Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back at people comparing him to dictators, saying at a Tuesday press conference that people are “fleeing” to the state of Florida.
A reporter asked the governor for his reaction to being compared to authoritarian regimes and dictators like Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. DeSantis replied that those accusations were a “slap in the face” to those who have fled to Florida, particularly Cubans.
“I think it’s a slap in the face to everybody in South Florida that has experience with these Marxist dictators in our hemisphere. You have people who were driven out of the island of Cuba, you have people where it was so bad, the oppression there, that they would get on a raft and go 90 miles over shark-infested waters to be able to get to freedom,” DeSantis said.
“You have people whose entire livelihoods were taken from them, their entire liberty were taken away from them and then they’ve come to here in South Florida,” he continued.
The governor mentioned the economic collapse of Venezuela and Nicaragua due to dictatorships that took over, arguing Venezuela has become like a “third world country.” (RELATED: Gov. DeSantis Signs Law Requiring Schools To Teach The ‘Evils Of Communism’)
“To equate Florida, which is viewed not only in our country, but even around the world, as a beachhead of freedom. To equate that with those regimes just shows you have no idea what you’re talking about, and I think that it really does a disservice to the oppression that so many people in Southern Florida have faced either firsthand or through members of their family, and there’s a reason why people are pouring into the state of Florida. There’s a reason why we’ve led the country in net migration.”
“People, they are fleeing a lot of these bad — and not just fleeing other states, they’re fleeing from Canada, they’re fleeing from other places to be able to come to the state of Florida,” he said. “I realize there may be some people in the state of Florida, not in my party, but some others — politicians, who have a soft spot for dictatorships like in Cuba. They have a soft spot for people like Maduro and Ortega, and I just want people to know that I have contempt for those views because those views do not represent the values of the state of Florida, but particularly the views of the people of South Florida.”
The governor condemned President Joe Biden’s administration at the press conference for loosening restrictions on travel and family remittances to Cuba, moves that the State Department said will support Cuban entrepreneurs.
“Biden’s plan to prop up the Cuban dictatorship represents yet another failure when it comes to standing for freedom in our hemisphere,” DeSantis said Tuesday via Twitter. “Money from ‘tourism’ will go into the pockets of the Cuban regime — and will help fortify the government against those seeking freedom in Cuba.”