Four months after the island-wide Cuban protests in July, new protests organized by the Assembly of Cuban Resistance on Monday encouraged Nicaraguan and Venezuelan exiles in South Florida to join in on pro-democracy demonstrations.
The same day, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a request for $25 million to repair the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami. The Freedom Tower was the main location for processing and documenting Cuban refugees escaping to Miami during the Cold War and now serves as a museum and offices for Miami Dade College.
“We should all, as free people, want to see the day when we have a free Cuba,” said DeSantis during his announcement.
He added, “The state of Florida stands with everybody who is taking to the streets, everybody who is protesting. We have an opportunity as a country to make common cause with people who are fighting for freedom on the island of Cuba … So far, the response has been pathetic. … We need the Biden administration to step up to the plate and get to the right side here. We will be watching.”
According to Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega, the $25 million in repairs was calculated by engineers who say the project would be completed in two to three years. Repairs of the Freedom Tower includes waterproofing and shoring of the parking garage, the restoration of historic architecture, a new security system, and installing additions that increase accessibility for the handicapped.
In a statement made to the Miami Herald, Pumariega noted the historical significance of the Freedom Tower and its role in being the gathering place for Cuban protestors in the past and the present.
“The Freedom Tower will be 100 years old in 2025, … We want to make sure we celebrate it and that it’s open to the public, not full of scaffolding and unable to show the history of Cuba here,” she said.
DeSantis’ request for $25 million is part of the multi-billion dollar budget proposal for the 2022 legislative session that has to be reviewed and approved by state legislators.
While repairing the Freedom Tower is only a symbol of Governor DeSantis and the state of Florida’s solidarity with Cuba protestors in the U.S., a request submitted to President Biden by Florida lawmakers demanding legislation that would help Cuban citizens has gone unanswered.
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