- Two women who survived socialist regimes in Cuba and Cambodia spoke to a crowded group of American students about the cruelties they faced.
- The Cambodian survivor, Saren Ath, recalled watching her father be executed in a labor camp and described socialism as “an evil ideology.”
- “My family was targeted because my father was an intellectual who publicly questioned the government,” Lala Mooney told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We were never even formally charged with a crime, if they suspected that you were not in favor of the government you could be arrested.”
Two women spoke to a crowded group of American students about the cruelties they faced under socialist regimes on July 15.
Lala Mooney was 19 years old when she escaped Cuba under Fidel Castro in 1961. Saren Ath was only 12 years old when Pol Pot took over Cambodia in the mid-1970s. The two women recounted their times in bondage, the abuse they witnessed and the murders of hundreds of people.
“My family was targeted because my father was an intellectual who publicly questioned the government,” Mooney told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We were never even formally charged with a crime, if they suspected that you were not in favor of the government you could be arrested.”
She was imprisoned by the government for two months with the threat of execution in the back of her mind. (RELATED: ‘Terrible System’: North Korean Defector Who Nearly Starved To Death As A Child Rips Socialism)
“Little by little we became more scared by what the government was doing,” Mooney said. “He [Fidel Castro] convinced everyone to turn in their firearms. He took over private businesses. And each block had a neighbor who was observing and reporting on you.”
Mooney’s family was able to escape Cuba and resettle in America through the help of a friend and the Brazilian Embassy, but the effects of “the revolution” remained. Two of Mooney’s uncles died in prison, with one spending nearly a decade behind bars as a political prisoner.
“I have hundreds of friends who were in prison for over twenty years, with many more killed by the government,” she recalled.
Mooney and her family were able to make a new life for themselves in America. She and her husband have four children, one son being Republican West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney, two others as professors and one a successful businessman.
“Only in America can you come with nothing and be the mother of a congressman,” Mooney told the DCNF.
Earlier this afternoon my mother in-law, Saren Ath, and Jefferson County’s very own, Lala Mooney, shared their stories at @yaf. They discussed the suffering they endured under communist regimes (Cambodia & Cuba) and the freedom they found in America. pic.twitter.com/ALchXLaNZh
— Clare Anne Ath (@clareanneath) July 15, 2022
Saren Ath recalled how the Cambodian government under the Khmer Rouge Regime forced her family from their home, and sent them to the countryside where she witnessed the slaughter of “the killing fields.”
Ath was forced to watch her own father’s public execution after he was arrested for trying to provide more food for his family. She recalled looking on in horror as he was paraded around the labor camp, and was forced to remain quiet under the threat of death.
Saren tearfully recounted to the students how the socialist government forcefully separated her family and sent them to a labor camp, and recalled witnessing the children her age die from starvation, including her two younger sisters who died in their mother’s arms.
She concluded by speaking about her escape from Cambodia and how she had to walk through the jungle for three days to the Thai border before eventually arriving and settling in America. She and her husband now have two children, one of whom worked as a speechwriter for the U.S. Senate, according to the Young America’s Foundation.
There are 238 chapters of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in the country with more than 85,000 members, according to their official website. There are currently more than 150 members or supporters of the DSA in elected office, including four members of Congress. In 2020, the DSA added 14,000 new members to their organization.
The rise in support for Democratic socialism concerns both Mooney and Ath, but they believe that the way to stifle the support is to educate American youth about their experiences in socialist regimes.
Both individuals warned the students of the horrors of socialism, with Ath calling it “an evil ideology” and Mooney stating that “it goes against human nature.”
When asked about the future of the U.S., Mooney replied, “I am scared, but I have hope.”
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