RECORD: 10 Cuban-Americans will serve in the next Congress

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L to R: Newly elected Cuban-American Members of Congress, Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), and Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)

On August 29, 1989 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) made history as the very first Cuban-American and first Latina, of any background, ever elected to Congress.

And ever since she achieved that truly historic milestone, the Cuban-American community has never gone without representation in our nation’s capital.

In fact, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s unwavering and uncompromising commitment to freedom, democracy, and Human Rights in every corner of the globe, and especially for her native homeland of Cuba, earned her the name “La Loba Feroz” or “the ferocious she-wolf” by the brutal Castro regime — a moniker she wears as a badge of honor till this very day.

But perhaps, Ros-Lehtinen’s longest-lasting legacy will be that while she may have been the first Cuban-American in Congress, she certainly wasn’t the last.

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Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who served from 1989–2019, was named “La Loba Feroz” or “the ferocious she-wolf” by the Castro regime for her uncompromising position for freedom & democracy in Cuba.

This January 3rd, a record number of Cuban-Americans will be sworn into the halls of Congress. Including three United States Senators: Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and seven Members of the US House of Representatives: Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Anthony González (R-OH), Carlos Giménez (R-FL), María Elvira Salazar (R-FL), and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY).

A diverse group made up of lawyers, state legislators, two former State Speakers of the House, three former mayors, an NFL player, and an Emmy Award-winning journalist.

Incoming freshmen Giménez (R-FL), Salazar (R-FL), and Malliotakis (R-FL) all accomplished the incredible feat of defeating Democrat incumbents! Defying all expectations by FLIPPING their districts to the Republican column and ushering-in the most diverse Congress in American history.

All three of the newly-elected Cuban-American Members of Congress have already vowed to join forces to combat the Socialist “Squad” led by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

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In 2016, Cuban-American Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) made history as the first Americans of Hispanic descent to ever win a presidential primary contest.

Who better to speak out about the horrors of socialism than those whose families have actually had to confront it and had the fortune of living to tell the tale?

That’s why the regime and its apologists have made it their mission to discredit, bash, and relentlessly attack the Cuban-American community.

In fact, Cuban-Americans are frequently labeled as “gusanos”/ “worms”, “vende patrias”/ “sell-outs”, and perhaps the most outrageous and derogatory lie peddled by the Castro regime is that the Cuban-American community is a “mafia” comprised of gangsters and mobsters who are part of some unfounded power-grabbing scheme. These wild, unsubstantiated claims are strikingly similar to hateful anti-semitic canards that have been hurled at the Jewish community for centuries.

These lines of attack are but of course all-too-familiar to Members of Congress of Cuban descent. Congressman Anthony González of Ohio, a professional football player, hinted at this with irony in a recent tweet upon learning that his colleague and dean of the Cuban-American House delegation, Rep. Díaz-Balart (R-FL), had recovered from coronavirus.

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Scandal-plagued outgoing Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and former Florida State Representative Cindy Polo (FL-103), who were both defeated this Fall by Cuban-American challengers, offended the Cuban-American community repeatedly throughout their campaigns, whether knowingly or not, by hurling these epithets and referring to the Cuban community as “the establishment”.

These recently-defeated Democrat elected officials claim to not understand why their statements were so controversial, but perhaps if they understood the history associated with their constituents they’d realize why those words particularly sting, are insensitive, and totally out-of-line.

As they perpetuate lies peddled by the very same regime that expelled the Cuban exiles from their homeland. Moreover, their offensive tirades breathe new life & feed into these baseless, derogatory claims peddled by the Castro regime.

If one thing is for sure it’s that Cuban-Americans are everything but “the establishment”.

A community built by refugees and exiles who arrived penniless, forced from home, separated from the people and places that they loved, and systematically persecuted by a brutal military dictatorship that continues to attack, jail, and murder all those who dare to have a dissenting opinion – not necessarily characteristic of the establishment now, is it?

A sense of duty, pride, & camaraderie unites the Cuban-American community and that is certainly reflected in our Members of Congress, who despite their many domestic policy differences, are all united in their adamant defense of liberty & condemnation of tyranny in every corner of the globe.

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Cuban-American Members of Congress from L to R: Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and Albio Sires (D-NJ)

When it comes to the cause of Cuba, a cause for freedom that hits particularly close to home, there is absolutely no daylight in the fundamental belief that the full implementation of the LIBERTAD Act of 1996 should condition any relations between the US and the island of Cuba.

So while the proponents of Socialism rely on a “Squad”, they’ll now have to pass through a FORCE of freedom fighters, our freedom fighters, our ten Cuban-Americans in Congress.

¡Felicidades y éxitos a todos!

Ph.D Candidate | Latino Politics, Voting Behavior, Elections | Third-Generation Cuban-American | Passionate about Democracy & Human Rights | Miami, FL

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