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Luis Viera wants the Tampa City Council to come out in support of Cuban protests

Viera, a Cuban-American in office since 2017, says his measure seeks to unite refugees, exiles and the larger Tampa community.
Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, June 4, 2020. At a council meeting at the Tampa Convention Center.
Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, June 4, 2020. At a council meeting at the Tampa Convention Center. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Jul. 12, 2021|Updated Jul. 12, 2021

TAMPA — Tampa City Council member Luis Viera plans to ask his six colleagues to support a resolution he’ll introduce Thursday expressing support for the success of the protests that began in Cuba over the weekend.

Viera, who represents North and New Tampa, attended the impromptu protests near Jesuit High School on Sunday, listening to the passionate calls for support of the protesters, who have been beaten and jailed by Cuban security forces.

A resolution from the City Council of a city with the nation’s third-largest Cuban population will send a signal: that the protesters in Cuba are being heard. As far as he knows, Viera said, his resolution would be the first of its kind offered in a Florida city.

“We need to stand with them,” Viera told the Tampa Bay Times Monday. “It’s literally the least we can do.”

The goal of Viera’s resolution is to get the city on the record “in support of the ultimate goals of the protesters, which is to have democracy, liberty and for the Cuban people to be in charge of their own destiny,” he said.

Viera plans to introduce the resolution at the end of Thursday’s meeting as a new business item. If approved by the other six members, which almost always happens, the measure then proceeds to a vote, often at the next meeting.

Viera, who says he is the “proud son of Cuban refugees,” said he wants something to unify the Cuban-American community in Tampa, which is often divided between supporters and opponents of the Cuban government.

There’s always a debate on the means to the end,” Viera said. “This talks about the goals that the people in Cuba on the streets are risking their lives to secure.”

Later Monday, Mayor Jane Castor released a statement about the protests.

“Tampa stands with the brave people of Cuba, whose ancestors helped build our community. The fight for freedom and against repression is all of our fight,” Castor said.