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Florida leaders react to the death of Fidel Castro

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Florida leaders are reacting to the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson:

“Now that Fidel is gone, the U.S. should continue to press hard against his brother Raul and continue to take steps to support the Cuban people until he provides basic rights and freedoms to all the people of Cuba. In the meantime, the new Trump administration should continue the policy of opening travel and communication with Cuba.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio:

“Fidel Castro seized power promising to bring freedom and prosperity to Cuba, but his communist regime turned it into an impoverished island prison. Over six decades, millions of Cubans were forced to flee their own country, and those accused of opposing the regime were routinely jailed and even killed. Sadly, Fidel Castro’s death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted. The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not. And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people. The future of Cuba ultimately remains in the hands of the Cuban people, and now more than ever Congress and the new administration must stand with them against their brutal rulers and support their struggle for freedom and basic human rights.”

Gov. Rick Scott:

“I join Cuban-Americans and Floridians across the country who are incredibly hopeful for the future of Cuba.  After decades of oppression, the Cuban people deserve freedom, peace and democracy.  I have met so many Cubans who have come to Florida to flee the tyranny, brutality, and communism of the Castro brothers’ oppressive regime and now is the time to look at policy changes that will demand democracy in Cuba.  Today’s news should usher in an era of freedom, peace and human dignity for everyone in Cuba and the State of Florida stands ready to assist in that mission.  I spoke to President-elect Trump this morning to let him know that the State of Florida will help his administration in any way to support a pro-democracy movement in Cuba.”

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera:

“Has it finally come? FIDEL IS DEAD! I pray this is beginning of a free and democratic Cuba. Wish my Abuelo & Abuela were alive to see this.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, via Twitter:

“Florida is richer for all the families who arrived after Fidel took all they had. More to be done. Cuba libra!”

Attorney General Pam Bondi:

“Fidel Castro leaves behind a legacy of repression and tyranny. History will not absolve him. We must work and pray for a free Cuba.”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

“After decades of oppression under Fidel Castro, I celebrate with freedom-loving Cubans everywhere the hope for a brighter future. But until all Cubans are allowed basic human rights, democracy, and freedom, the Castro regime continues. Now more than ever, we must stand with the Cuban people against this brutal dictatorship. May the decades long oppression of human rights be tossed into the trash bin of history.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor:

“Cuban families and small business owners are eager to accelerate economic and human rights reforms and America must continue to support them, especially Tampa Bay area community leaders who have been at the forefront of progress and change. With the election of Donald Trump, hardliners opposed to diplomatic relations and engagement with everyday Cubans have urged an end to new flights, travel, and cooperative efforts. Slamming the door shut at this point in time would be disastrous. Instead, Fidel Castro’s death should encourage all of us to meet the challenge of better diplomatic relations, economic opportunities for Cubans and Americans, expanded travel, and support for the dignity of the Cuban people.”

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, via Twitter:

“Fidel Castro’s disappearance was necessary for the horror of the present to be able to end and for the future of Cuba to be able to begin.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham:

“Growing up in Miami, I saw firsthand how Fidel Castro’s control of Cuba tore apart families and destroyed lives in both our countries. Castro will forever be remembered as a failed tyrant who neglected human rights and brought more than 50 years of poverty to Cuba. Fidel and his followers are relics of the previous century. I pray that with Fidel Castro’s passing, we double our nation’s resolve to see Cuba libre, a free nation and free people at last.”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo:

“The passing of the dictator marks the end of a long, horrifying chapter in Cuba’s history. The Cuban people need our solidarity.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart:

“Today, a tyrant is dead. Although his totalitarian dictatorship deeply scarred a once prosperous nation, his death ushers in a renewed hope that the Cuban people finally will be free. Now we must work even harder toward achieving liberty, basic rights and free, multi-party elections for the Cuban people.

The dictator has the blood of innocents on his hands, and his dictatorship is guilty of torture, murder and numerous other atrocities. As an evil dictator finally faces his Creator, the malevolent Castro dictatorship continues. Shamefully, President Obama has spent the past eight years attempting to cede important leverage to the ailing Castro regime. Despite President Obama’s collaboration and betrayal of America’s longstanding mission to promote freedom, the American people continue their strong solidarity with the Cuban people in their struggle for free elections, human rights and liberty.”

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, via Twitter:

“The last vestiges of the Cold War have passed. Now is the time to move forward.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 

“The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western Hemisphere.  The message is now very clear to those who think they will continue to misrule Cuba through oppression and fear. Enough is enough. The Cuban people have been shortchanged for too long to continue down this reviled path.

“Those who still rule Cuba with an iron grip may attempt to delay the island’s liberation, but they cannot stop it.  Castro’s successors cannot hide and must not be allowed to hide beneath cosmetic changes that will only lengthen the malaise of the Cuban nation. No regime, no matter who leads it, will have a shred of legitimacy if it has not been chosen by the people of Cuba in free and fair elections.

“Fidel’s apologists around the world can help to restore freedom and human rights for Cuba by joining the call for the new regime to free the hundreds of freedom fighters and pro-democracy activists still locked in Castro’s prisons.

“Not until the gulags are closed, elections are held, political prisoners are freed and liberty is restored can the United States lawfully end its embargo against the communist regime in Havana. The time to act is now.

“We must seize the moment and help write a new chapter in the history of Cuba; that of a Cuba that is free, democratic and prosperous. A Cuba where faith in God has prevailed over tyranny, a Cuba whose people rose up to meet the challenges placed before them and overcame them through sheer patriotism and love of country.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

“Fidel Castro’s death ends his personal tyranny of the Cuban people and ushers in the possibility of a new era for Cuba. However, the legacy of his oppression continues today in Cuba and as we look ahead to the future, the Cuban government should hold free and fair elections that allow all Cubans a true voice in their government, fully embrace human rights, recognize opposition parties, cease imprisoning people for expressing their views and release all political prisoners. I look forward to working with the Cuban-American community and my colleagues to ensure a bright, prosperous and free future is a reality for all Cubans.”

U.S. Rep-elect Charlie Crist:

“History will remember Fidel Castro as a tyrant, a represser of democracy, civil rights, and human rights. But my heart isn’t full of hate today, it’s full of optimism due to the progress we’re already seeing in bringing our American ideals of freedom and prosperity to Cuba through improved diplomatic and economic relations.”

State Sen. Rene Garcia, via Twitter:

“Hopefully with the death of the oppressive tyrant #Castro our family’s can finally witness the beginning of an open and free Cuba.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran:

“At the death of any man, all we can do is measure his life based on his actions and choices.  Fidel Castro brutalized and murdered a great people. He pillaged a tropical paradise.  He promulgated a Godless ideology that destroyed the lives of countless families. He was a thug.  His passing only makes this world a safer, better place.  Florida has deep historical, geographic and familial ties to Cuba.  I know I join all Floridians today in praying that Castro’s death will somehow pave the way for freedom and democracy to at last emerge and flourish on the island. It also seems appropriate this day to remember the many heroes in Miami and elsewhere who stood up to this terrible dictator and never lived to see this day. May their children and their grandchildren take comfort in the memory of their courage.”

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz:

“Tonight we close a dark chapter in the history of Cuba – a day after Thanksgiving – we give thanks and pray for a free Cuba.”

State Rep. Manny Diaz, via Twitter:

“The death of the despot dictator and thug Fidel Castro marks the end of an era, you will see an emotional response 56 years in the making.”

State Rep. Julio Gonzalez, via Twitter:

“A despot died last night. ¡Viva Cuba libre! With great hope for the future of human rights in #Cuba.”

State Rep. Jeanette Nunez, via Twitter:

“Fidel was a monster who murdered, tortured and imprisoned countless individuals. The Cuban people are one step closer to a #CubaLibre”

Former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, via Twitter:

“Castro put his political opponents to death via firing squads. Folks who are romanticizing him should stop and think about that”

Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia:

“The death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro should be the beginning of the end to an era of relentless oppression on the lives of families inside and outside the island. Unfortunately, this does not close the door on tyranny; it just reminds us of the brutal dictatorship Castro had over his very own people.  As Americans, we stand for a Cuba who will no longer struggle for human rights, free-elections or true liberty.  We anxiously look ahead towards the future of a free Cuba that embraces democratic ideals!”

Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez:

“Early this morning, I learned of Fidel Castro’s death. His passing closes a very painful chapter for Cubans on the island and Cuban-Americans throughout the world, including for thousands of Miami-Dade County residents who were personally affected by his cruel and brutal dictatorship. Despite this historic moment however, we know that Fidel’s brother Raul continues to lead one of the world’s most repressive governments. My hope is that a free and democratic Cuba with the same freedoms we treasure here in the United States will soon emerge. It is what the Cuban people deserve. Miami-Dade County does not currently have plans to activate its Emergency Operations Center. I ask that all our residents who choose to demonstrate do so peacefully. May God bless the people of Cuba, Miami-Dade County and the United States of America.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum:

“Today, I stand in solidarity with the Cuban people. In my birthplace of Miami, countless people fleeing Fidel Castro’s oppressive regime worked to build a new life for themselves and their families against all odds. Their children and grandchildren have greatly strengthened Florida, and have influenced the world through their many talents in the arts, business, and sports. It is my hope that today marks an opportunity for a new direction toward democratic freedom and human rights for all those who remain in Cuba. Fidel’s legacy will always be one of repression.  But hope remains that the future will be brighter, and bring with it the light of liberty and equality for all.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn:

“As one of the birthplaces of Cuban independence in the late 1800’s, Tampa has long and storied history with the island of Cuba and its people. Generations of Cubans have helped to build this amazing city and we are forever grateful for their contributions. Many arrived in our City fleeing the totalitarian policies of the Castro government with nothing more that the shirts on their backs and a yearning for freedom. They have never strayed from the belief that one day Cuba would again be free. The passing of Fidel Castro offers hope that one day the Cuban people will enjoy the benefits of a free and democratic society.”

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