Rep. Diaz-Balart: My family was forced into exile from Cuba. Here’s the truth for Sanders, Castro apologists

Following praise of Castro’s Cuba by Democratic presidential candidate for president Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., I must take the opportunity to correct the misinformation and false claims so frequently touted by Castro’s apologists.

First of all, it is appalling to those personally affected by the Castro regime legacy of firing squads, torture, imprisonment, brutal oppression and terrorism to witness a U.S. presidential candidate seek to decipher some nominal good from the abject and all-pervasive evil of totalitarianism.

Many of those who support Sanders today may not have been around to witness the evils of communism over the past few decades. Sanders has no such excuse.

FLORIDA’S CUBAN, VENEZUELAN VOTERS ALARMED BY SOCIALIST BERNIE SANDERS’ RISE

At the height of the Cold War, Sanders hobnobbed with the Soviets and established a partnership with the Sandinistas in a Nicaraguan region at war with the indigenous Miskito people. He should remember that when nuclear missiles in Cuba were pointed at the United States, Fidel Castro pleaded that Khrushchev launch a first strike.

Sanders should remember that the Castro dictatorship ordered the shootdown of two unarmed civilian aircraft in international waters, resulting in the murder of three innocent Americans and a permanent resident for which the general and two pilots were indicted in U.S. federal court.

Sanders should demand the return of fugitives from U.S. justice such as Joanne Chesimard, an FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist, and terrorist bomb maker William Morales.

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Sanders should remember the “13 de Marzo” Tugboat Massacre of 1994 when the Castro regime rammed, sprayed and ultimately sunk a tugboat of 72 men, women and children who were attempting to escape Cuba in search of freedom. 41 perished, including 10 children. They were among the over 1 million Cubans who, like my family, fled totalitarianism.

Sanders should also remember the lives of those who died at the hands of the Castro regime in the past ten years, such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Juan Wilfredo Soto, Laura Pollan, Oswaldo Paya, Harold Cepero and Armando Sosa Fortuny. He should call for the immediate release of political prisoners Jose Daniel Ferrer, Mitzael Diaz Paseiro, Yanet Perez Quevedo and Miguel Diaz Bouza so that they do not suffer the same fate.

Collectivist systems of socialism and communism have brought devastation and tyranny wherever they have been tried. The regimes of communist China, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela have used socialist/communist policies to justify the most egregious human rights abuses and their iron grip on power.

In less than two decades, socialism has managed to plunge Venezuela – a country with the world’s largest known oil reserves – into blackouts, starvation, medical shortages and utter destitution.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation reveals that more than 100 million people have perished as a result of communism – from the purge policies of Mao and Stalin, including forced starvation, through the dictatorships in North Korea, Eastern Europe and Cuba.

Sanders should be asked about Communist China’s forced reeducation and labor camps, including the current oppression of Uyghurs who have been forced to abandon their language and culture and improve their “literacy” of the state-mandated Mandarin language.

With collectivist systems where individual rights are subsumed by the so-called “greater good” of the many, once unthinkable horrors become reality.

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Sanders’ comments in regard to Cuba are particularly shocking given the Castro regime’s long and sordid history of threatening U.S. interests. The regime in Cuba partners with rogue regimes, terrorists and Anti-American interests such as the terrorist state of Iran, Russia, communist China, the Maduro regime in Venezuela, the FARC and Hezbollah.

In 2013, the Cuban regime was caught smuggling weapons to North Korea in the largest violation of international sanctions against that country to date. It has welcomed Russian espionage ships to Cuban waters to spy on the United States. Sonic health attacks against U.S. personnel in Havana caused traumatic brain injury to Americans and their families. For years, Cuba has maintained thousands of Cuban intelligence operatives in Venezuela in what the Organization of American States’ Secretary-General called an “occupation army” to oppress the Venezuelan people and sustain the illegitimate Maduro regime.

The Obama Administration chartered a course to legitimize the Castro tyranny. Thankfully, President Trump understands the danger of the Cuban dictatorship and has corrected this course.

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I was disappointed that the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives chose not to consider such an important resolution condemning Sanders’ admiration of a murderous dictator, a resolution that should have enjoyed bipartisan support. It’s very alarming that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is willing to turn a blind eye to this evil.

“The truth is the truth.”

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