Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) led a coalition of colleagues and human rights activists in Washington, DC, on Thursday for a rally marking the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month by urging the White House to take action in support of the victims of communism and socialism in Latin America.
The group of speakers – which included fellow Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cuban-American lawmakers Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-FL), and Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), and advocates for the Cuban exile community – expressed disillusionment with leftist President Joe Biden’s policies towards Latin America, which multiple speakers described as exacerbating national security threats for the Western Hemisphere by emboldening America’s enemies.
Biden has actively chosen not to prioritize relations with Latin America or support for pro-American and pro-democratic movements in the region during his time as president. Observers lamented that Biden snubbed Latin American leaders in his initial calls to foreign heads of state following his inauguration. Experts, lawmakers, and South American leaders have also sternly condemned his concessions to the brutal communist dictatorship in Cuba, its proxy regime in Venezuela, and to terrorist organizations like the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which his administration bizarrely chose to remove from America’s designated list of foreign terrorist organizations last year.
Biden’s Latin America policy has put him at odds with the region’s right-leaning democratic leaders, most prominently Presidents Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala.
“The Biden Administration’s policy of appeasement with far-left tyrants and would-be tyrants in Latin America emboldens their grip on power, encourages drug trafficking in our region, and promotes illegal mass migration across our unsecured border,” Sen. Rubio said at the event. “The United States, and democracies in our region, are less safe because of this administration’s desire to turn a blind eye to the needs of our hemisphere. We need real leadership and real solutions, not left-leaning policies from Marxist apologists.”
Sylvia Iriondo, the head of Mothers and Women Against Repression for Cuba, highlighted the danger posed not just by the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela but by their relationships with malignant world powers such as China and Russia.
“There is undoubtedly a socialist tide sweeping across all major countries in the region – possibly including Brazil next month – which poses a serious threat freedom and democracy in our Hemisphere,” she said, referring to the presidential election scheduled in that country for October 2. “This cancer originated in Cuba and has continuously spread its influence to the Americas, effectively controlling the Venezuelan dictatorship through thousands of agents and military personnel on site as well as joining forces with Nicaragua and other socialist allies.”
“What endangers most the security and stability of Latin America and also of the United States is the increasing and unobstructed penetration of Russia, China, Iran, and narco-terrorist organizations in close alliance with Cuba,” she explained, urging Biden to “back the pro-freedom movements in Cuba and other oppressed countries in this Hemisphere as the U.S. successfully did with Solidarity in Poland.”
The co-founder and spokesman for the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio), a pro-democracy organization, Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, noted that American advocacy for human rights in Cuba is currently pivotal because of the wave of protests that has yet to end since the nationwide manifestations on July 11, 2021.
“In spite of repression, in spite of hundreds imprisoned serving draconian sentences for their civic defiance of the Regime, the uprising continues with many different types of protests and acts of resistance across the island,” Gutiérrez-Boronat said. “There are also clear signs of dissension in the ranks of the dictatorship, among them the fact 25 Cuban generals have mysteriously died in the past year alone.”
Sen. Scott, who organized the event, offered concrete actions that the Biden administration could take immediately to help support pro-democracy movements and limit the dangerous influence of communist dictatorships in the region. Among the actions he listed was supporting his Denying Earnings to the Military Oligarchy in Cuba and Restricting Activities of the Cuban Intelligence Apparatus (DEMOCRACIA) Act, which would expand sanctions related to the Castro regime by requiring the president to impose sanctions on foreigners who do business with sanctioned Cuban entities or people and those known to have engaged in “serious human rights abuse” in Cuba.
Scott also suggested Biden should move on “re-designating FARC as a terrorist organization, blocking access to U.S. assets to anyone involved or complicit in human rights violations or corruption in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and revoking licenses to U.S. companies operating in Cuba and Venezuela.”
“If President Biden did all five of these things today, then our hemisphere would be a safer place and the freedom movements in Latin America would be emboldened,” Scott said. “The fight for freedom and democracy in Latin America demands the support of the United States and we won’t stop fighting to reverse Biden’s failed appeasement agenda that is standing in the way of progress and stability in our hemisphere.”