Born in Miami's Little Havana to Cuban parents that fled the Castro regime in search for a better life in the United States, Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) has been at the frontlines of the unprecedented protests that erupted against the current Cuban government in South Florida.
In an exclusive interview for LPO, Congresswoman Salazar said, "the people of Cuba are determined to be free."
"The massive protests that we have seen since July 11 are examples of both the courage of the Cuban people and the brutal repression exercised by the Castro dictatorship," she added.
A former TV journalist, Salazar defeated one of Miami's most well-known politicians, then incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Rep. Donna Shalala in Florida's 27th Congressional District during the 2020 election cycle.
Support from the Cuban-American Republican community and other Latino groups, as well as former president Donald Trump's presidential bid, were key in her second run for Shalala's seat.
In the district, the overwhelming majority of voters - 67.3% - identify as Latino.
Raised in Miami and Puerto Rico, Salazar recalls constantly hearing stories from her parents about the hardships they endured under the oppressive communist Castro regime, which began when he unseated Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
She is a staunch critic of socialism and believes that failed socialist systems have brought misery, oppression, and exile to the countries from which many of her constituents have fled.
The current situation in Cuba is personal for Rep. Salazar, she says.
"From Florida we are fighting, tirelessly supporting the Cuban people and echo their demands for freedom and democracy. The dictatorship has cut the internet so that the images of the repression are not disseminated around the world," she said.
As one of three Republican members of Congress in Miami Dade County, she has demanded that the Biden administration act against the repressive regime of Cuban president, Miguel Diaz-Canel.
"The people of Cuba shout â€˜freedom' and â€˜down with the dictatorship', that is why we are making a loud and clear call to the Biden administration: provide the internet and help the people of Cuba now," she added.
The Biden administration earlier this week announced the creation of a "Remittance Working Group" to identify the most effective way to get remittances directly to the Cuban people, rather than the coffers of the Cuban government.
The State Department is also determining whether it will increase staffing at the US Embassy in Havana as a response to the unrest.
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