism and is also working on her second novel. Connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM