Cuban-American Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Hispanic woman to arrive at the US Congress, told Efe that she will retire with the “sadness” of not leaving Cuba free and seeing her party becoming “one of white men” “It does not represent the diversity of the country.
The Republican, 66, spoke today in an interview with Efe about his career of nearly 30 years in Congress on the eve of the legislative elections on Tuesday, which will not seek re-election to office, which will leave next January.
Elected for the first time in 1989, the legislator, known for her fight for the freedom of Cuba and be one of the moderate voices of her party, assured that she will not leave office because of her disagreements with President Donald Trump.
“I’d even like to be there to keep crashing with Trump when necessary so they can see that I’m an independent person,” he said.
He explained that he rejects the “domestic” policy of this administration, especially in what has to do with immigration, health and even the treatment of the press, but clarified that it is in tune with the international officials like Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo , in countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Israel and North Korea.
He also criticized that the Republican Party is alienating women and also immigrants, when it could grow with them, but they “see a party that wants to harm them, not help,” he said.
“It’s going to become the white men’s party, that’s not the future of this country, where there is a lot of diversity,” said the Cuban-American.
Before “we were a party that had compassion for immigrants, we did not name them as enemies, nor were they a danger or an invasion,” he said.
Similarly rejected the qualification of the press as “the enemies of the people”, when he considers it “one of the most beneficial parts of a democracy.”
The congresswoman also deplored that “Cuba continues as a big prison,” but was optimistic that the day of freedom will come because “there are very good Cubans who are going to be the leaders of that new Cuba.”
Ros-Lehtinen, which represents a district that includes much of Miami-Dade County, with a large Cuban population, did not hide its “frustration” about it.
“I am leaving Congress and there is still no free Cuba, but I never thought that Cuba’s freedom is in the hands of Congress, that is in the hands of Cubans on the island,” said the “ferocious she-wolf”, as she was nicknamed the Castro.
He clarified that in Congress there is a “bipartisan” group of Cuban-American congressmen who can help the people, “but we can not remove the castros, nor free the people.” That was the policy of the United States in the old years, “he said.
“I have no doubt that we are going to maintain this hard line against these corrupt regimes,” he said.
He added that the task that remains is to seek consensus and help from Latin American countries “that until now are not helping us at all” so that they stand in solidarity with the opposition and the denunciations of human rights violations, political prisoners and the absence of free elections.
On the other hand, he said that they should not continue to emphasize in the United Nations a vote on the embargo, “because we always lose it” and clarified that the economic embargo to which the United States has subjected Cuba since the 1960s is not the only front.
“The embargo is not our entire policy, it is support for the people and we want them to have free elections, multiple parties, who are not in jail because of their thoughts, they are basic things that the people should help us with, but what we receive is silence, “he said.
For the congresswoman, less radicalized voices are needed in Congress because “a large part of our community is neither superconservative nor superliberal”.
“More and more we should have those moderate voices in both parties, Democrats should have more conservative people and Republicans should have more moderate voices,” he said.
He questioned, for example, that “President Trump is unnecessarily alarming people to have an anti-Democratic vote (against the Democratic Party),” with the caravan of immigrants approaching the Mexican border.
He pointed out that it is an “exaggeration” to say that they will be shot if immigrants throw stones at the authorities, although he stressed that “people can not be allowed to go in that way” and aid to those countries must be strengthened with “better” relationships with our neighbors. “
“We do not need this kind of rhetoric,” said the congresswoman, who feels satisfied to be “blocked to a lot of honor” in countries like Nicaragua.
Ros-Lehtinen said on the other hand that she has many “new adventures” in the future, for now to teach at the University of Miami, and that she does not retire to be with her family and grandchildren.
“I see them enough, every day and every weekend.” He said that his greatest satisfaction is when he speaks at the plenary of Congress because he can not yet believe that “a little Cuban who came at the age of eight (… ) have the right to talk about big and small topics. “
“It’s incredible to be a refugee, to come with nothing and to have the opportunity to vote in plenary, it’s a tremendous honor,” he concluded.