May 10, 2022

Ron DeSantis at ‘Honoring Victims of Communism’ event 5/09/22 Transcript

DeSantis at 'Honoring Victims of Communism' event 5/09/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis TranscriptsRon DeSantis at ‘Honoring Victims of Communism’ event 5/09/22 Transcript

Governor DeSantis: (00:00)
Ola. We are back at the Freedom Tower. We’re excited to be here. Thank you all for joining us. It’s a great day. We have been here before. Most recently, we announced that in the upcoming legislative session, which of course we finished in March, that we wanted to put our money where our mouth is and make sure we’re doing all we can to restore this building. And so, today is a status report on that.

Governor DeSantis: (00:32)
Also, we’re going to sign some great legislation here today. So I want to recognize some of the great people we have. I know we’ve got many more in the crowd, but we do have our Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez from down here. Our host today, the President of Miami-Dade College, Madeline Pumariega. Thank you. We have Florida Senator and the next Education Commissioner in the State of Florida, Manny Diaz. We have a great apostle for freedom in Cuba, Rosa Maria Paya is with us here.

Governor DeSantis: (01:23)
We’ve got a number of great legislators here. We have from the Florida Senate, we have Anna Maria Rodriguez. We also have a number of representatives. We have Alex Rizzo, Danny Perez, Tom Fabrizio, David Barrero, Jim Mooney, and Juan Fernandez Barquin. So I want to thank you guys for what you’ve done.

Governor DeSantis: (01:46)
We’re also joined by a number of local officials from Miami-Dade County. I believe the City of Miami, so I want to thank you all for being here. And we’re really excited to be back. This tower represents a symbol of freedom. It stands as a symbol against communist depression. From 1959 to 1974, more than 650,000 Cubans came to the United States to flee the oppressive communist regime of Fidel Castro. Many of them came to South Florida, either by plane or by boat and once they landed, they would be taken right here to the Freedom Tower where they would receive assistance and began their new life in the United States.

Governor DeSantis: (02:33)
For those folks who came, and I think really at this point for all of us as we look back on our history, the Freedom Tower represented a turning point in not only their lives, but also a turning point for human liberty because leaving Castro’s tyranny to be able to live in a free society, provided opportunities for those Cuban exiles that they would have never had if they had to stay under the yolk of communist depression. And so, when you think of landmarks in American history, yes, of course, we think of things like the Statue of Liberty, and places like Ellis Island, but the Freedom Tower really belongs right there alongside them.

Governor DeSantis: (03:15)
And so, I think this tower is a reminder that freedom is not free, that you have to fight for your rights and that there are a lot of people out there that would love nothing more than to put you under some form of oppression. And so, we’re going to talk about the budget, but before that, we actually have a great piece of legislation that we’re going to sign here today, and I couldn’t think of a better place to sign. Today, I am signing HB-395, which will officially designate November 7th as victims of communism day to honor the more than 100 million people who have fallen victim to communist regimes across the world.

Governor DeSantis: (04:13)
We want to make sure that every year folks in Florida, but particularly our students, will learn about the evils of communism. The dictators that have led communist regimes and the hundreds of millions of individuals who suffered, and continue to suffer under the weight of this discredited ideology. Now, there are a lot of people out there who will promote things like socialism and communism, but I think one of the things we’ve seen is a lot of young people don’t really know that much about what communism meant in practice, and continues to mean in different parts of the world. You can see at a college campus, students flying the hammer and sickle from the old Soviet Union flag. You will see students that will have t-shirts with Chaka Vara on the t-shirts. You will see students that will idolize people like Mao Zedong. That, to me, speaks of a tremendous ignorance about what those individuals represented in the evils that communism inflicted on people throughout the world.

Governor DeSantis: (05:22)
And so, our goal here is to stand for the truth. Is to make sure that Florida, every year, will be able to speak the truth about the evils of communism, and recognize those who have fought under the yolk and have escaped for freedom. I notice that the people that escaped communism for free societies never choose to go back. I don’t know very many of them that do that. In fact, I think you look now, there’s focus, of course, on places in Eastern Europe, for obvious reasons, there are probably more Marxists on college faculties in the United States, than there are in all of Eastern Europe combined. Okay. They don’t want to go back to communism.

Governor DeSantis: (06:11)
So, this legislation will make sure that our students and people throughout the state of Florida are reminded about the atrocities committed by Mao Zedong when he led communist China. He had tens of millions of people die because of the communist ideology. Things like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. And of course, China continues to be the leading force of oppression around the world. But that body count of Mao, is something that everybody needs to understand because it is a direct result of this communist ideology. The legislation also ensures that students will learn about people like Lennon and Stalin, and the tyranny of the Soviet Union where they had millions and millions of people disappear into KGB prisons or Siberian Gulags. Want to make sure that people understand the atrocities of somebody like Pol Pot, the communist dictator of Cambodia who carried out a genocide of nearly 2 million in the killing fields.

Governor DeSantis: (07:25)
And I know we don’t need legislation here to do this, but I think it’s our responsibility to make sure people know about the atrocities committed by people like Fidel Castro. And even more recently, people like Nicholas Maduro. We understand that in South Florida, we want to make sure everybody throughout all of Florida understands that. So this is really, really significant. And I want to thank the legislature for really taking the lead to make sure that we were doing this. The United States did the Victims of Communism Memorial. I think it was probably about 15 or 20 years ago where that was established. And this is something that needs to be, I think, on the forefront of people’s minds.

Governor DeSantis: (08:09)
Now, when I was last here at the Freedom Tower, we looked around and we said that this is something that needed a little bit of love. And we wanted to make sure we could do what we could to do. So we had said our goal in my governor’s budget, we were actually going to put 25 million dollars to support renovations in the preservations of this tower and its legacy. And I’m happy to report that we have not fully signed the budget, we’re still going through things, but the legislature provided and I have approved a full 25 million dollars to be able to support the Freedom Tower.

Governor DeSantis: (08:54)
And so, we know it needs some love. We know it needs some repairs. And so, this funding will be used to complete urgent structural repairs. It will-

Governor DeSantis: (09:03)
… to complete urgent, structural repairs. It will conserve and restore historical architectural components. It will make the building more accessible for people with disabilities. It will install museum quality climate control and security systems to safeguard the Cuban American history that is stored here. And it will reimagine and redesign the exhibits displaying that history to make it more engaging for all ages. And so we said what we were going to do, we fought to get that money and I want to thank the legislature for delivering for the folks right here in South Florida. And so we’re also going to do even more today. I’m going to be signing Senate Bill 160, which makes 26 road designations across the state, including three honoring brave Cubans who have fought against the Castro regime.

Governor DeSantis: (09:55)
So the intersection of Southwest 23rd Avenue and Southwest 8th Street in Miami-Dade County is hereby designated as Arturo Diaz Artiles Plaza. Arturo Diaz Artiles was a Cuban exile who came to Miami in 1962. He opened a pharmacy that was a community gathering location for his fellow Cuban exiles. And he was known for taking care of the Cuban community in Miami, especially the elderly. Now he passed away in 2013, but he will always be remembered for his service to the community. And now people driving on these streets are going to be able to reminded of his great legacy.

Governor DeSantis: (10:40)
We’re also designating the portion of West Columbus Drive between North Himes Avenue and North MacDill Avenue in Hillsborough County, over with Tampa, we’re going to designate that the Maximino Capdevila Road. Maximino and his wife Coralia came to Florida on a flight that took them to the Freedom Tower in 1962. They settled in Tampa and they opened an all in one grocery store, restaurant and [inaudible 00:11:09] called La Teresita. For the past 60 years, they and their businesses have selflessly served the Cuban community in Tampa whenever possible. Now Maximino passed away in 2010, but La Teresita continues to operate and serve the community to this day. And so that’ll be great for the people of the Tampa Bay area.

Governor DeSantis: (11:32)
And then finally, the portion of State Road 953, also known as Le Jeune Road, between Northwest 11th Street and Northwest 14th Street in Miami-Dade County, is here by designated Oswaldo Payá Way. Oswaldo Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba and was one of the first outspoken opposition leaders against the Castro dictatorship. He fought to protect human rights democracy and to change the regime in Cuba. In 2012, he was in a mysterious car accident that many believe was orchestrated by the Cuban government. His daughter, as I said, is here with us today. She has taken up his work and she fights for human rights to be restored in Cuba, and you’re going to be able to hear her make comments here today. So I think today is a blockbuster day for freedom. It’s not often that you’re able to do all these different things in one fell swoop. But we’re proud of being able to stand, not just here in Florida, but this state and this community has been one of the strongest voices, unified voices of freedom for those who are suffering throughout the Western hemisphere.

Governor DeSantis: (12:57)
The people that still to this day suffer under a Cuban dictatorship. The people that have suffered under Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela, the people that are suffering in Nicaragua. And so when people look to see where’s the moral compass about what’s going on in this hemisphere, they’re going to look right here to the state of Florida and particularly the community here in Miami. And so I’m proud to be a part of that and I’m proud to be standing for the truth.

Governor DeSantis: (13:25)
Ronald Reagan said that one day communism would be viewed as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages were being written as they spoke. And that was in the early eighties when people thought the Cold War was going to go on forever. And I think through his leadership and many others, the Soviet Union was brought to heal. The Berlin wall was brought down. But you would think that after seeing all the wreckage of communism, that it would’ve been something that would’ve completely faded into the background, but it’s not dead. These Marxist ideas are not dead. They are in many places right now, oppressing people such as in communist China. And so when we’re speaking the truth, it’s not just for history, it’s for what we’re doing in the here and now. So thanks everybody for being part of this.

Governor DeSantis: (14:22)
Okay. We’re going to hear from… Where’s Madam President? There we go. Come on.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (14:27)
Thanks. Appreciate it. Wow. What a historic day. Governor, thank you, Lieutenant governor. Thank you so much.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (14:40)
To our trustees that are here, thank you to Marcel championing this since day one. But I stand here and I speak on behalf of 120,000 students at Miami-Dade College, 75% that are Hispanic and many whose parents and grandparents fled communism to come to this country for the opportunity that they’re giving their children. I stand here on behalf of my peers, whose parents, it was my mom and dad processed right here in the Freedom Tower. Only in the land of the free and only in a free Florida and a free America does the daughter of Cuban immigrants processed in this building, given a piece of cheese, a coat that was too small and sent to Texas, stands here to lead the largest college in America, [democracies 00:15:31] college.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (15:39)
Governor, your investment here ensures that there’ll be someone else just like me standing here in the next 100 years, ensuring that the story of my parents, of our parents, of our grandparents, is told over and over again. So there is no Che Guevara shirt on one of our campuses anywhere. Our students are hardworking students trying to build the American dream for their families because they, like me, are on the shoulders of giants like [inaudible 00:16:13] and others who have been here since day one, making sure that the story of freedom and a free Florida is never forgotten.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (16:21)
This bill is so important because what you don’t recognize and don’t learn about you tend to repeat. And so always keeping front and center that there are victims of communism, some that you will never see. To all the mothers as we celebrated Mother’s day yesterday that lost their sons and have lost their sons in prisons in Cuba, in the Bay of Pigs, fighting for freedom. We will continue to preserve that legacy for those that we know and those that we don’t know because it’s our obligation to ensure that history never repeats itself again.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (16:56)
So I want to thank the legislature, all of the members of the Miami- Dade delegation chaired by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, Alex Rizo, and Representative Borrero in the House that said, “We’re going to do this bill.” And fought. Senator Manny Diaz, future Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz, and the Senate as well.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (17:19)
I know Bryan Avila didn’t join us, but when the governor stood here and said, “We’re going to get $25 million for the Freedom tower.” Both Bryan Avila and Manny Diaz stood up and said, “We’re going to bring it home with the entire delegation.” Our future speaker of the house, Danny Perez said, “How do I help?” And so thank you so much Governor for your leadership, your bravery, your courage, and for keeping Florida free and making sure that the fight of our parents and grandparents is never forgotten. Thank you.

Governor DeSantis: (17:56)
Okay. Our current Senator and in about a month will be the Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz.

Governor DeSantis: (18:02)
The Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz.

Speaker 1: (18:08)
Thank you, Governor. And it’s so fitting that we’re in the Freedom Tower today, with freedom’s governor, with America’s governor. Thank you for fighting. When we talk about Communism, victims of Communism, we think about it over shores. But what’s happened during COVID is a lot of these governments across the United States have tried to lock people down, a version of Communism. And who stood in the way of that? Governor Ron DeSantis. So on behalf of our community, thank you.

Speaker 1: (18:42)
Like President Pumariega mentioned, myself, Lieutenant Governor, the members of this delegation, President Pumariega, we all stand on the shoulders of giants, giants that are with us here today, whether they’re speaking or not, and too many to name. Thank you. It is our job to make sure that this tower stands, that the lessons stand for next generations, so that they understand the value of freedom and the perils of Communism. And so I’m very lucky to not only have sponsored the bill with my colleagues in the House, but also, hopefully, to have the opportunity to implement this bill and make sure that every one of our students that goes through a government class in the State of Florida will have a lesson on the perils and the evils of Communism, and that we will have a day every year to commemorate those victims. So as we stand here today in this Freedom Tower, which we’re very fortunate to have the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the support of our Legislature to bring those 25 million dollars, so the future generations can continue to understand. Much like Ellis Island. This is our Ellis Island in this community, and we will keep it. And this goes out to every single one of you who are here, who have fought this fight, and those who are no longer with us that have fought the fight. Thank you, on behalf of our generation. And thank you, Governor, for your support and your continued fight for freedom.

Governor DeSantis: (20:11)
Okay, Rosa Maria Paya.

Rosa Maria Paya: (20:17)
Thank you so much, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senators, representatives, dear friends. Next July will mark the 10-years anniversary of the killing of my father at the hands of the Cuban regime. But sadly, my father was not the only one killed that day. My dear friend Harold Cepero, 32 years old, was also killed 10 years ago, as thousands of Cubans before them, during these six decades. Actually, as also some Cubans after them, as last July 11th, when Diubis Laurencio was shot down in the street, just because he was filming a peaceful protest. Actually, while we talk today, at least 1,000 Cubans are suffering political prison, just for peacefully marching, demanding freedom, demanding the end of Communism. The same evil that now is going to be taught at the schools in whole Florida. Also to commemorate all the victims, actually, and now looking at everyone, and I’m recognizing victims of Communism while I talk. It’s time to stop this process, this factory of victims that is the Communism. And that fight start by teaching the evils of Communism.

Rosa Maria Paya: (22:05)
That’s why I’m so thankful that you decide to rename this portion of Lejune Avenue, honoring my father, because honoring him today is also to honor all the victims. But it’s also to raise the voice, the voice of denounce about the thousands of victims that are being victimized today in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Nicaragua, in Ukraine, in China, and in so many other countries. This is not something from the past. This is something that is taking place right now.

Rosa Maria Paya: (22:47)
Actually, the fact that the world tolerated for so many years, more than six decades now. The Cuban Communist regime in our island generated the collapse of the democracy in Venezuela, in Nicaragua, and a massive threat to the national security of many countries, including this country. That right now, while we talk, is enduring a migratory crisis created by the Cuban and the Nicaragua regime that brought through the southern border, just the month of March, 32,000 Cubans in an irregular way, escaping from the Cuban dictatorship.

Rosa Maria Paya: (23:34)
So this couldn’t be more timely, in a moment in which the Kremlin have decided to renew their threat. Actually, in December last year, they literally threat with a new Cuban missile crisis, just a week before they invade Ukraine. Threat again, with sending Russian troops to Cuba. We are fighting a war to stop evil, an evil that through the means of propaganda has contaminated the souls and minds of many young people in this country and in the whole hemisphere.

Rosa Maria Paya: (24:27)
So I really appreciate this initiative. I really appreciate the fact that now we are honoring those victims, through renaming the street here in Miami, but also through teaching all the young people living in this state, about the evils of Communism and about the fact that we have the moral responsibility to stop it. Thank you so much.

Governor DeSantis: (24:54)
Thank you. Okay, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (25:05)
Good morning. It’s always great to be here in my home town, with so many wonderful elected officials, both on stage and in the audience, and so many champions for freedom. I will say, Governor, I think perhaps today, with the signing of these two important pieces of legislation and everything you’ve announced, maybe you need to declare today Florida Freedom Day.

Governor DeSantis: (25:25)
Every day is Florida Freedom Day.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (25:34)
Every day is indeed Florida Freedom Day, thanks to the work of this governor. I will say, and I think everyone here in the audience will agree with me: The Communist story is a story that for many of us hits close to home. We’ve seen it directly, through the eyes of our parents, and I’ve often said that there is no place in this country that understands the importance of freedom better than right here, South Florida, in our community. And I want to thank Madam President for hosting us here, because this is indeed part of our story. The Freedom Tower is so precious. It’s so important to the Cuban exile community, and for the Legislature and the governor to commit to fully funding the repairs that are desperately needed is something that I’m particularly proud of.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (26:20)
We know that the tyranny of Communism imprisons dissidents and suppresses information that’s damaging to their regime, so they can maintain control. They’ve ripped families apart. They have continued to rob the entrepreneurial dreams, the spirits, the hopes, the dreams of so many. And as I look into the audience, I see the faces of people that had to forego their own dreams in order to come to this country in search of freedom. And what I’ll say is that these regimes, they continue to create crises. Crises after crises, in order to inflict nothing but misery and suffering for all. And sadly, as the governor mentioned, throughout college campuses and throughout this country, we are seeing-

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (27:03)
Throughout college campuses and throughout this country, we are seeing communism and socialism being romanticized. Positive attitudes are at an all time high here in this country, but not here in Florida because freedom, not Marxism has a home here in the free state of Florida. And by the actions we’re taking today, along with actions that we’ve already taken, like removing CRT, woke ideology from our classrooms, making sure that parents have the right to empower them, empower parents to make decisions for their children. We will always ensure that our students are getting the best education free of socialist ideologies and CRT and woke terms that we will not allow.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (27:57)
And I know the Governor mentioned Ronald Reagan, but I think he said a lot of things that bear repeating. And he said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. And I think truer words have never been spoken. And so for us this important day, this important legislation that will not only teach our children, but their children’s children, the importance of freedom, the terrible tyranny of communism, making sure that November 7th, they will all understand what has happened throughout this globe throughout history. And so it’s a very proud day for me as the daughter of Cuban exiles to be here with so many greats that I look on Felix, and what you’ve done and so many in the audience. Thank you so much. Thank you Governor for your bold leadership. Together we will keep Florida free. [foreign language 00:28:50]

Governor DeSantis: (28:50)
And I think we also, the legislature, is there money for the Brigade Museum too in the budget?

Speaker 2: (29:16)

Governor DeSantis: (29:16)
There is money in the… Should I approve the money for the Brigade too? Okay. All right. We’ll do it. We’ll do it.

Governor DeSantis: (29:29)
I think it is important though, as we look at what this legislation represents, what this Freedom Tower represents, we’ve got to be willing to speak out when we see things that aren’t consistent with our values in our own country. And most recently having the federal government set up a Disinformation Bureau in the Department of Homeland Security is wrong. What they are doing to try to stifle dissent, to try to elevate a chosen political narrative that’s endorsed by the regime and to try to marginalize dissenters is not what a free society is all about. And what they will use that for, I believe, is to feed the social media platforms with what they want to be censored and not want to be censored.

Governor DeSantis: (30:14)
And I’m just thankful that Elon Musk is taking over Twitter because he’s going to open it up. And when he first did the offer, the board tried to fend it off because I think it was a great offer financially. And then of course, if you look his track record with companies is probably second to none so he’s going to improve the company for sure. But they were worried about him being in control and then them losing control of the narrative because a lot of the stuff that’s been censored over the last few years has turned out to be true. When you look at a lot of the stuff. I mean, there were guys they were hammering me because I said kids needed to be in school in 2020. And they had all these people saying all this stuff. Now, no one will even admit that they wanted the kids, even though many people did, including in Florida who were fighting for politics reasons.

Governor DeSantis: (31:13)
So you see all these different things. And that I think is really what some of these social media platforms have become is they want to enforce one viewpoint and one narrative. And then if you speak out against that, maybe you’ll be suspended, maybe you’ll be totally deplatform, maybe your post will be censored. And they even do it for satire sites like the Babylon Bee and in fact, that’s one of the reasons why I think Musk was interested in doing the Twitter. So the opposition to what he was trying to do was not rooted in business judgment. It wasn’t an economic objection. It was an objection for them losing control of the narrative. I think it’s a good thing that they lose control of the narrative. I think it’s a good thing that Americans are able to speak out. And particularly when a lot of these false narratives are trying to be shoved down the throat with some of these major companies.

Governor DeSantis: (32:06)
And so we made it be clear in Florida. Our pension happened to have Twitter shares. We would’ve had standing to pursue action against the board of directors if they violated their fiduciary obligation. So we let it be known we were willing to do that. The board of administration sent all the board of directors for Twitter a letter. And I think that they realized it wasn’t just Florida. A lot of people were watching this. And so being able to accept it and go forward was the right business judgment to make. I think our pension fund’s going to make $15 million out of that transaction, which is positive for our pensioners. But I think more important to me than just the dollars and cents is doubling down on free expression.

Governor DeSantis: (32:50)
There’s no orthodoxy that the government can impose on us. We’re able to speak our mind and that Disinformation Bureau needs to go the way of the buffalo. We need to eliminate that. That is a big danger to free expression in this country. Okay. We’re going to get going.

Governor DeSantis: (33:12)
Okay, so I’ve got two. All right. So we’re going to do the Victims of Communism Day first. Okay. What is today’s date? Is today the eighth or the ninth?

Speaker 3: (33:25)
The ninth.

Governor DeSantis: (33:29)
Good to know. Time flies when you’re having fun. Okay. Incidentally happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. We love you guys. We had a great day at my house yesterday and we just so much appreciate what everybody has done. All right. Okay, who wants a Victims of Communism Day?

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez: (34:03)
Right here.

Governor DeSantis: (34:05)
There we go. There we go. Anyone else?

Speaker 4: (34:10)

Governor DeSantis: (34:11)
Oh yeah, of course. Of course. All right so this is the Victims of Communism Day in law.

Speaker 5: (34:16)
Thank you.

Governor DeSantis: (34:28)
Of course. Now this is going to be our street designations. And so we’re excited to be able to do this and there’s going to be two honoring Cuban Exiles in Miami Day. Okay. Of course you get one. Who else? Anybody else want pens? Okay. All right. Anybody want pens? Anybody? Nice catch. Anyone else?

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