Standing in front of the statue of Cuban national hero José Martí and a Cuban flag at half-staff, Democratic U.S. Rep Kathy Castor called for the United States to encourage a peaceful transfer of power on the communist-run island.
Castor joined fellow Democrats state Sen. Janet Cruz, Tampa City Council member Luis Viera and Hillsborough County Tax Collector Nancy Millan at a press conference Wednesday morning in Tampa’s José Martí Park to express support for people in Cuba and in Florida protesting the Cuban regime.
Castor called out Cuba’s communist government, saying the Cuban people don’t have adequate access to food, medicine or basic necessities.
“The United States of America should stand with the people of Cuba now to encourage and work for that peaceful transfer of power,” Castor said. “We need to lead the countries in the Western Hemisphere.”
Castor said she hopes President Joe Biden’s administration will apply diplomatic pressure to the Cuban government. Castor, parting with some politicians like Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, argued that U.S. military intervention in this situation would only bring greater injury and death.
Cruz, D-Tampa, emphasized the necessity of peace — especially for protesters in Tampa. She mentioned Florida’s new “anti-riot” law that was pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis following protests last year in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Cruz, who voted against the bill, said she urges people to stay out of the street to avoid arrest. She sidestepped a question about whether she thought DeSantis was applying a double standard in his views of the Cuba protests now compared to police brutality protests that erupted last summer.
“The outrage here is not new,” Cruz said. “Cubans have been tired for decades, but this moment right now is absolutely historical,” Cruz said.
Millan, whose parents are Cuban immigrants, said as a daughter of Cuba, the issue goes beyond political parties, and that supporting the protest movement is something all could unite on.
Viera, a city councilman and Cuban American, said he’s introduced a resolution to call for Tampa to unequivocally support the fight of Cuban protesters. The resolution will be voted on Thursday.
“People can disagree on the means to the ends of how to get there,” Viera said. “But I think that on the ultimate end, that the people in the streets are fighting for and dying for and being attacked for, good Americans and certainly good Tampeños have got to have the backs of people in the streets in Cuba.”