A letter to House Republicans from Leader Kevin McCarthy:
Every day while Americans wake up in their homes, hug their loved ones, go to church, and support their families, there are thousands of demonstrators just 90 minutes off the Florida coast fighting for the freedom to do these same, God-given activities.
Behind our ability to speak and live freely are families who sacrificed everything — men and women who love our country and who appreciate the American way of life enough to die for it. We are grateful to them each and every day, and one small way we as Americans show that is by proudly waving the American flag — on our porches, on our cars, in our lawns. We’ve never needed to explain why we do this or what we are saying when we raise the flag. It was always clear — the American flag is the greatest symbol of freedom and justice in the world, and has been for hundreds of years.
Non-citizens of our country — who also crave freedom — recognize this symbol, too. In 2019, we saw Hong Kongers carrying the American flag as they marched against the Chinese Communist Party’s extradition bill. Now we are seeing Cubans in the streets flying the American flag as they demand liberty from an oppressive communist government.
These people see something in our flag and in our country. They see something they want and for which they are willing to sacrifice.
In Washington a couple weeks back, I was honored to speak at the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) Cuba Libre Demonstration for a Free Cuba in front of dozens of Americans who truly understand and appreciate what it means to be free. My office spoke with several demonstrators to hear their stories. Here are a few:
Clementine and Joaquin Perez-Febles fled Cuba in 1962. “Communism can only bring misery, refugees, and sadness,” Joaquin told us. The two have eight children and 17 grandchildren. “We are very happy they were born here…Being in this country, every American should be aware of the freedoms we are allowed. We enjoy that and want that for Cubans,” they said.
Rep. Alex Mooney (WV-02) told the story of how his mother, Lala, fled Cuba after being imprisoned by Castro’s regime. We spoke to Lala about what freedom means to her as she watched her son, a United States Congressman, speak with the Capitol shining in the background. She teared up and said, “I enjoy everything in America. I get up in the morning and I look out the window … and I thank God for being here, for the freedom, for being able to have green grass and enjoy life.”
Basilio Guzman (left) spent 22 years in a Castro-controlled prison for thinking differently. “I was given a maximum sentence. I completed 20 years, but they didn’t release me, and I had to complete two more…When I got to the United States, I started a house remodeling business and it went well. I had that business for 33 years,” Basilio told us.
In jail, he was a “plantado”– political prisoners who refused forced-labor and normal prison uniforms because they didn’t want to be put into the same category as real criminals. Because of this behavior, they were often subject to terrible conditions and abuse. “Being a plantado wasn’t easy, but I felt proud to be methodically against the enemy. You can never give in to the enemy, especially communists, because when you surrender or allow them to take advantage of you, it destroys morale and people,” Basilio said. “That happened to many of my friends who were forced to work like savages.”
Unfortunately, some in America on the left are misunderstanding our flag and the freedom it represents, and they don’t understand why Cubans are protesting. Some, specifically on college campuses, say seeing the flag brings them shame, that it’s associated with “racism and bigotry” and that “it is a symbol of hurt.” They can’t understand why Cubans would be flying it. Worse, some believe America is responsible for the horrific conditions in Cuba.
We see videos of Americans burning the flag, kneeling instead of standing proudly in front of it, and turning their backs on our veterans. This disrespect is a result of the left’s inaccurate and anti-American rhetoric, and it must be stopped.
That’s why the Leader’s Advisory Team on Cuba headed to Miami this week — to stand up for America and support the Cubans’ fight for freedom. Members attended the Freedom Rally at Versailles Restaurant where local Cuban-Americans have been making their voices heard over the last few weeks. The Advisory Team also met with South and Central American community leaders and hosted a roundtable with Cuba dissidents, among other events.
Again, our office spoke with demonstrators and supporters at these events to understand their story and why they are fighting for freedom. Here is Sylvia Iriondo, who was born in Cuba but has been in the United States since 1960. “[The youth in America] need to know. They need to know the truth about socialism and about communism. It is evil and it destroys one’s dignity and oneself,” Sylvia told us.
“I have a deep love for two countries,” Sylvia said. “My country of birth, Cuba, and my adoptive country, the United States. We left Cuba in search of freedom, and we are here fighting for freedom for the people left behind because we understand and we know how precious freedom is for a human being.”
Remember, America is still that shining city on a hill and our flag is still the greatest symbol for freedom and justice in the world. We will never apologize for it and we will never back down from defending it.