Democratic congresswoman Donna Shalala told Efe that like her predecessor in the position of representative for the 27th district of Florida, the Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, her priorities are immigration and the search for political change in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Shalala said he will continue to “work on the issues that interest the people of Miami, and that includes the problems in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the problems of our community (in South Florida) of equality and opportunities.”
As of this year, the Democrat occupies the seat that Ros-Lehtinen held for almost three decades in a district that was dominated for many years by the Cuban voting bloc, which has historically been identified with the Republican Party, but which is increasingly more diverse.
“The only characteristic of my district is that we have all learned to live together and it is very American,” said Shalala, referring to the population that includes Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Salvadorans, among other Latin American immigrants.
She pointed out that “the majority” of Cubans from District 27, which includes a large part of Miami-Dade County, including Little Havana, voted for her in last November’s elections, in which she faced the Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, a well-known Cuban-American journalist.
The congresswoman stressed that she has always shown a deep respect for the Cuban exile, that she has never traveled to the island and that as president of the University of Miami between 2001 and 2015 she refused to allow student trips to Cuba or use money from the faculty to do so. .
The one who was Secretary of Health during the presidency of Bill Clinton (1993-2001) said that she “does not respect” the Cuban regime for human rights violations and in that sense said that she supports the policy of President Donald Trump towards Cuba.
The Republican has banned doing business with companies run by military on the island and restricted trade and travel to Cuba.
“I agree with the government, but I also believe that we must do everything possible to help the Cuban people (…) people should be able to come and go” to the island, he added.
He explained that the process of normalization initiated by former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) and that was frozen by the current Administration does not consider it an error.
“I think it was a different approach and he did not have enough time to take hold,” he said.
On the other hand, the congresswoman said that she has presented legislation in recent days to restrict the export of defense goods and services to the Venezuelan Armed Forces that can be used by the Nicolás Maduro regime against the Venezuelan people.
The idea is “to prevent the government from buying any type of weapon, anything to control the crowds, any type of riot gear,” said the congresswoman.
The Democrat stressed that it is necessary to support the National Assembly of Venezuela (AN), with an opposition majority, considering it the only legitimate democratic institution remaining in the country.
Shalala, along with his South American Democratic colleagues, the Ecuadorian Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, will also present legislation that will make it easier to provide humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people.
In the same way, he hopes as part of a bipartisan group to pressure Trump to extend the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) to Venezuelans and desist from eliminating the one already granted to Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Haitians.
The Democrat, who is in favor of protecting the borders, urged Trump to negotiate with the Democrats, recalling that they are now the majority in the lower house, where they will elaborate a “decent, just and compassionate” immigration reform project.
He added that it should include, among other elements, a legal status for immigrants who are already in the country and a path to citizenship for young people brought as children by their undocumented parents and who took refuge in the DACA program during the Obama administration.
At the domestic level, the legislator said that in her district in Miami there is “a lot of poverty, there are many disparities between rich and poor”.
He specified that a quarter of this jurisdiction receives food stamps and official subsidies and that 100,000 people are enrolled in the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), issued during Obama’s term and threatened by Trump, which has not been able to remove.
“I think it’s really important that we continue these programs, but also opportunities for education and for good jobs in the district and in that work,” he said. (EFEUSA) .-